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Understanding and supporting personal security during walking journeys

Project Description

As well as being a travel mode in its own right, walking plays a critical function as a stage/multiple stages in almost any journey whether undertaken by public or private transport. Walking has received limited attention in transport research by comparison with other modes (Sundquist et al, 2011). As a result, personal security during walking journeys is poorly understood (Painter, 1996; Phillips et al, 2013).

The overall security of any journey requires consideration to be given to all journey stages and walking can be the stage in which the traveller is most vulnerable. Walking can also involve transition between built environments of variable quality and security. Improving the perceived security of walking environments can have considerable benefits including:

*Encouraging active travel with associated health and social benefits.
*Encouraging travel by public transport with associated environmental and economic (congestion reduction) benefits.
*Encouraging social inclusion (given minimal associated costs and potential for collaborative journey planning via social media) and enhancing community (by improving the quality of local environments).
This study will focus on understanding personal security issues associated with walking and seeking to identify opportunities to address these issues. It would benefit from the using a range of research methods including:
*Journey/travel environment auditing
*Qualitative approaches such as ethnography, analysis of social media information and participant interviews
*Quantitative approach focussing on participant observation, mobile data collection and questionnaires
*Focus groups with key stakeholders and the general public

The study would seek to utilise opportunities provided by mobile technologies to monitor and gather information on walking behaviour. There is potential to use social media as a platform for gathering data and engaging study participants. The study would look to capitalise on the strong links that the Centre for Transport Research has with transport operators and transport authorities to determine appropriate research sites.

The successful candidate will have or expect to have a UK Honours Degree at 2.1 (or equivalent) in GEOGRAPHY or a cognate discipline.

Knowledge of: Transport geography, Planning and built environment, Experience in use of Qualitative and quantitative research methods desirable.

This project is advertised in relation to the research areas of the discipline of Geography. Formal applications can be completed online: You should apply for Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Geography, to ensure that your application is passed to the correct person for processing. NOTE CLEARLY THE NAME OF THE SUPERVISOR and EXACT PROJECT TITLE ON THE APPLICATION FORM.

Informal inquiries can be made to Dr M Beecroft () with a copy of your curriculum vitae and cover letter indicating your interest in the project and why you wish to undertake it. All general enquiries should be directed to the Postgraduate Research School ().

Funding Notes

There is no funding attached to this project, it is for self-funded students only.


Painter, K. (1996). The influence of street lighting improvements on crime, fear and pedestrian street use, after dark. Landscape and Urban Planning,
35, 2–3,193–201.

Phillips, J, Walford, N, Hockey, A, Foreman, N and Lewis, M. (2013). Older people and outdoor environments: Pedestrian anxieties and barriers in the use of familiar and unfamiliar spaces. Geoforum, 47, 113–124.

Sundquist,K, Eriksson, U, Kawakami,N, Skog, L, Ohlsson, H and Arvidsson, D. (2011) Neighborhood walkability, physical activity, and walking behavior: The Swedish Neighborhood and Physical Activity (SNAP) study. Social Science & Medicine, 72, 8, 1266–1273.

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