Cluster 7: Social & Health Issues

Transport is a fundamental component of everyday mobility and impacts myriad social, economic, and health outcomes in a wide range of spatial contexts across the Globe. It is important for researchers from inside and outside the transport discipline to come together and apply their diverse theoretical perspectives, methodological tools and practical experiences to the social and health challenges of existing and future transport systems. Social, health and environmental perspectives also need to be at the very centre of considerations about what improvements are needed to facilitate more equitable, healthy and inclusive cities.

The objective for cluster 7 (Social Issues and Health) is to bring together researchers from different scientific disciplines (e.g. engineering, geography, planning, psychology, political sciences and sociology, to name a few) with an interest in the social and health-related impacts of transport. The cluster has a particular interest in equity impacts, social inclusion and interactions, transport poverty, active mobility and the health and wellbeing outcomes associated with people’s travel and the transport system.

Examples of research topics:

Social issues

  • Daily mobilities and access to livelihoods
  • Socio-political restrictions on mobility
  • Transport poverty and its social consequences
  • Social and distributional impacts of transport
  • Social interactions/networks and the role of transport

Health issues

  • Active transport and health
  • Effects of travel on mental health and well-being
  • Effects of interventions promoting healthy travel
  • Improving physical access to health services/facilities
  • Environmental impacts of transport on people and places
  • Clean and safe travel environments

Cross-cutting themes

  • Health, equity and societal interactions
  • ‘Research into practice’ and stakeholder engagement
  • Theoretical and conceptual framings
  • Methodological challenges and innovative approaches
  • Governance, decision-making and power asymmetries

Cluster chairs

Karen Lucas

Karen LucasKaren Lucas is Professor of Human Geography in the School of Environment, Education and Development (SEED) at The University of Manchester. She has had 20 years of experience of social research into the transport and mobilities of transport poor populations. She is a world-leading expert in the area of transport-related social exclusion in the Global North and South. She specialises in the development and application of methodologies that can explicate the needs and concerns of vulnerable populations from their personal perspectives, so as to better communicate these to policymakers. In 2015, she received the E. L. Ullman Award for her significant contributions to Transport Geography and the Leeds University Women of Achievement Award for her work on Designing Inclusive Transport Systems for the Asian Development Bank.  For more information you can visit her webpage:

Dick Ettema

ettemaDick Ettema is Associate Professor and Director of the research program Urban Futures in the Department of Human Geography in Utrecht University. He is a leading expert in travel behavior research and has published over 90 articles in leading transportation journals, addressing issues such the relation between the built environment and travel, mobility biographies, accessibility and activity participation, travel and social networks and travel, active travel, travel behaviour change, and the relationship between travel, health and well-being. Dick is editor of the Journal of Transport and Land Use and board member of the World Society of Transport and Land Use Research (WSTLUR). He is member of the editorial board of Journal of Choice Modelling, Travel Behaviour and Society, Transportation Letters. His personal website can be found at:

Tana Priya Uteng

TanuTanu Priya Uteng is a senior researcher at the Institute of Transport Economics in Oslo, Norway.  She has worked extensively across a host of cross-cutting issues in the field of urban and transport planning in the past 12 years. A few of her areas of expertise include: transport-related social exclusion, travel behaviour studies, transport modelling, evaluation and assessment studies, gender studies, econometric analyses. She is currently leading several research projects funded by the Norwegian Research Council which are long-term strategic projects looking at topics like bicycling, first-last mile connectivity, climate and travel behaviour, green-shift in the Nordic region, commuting and car-sharing. Her first edited book “Gendered Mobilities” was published in 2008 while her second edited book on “Transport Planning the Developing South” is scheduled to be published in fall 2017. Her website is found at:

Michael J. Widener

Widener HeadshotMichael Widener is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography and Planning at the University of Toronto – St. George, located in downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He is also an affiliate of the University of Toronto Transportation Research Institute, a member of the Social and Economic Factors (ADD20) and Environmental Justice in Transportation (ADD50) committees of TRB, co-review coordinator for TRB’s Health and Transportation subcommittee (ADD50-01), and co-lead of the Canadian Urban Environmental Health Research Consortium’s Neighbourhood Factors team. Dr. Widener’s research explores how transportation networks and infrastructure affect people’s ability to acquire and maintain access to health services and healthy opportunities. Recent work has primarily focused on the role transit and mobility constraints play in enabling or restricting access to healthy food retailers. Additional research projects include examining EMS mode choice in critical care transfers, documenting the role of transport infrastructure in food distribution networks in the Canadian north, and how the local urban environment affects the health of older adults. At the University of Toronto – St. George, Dr. Widener teaches a range of courses on geographic information science and statistical methods. His personal website can be found at:

Cluster Events: 

  • Cluster 7: Thematic Session “Social and Health Issues” 13th NECTAR international conference, May 31-June 2 2017, Madrid.
  • NECTAR Cluster 7 international workshop Social and Health Issues, University of Utrecht, The Netherlands June 7-8, 2018
  • Cluster 7: Cluster Thematic session “Changing landscapes of mobility for future social and health inequalities, 14th NECTAR international conference, June 5-7, 2019, University of Helsinki
  • Joint Cluster 2-7 Meeting on “Social and Health Implications of Active Travel Policies”, Venice, 26-27 March, 2020
  • Cluster 6 & 7 Joint Meeting on “Sustainable Neighbourhoods: Urban and transport planning for sustainable urban living”, 21-22 June 2023, Coimbra, Portugal