Active transport in deprived communities: Why the car is king
Bird, S. (2010) Active transport in deprived communities: Why the car is king. In: International Nonprofit and Social Marketing Conference, Brisbane, Australia, 15-16 July.
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Active transport is part of the solution to multiple social concerns: obesity and health (Morris & Hardman, 1997), climate change, local traffic congestion and air quality issues (Knox, 2008). As the UK’s first Cycling Demonstration City and home to some of the UK’s most prominent cycling organisations, Bristol leads in active transport provision; middle class groups demonstrate relatively high rates of active transport use, yet populations in deprived areas of the city continue to rely on cars even for short journeys (Bristol Cycling Demonstration City, 2009). These deprived populations also have higher likelihood of developing long-term chronic illness associated with low physical activity than their middle class counterparts (Shouls, Congdon, & Curtis, 1996). Little research reflects these hard-to-reach groups that allocate disproportionate resources to their cars, but are we allocating disproportionate resources to driving them towards behaviour change? How can such marginalised groups be targeted, and active transport positioned, in a cost effective manner? Recent collaborative research between the University of the West of England (UWE), Bristol Primary Care Trust (PCT) and Bristol City Council took a qualitative approach to investigate the barriers and motivations for using active transport in two age groups in deprived areas of Bristol. This paper reviews the results of the focus groups, outlining key findings. We interrogate the suppositions of active transport provision, to conclude how, and indeed if, realistic social marketing interventions to improve uptake of active transport in deprived areas of Bristol and similar areas can be developed.
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