Going Local? Public Participation and Future Mobility in Ireland
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Rau, H., McDonagh, J. (2007) 'Going Local? Public Participation and Future Mobility in Ireland' In: Clements, B(Eds.). Probing the Boundaries: Environmental Justice and Global Citizenship The Inter-Disciplinary Press.
Recent changes in Ireland's economic and socio-political fabric have coincided with an increase in physical mobility, car dependency and long-distance commuting. National transport policies, prevailing land use patterns and trends in spatial planning before, during and after the economic boom of the 1990s have all contributed to the development and 'locking-in' of car-based mobility. Recent government initiatives for fast-tracking infrastructural projects such as motorways and the persistent weakness of local government regarding infrastructural decisions such as transport initiatives are seen by some to further exacerbate unsustainable mobility patterns. The socio-economic and cultural consequences of hypermobility and car dependency for Irish society have attracted much attention from the media, academics and policy-makers of late. Yet few studies have been carried out to date to investigate public opinions about transport and mobility and explore possibilities for participatory decision-making that would help promote more sustainable mobility patterns and reduce car dependency. This paper will present qualitative data from ongoing interdisciplinary research at NUI, Galway to show how transport planning in Ireland offers limited opportunities for active participation. In addition, the paper will offer some suggestions for culturally sensitive decision-making structures that could increase the sustainability of future mobility patterns in Ireland.