Distinguishing between accessibility and mobility
Understanding the distinction between accessibility and mobility is a crticial aspect in creating a sound and sustainable transportation policy.
In the rural transport context, an example would be non-transport
interventions such as efforts to bring water supply and fuel supply to
houses (instead of forcing people - especially women - to walk long
distances for them). This is an excellent example of an effort to
increase accessibility of services without the need to increase
- 'Traffic': in this perspective vehicle movement and speed are
beneficial; congestion or inadequate roads are seen as the problem. The
old roads-focussed approaches in rural transport could be seen as
analogous to a traffic focus.
- 'Mobility': in this perspective it is the efficient movement of
people and goods that is seen as beneficial or as they key aim of
policy. This is much wiser than a traffic focus because at least it
helps move attention to more efficient ways of moving people and goods.
This would put a high priority on collective modes of transport (eg
- 'Accessibility' or an 'access focus': In this perspective it is the
ability to REACH opportunities that is beneficial, not movement itself.
In remote rural contexts gaining access to services, goods and contacts
will often require a lot of mobility. However, in many urban contexts
accessibility might involve very short trips. And in places like
suburban USA policy to enhance accessibility might actually require that
we reduce traffic or even reduce the need to travel (or reduce
With an accessibility perspective, both traffic and mobility are
obviously still important. But they are seen as 'means' not 'ends in
themselves'. Other ways to enhance accessibility would include planning
for proximity, improved communications systems, bringing services
Source: Paul Barter in the SUSTRAN mailing list.