We have transport systems that are designed to privilege the needs of people who are most valued in society. Who is missing out, and what does this mean for their health and wellbeing?

For the attention of: Transport authorities, City councils, Organisations serving older citizens and/or the disability community

The problem: Transport systems have huge implications for health, influencing mobility and access to places, resources, and relationships important for wellbeing. But transport systems are often built to prioritise the needs of socially-advantaged commuters. How does this impact the mobility, health and wellbeing of people who don’t fit this ideal?

What we did and why: We worked with communities in four sites in Auckland, New Zealand. We used community-based participatory research methods, including ‘go-along’ interviews, focus groups and interactive workshops, to engage communities who are least often heard at policy or strategic levels. We particularly sought the experiences older- and disabled- or bodily-diverse people from varied ethnic groups living across a range of socio-economic circumstances.

What our study adds: This study adds to understandings of the multi-layered nature of transport disadvantage, particularly active forms of travel. The participants’ narratives showed us how urban transport systems limit opportunities for mobility, health and wellbeing among older citizens and people living with disabilities. These disadvantages are amplified by transport infrastructure that further marginalises those already marginalised, such as poorer communities and people identifying with Indigenous (Māori) and non-Western disadvantaged ethnic groups.

Implications for city policy and practice:

  • City planners need to consider how multiple forms of marginalisation intersect as part of transport consultation and design.

  • Forms of marginalisation (age, socio-economic status, ethnic minority status, illness and disability) are not discrete and independent, but tend to coalesce and intensify.

  • People who are impacted in multiple dimensions may be among the least enabled to be heard.

  • Consultation processes must therefore meaningfully engage people who are impacted in multiple dimensions.

Full research article: Inequitable mobilities: intersections of diversity with urban infrastructure influence mobility, health and wellbeing by Julie Spray, Karen Witten, Janine Wiles, Anneka Anderson, Dolly Paul, Julie Wade & Shanthi Ameratunga.