Category Archives: Research & Evidence

Report on Council Office Reorganisation

This short report aims to highlight the most important findings to emerge from a survey conducted by the Disruption project into the impacts of the recent workplace reorganisation implemented by the City of York Council (CYC). As part of the reorganisation CYC consolidated its offices and workforce in 2013 from 17 sites to just 2 sites, West Offices and Hazel Court. In addition CYC also introduced new working practices that encouraged flexible working hours, ‘hot-desking’ and working from home. This was necessitated by a deliberate decision to reduce the desk space available at the two new sites compared to the previous 17 sites.

The two new initiatives had the potential to cause disruption, both positive and negative, to CYC employees in a number of ways. The consolidation of office space might lead to longer or shorter commuting journeys for employees, a potential change in routes, a potential change in modes and more/less complex trip chaining, (e.g. dropping children at school on the way to work). New working practices might be welcomed by some employees who enjoy the flexibility they can bring and less welcomed by others who prefer more structure and an office environment. They might lead to productivity gains at the individual and organisational level, or losses if employees are not able to connect and engage with colleagues at appropriate times.

WP3 CYC_Reorganisation_Final Report June 2015

Report on Ethnographies of Mobilities and Disruption

Between Spring 2012 and Summer 2014, 23 families and 36 individuals in Brighton, and 16 families and 25 individuals in Lancaster participated in a major ethnographic study of their travel and mobility patterns, with particular focus on how disruptions to their lives affected these.

The work forms a significant underpinning to the development of the Flexi-mobility concept. The report concludes  that the  concepts of normality, routine and habit need to be discarded as the baselines for understanding mobility. People are constantly negotiating disruptions to their everyday mobility, and this suggests there is capacity for change that needs to be unlocked. Viewing mobility practice through ‘averages’ obscures our view of this capacity.


Ethnographic Study Report (final) March 2015

Click and Collect How changing business practices are changing how we travel

This paper for the Universities Transport Study Group conference explores the findings of a set of semi-structured interviews with grocery retailers and an industry body that supports these retailers. The interviews were aimed at exploring the changing business models that were occurring primarily within the grocery sector, how the grocery sector was responding to these changes and how these changes affected the shopping and travel practices of consumers. The paper will focus on one of these business models, the development of ‘click and collect’ and whether this has the potential to overcome some of the perceived barriers to an increase in online retailing.


Key findings show that shopping practices are changing, with the size of the weekly grocery shop reducing and an increase in local ‘top-up’ shopping trips. This is accompanied by an increase in the number of ‘metro’ or ‘local’ stores run by the big supermarkets, a different utilisation of space in the hypermarkets and the introduction of ‘click and collect’.
‘Click and collect’ was seen by the retailers to have the biggest potential for growth in online retailing. It has obvious benefits to the retailer by encouraging people to visit the store, increasing footfall and giving rise to the opportunity to pick up additional shopping, but it is unclear how such changes in shopping behaviours affect travel practices.

This paper exploresthe different ‘click and collect’ models, including,
• On line purchase and collection of goods purchased from the same retailer
• On line purchase and collection of goods purchased from a third party retailer
• On line purchase and collection of goods purchased from other retailers in the same chain.
• On line purchase and collection from lockers in non-retail outlets.
It will then move on to investigate how these changes to shopping practices could affect travel practices and the likely outcomes for carbon emissions.

Disruption Survey Report

This report contains the key statistical information from a questionnaire survey of public experiences of travel disruption in the UK can be found below.


The survey was administered to 2700 respondents in six regions in the UK and elicited information relating to perceptions and experiences of travel disruption. Amongst the findings, it was found that 1 in 5 people feel that they are severely affected by disruption in their everyday life, and that people generally feel that disruption is something that cannot be anticipated or controlled.

York Flood Report

This report by Leeds University gathers together evidence from the flood that occurred in York and some villages and areas to the South of the city (Bishopthorpe, Acaster Malbis, Cawood and Naburn) during Autumn 2012. It draws on interviews and observation with residents and businesses and provides a set of recommendations aimed at increasing local resilience to floods. The main focus of this report and its recommendations is on the transport sector and on mobility issues.

It is clear however, that the impacts and responses go well beyond the transport sector. The non-transport implications are also considered and additional recommendations which go beyond the transport sector are made.


York Bridge Closure Evaluation

Leeds University led an independent evaluation of a trial closure of a key river crossing in York for the City of York Council. The closure banned private cars from using the bridge between 10am in the morning and 5pm at night but was removed at the end of the six month period because of complaints from local residents and businesses. The project evaluation report and the council deliberations can be found here:

Restricted Access

The scheme was opening up the route from York Railway Station to the famous York Minster and the pedestrianized shopping areas of York. It forms part of the walls of York and has historic buildings fronting on to the road. The Council were hoping this would improve the environment for pedestrians and cyclists as well as allowing bus reliability to be improved.

Traffic blocking back before the trial

The impacts of the trial were significant increases in walking and cycling along the bridge. Our surveys showed just how important the local environment was as a reason to visit York. There were some important traffic diversions which created additional congestion on other parts of an already busy network.

This is where the nature of the trial becomes important. Unlike the Stockholm Congestion Charge, no improvements were built in to the trial scheme. Bus companies were not prepared to adapt their timetables in the short run and capacity enhancements at pinch points or pedestrian improvements were not put in place. The outcome of the trial perhaps not wanting to be seen to be pre-judged.

There was significant local objection from those residents directly affected by needing to reroute. These were however a small proportion of total trips in the city. The scheme really unraveled because of a very large number of penalty charge notices – up to 4500 a week. The scheme has a surplus of in the region of £750k which was not the intention. A key reason for this was tourists and visitors to the city. Although the restriction was signed, it was not clear to non-residents what that meant. Sat Nav companies were not prepared to reprogramme their software for a temporary time of day closure and so large numbers of people were being caught. The advice the Council received was to issue fines through the number plate recognition software it had. This is in contrast to the introduction of the HOV 2+ lane in Leeds in the 1990s where warning letters were issued for the first few weeks. The Council subsequently received advice that it would be OK to soften the enforcement somewhat but this was too late. The damage was done and the business community support lost.

There is a hypothesis in transport that trialling things helps to overcome objections and fear of change. To a degree that is true here. The re-routing of the traffic did not cause chaos, most people were able to adapt and there were signs of a shift to more sustainable modes as intentioned. However, trials are also a window of opportunity for lobbying and where implementation difficulties can be exploited. Timing may also be a factor, as we are approaching a round of elections in the coming year so there is comparatively little political time for the project to bed in. Either way, we need a more nuanced understanding of the role of trials within implementation and we need to consider the implications for future trials (for example of Sat Nav companies not wishing to comply).

The Lendal Bridge scheme fundamentally seems a good idea and indicative of the progressive thinking in the City of York Council. A traffic commission has been established to look at future options. York anticipates a 40%+ rise in traffic levels by 2031, only half of which it thinks can be encouraged to bus and bike. Something else needs to be done. If an incremental approach such as Lendal Bridge doesn’t work then perhaps yet more radical options need to be on the table. Now there’s an implementation challenge on the back of a bloody nose!