Document Type

Conference Paper

Rights

This item is available under a Creative Commons License for non-commercial use only

Disciplines

Sociology, Urban studies (Planning and development), Transport planning and social aspects of transport

Abstract

Poor health has been identified as an issue for people who live in areas affected by structural disadvantage and social exclusion. One area in the North East of Dublin City has been identified for the development of a project addressing health inequality and promoting a “Healthy Community” by Northside Partnership, a local development company established in 1991 to address social exclusion. The Partnership has been assisted in the development of the programme by a wide range of statutory and community organisations, and in particular the Health Service Executive (HSE) Dublin North Health Promotion Department. DIT engaged with Northside Partnership in a Students Learning with Communities Initiative to research levels of mobility and the potential for sustainable transportation within the study area. In 2013 an assessment of mobility (presented at the 2013 AESOP Congress) was undertaken among key disadvantaged communities in the Northside Partnership “Healthy Community” area. The study revealed that while mobility levels are high, perceptions of the quality of mobility services are very low, particularly in relation to service reliability. Furthermore, significant barriers to mobility are presented by poor environmental conditions as well as safety issues. Other issues are prevalent, such as poor perceptions of active travel and further research was recommended in this area. The study examines walking mode share for the area over recent census periods. Walking to work and school has declined from 18% to 14% between 2002 and 2011. While much of this is explained by a changing demographic, deteriorating environmental conditions and anti-social behaviour appear to also be relevant factors. The study identifies the key trip demand centres within or adjacent to the study area. Many of the routes examined are commonly used walking links yet provide a very low level of amenity. In some cases, pedestrians are routinely enforced into unsafe and unpleasant circumstances. Current conditions derogate significantly from the best practice national guidance document, the Design Manual for Urban Roads and Streets. Social inhibitors to walking also exist within the study area. The area is classified by low income, significantly lower participation rates the labour force and a higher degree of welfare dependency than the rest of the city. In many cases “soft” measures can be as critical to counteract these barriers and to increase the general amenity of the area for the most elemental of the transport modes. The development of the Santry River Greenway, not just as a physical piece of green infrastructure but as a socially connected community space, is recommended. The development of practical solutions capable of addressing the complexity of issues identified in this paper requires a collaboration of actors from different policy arenas and agencies.

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