Understanding the influence of urban interventions in the city on travel distance, mode choice and CO2 emissions

Title: Understanding the influence of urban interventions in the city on travel distance, mode choice and CO2 emissions 
Researcher: Philip Turner
Supervisors: AbuBakr Bahaj and Despoina Teli


In the UK, transport is responsible for 27% of energy consumption (DECC 2014) and is the fastest growing emissions sector (Yan and Crookes 2009). With the International Energy Association predicting that global transport carbon emissions by 2030 will have increased by 50% and to over 80% by 2050 (IEA 2009). Current literature disagrees over the possible impact urban form can have upon transport emissions. Some researchers are unconvinced that urban form has any impact (Bhat and Guo 2007, Echenique, Hargreaves et al. 2012) while others state that it is a key tool in reaching carbon targets (Marshall 2008).

A more comprehensive approach is required considering transport in terms of emissions not vehicle miles travelled (VMT). Which is vital as emissions have been shown to rise at a greater rate than VMT within metropolitan areas (Brown, Southworth et al. 2008). Understanding how actors (households & firms) within the urban system alter their travel behaviour patterns will not only broaden our knowledge on transport emissions but also shed new light on some of the economic and social trade-offs that occur within a city from certain urban structures.

This work proposes to analyse the impact on carbon emissions from transportation network and urban form interventions, focusing on the Southern Bargate Region in Southampton. The selected region is particularly pertinent as a number of developments have recently taken place (i.e. redevelopment of Holy Rood Place, Town Quay A33 and Oxford Street) and a number will commence shortly (i.e. pedestrianisation of Queen’s Terrace, redevelopment of Bargate public realm and shopping centre, Queensway redevelopment and East Street regeneration).

A dual approach analysis will be developed to identify what is lacking or working inefficiently within the area and also measure the impacts of the City Council’s transformations.  Recorded data of private and public automobile use within and around the region will be used alongside personally gathered quantitative (questionnaire surveys) and qualitative data (observation surveys). To help understand how street network design (connectivity, permeability, block sizes, pavement continuity), allocation of parks, timing of bus routes etc. contribute to transport emissions.

Posted in February, 2015