Welcome to the Centre for Transport and Society blog!

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Welcome to the Centre for Transport and Society blog where we plan to share with you the latest updates from our research centre.

The aim of CTS is furthering understanding and influence on the interactions between mobility, lifestyles, and society in a context of technological change.

We design, plan, and deliver a range of research works on six core themes, with integrated multi-disciplinary knowledge within transport and society.

Theme 1 – Transport infrastructure and design

This theme is about designing infrastructure to meet travel needs by creating systems for movement that are efficient, attractive, comfortable and safe to use. They need to minimise embodied carbon, and they need to assist in promoting travel that itself minimises carbon emissions, and other adverse environmental impacts such as air pollution and noise.

CTS has been engaged in empirical research connected with human scale and vehicle movement in the street environment. This has involved exploring the links between design, behaviour and regulation. Empirical research linked with cycling has been undertaken, for example relating to eye movement of cyclists and passing distances of motor traffic. CTS has been involved in drafting standards and guidance including Design Manual for Roads and Bridges CD195 Designing for cycle traffic, Local Transport Note 1/20, the Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans Technical Guidance, and the forthcoming Manual for Streets 3.

Side road crossing behaviour research has investigated both continuous footways and marked priority side road crossings with a view to evidencing and developing further current design guidance. We have also undertaken trials to measure the trust of pedestrians and cyclists in automated vehicles.

Theme 2 – Societal change, technology, and transport futures

This theme is about understanding what the future may be like, and how we should design systems to address current and future needs of an evolving society. There has been a long co-evolution of travel demand with technological development. This co-evolution has resulted in new demand for travel  in response to the invention of new transport systems, recently for instance, such as micro-mobility. It has also worked the other way around with travel aspirations influencing by transport systems, for example in relation to levels of comfort and attractiveness. Innovations in other sectors, such as the invention of the telephone and the diffusion of refrigeration, have also influence connectivity and the desire to travel, and the need to transport goods.

Digitalisation has significantly increased dramatically in the last 20 years, and digital services and products have changed people’s lives and their preferences to both digital and also physical interactions and activities. Technological development has the power to disrupt the ways we live our lives, and the future may offer a range of technologically facilitated opportunities, including for example perhaps automated vehicles, shared mobility, drone deliveries, and even flying taxis. In addition, the development of newer, less or zero carbon intensity and cleaner technologies are emerging to support pathways to reduce impacts on the climate.

Theme 3 – Travel behaviour, lifestyles, and the life course

At the core of our research at CTS is the development of a body of knowledge around travel behaviour. This research draws on empirical research informed by psychology and sociology. We seek to understand the extent to which travel behaviour is pre-meditated for different types of trip, the degree to which novel information or social relationships influence choices, and the extent to which reported attitudes to future travel behaviour can predict behaviour. CTS has developed a strong international academic reputation in this thematic area and has also provided expert advice to national and local policymakers. This theme covers aspects specifically relating to sub-sections of the population, for example, in particular the ageing population, and the emerging behaviours of younger generations, and those who are neuro-diverse or are physically disabled as a result of the transport environment.

Theme 4 – Sustainable transport policies and solutions

Sustainable transport is concerned with creating attractive options which reduce the environmental consequences of travel choices, whilst also promoting greater equality of accessibility. Walking and cycling, as very low environmental impact modes which also encourage a healthier population, are central to this theme. Collective mobility solutions including shared ownership and use of transport assets are also important, as well as cleaner technologies (e.g., electrification, clean fuels). The theme seeks to understand the barriers to a greater role for sustainable mobility options and to develop knowledge to support their development to drive transport decarbonisation and reach the net zero target by 2050.

Theme 5 – Social impacts of transport

The way transport systems are design can have a significant impact on people’s ability to access to key local services and activities (e.g., jobs, goods, healthcare, education, leisure). A lack of accessibility may reinforce the social exclusion of particular demographies, for example, depending on the geography of the area they live in (e.g., urban or rural), coupled with their particular needs (e.g., mobility impairment, household structure and age profile), and economic status (e.g., disposable income). This theme is about understanding how to take into consideration social needs and expectations when designing and planning for people’s travel in such a way as to avoid social injustice and support equity. Our work in this area again leads into policy and planning practice.

Theme 6 – Towards sustainable freight

Freight transport represents a key driver of the economic prosperity of a region or a city. However, it is responsible for one third of UK transport carbon emissions, with road freight (e.g., trucks and vans) being the main contributor. The increasingly significant role that e-commerce and home deliveries have had in the last ten years has created great economic advantages for companies. However, inefficient management of urban freight flows can generate road congestion, poorer air quality, visual intrusion, increased risk of collisions and injuries, and a generally negative impact on urban accessibility for people as well as goods. This theme is about exploring the challenges and opportunities in planning and design of sustainable freight transport systems.

We look forward to sharing CTS’s development and future research, but in the meantime, you can find out more about our latest research activities, seminars and events by visiting our website and following us on Twitter.

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This blog post was written by Dr Daniela Paddeu who is a senior researcher at CTS and is the freight specialist of the research centre.

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