Designing user-centric transport strategies for urban road space redistribution

A man rides his bike down a road past parked cars and vans


  • Current urban road space distribution between transport modes signifies injustice.
  • Transport planning needs to complement transport demand with commuter needs.
  • Proposed a framework for identifying user-centric urban transport strategies.
  • Co-creation is a successful way of engaging with users to shape transport policy.


Cities worldwide are geared to promote economic growth, improve accessibility, address environmental issues, and enhance the quality of life. However, the processes that lead to the design of urban roads, particularly the space distribution, reflect the inequalities existing in the fabric of our society. Motorists often have shorter travel time and more space than passengers of other modes. Furthermore, the existing transport appraisal and planning tools that frame sustainable transport policies fall short of considering the dimension of social justice. Therefore, our urban transport systems are essential areas for advancing sustainability through a transport justice-based approach to planning that can pivot the distribution of infrastructure investments over different social groups and transport modes. This study proposes such an approach by which such suitable urban transport strategies can be identified, co-created with users and appraised while considering the commuters’ needs. Specifically, the interaction between the multidimensional characteristics of sustainability and the principles of transport justice are investigated. The proposed approach is applied to London and Birmingham. The results show that a transparent and holistic approach to integrating users within transport planning is an effective way to reflect diverse needs and local circumstances and thereby ensure a just transition to sustainable urban transport policies. The results from the case studies highlight a strong rationale for the centrality of justice in any urban transport planning and policy making efforts, particularly in the allocation of road space.