Active Travel Academy [ATA]

Rachel Aldred

The ATA is an interdisciplinary research and knowledge exchange centre that currently leads projects funded by organisations including NIHR, DfT, and TfL, hosts the Active Travel Studies journal, and organises events including the regular Walking and Cycling@Teatime seminars.

Re-imagining London’s streets: What drives attitudes to active travel funding?

  • Jamie Furlong
  • Rachel Aldred

THE SHIFT EXPERIENCED during the COVID-19 pandemic to more people walking and cycling, exposed the unequal allocation of space in Britain’s towns and cities for different transportation methods. In response, the government created an Active Travel Fund to support English local authorities to rapidly improve cycling and walking facilities. This funded a range of schemes (e.g. protected cycle lanes, pedestrian crossings, School Streets, and Low Traffic Neighbourhoods). Some have been controversial and not all remain. For instance, in London around 130 Low Traffic Neighbourhoods were implemented in 2020-2021, but around thirty have since been removed. What determines people’s attitudes to these kinds of investments in walking and cycling? Who wants more funding for active travel, and who thinks that there is already too much?

Using the Travel & Places TfL survey data (June-July 2021, N=12,470), the Active Travel Academy has been studying questions such as: How are demographic characteristics associated with attitudes to funding of cycling, walking and driving infrastructure? How does this vary across inner and outer London? Early findings suggest that younger residents across all of London are far more likely than older residents to believe that active travel is under-funded. However, this and other demographic differences (e.g. income and gender) were largely driven by differences in car ownership and, to a lesser extent, bike ownership. After accounting for demographics, people living in more car-dominated parts of London with little active travel infrastructure were also more likely to want more investment in walking and cycling.

Survey findings to the question: Are TfL and your local authority doing enough to support transport in your area?

Low Traffic Neighbourhoods in London: A mixed-methods study of benefits, harms and experiences

  • Rachel Aldred
  • Harrie Larrington-Spencer
  • Emma Lawlor
  • Ersilia Verlinghieri
  • Luz Navarro

LOW TRAFFIC NEIGHBOURHOODS (LTNs) are transport interventions that limit through-traffic motor vehicle access in a set of residential streets. Their aim is to make walking, wheeling and cycling safer and more comfortable, and make driving less convenient.

There is some promising evidence of the benefits of LTNs, including decreased car ownership and use, increased active travel, and a reduction in street crime and road traffic injuries. However, there is also concern about adverse impacts, for instance on disabled people who need to use cars and whose journeys will be longer, or for residents on boundary roads which may experience the negative consequences of diverted motor traffic.

Funded by the National Institute of Health Research, the ‘Low Traffic Neighbourhoods in London’ project uses both quantitative and qualitative methods to examine the benefits, harms and experiences of new LTN schemes and inform the future of similar transport interventions.

One key component of this work is ‘go-along’ interviews with residents who live in or nearby an LTN. During the go-along, residents are asked to guide researchers around their local area; they discuss their daily experiences of living within or near the low traffic neighbourhoods and how the scheme impacts them and their journeys, both positively and negatively. The method allows researchers to better understand the inclusivity of the schemes, such as the experiences of disabled people and older residents who have diverse travel needs and might use roads differently. At the same time, go along interviews enable researchers to highlight potential positive or negative impacts not easily captured by quantitative data or traditional interviews, including changes in perceptions of safety of the local environment or changes to the way public space is used.

Modal filter for a Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) in Stoke Newington, Hackney

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