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Driven to excess: Impacts of motor vehicles on the quality of life of residents of three streets in Bristol UK

Hart, Joshua; Parkhurst, Graham


Joshua Hart


Quality of life in cities and towns is of increasing concern to the public, and to policymakers. A major threat to quality of life is the high volume of motor vehicle traffic, associated with a wide range of mental and physical health detriments arising from immediate, local impacts such as air and noise pollution, road deaths and injuries, as well as global, longer term effects, such as the destabilisation of Earth‟s climate. The article reports on an investigation into the impacts of traffic on quality of life in a residential area of Bristol (UK), a city which in the British context is particularly car dependent. In essence the study replicated Appleyard‟s (1969) research on traffic and neighbourhood social interaction. Primary data were collected through observations and a series of interviews with 60 households on three streets selected for their contrasting levels of traffic.

The results confirmed that Appleyard‟s findings are applicable to the UK in the 21st century; specifically that the number of friends and acquaintances reported by residents was significantly lower on streets with higher volumes of motor traffic. The extent of people's home territories also diminished as motor traffic increased. Other notable outcomes from the research include the finding that individuals' perceptions of road safety in their neighbourhood may be disproportionately influenced by the traffic conditions on their street of residence, especially affecting the degree of independence granted to children. The findings are considered against the context of existing policy solutions to reduce traffic impacts, leading to the conclusion that the tools exist to reclaim urban residential neighbourhoods from traffic, but this will require considerable political will.


Hart, J., & Parkhurst, G. (2011). Driven to excess: Impacts of motor vehicles on the quality of life of residents of three streets in Bristol UK. World Transport Policy and Practice, 17(2), 12-30

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jan 1, 2011
Journal World Transport Policy & Practice
Print ISSN 1352-7614
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 17
Issue 2
Pages 12-30
Keywords motor vehicles, quality of life, residents, Bristol, UK
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This record also includes the original MSc Dissertation containing the research which informed the journal article. It has been included here to provide additional context to the published study.


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