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Discourses, Travel Behaviour and the 'Last Mile' in London

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The concept of 'sustainable travel' has been well discussed for over three decades; yet the meaning of sustainability in travel remains interpreted in many different ways. A transition to more environmentally sustainable travel has proved difficult to achieve, particularly in suburban areas. For individuals in society there are many different aspirations for, and constraints on, travelling in an environmentally sustainable manner. Lack of modal choice, route options, the cost of using public transport, and wider cultural norms are a few of the barriers to realizing a more sustainable transport network. Compounding this is the 'last mile' problem, concerning the facilities linking the main mode to the home, workplace or wider destination, which are often poor. This paper explores both the perceptions and opinions of everyday commuters in Ealing, London, including consideration of their localized lastmile issues. An in-depth study is undertaken with thirty-five employees of Ealing Council, using Q methodology to investigate the participants' perceptions towards, and awareness of, their respective journeys. The Q method analysis undertaken highlighted four major discourses associated with travel and the last mile problem in Ealing: 'the public transport user', 'the committed cyclist', 'the multi-modal traveller' and 'the frustrated traveller'. Understanding these different discourses and their unique characteristics has significant potential for assisting policy-makers and planners in developing more targeted investment priorities, policies, and stakeholder engagement strategies.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2016-12-01

More about this publication?
  • Built Environment is published quarterly in March, June, September and December. With an emphasis on crossing disciplinary boundaries and providing global perspective, each issue focuses on a single subject of contemporary interest to practitioners, academics and students working in a wide range of disciplines. Issues are guest-edited by established international experts who not only commission contributions, but also oversee the peer-reviewing process in collaboration with the Editors.

    Subject areas include: architecture; conservation; economic development; environmental planning; health; housing; regeneration; social issues; spatial planning; sustainability; urban design; and transport. All issues include reviews of recent publications.

    The journal is abstracted in Geo Abstracts, Sage Urban Studies Abstracts, and Journal of Planning Literature, and is indexed in the Avery Index to Architectural Publications.

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