Into the Logistics Era - Accessibility and Connectivity Planning Practice in Europe

Into the Logistics Era - Accessibility and Connectivity Planning Practice in Europe

Nominated for The Planning for Sustainable Land Use and Transport Award


Derek Halden, Derek Halden Consultancy Ltd


This paper reviews strategic and local measurement of accessibility and connectivity approaches based on analysis undertaken for EU COST Action TU 1002.


Growing demand can be a proxy indicator that people and businesses are making more connections, with the implicit assumption that people travel to reach opportunities, and that the movement of goods facilitates trading. However, across most of the developed world, transport policy now seeks management of transport demand, where the added value from connections is explicit in delivery programmes. With these new approaches accessibility and connectivity are planned outcomes.
For many years it was expected that planning transport to tackle congestion would lead to accessibility improvements, but it was found that user behaviour responses and the reorganisation of activities at trip destinations, including land use changes, were at least as important as any transport changes. The new approaches require a systems approach where all of the relevant factors affecting accessibility are managed. With these approaches planners become more important organisers of economic, social and environmental improvement. This new era for the sector has been called the logistics era, where delivery approaches manage value creation in the wider economy and society.
The accessibility and connectivity planning approaches have emerged from two traditions: reacting to problems in user's experience of travel, and proactive planning to achieve greater clarity and consistency between accessibility goals and practice. Joint working methods are improving and these separate traditions are merging within accessibility and connectivity planning practice. The emerging planned approaches require organisational frameworks for agreeing and measuring shared goals.
Accessibility is a basic need for economic and social activities, so the measuring methods must resonate with all of the stakeholders engaged in delivery. Leading practice has been particularly effective at influencing: the supply, location and management of land uses; the locations of transport nodes and interchanges; the walking and cycling networks to these places; the skills of people and organisations to use the transport opportunities available to them; and the supply of flexible and community transport.
Accessibility and connectivity planning has also provided a new lens through which to view transport infrastructure and service planning decisions, complementing approaches which respond to travel demand. The actual influence of analysis on transport investment using accessibility and connectivity approaches appears to be at least as great as the travel demand based approaches reacting to problems in transport networks such as congestion.
However matching revenue streams to accessibility goals has presented considerable problems. Funding tends to be organised around commercial and statutory responsibilities so narrower programmes such as providing transport, health and education tend to achieve priority over joint goals in accessibility plans in each part of Europe. Skills in logistics are stronger in voluntary and commercial sectors than in public bodies. The latter organisations tend to focus on statutory goals, and statutory responsibilities for transport are measured in terms of transport outcomes than accessibility and connectivity outcomes.
Measurement techniques for accessibility and connectivity are improving to better support cross sector engagement. As practice continues to evolve, increasing use of crowd sourced and customer relationship management data looks set to strengthen the influence of accessibility planning over investment decisions. The strategic, local, measurement, and organisational issues relevant to future improvements will proceed at different paces in different parts of Europe.
Effective engagement between people, organisations, and places continues to rely on a wide range of ways to measure the connections, so the leading practice to make the connections delivers planned accessibility goals through cross sector workshops where key stakeholders negotiate mutually beneficial outcomes.


Association for European Transport