Sponsored by the Transport Geography Research Group
Wednesday 31st August 2017, 09:00-10:40
Session Organisers: Deborah Mifsud (University of Malta) & Clare Woroniuk (Newcastle University)
This session was organised in conjunction with current and emerging research in transport (2). Both sessions provided a relaxed atmosphere for postgraduate students at any stage of their research to present their work in progress, encouraging the discussion and providing suggestions for future research. The presenters were at different stages of their research.
The main themes of this session were aviation and cycling. Four papers were presented. The first speaker presented a systematic literature review that helped in the understanding of the relationship between urban environments and cycling. This was followed by a study that tackled the flight paths as layers of the three-dimensional urban fabric in terms of urbanisation of airspace above London and the South-East. The third paper focused on the viability of a novel compensation scheme for those people affected by airport operations in order to help the facilitation of aviation growth. The case study for this research was Manchester Airport. Finally, the last paper tackled auto-ethnography, with regard to making London Heathrow Airport a “home” for the presenter. Although there were two main themes, the topics were discussed from various perspectives. All of the papers generated useful discussion with the audience and constructive suggestions were also presented.
Understanding the relationship between local urban environments and cycling: what are the limitations of current academic thinking?
Samuel Nello-Deakin (University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
Marco Brommelstroet (University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
A substantial avenue of recent cycling research has focused on unpacking the role of physical environment, socio-economic and psychological factors in determining the choice to cycle (e.g. Fishman, 2016; Harms, Bertolini, & te Brömmelstroet, 2014). However, some have argued that the challenge is not so much to isolate the effect of each individual factor, but rather to holistically examine “how combinations of different sets of variables work together in different neighbourhoods” (Guinn & Stangl, 2014, p. 121). In this article, we are interested in how two largely different strands of research on urban cycling are meeting this challenge. The first strand comes from the field of transport studies and applies mostly positivist, empirical, and analytical research methods to examine cycling as a largely rational choice of transport mode (e.g. Buehler & Pucher, 2012; Fishman, 2016; Heinen, van Wee, & Maat, 2010). By contrast, the second strand of literature is predominantly qualitative and discursive, and examines cycling as an embodied/social practice (Jungnickel & Aldred, 2014; Latham & Wood, 2015; Spinney, 2009). Building upon the concept of “mobility environments” (Bertolini & Dijst, 2003), we propose to understand cycling (mobility) environments as a complex entity formed by the interplay between the physical environment, the living environment and the imagined environment. This theoretical framework informs a systematic literature review of existing studies with a focus on mapping how the relationship between local urban environments and cycling is assessed, analysed and reported in the two aforementioned strands of literature. The resulting overview of gaps and potential bridges between these two strands can help advance a more holistic understanding of cycling environments. Although this article is focused on cycling, its concern for how we might achieve a more holistic understanding of mobility environments also seems relevant for other transport modes.
Flight paths as layers of the three-dimensional urban fabric: global-local transport flows and the urbanisation of airspace above London and the South East
Evan McDonough (University of Luxembourg, Luxembourg)
While often taken for granted, transport flows, airspace and the urban fabric at ground level are deeply intertwined. Despite recent technological improvements (such as quieter engines and satellite-directed navigation), disturbance from the aircraft noise pollution remains a persistent local spatial conflict. This paper situates the current controversy regarding aircraft noise and the expansion of airport infrastructure in London and the South East within debates in urban geography concerning our conceptualisation of the urban realm, and also links flight paths to an emerging body of research exploring relations between layers of the urban realm. Drawing from empirical evidence related to existing noise issues and the current over concerning pending airport expansion, the extension and concentration of flight paths and airport infrastructure above the built environment is interpreted here as part of the transformation and extension of the urban realm itself, comparable to periurbanisation and the horizontal dispersal of the city, in that aircraft noise pollution is not limited to an airport’s perimeter fence and airport-adjacent communities, but extends across and over the region, and into the global network of flight paths. This paper advocates for a greater understanding of the three-dimensional relationship between increased airspace activity and extended patterns of urbanisation below.
Sustainable Aviation; Assessing the viability of a novel compensation scheme for those worst affected by airport operations to help facilitate aviation growth
Jonathan Keen (Manchester Metropolitan University, UK)
Callum Thomas (Manchester Metropolitan University, UK)
The future growth of the aviation industry is threatened by its environmental impacts at a global and local level. Disturbance caused by aircraft noise is the number one environmental constraint to airport growth and threatens their ability to respond to demand and support sustainable development. There is a general acceptance of the principle of carbon offsets to compensate for CO2 emissions, however, no schemes exist to compensate for the immediate impacts of noise. Following the Airports Commission recommendation, and thereafter, the UK Government’s choice of Heathrow, environmental constraints need to be addressed to allow for sustainable expansion.
This research proposes a novel compensation scheme to provide renewable energy for those households worst affected by aircraft noise. This will be paid for by the polluter; the passengers. Manchester Airport and London Heathrow are used as case studies with a mixture of qualitative and quantitative methodologies applied to ascertain the willingness of the travelling public to pay. Initials results suggest that 76% are willing to pay at Manchester Airport and a survey of industry bodies suggest that the scheme is unlikely to work on a voluntary basis. Further research is being undertaken to ascertain the viability of such a proposed scheme at Heathrow.
Airport as a home. Autoethnography of “home-making” at London Heathrow airport
Veronika Zuskacova (Masaryk University, Czech Republic)
Airports, similarly to malls and motels, are often referred to as a typical example of non-places (Augé 1995) or placeless places (Relph 1979), where “no one is at home, everyone just passes” (Bosteels 2003:223). The uniformity of airports and absence of authentic connections to their surroundings seems to make it impossible for the visitors to identify with them as with full-fledged places. This paper offers a different perspective of an airport inhabitant and reflects author’s personal experience of making London Heathrow Airport her home during the realization of an ethnographic research of arriving passengers. Putting the ethnographic dimension aside, we focus here on the simultaneously happening autoethnography. While sleeping on the benches, moving around with suitcases and trying to have a “normal” life in the airport halls, the author has recorded her own reactions, feelings, and strategies in the form of a personal diary, and photographed the places she temporarily occupied. Nearly uninterrupted stay at Heathrow for a period of 31 days provided a rich empirical material that not only depicts the process of “home-making”, but at the same time sets this process into a specific and in many respects unique environment of an airport as a dynamic, heavily monitored, metastable urban form. In the paper we discuss home as an intensely experienced and intricately negotiated need for privacy and (at least an illusion of) control, a need for belonging to particular inhabited places, and finding one’s own meaning in them. Reaching this level of intimate familiarity with semi-public spaces of Heathrow airport and its everyday life can, we believe, enrich the long-standing interest of transport geography to study airports with a wholly new perspective.