Hickman, Robin, & Giacomo Vecia (2016, Winter). Discourses, travel behaviour and the ‘last mile’ in London. Built Environment, 42(4), 539-553. (Link: doi: https://doi.org/10.2148/benv.42.4.539)

Abstract: 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 last mile 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.

Robin Hickman <r.hickman@ucl.ac.uk> is in the Bartlett School of Planning, University College London, UK.

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