Project 089

Project Title:

A Longitudinal Study of Commuting Patterns in Northern Ireland 2001 – 2011: A Public Health Perspective


Claire O’Boyle and Dr Ian Shuttleworth


Queen’s University Belfast



Project Summary:

It has been reported that the daily commute to work in the UK accounts for around one fifth of all journeys each day (Pooley & Turnbull, 2000). This statistic highlights the importance of understanding the workings of the phenomenon and ensuring that, as a modern society, we are adequately prepared for it.

Academics have studied and debated travel to work patterns highlighting, to name a few, the historical changes in mode of transport (Pooley & Turnbull, 1999), the impact of the private car (Baum, 2009) and transport and the sustainability agenda (Button & Nijkamp, 1997; Cooper, Ryley & Smith, 2001). However, these issues have been debated on the backdrop of smaller scale travel studies or an investigation into trends at a single point in time (Shuttleworth& Lloyd, 2005). This project seeks to add to this body of literature through the unique opportunity to examine the trends in travel to work patterns over time. These patterns will be explored in terms of demographic and socio-economic characteristics at the Super Output Area level. A particular focus will be on the changing nature of self-reported health status and long term limiting illness, and how these are linked to changes in mode of transport and commuting distances over time.

This project has important policy implications as the growing importance of undertaking regular activity through daily travel encourages policy interventions (Milne, 2012).


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