RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2015

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129 Current and emerging research in transport (1): Active travel and commuting
Affiliation Transport Geography Research Group
Postgraduate Forum
Convenor(s) Joanna Elvy (University of Leeds, UK)
Clare Woroniuk (Newcastle University, UK)
Chair(s) Joanna Elvy (University of Leeds, UK)
Timetable Thursday 03 September 2015, Session 1 (09:00 - 10:40)
Room Peter Chalk - Room 2.1
Session abstract This session is aimed at postgraduate students conducting research in any aspect of transport geography and related topics. The session is open-themed but we particularly welcome papers which tackle the wider conference theme of the ‘Geographies of the Anthropocene’. In recent years we have seen an increase in the number and range of presentations in what is always a well-attended and interesting event. The session provides a relaxed atmosphere for postgraduates at any stage of their research to present their work in progress. Presenters are encouraged to submit a paper for the Postgraduate Prize and priority will be given to papers intending to enter for the Postgraduate Prize.*

*The TGRG has a small prize for the best postgraduate presentation in any TGRG session at the RGS-IBG 2015 Conference. If you wish to enter for the Postgraduate Prize a full paper should be submitted to the Chair and Secretary of TGRG, prior to the conference date for judging. For more information and to find out about entry criteria please contact Angela Curl (angela.curl@glasgow.ac.uk).
Linked Sessions Current and emerging research in transport (2): Inclusive mobility and networks
Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details: AC2015@rgs.org
Cycles of Opportunity? Cycling cultures, travel behaviour and the significance of the local polity
Rorie Parsons (Newcastle University, UK)
Transport research is undergoing something of a cultural turn (e.g. Urry 2000). Increasing attention is now focusing less on the hard physical infrastructures that enable and disable travel opportunity and more on developing research that positions such factors alongside social and cultural dimensions which are judged equally significant. Given the widely perceived imperative of growing cycle use in the UK (given its health and ecological benefits in particular), there has been a recent flurry of literature attempting to contextualise cycling cultures and its associated cultural practice (see Pooley, 2013; Aldred, 2012). Aldred (2012) acknowledges the development of strong cycling cultures and levels in pockets of urban areas. Her team has successfully developed an understanding of how cycling cultures are developed through rider experience, both individually and sometimes collectively among social groups (see Aldred 2012 on Hackney in particular). However, existing research does not focus on how such cultures and movements might be facilitated (or indeed whether they can), consciously and otherwise, by the activities of the local state.

Situated within Assemblage Theory, the research has two main components. First it locates the significance of identifiable cultures of cycling in growing cycle usage. In doing so, the research examines how certain cultural cycling niches emerge in certain places, how and whether they grow (and decline), and how and whether they try and change the wider environment for cycling. Second, the research examines the role of the local state in providing a context in which cycling cultures might develop. It is hypothesised that the local political opportunity structure may be significant in growing cycle usage beyond any immediate cultural niches.
Commuting and the Role of Working Practices
Julian Burkinshaw (University of Leeds, UK)
Knowledge, innovation and creativity have recently been identified as powerful economic drivers in the UK and elsewhere (particularly the US and Europe). This is especially visible within the UK, where the creative industries subsector, in spite of the well documented economic downturn, has grown significantly in recent years. Creative workers are said to have greater flexibility in terms of their working hours and working location, than traditional ‘9-5’ employment. However, what effect (if any) does this flexibility have on the opportunities for lower carbon travel for the journey to and from work?

The study hypothesises that work structure has an important impact on how people travel to work, but in order to understand this association in greater detail questions are required as to how the structure of work effects/impacts on whole day scheduling. By looking at scheduling other important factors, such as household responsibilities, may become apparent and highlight the role of work structure in the decisions made throughout the day. In this way, one can then try to begin to understand how practices are produced throughout the day and how travel options may facilitate these practices. Building from this, questions can then be asked as to whether flexibility in work structure might encourage the breaking of existing practices, the shifting of current connections between practices, or even the emergence of new practices towards lower carbon assemblages.

In order to investigate these relationships, a comparative case-study using qualitative semi-structured interviews between chosen sub-sectors of the UK Creative Industries and the Financial and Administrative sub-sector is proposed. Financial and administrative occupations are said to have limited flexibility and fixity in working hours and location, and thus present an interesting juxtaposition and ideal comparator in which to investigate the relationships hypothesised.
Towards active travel beyond walking and cycling: the potential of run-commuting for transport geography
Simon Cook (Royal Holloway, University of London, UK)
Active travel has witnessed a burgeoning of interest – politically, publicly, and academically – over recent years and is an area of research that has greatly enriched the study of transport geography on empirical, conceptual, theoretical, methodological, practical, and interdisciplinary levels. For all its intellectual benefits however, research into active travel is arguably thwarted by the fact it has essentially revolved around only two modes of transport – walking and cycling. Whilst by far the most prevalent and popular forms of active travel, such a narrow focus inevitably overlooks other active modes of transport, which not only need to be understood for transport planning/facilitation purposes but equally offer much potential to further enrich the study of transport geography. This paper will draw upon the first research undertaken into run-commuting, an emerging practice in which people are eschewing other modes of transport in favour of lacing up their trainers to run their journeys to/from work. Running is not a practice that is usually detected by the registers of transport geography, and as such, asks new questions of and brings new perspectives to bare on the subject. Some key contributions be outlined whilst giving an overview of run-commuting from a Cresswellian understanding of mobility. Such research trajectories are potentially invigorating avenues for future transport geography to chart and include: widening the horizons of interdisciplinary collaboration; understanding the importance of imagined mobilities; understanding mobile subjects as multi-modal; expanding the potential of travel-time; reassessing rationality in transport decision-making; introducing the notion of minimum distance; encouraging creative approaches to transport planning; and underlining the importance of holistic research. In making such arguments, I hope to not only demonstrate the potential of run-commuting to transport geography (and society more widely) but also what the discipline can gain by expanding its explorations and understandings of active travel.
Restorative benefits of walking in heritage environments: moderation of setting type and traffic levels
Anna Bornioli (University of the West of England, UK)
Levels of walking are dramatically dropped in the UK in the past thirty years, despite the positive impacts of walking on psychological wellbeing acknowledged by an emerging body of literature (Sinnett et al. 2011). Studies in environmental psychology also argue that the wellbeing effect of physical activity is mediated by the setting in which it is performed, and that some settings can contribute to restoration from stress. While the benefits of walking in green and rural spaces are widely studied in literature, there is a lack of research on the moderating effects of attractive urban settings. This research aims to fill this gap by investigating the affective responses of walking in urban heritage environments, also taking into account the additional benefits of the absence of traffic. Here it is argued that heritage settings can promote fascination and being away, two components of restoration, because of their aesthetic and symbolic value. A mixed-methods strategy is adopted. Phase 1 includes an online experiment with Bristol residents, which will measure affective appraisals to a simulated walk, assessing moderation effect of setting type (heritage and non-heritage) and levels of traffic (car-free and with traffic). Phase 2 entails a real-world walk across several environments and proposes a mobile electroencephalography (EEG) as innovative tool to record and analyse affective appraisals of participants in terms of five variables: excitement, frustration, engagement, arousal and meditation. Phase 3 involves a qualitative study on the role of heritage in the walking experience through interviews supported by map sketching. The research is expected to offer new insights on the links between walking, wellbeing and engagement with place, and to contribute to further promote active urban mobility.