Unequal and uneven mobility and its social consequences

This session report by Karen Lucas (Institute of Transport Studies, Leeds University) and Kate Pangbourne (University of Aberdeen) (Session Chairs) describes two sessions that took place on the morning of Friday 30th August (see the session on the RGS-IBG website here and here).
In making the call for papers for this session, a key aim was to draw researchers from a diverse a range of disciplines and methodological approaches into the TGRG. As such, we were pleased that the eight paper presenters discussed a broad spectrum of research relating to the issue of unequal mobility and its social consequences and brought in some new researchers, as well as plenty of TGRG faithful followers. Details of the talks are described below.


In the first session, Konrad Miciukiewicz’s presentation passionately demonstrated how Somali mothers living in London view collective spaces of mobility, such as public transport waiting areas, as scenes of actual and perceived hostility. Picking up on the theme of personal security on public transport, Kate Pangbourne presented her presentation the results from workshops with transport policy makers and operators concerning their perceptions of how to improve passenger safety through technology. This was followed by a ‘quirky little number’ from literary researcher Ian Davidson, who talked about his analysis of Mary Oppen’s memoir (wife of poet George Oppen), which is characterised by motion and mobility. Karen Lucas’ presentation of her struggle to model the links between social disadvantage and travel behaviour quickly brought us all back to basics, saved by the bell for morning coffee!

Session two began with a thought provoking conceptual piece by Karel Marten who discussed the various financial flows in the transport domain from an equity perspective with a helpful comparison with health sector spending. Nihan Akyelken’s presentation was also concerned with the fairness of transport infrastructure investments. This time from the public perspective based on her review of national and local press articles and public surveys surrounding new road and rail projects in the UK and Turkey. The final two papers by Anne Winther and Joanna Elvy were both concerned with equity from a sustainability perspective. Anne presented her case studies of the ecological footprints of three Scottish communities from her PhD research and Joanna discussed the first stages of her thinking towards her PhD on participatory transport planning processes based on content analysis of UK Local Transport Plans.
With the enthusiastic and insightful question and answer sessions after each paper and the open debates at the end of each session, diverse opinions were drawn out, and a number of useful suggestions for further research and collaboration were made. There was particular interest in exploring in more depth the concept of fairness in relation to mobility, as well making a concerted effort to understand how genuinely participatory and inclusive public consultation methods are in relation to high-cost, high prestige infrastructure proposals such as HS2. The general sentiment in the room was ‘more of the same next year please!’ TGRG will do its best to oblige.

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