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Communication – Community Mobility

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Introduction

Access to mobility is essential for people living within any community. Lack of mobility can have profound personal, social and economic consequences. A key challenge is to design transportation that is inclusive, catering for people of all ages and abilities. Older people, those with disabilities, parents with small children and tourists can particularly find travelling to be a challenge.

Insights

Access to mobility is essential for people living within any community. Lack of mobility can have profound personal, social and economic consequences.

A key challenge is to design transportation that is inclusive, catering for people of all ages and abilities. Older people, those with disabilities, parents with small children and tourists can particularly find travelling to be a challenge.

Transport in urban and rural areas can vary and has to address different needs. The rise of the suburbs over the last century has defined new landscapes and communities.

There is also current debate between public and private modes of transport with each offering different possibilities, benefits and drawbacks.

Community mobility is not just about transport. It is about enabling social connection and creating personal independence.

Reasons for travel

A survey prepared for the UK Department of Transport looked at patterns of travel for people in four age groups: 50-59 years old, 60- 69 years old, 70-79 years old and 80 years old and over. Respondents described a wide range of journey purposes that fell into three categories:

Social and recreational: these included activities such as going out for a meal, visiting friends or taking part in hobbies or a local club.

Domestic and personal: activities such as shopping or making visits to the doctor, dentist or hairdresser.

Work-based: travelling to and from work as well as travel undertaken as part of a job.
For 50-59 year olds, commuting to work accounted for 22 percent of all journeys made. For 60-69 year olds this figure was eight percent, and amongst those aged 70 and over it was just one percent.

As a result, journeys for some other purposes also increased as a proportion of all travel for these age groups. For example, shopping accounted for 22 percent of all journeys amongst 50-59 year olds, compared to 32 percent for 60-69 year olds and 38 percent amongst those aged 70 and over.

Four key issues

There are four key issues that impact on community mobility: independence, identity, inter-generation and integration. Together, these issues address the many complex layers present in looking at mobility infrastructure. People make gradual changes to their travel habits as their needs and capabilities change and as they get older.

Independence: good mobility is essential in enabling personal independence and creating choice in the services and infrastructure around us. Limited transport options can reduce freedom to move around, connect with the community and complete daily activities. For older people who might be living alone, the opportunity to get out of the house is important for social interaction. Shopping and meeting friends are the two most important reasons for trips, with 68 percent of trips in rural areas taking pace within 3 km of the home.

Identity: a cohesive, vibrant community can only be sustained when the individuals who make up that community identify with the goals, aims and needs of the majority. Mobility plays an important role in strengthening and developing a community identity by maintaining good connections between its individual members. In low-density environments such as suburbs and rural areas inadequate transport can result in a sense of isolation and, in extreme cases, depression or ill health.

Inter-generation: this looks at how mobility can aid interaction across the age spectrum. Although older people can be reliant in some way on children, grandchildren or neighbours for transport, they are reluctant to ask for help all the time. Populations do not remain static. Many rural areas witness high rates of in-migration amongst older, retired people attracted to the idyllic image of country living and out-migration amongst young adults who leave for the city seeking better jobs and social activities. Older and younger travellers have different needs, but systems and services should always cater for the older, by default. Younger people will never complain that a train is too accessible or signage too easy to read.

Integration: this describes how transport services can be linked to other services such as healthcare and touches on social and economic integration. Mobility is not just about connecting people – it is also about connecting services and support systems so that they work seamlessly. Shops, post offices and primary care services are being closed down with negative impact for rural and suburban areas. People are forced to travel further to get the help they need. Healthcare is also affected as people travel increasing distances to see GP’s or visit hospitals. For older people and those with long-term illness who need regular access to healthcare, this can pose real difficulties.

Images

Videos

Quotes

‘The majority of my friends, they don’t travel by London transport. They’ve got friends, and they’ve got partners that have got cars, and they say to me ‘How do you do it? How do you do it?’ and I say: ‘You just have to do it’. ‘ - Single mother

‘Most passengers in the capital have had, and in some cases are continuing to have, unreliable, slow and overcrowded journeys day in and day out, week and week out.’ - London Transport Users Committee

‘They are so many places that you never get to see because there is no way of getting there on public transport. So if you can’t drive or nobody can give you a lift then you just live ‘house, park, high street… that’s it !’ - mother of a young girl

‘If it’s raining you don’t go out, basically. Because you don’t want to be standing in the rain with the kids, waiting 20 minutes for a bus’ - House-husband

‘There is no bike parking, no bike lanes, no parking, no reasonable pedestrian access: you have to cross roads all over the place. It’s smelly, foul and dangerous. Most people from East London don’t actually go into the centre of town at all, so it’s the local routes that matter for a large proportion of population’ - A London Transport Users Committee member

‘The Great Eastern Road is terrible- two people were killed on it last year- it’s not surprising with the volume of people crossing it- there is absolutely no way to avoid the roads in Stratford.’
resident at Stratford East, London


Case studies

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Inspiration Park

Young people with visual impairments worked closely with the design team to create an urban park with distinctive features for diverse users.

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How People Do It

This video documentary project raised awareness about the difficulties parents and carers face when travelling with young children on public transport in the city.
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I-connect

This project proposed an inclusive new mobile information system customised to the individual at transport interchanges, using Waterloo Station as a case study.


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InterchangeABLE

This architectural study looked at ways to improve flow, mobility and social interaction at urban transport interchanges in London.

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Digital Wayfinding

This project developed design protocols for electronic font displays in a bid to improve the legibility and communication of digital public signage.

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Is That My Bus?

The bus shelter reconsidered to make boarding a bus easier for older people with limited mobility.

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Babelfish

This award-winning project proposed finding your way around busy and complicated transport interchanges by wearing of a portable navigation device as a necklace. 


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Mobilicity

This project explored scenarios for sustainable public transport in 2025 – and developed a driverless mass transit system based on research in London, Hong Kong and Istanbul.

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Connections

This design study investigated the problems of mobility for older people in rural Ireland and proposed new concept systems.

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Oyster Plus

An innovative extension of London’s current Oyster card system that encourages mobility and independence for people with disabilities.


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Go Steady

This project created an awareness campaign and a kitemark scheme to encourage people to help those with limited mobility.

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From A to D

This project developed a portable navigational tool that works alongside more permanent wayfinding structures to guide people with dementia. It was implemented in Romford town centre.

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Patchworks

A project to design a web-based system for personal mapping and wayfinding in order to improve mobility for people with sight loss.

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Crowdscape

A proposal for an intelligent crowd management system using directional symbols for public buildings that provides instruction and reassurance in a disaster situation. 


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Connected Car

A design study looking at the mobility needs of a range of potential users of the electric city car.

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Sight Line

This study worked with blind and partially sighted people to explore and map how they navigate the street environment in their local communities.

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