Where sustainable transport and social exclusion meet: households without cars and car dependence in Great Britain

Giulio Mattioli

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69 Citations (Scopus)
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A secondary analysis of the British National Travel Survey for the years 2002-2010 shows that the composition of the group of carless households is a good indicator for the level of car dependence in a local area: indeed, while non-car ownership in peripheral and rural areas very often corresponds to a marginal socio-demographic situation, this is less and less true as one moves towards larger urban areas. Similarly, while in sparse areas most households without cars are either virtually immobile or reliant on car lifts, in large urban areas the ‘mobility gap’ between car-owning and carless households is considerably smaller, as the latter are able to use modal alternatives to the car. These findings are interpreted with reference to an integrated theoretical framework, showing how changes in land-use and the environmental and social impacts of increasing motorisation are intimately linked. Notably, the consequences of the self-reinforcing cycle of car dependence on two forms of car-related transport disadvantage (car deprivation and forced car ownership) are highlighted. Overall, the article highlights how the socio-demographic composition and the travel behaviour of carless households vary systematically across different types of area: this has interesting implications for sustainable transport policy and research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)379-400
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Environmental Policy & Planning
Issue number3
Early online date27 Jan 2014
Publication statusPublished - 25 Sep 2014


  • car ownership
  • households without cars
  • transport disadvantage
  • sustainable transport
  • car dependence


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