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31. Daily life mobility in rural areas: Keeping rural areas accessible

Thursday, June 29, 2023
15:45 - 17:15


Prof. Dr. Louise Meijering
University of Groningen

I choose the quiet roads: Everyday mobility in later life on the rural - urban continuum of the Northern Netherlands


The physical and cognitive impairments that come with age can have a negative impact on everyday mobility. Furthermore, the mobility and transport potential of older adults differs between rural, semi-dense and urban areas. There is some comparative research that shows that rural older adults with and without impairments are more disadvantaged than their urban counterparts in terms of their everyday mobility. The aim of this article is to map the strengths and weaknesses of areas on the rural-urban continuum with regard to everyday mobility in the Northern Netherlands, in the context of age-related physical and cognitive impairments. For this qualitative study, we collected activity diary data and conducted in-depth interviews with seventeen older adults. All participants engaged in two rounds of data collection, one in fall/winter and one in spring/summer. We found that older adults’ everyday movement takes place in environments that extend beyond their living environment. For instance, a city-dwelling older adult may also move in suburban areas, towns and rural areas. Furthermore, older adults display creativity and agency that help maintain their everyday mobilities, also in light of the physical and cognitive impairments that they experience. For instance, they organise rides, take small breaks while on the move, and find ways to enjoy recreational mobilities. In conclusion, everyday mobility on the rural-urban continuum provides different barriers and opportunities for older adults. Ultimately, this research contributes to improving mobility in later life, by opening up discussions on how to transfer the strengths of one spatial setting to the other.
Avital Arbel
Phd Student, Faculty Of Architucture And Town Planning
Technion Institute of Technology

Getting by - mobility challenges of rural youth in Israel


Studies of rural youth in the global north indicate their accounts share many similarities, including lack of jobs and other opportunities, lack of nearby public services and facilities, and a high reliance on others for getting to work and socializing. Transportation is a major factor affecting their experiences, with youth reporting a general infringement on their independence, as well as feelings of exclusion due to limited availability of mobility and access options. However, few studies have compared travel behavior and activity participation among youth from different spatial contexts.
Employing data from an extensive travel behavior survey conducted over the years 2014- 2017 in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area, the travel habits of youth aged 12-19 in the rural regions of Israel are analysed and compared to those of their urban peers. The survey data was collected by means of a GPS application that recorded the actual travel activities of the participants over a period of 48 hours and was complemented with a comprehensive questionnaire on household characteristics. In the presentation, results will be shown regarding the differences between rural, suburban and urban youth in terms of available mobility means (driving license, access to (motorized) vehicles, destinations and activities accessed, and overall travel patterns (travel times, distances, transport modes, dependence).
Subsequently, this quantitative data, which provides a factual picture of travel patterns, will be considered in relation to the outputs of interviews with rural teenagers regarding their expressed needs and desires in terms of mobility and accessibility.
Tibor Rongen
Phd Student
University of Groningen

How do policy networks develop peripheral mobility hubs? A comparison of regional schemes in The Netherlands


Accessibility is a crucial factor affecting individuals' ability to participate in societal processes, and for many, public transport is a basic need. However, in peripheral regions, conventional public transport systems are often characterised by indirect routing, low frequencies, and limited stops for cost efficiency, resulting in car dependency and limited accessibility by public transport. Many regions in The Netherlands are converting towards a system of direct public transport lines combined with flexible transport options to serve areas and periods of limited demand, aiming to provide adequate service to travellers and improve inclusiveness. This requires coordination between operators at mobility hubs facilitating intermodal transfers to provide users with an integrated supply. Yet, early evidence suggests that public transport companies and shared mobility providers expect to complement each other only to a limited extent. There is little qualitative insight into actor interdependencies of hub development and how this is affected by regional governance contexts. This paper aims to understand how regional networks of policy actors develop mobility hubs, using policy network theory to compare cases in the Netherlands. The research is based on semi-structured interviews with representatives from municipalities and provinces, supplemented by policy document analysis. Additionally, we interviewed transport operators to discuss their role in the policy networks. The results describe the constellation of involved actors and how these actors’ objectives and resources shape their interactions. This can inform policymakers on how to organise and align the distribution of resources in areas where operators have fewer incentives to supply their services.
Roy Huijsmans
Associate Prof, International Institute Of Social Studies
Erasmus University

From a Deficit Perspective to Patchworked Mobilities: Remote rural schooling through a mobilities lens


Building on the anthropology for development and combining this with insights from mobilities studies, this article seeks to move beyond a deficit perspective on rural schooling. I do so by highlighting the various patchworked mobilities comprising rural schooling and by reflecting on how these – not just for the everyday practice of social schooling but also in relation to how rural societies are (re)shaped, in part, by the mobilities of rural schooling.
The article is based on research conducted as part of an ESRC-DFID funded project and zooms in on five forms of mobilities comprising remote, rural schooling: 1. Mobilities through which the hierarchies of the Lao state are enacted in remote rural locations, 2. the mobilities of (inter)national development work in relation to remote rural education, 3. The mobilities of rural teachers and their livelihoods, 4. The assumed lack of mobility of rural villagers, and 5. mobilities essential for realising school-based aspirations.
I conclude that remote rural schools need to be understood not just as service providers or institutions, but also as nodes in various mobilities and that the social effects of these mobilities require thinking about development interventions as more than mere technical fixes.

Session host

Taede Tillema
Professor of Transport Geography
University of Groningen

Gerd Weitkamp
University of Groningen



Contact for questions about abstracts or registration: groningen@congressbydesign.com 

Contact for questions about the content of the programme: ruralgeo2023@rug.nl