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Title: Measuring what matters : comparing the lived experience to objective measures of accessibility
Author: Curl, Angela
ISNI:       0000 0004 2733 2785
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2013
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Accessibility is an enduring concept in Transport Planning, historically relating to the performance of the transport system and more recently to the understanding of social aspects of transport planning and practice. Accessibility Planning, set in the context of addressing social exclusion, is one example of an applied approach to accessibility which seeks to reflect user perspectives. However, translating the concept into practice is problematic. Measurement is dominated by time and distance and separation of people from destinations, rather than reflecting individuals’ perceptions. The core aims of this thesis are to critically appraise dominant approaches to Accessibility Planning and to understand how objective measures relate to perceptions of accessibility. The thesis is structured into two main empirical stages. Firstly a review of current approaches is undertaken through engagement with accessibility practitioners in England and a comparative analysis of accessibility measures in the English Core Accessibility Indicators and National Travel Survey. Secondly a mixed methods case study, utilising household survey and mental mapping interviews in Greater Nottingham, is presented. Statistical analyses are used to compare objective and self-reported measures of accessibility and to explore factors contributing to perceptions of accessibility. Perceived accessibility is more strongly related to selfreported measures than to objective measures. Demographic characteristics and attitudes are also important in explaining variation in perceptions. For example, while an elderly person may perceive accessibility to be worse because of physical mobility issues, car users may perceive inaccessibility due to lack of awareness of alternatives, leading to different policy approaches. A grounded theory analysis of interview data highlights that affective and symbolic factors are useful in understanding perceptions of accessibility, in addition to the instrumental factors more usually studied. Recommendations include a need to incorporate subjective measurement alongside more traditional accessibility measures, in line with wider policy discourses such as the recent development of subjective wellbeing measures by the Office for National Statistics.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Local transit accessibility ; Urban transportation