A new, multi-disciplinary, active travel think tank is due to launch in August at the University of Westminster, in a bid to tackle the pressing societal crises caused by motor traffic dominance.
The new Active Travel Academy (ATA) will bring together a broad spectrum of expertise to lead research, teaching and outreach, with a focus on walking and cycling, use of other ‘micromobilities’ from e-scooters to electric hand cycles and reduction in car use.
The ATA will contribute to addressing issues around air pollution, climate breakdown, an inactivity epidemic, road injuries and deaths, unequal access to transport and the loss of independent mobility in childhood and at older ages. ATA expertise comes from across the University and beyond, from disciplines including transport and urban studies, architecture, sociology and politics, media studies, business studies, and health and wellbeing.
With twelve core and many more associate members, the Active Travel Academy will be led by Dr Rachel Aldred, Active Travel researcher and Reader in Transport. Speaking about this upcoming project, Dr Aldred said: “I’m delighted to announce the launch of the Active Travel Academy. The Academy will be a hub for research and knowledge sharing across disciplinary boundaries, involving students, practitioners, advocates, and academics. We’ll develop our own interdisciplinary research programme and amplify the best new active travel research from across the world.”
The Academy’s philosophy is that all disciplines and expertise are needed to address the acute global problems that car dominated transport systems have created. Funded by a substantial investment of over £582,000 over three years by the Quintin Hogg Trust, the academy will bring together practitioners, academics, students and many others with an interest or expertise in active travel.
New posts and PhD studentships will be created to support the Academy’s research interdisciplinary and teaching, including international summer school events, while an annual competition will appoint two visiting international fellows to contribute to the Academy’s work. Regular public events will also run alongside new initiatives such as the planned launch of an online open access academic journal for the field, providing an online public space for sharing and discussing new research across disciplinary boundaries.
Joe Irvin, CEO of everyday walking charity Living Streets, shared his thoughts on this exciting research initiative: “As a society we need to make walking and cycling the natural choice for everyday local journeys; for well-known health, environmental, social and economic benefits. So it’s fantastic that the active travel think tank will launch this summer to tackle the pressing societal crises caused by motor traffic dominance including air pollution, climate change, poor health and social isolation.”
Kate Fillin-Yeh, Strategy Director at the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) further commented: “NACTO welcomes the University of Westminster’s new Active Travel Academy. We support its mission of bringing together different disciplines to help to break down the barriers that prevent a societal shift away from cars to biking, walking, and other active modes. NACTO looks forward to collaborating with the Academy to share and build this knowledge across disciplines and across continents, to help create healthier, more sustainable cities across the world.”