Weekly activity-travel behaviour in rural Northern Ireland: differences by context and socio-demographic
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Despite a wide variation in access to goods and services between rural areas, common policy interventions are often proposed in Northern Ireland. Questions remain as to the level and form of policy differentiation that is required, if any, both within and between different rural areas. This issue is investigated in this paper through the analysis of activity-travel patterns of individuals living in two rural areas with different levels of area accessibility and area mobility. Three focus groups, 299 questionnaires and 89 activity-travel diaries for 7 days were collected for individuals from these areas. Regression analyses were employed to explore the degree to which different factors influence activity-travel behaviour. The results indicate that individuals from rural areas with a higher level of accessibility are more integrated within their local community and as a result, are potentially less at risk of being excluded from society due to immobility. Differences, however, were also found between different groups within an area (e.g. non-car owning individuals who were more reliant on walking, and low-income individuals who made trips of a shorter distance). Based on the study findings and a review of existing policies, this research highlights the need to tailor policy responses to reflect the particular sets of circumstances exhibited in different areas.