Mobilities and Liveability in Galway

A Cooperative Teacher/Student Research Project

This innovative research project seeks to capture people’s opinions and understanding of transport, mobility and liveability in Galway City, Ireland. Liveability refers to all the things that add up to a good community life including the design of neighbourhoods, the natural environment, economic prosperity, social stability and equity, educational opportunities, and good cultural, entertainment and recreation facilities. Transport is also central to facilitating urban liveability and mobility and transport systems should be designed to be adaptable and attractive, and aim to promote health, well-being, safety and accessibility. Key challenges that need to be considered in establishing a liveable city and to enhancing people’s wellbeing are; how we can learn from city transport legacy issues to improve on standard approaches and, how we can monitor liveability factors variations over a period of time and how transport contributes (UCL Transport Institute, 2014).

Data collection is being carried out by researchers and undergraduate students from the School of Political Science & Sociology at the National University of Ireland Galway over the summer months of June, July and August 2016. Galway is a city on the west coast of Ireland in the province of Connacht with a population of 79,504 (CSO, 2016) and thus is an ideal site for investigating issues of transport and liveability as these relate to small cities and towns. Results and findings will be disseminated by the team from autumn 2016 to academics, policy designers, key decision-makers, interested individuals and groups, and to the wider public.

The desire to connect research and teaching to create a productive and progressive framework for undergraduate teaching and learning has become one of the most significant areas for academic development in higher education. Neary and Winn (2009) maintain the positive effect on student learning through the inclusion of real-life, complex and unstructured research-like activities is at the core of undergraduate education, and following this paradigm the student acts as 'producer' of knowledge instead of simply knowledge consumer. The concept behind 'Student as Producer' is that student learning is grounded in research and research-like activities so that much of what the student learns will be through their own discoveries, working in collaboration with academic advisers and other students in a research-rich environment. Dialogic learning environments characterised by respectful collaboration and open-ended learning opportunities, motivate and engage learners (Bovill 2014, Hodge et al. 2008).

The Mobilities and Liveability in Galway project began in June 2016 and to-date a number of workshops and team meetings have taken places and a questionnaire developed based on best practice and focused at understanding three separate theoretical concepts; devising a car-dependency metric, liveability and social capital in an urban setting and, urban walkability of neighbourhoods in Galway. The questionnaire has been trailed and re-drafted and the data collection commenced in Galway based on an agreed stratified sampling approach. The questionnaire is due to run from the 9th June to the 9th August. A copy of the questionnaire in pdf format is available to download by CLICKING HERE.

Research Method

How the data was collected

Data collection was carried out by undergraduate research students from the School of Political Science & Sociology at the National University of Ireland Galway over a five month period in 2016. The Mobilities and Liveability in Galway project was a quantitative study comprising of a questionnaire of 43 questions on issues related to transport, mobility and liveability, and eight demographic questions (a copy of the questionnaire in pdf format is available to download by CLICKING HERE). The questions chosen were a result of much deliberation and were based on local transport debates and media discussions. For instance, the statement on traffic lights was directly linked to the recent transformation of key junctions in the city from large roundabouts to traffic light systems. This is has led to complaints of traffic delays in the city, particularly by car drivers. Other issues such as additional road building, parking, and attitudes toward cycling and bus lanes are all ongoing concerns for citizens, advocacy groups, the local media, and in decision-making circles.

A stratified probability sampling approach was employed with the urban population of the city broken into its three respective electoral districts; Galway City Central (24.96%), Galway City East (39.83%), and Galway City West (35.21%). The current population of the city is 51.94 per cent female, 48.06 per cent male (CSO, 2016). Data collection was initially carried out by the widespread localised promotion of the questionnaire via social media and made available through the free and open source online application LimeSurvey. Efforts at limiting digital biases were made; including avoiding the assistance of various local transport advocacy and lobby groups. Concerns about the asymmetry of responses and, indeed, the digital divide prompted researchers to limit online responses. Therefore, after the preliminary online collection phase the questionnaire was then administered through face-to-face approaches to residents in targeted areas of the city to satisfy the sampling method adopted. Attempts were made to limit, as far as possible, spatial biases by using a systematic sampling method of these selected areas. Over 400 (n = 416) fully completed questionnaires were gathered and 38 incomplete questionnaires; an overall total of n = 454. The percentage breakdown of collected questionnaires were; Galway City Central (27.16%, n = 113), Galway City East (38.70%, n = 161), and Galway City West (34.14%, n = 142); and male (45.90%) female (54.10%). Further location-specific breakdown of participants is provided in the Appendix. The data collection period ran from the 9 June 2016 to the 9 November 2016, at which point they were input into SPSS (IBM Corp. Released 2013. IBM SPSS Statistics for Windows, Version 22.0. Armonk, NY, USA) to enable data analysis.

References

Acknowledgements

Who helped and supported the project

The project team wish to acknowledge the assistance and support of the Governance and Development Research Cluster in the School of Political Science and Sociology at the National University of Ireland Galway. In addition, we wish to acknowledge the help and backing of the Social Sciences Research Centre (SSRC) and the teaching and administrative staff from the School of Political Science and Sociology at the National University of Ireland Galway. The team also wish to recognise and acknowledge all the participants and contributors to this research and thank them for their time, effort, and generosity throughout the data collection period.

Meet the Project Team

Researchers from the School of Political Science and Sociology

Dr. Mike Hynes

Principal Investigator

Dr. Mike Hynes

Olga Bolbocean

Student Researcher

Olga Bolbocean

Student Researcher

Dylan Chambers

Emer Coyne

Student Researcher

Emer Coyne

Stephen Doyle

Student Researcher

Stephen Doyle

Eliona Gjecaj

Student Researcher

Eliona Gjecaj

Gerry Molloy

Student Researcher

Gerard Molloy

Evelyn Nicola Murtagh

Student Researcher

Evelyn Nicola Murtagh

Eibhlín Seoighithe

Student Researcher

Eibhlín Seoighithe

Patrick Gerard Treanor

Student Researcher

Patrick Gerard Treanor