Visions of the role of walking and cycling in 2030

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leeds
Department Name: Institute for Transport Studies

Abstract

This research seeks to examine ways in which more people might be encouraged to walk and cycle in the future, what steps are needed to support this potential increase in walking and cycling and how to improve the experience for those who already use these modes. Walking and cycling can make a considerable contribution to sustainable transport goals, building healthier and more sociable communities and contributing to traffic reduction and lower carbon emissions. The amount of walking and cycling in Britain has declined over the long term and research suggests that there are major obstacles to prevent people from using these modes. There have been many national and local initiatives to promote walking and cycling but without a long term vision and consistent strategy it is difficult to see how a significant change may be achieved. The time is now right to examine the means by which such a fundamental change both in the quantity of walking and cycling, and in the quality of the experience can be achieved, which goes well beyond continuation of existing trends. The project will be led by ITS at Leeds University in collaboration with partners from the Universities of Oxford, Salford, East Anglia and Manchester, who between them bring a diverse range of skills to the work. We will also draw extensively on a range of stakeholder groups such as central government departments, walking and cycling organisations, city and local authorities, from whom we have already received a number of letters in support of this application. The work will involve a series of expert workshops to develop visions of alternative futures and also draw in various ways on the experiences of different user groups of the public to ensure that the visions developed are grounded in real experiences. The workshops and other participation events will be used to establish trend breaking views of the future and the key attributes of future conditions which will generate these visions. We will undertake impact assessments to consider the likely costs and benefits of these visions and the potential effects on a persons' lifestyle. The work will develop and use innovative methodologies using visualisation software to help users understand how futures might appear, using modelling techniques which examine narrative and storylines to understand how different futures might be attained, and using a range of social research methods to explore how different futures might affect individual lifestyles and society. We will offer people a range of tools that enable them to construct their own versions of the future, and to weave their own stories in and out of expert visions, thus opening up the possibility of a richer and expanded public engagement with the visioning process. This permits a shift from the narrow focus of people's current day decision-making and behavioural and lifestyle choices to a greater focus on the process through which people make decisions and the contextual factors which inform how people choose to live their everyday lives. The value of this project, and the innovative methodologies it adopts, such as the new approach to modelling, is that in this way it opens up the possibilities of a greater understanding of how walking and cycling could change in the future.We recognise that the project brings substantive research challenges and risk. However, the combination of proposed innovatory research methods and tools, and the expertise of the collaborative project team, including the extensive involvement of experts and the public, will realise new ideas and possibilities which will be of direct use in both national and local strategies within the UK. The tools developed from this research will continue to be of practical use to the user community after the end of the project and we will explore the potential to make these tools web based where they could be used by policy makers and stakeholders as a basis for future planning exercises.
 
Description This project sought to design and elaborate on a range of urban futures for the year 2030 in which walking and cycling play a much larger role than at present as urban transport modes in the UK. Initial work involved widespread consultation with stakeholders about how walking and cycling futures might look and operate. After much deliberation three independent futures were designed: European Best Practice (where walking and cycling account for around 45% of trips), Car-free Public Transport (a major change in the values and nature of society to create urban areas where walking and cycling account for around 60% of urban trips and public transport a further 35%) and Localised Energy Efficient future (a response to an external series of events resulting in serious long term fuel shortages - in this instance walking and cycling account for around 80% of urban trips). Further details of each of these can be found on the project website (www.visions2030.org.uk). To help people to understand how the different futures may look we used innovative software to develop a series of computer based visualisations/animations for each vision showing elements of an imaginary urban area with a population of around 200,000 people. An extensive descriptive narrative for each vision which outlined how each future operated was also developed. We undertook an extensive series of public response surveys (utilising a wide variety of techniques from questionnaires through to 'imagining sessions' with children to a range of different kinds of public displays) to try to understand how people may respond to our proposed futures, how they may wish to change them and how the futures will impact on their lifestyles.

Significant findings emerged from the data generated from these surveys. Exploring general attitudes to active travel amongst different social groups we found that: respondents saw existing active travel infrastructure to be poorly provided for in UK cities and, where provided, rarely respected by other road users; provision of such infrastructure is patchy and inconsistent; long travel distances and complex household routines thwart intentions to walk and cycle, as do concerns regarding safety from motor vehicles (for cyclists) and fear of crime (for pedestrians). Looking at questions of urban design and the degree to which the built environment can facilitate or hinder active travel we found: considerable hostility from both cyclists and pedestrians to the concept of shared space, with modal segregation strongly favoured; especially for pedestrians, the aesthetic and environmental aspects of streets are almost as important as their 'functional' attributes; pronounced disagreement is evident between (and within) cyclists and pedestrian groups about what the future of walking and cycling should be - highlighting the danger of treating those undertaking active travel as one discrete, homogenous group.

For each vision we developed pathways using backcasting techniques, essentially outlining storylines for what might plausibly happen between 2012 and our visions for 2030. We took our visions and their pathways and went to key decision makers in a number of real urban areas in the UK to explore with them how they might translate our ideas from the hypothetical location to the very real problems of their towns and cities. We did this for urban areas which were of different size and which had very different existing walking and cycling levels. We also held one workshop with national level decision-makers. These discussions were immensely useful, both in identifying the problems and barriers to achieving the kinds of futures we were thinking of, but also highlighting the levels of willingness amongst such decision-makers to try such an exercise and to think beyond the bounds of their normal jobs. In no case were we told our ideas were impossible and in many cases we developed further and firmer ideas of just how those futures may be achieved.
Exploitation Route The findings have directly fed into a subsequent project, STEPCHANGE, funded by EPSRC. The project workshops also worked closely with local practitioners in developing ideas for future sustainable transport policy in those areas. We have presented the ideas in a wide range of venues in the UK and elsewhere, discussing the ideas and raising awareness of the work done.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Energy,Environment,Transport

URL http://www.visions2030.org.uk
 
Description The findings have been taken on-board and used by local and national practitioners in the UK - we worked with these practitioners at a series of organised events as part of the project to inform and discuss the outcomes.
First Year Of Impact 2012
Sector Energy,Environment,Healthcare,Transport
Impact Types Societal,Policy & public services

 
Description Decision-maker workshop Kirkcaldy
Impact Involvement of key local decision-makers in thinking radically and outside the normal bounds of their jobs about the possibilities for a substantial change in the role of walking and cycling as transport modes within their urban environment. Target Audience: Local Government;Other
 
Description Decision-maker workshop Leeds
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact Involvement of key local decision-makers in thinking radically and outside the normal bounds of their jobs about the possibilities for a substantial change in the role of walking and cycling as transport modes within their urban environment. Target Audience: Local Government;Other
 
Description Decision-maker workshop Norwich
Impact Involvement of key local decision-makers in thinking radically and outside the normal bounds of their jobs about the possibilities for a substantial change in the role of walking and cycling as transport modes within their urban environment. Target Audience: Local Government;Other
 
Description National stakeholder workshop
Policy Influence Type Gave evidence to a government review
Impact Involvement of key national decision-makers in thinking radically and outside the normal bounds of their jobs about the possibilities for a substantial change in the role of walking and cycling as transport modes within the urban environment in the UK. Target Audience: Independent Research Organisation;Government Department;Charitable Organisation;Other
 
Description KTP Knowledge Transfer Partnership called HISTORACLE
Amount £200,000 (GBP)
Organisation Innovate UK 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2011 
End 08/2012
 
Description STEPCHANGE (Sustainable Transport Evidence and modelling Paradigms: Cohort Household Analysis to support New Goals in Engineering design)
Amount £1,267,585 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/I00212X/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2011 
End 07/2016
 
Description EU COST 358 Project: Pedestrian Quality Needs 
Organisation European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST)
Country Belgium 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Participation in the EU funded COST project om Pedestrian Quality Needs. This project involved contributions from 26 countries across Europe and beyond. The EU COST programme funds networks of researchers to discuss and work on a range of issues. This programme was focussed on pedestrians quality needs and considered, amongst other things, visions for future walking focussed cities.
Start Year 2006
 
Description Link with Reading Brough Council 
Organisation Reading Borough Council
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution We worked closely with Reading Borough Council - using our inventory of measures - to produce potential policy packages for increasing walking and cycling in the city (they are aiming to have the largest UK bike hire scheme outside of London). This policy packaging approach was used by RBC in the development of their LTP3. It was also used to support a bid to the Local Sustainable Transport Fund. If successful in this bid, James Woodcock and Reading have in principle agreed to work together to evaluate the impacts of resultant schemes re: public health.
Start Year 2010
 
Description Workshop on Measuring Walking 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Workshop on measuring walking held in Sydney as part of the Walk21 conference. Work lead to the development of an international standard for the measurement of walking.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Workshop on Measuring Walking, Vienna 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Workshop on measuring held at the Walk21 conference in Vienna. Main outcome was the delivery of an international standard for walking.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015