The contribution of active travel to public health, the relationships between transport and air quality, and the interactions between mobility and wellbeing are key concerns within this research theme. This theme considers the complex relationships among mobility, health, wellbeing and sustainable development, with a specific focus on cities.

The recognition that health is more than the absence of disease or infirmity and the increased attention for individual and communal wellbeing in policy and planning is the starting point for the wellbeing theme. Many people are not spending enough time being physically active and levels are too low in large sectors of the population, and that this can contribute to serious health problems and low levels of subjective wellbeing. This work seeks to understand how active travel can be encouraged, and how cycling and walking can deliver benefits to personal wellbeing, public health, the economy and the environment. Attention is also directed to the ways in which transport can shape the wellbeing of individuals and communities, and vice versa. Wellbeing is here understood in multiple ways, including happiness, flourishing and the satisfaction of needs.

Using detailed information on travel patterns and time use, research also seeks to understand in which everyday travel and activities are undertaken contribute to greater happiness and flourishing among individuals and in communities.

Research in this theme aims to:
  • Understand the processes of behaviour change in active travel and public health in order to refine and develop theory and inform practice;
  • Develop and apply methods for quantifying the health, wellbeing and economic impacts of strategies to achieve global reductions in greenhouse gas emissions;
  • Evaluate transport and public health interventions in terms of their travel, physical activity, wellbeing and climate change impacts; and
  • Examine which dimensions of trip-making and the physical, social and geographical contexts of travel behaviour and time use enhance or diminish wellbeing.

This research explores major policies, strategies and interventions to improve public health and wellbeing and mitigate climate change across a number of geographical scales, ranging from the international level to the neighbourhood and immediate surroundings of a mobile individual.

Core strands of work include:

  • Integrated health, transport, wellbeing and carbon impact assessment: We assess the effects of policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on health, wellbeing and the economy. Policy options represent alternative strategies for achieving abatement targets where the alternatives are likely to have differing impacts on population health, wellbeing and development.
  • Evaluation of impacts of physical interventions for walking and cycling: Methods are developed to measure and evaluate active travel in terms of changes to physical activity, travel behaviour and carbon emissions. Research explores why physical interventions and supporting promotional activities are (or are not) effective, in what ways, for whom and in what circumstances.
  • Understanding wellbeing at individual and household levels: Work in this area explores subjective wellbeing among individuals and households in the UK and elsewhere. It seeks to determine how wellbeing is shaped by transport and time use, aspects of the built environment, social networks and social deprivation.

Current Research Projects

PEAK Urban

PEAK Urban

Funded by the UKRI Global Challenges Research Fund; 2017-2022; University of Oxford with Peking University; The African Centre for Cities, University of Cape Town; The Indian Institute for Human Settlements; Universidad EAFIT; Dr Tim Schwanen, Dr Lucy Baker, Dr Jacob Doherty and Dr Juan-Pablo Orjuela

ResearcherResearcherJuan-Pablo OrjuelaResearcher

Recent Research Projects


DEsigning and Policy Implementation for encouraging Cycling and walking Trips (DEPICT)

Funded by the ESRC; 2015-2018; University of Oxford with Utrecht University and University of São Paulo; Dr Tim Schwanen and Dr Denver Nixon

Everyday Mobilities of Visually Impaired Young People

Everyday Mobilities of Visually Impaired Young People

Funded by the John Fell Fund, University of Oxford; 2014-2018; Dr Jennie Middleton


Physical Activity through Sustainable Transport Approaches (PASTA)

Funded by the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme; 2013-2017; University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna (BOKU) with multiple research partners; Dr Christian Brand

Travel behaviour change in Greater Oslo

Travel behaviour change in Greater Oslo

Funded by the Institute of Transport Economics; 2013-2016; Prof David Banister


Impact of Constructing Non-motorised Networks and Evaluating Changes in Travel (iConnect)

Funded by the ESPRC; 2008-2013; University of Oxford with multiple research partners; Dr Christian Brand and Dr Tim Jones.

Tim JonesResearcher