Civil & Environmental Engineering

Modelling travel behaviour

This research theme seeks to understand how and in what way factors associated with the built environment, technology and society influence travel behaviour. This research has important implications for the future development of cities.

Our research

Urban form & travel behaviour

There is considerable interest in whether some land use patterns and transport network configurations support lower transport carbon emissions (and other externalities) than others.

Our research involves:

  • the characterisation of urban form using Geographical Information Systems GIS) mapping techniques
  • conducting personal travel surveys using cross-sectional and longitudinal designs
  • using statistical/econometric models to examine correlates of travel behaviour and transport-related resources

Transport, opportunity & wellbeing

Accessibility is a fundamental concept which is central to studies of economic development and social well-being. 

Our research seeks to construct novel, multi-modal and multi-dimensional representations of accessibility and apply these to problems in developed and developing countries.  

Active travel 

The promotion of walking and cycling is a key element of the response by Scottish and UK governments to the challenges of global warming, health improvement and the reduction of traffic congestion.  The UK has significantly lower rates of walking and cycling than countries such as the Netherlands.

Engineering improvements in network connectivity and street design are necessary steps to reverse this decline.  However, it is unlikely that investment in infrastructure alone will be sufficient to achieve a significant shift from other forms of transport as studies have repeatedly shown that psychosocial factors such as attitudes and habits also have a strong effect on transport mode choice.

Current & completed projects

Social science and engineering meet at the crossroads: understanding how infrastructure change and psychosocial factors influence  walking and cycling behaviour, Emma Bill (PhD Student), Dr Neil Ferguson (Supervisor), (Supervisor) and Professor Nanette Mutrie (External Supervisor), October 2011 – September 2014.

Links between Transport Accessibility and Quality of Life in Rural Malawi, Witness Kuotcha (PhD Student) and Dr Neil Ferguson (Supervisor), October 2009 – March 2013.

How change in residential built form influences change in travel behaviour in Scotland, Lee Woods (PhD Student) and Dr Neil Ferguson (Supervisor), submitted October 2012.

Multi-modal GIS Model of the Accessibility of Sports Facilities in Mainland Scotland (conducted as part of Apollo Scotland: The availability of and access to physical activity opportunities and links with health behaviours and obesity among adults, Dr Anne Ellaway, Dr Neil Ferguson and Dr David Ogilvie,, National Prevention Research Initiative, Medical Research Council, Yang Wang (Research Assistant) and Dr Neil Ferguson, April 2008 – March 2011.