INTERACT is a cluster of four research units in the framework of the "Science for Sustainable Development Programme", addressing access to places and transport from different, complementary angles: accessibility and performance of infrastructures, regional economics, health, etc.
The purpose of the cluster is to foster an interdisciplinary collaboration to compare, deepen and translate the previously acquired knowledge into a new vision, along with policy recommendations based on an integrated approach.
The goals of INTERACT can be summarised as follows:
- harmonisation of multidisciplinary research, data and analysis;
- improvement of insight into the motivations, dynamics, interactions and effects of socio-economic and cultural activities related to human mobility;
- recommendations for policy makers, planners, engineers and other experts;
- development of a "toolbox" for the evaluation of accessibility issues in urban planning, transport and mobility;
- communication of results in a book, an interactive website, a DVD and a seminar.
The project had a dual perspective. The first consist of the application of a conceptual framework to integrate research results in terms of social, economic and environmental interactions, followed by a discussion as to how these relate to policy.
The second examines cases i.e. specific locations (railway stations), and specific target groups (elderly people).
There was less interest in measures for an ageing society. This seems to indicate that experts currently involved in transport and mobility are not very much aware of the challenges posed on the transport system by the increasing group of elderly people.
Efficient measures are often technically and financially unfeasible or have little public acceptance. The measure considered to be the most efficient and feasible is to simplify intermodal ticketing. Other measures that were found to be rather efficient and technically and financially feasible are the reduction of the benefit of company cars and the provision of dedicated lanes and priority at traffic signs for public transport.
In the case study in the Brussels-Capital Region “Local environment, walkability and the health of the elderly in Brussels”, research was conducted to assess if the neighbourhood environment affects the health of the elderly. The lack of urban qualities was partly related to health characteristics of the elderly residents: poor sidewalks, poor public transport and low network connectivity have an inverse relation with health of elderly people in low income neighbourhoods. Lack of green spaces has an inverse relation with health of elderly people in high and middle income neighbourhoods. However, most often the health statistics are most related to the socio-economic structure. More research is needed on the life and residential trajectories of elderly people, and on the daily moves in relation to specific neighbourhood qualities.
The analysis of train station environments through video image analysis made it possible to identify zones with specific use of public space, to quantify movements and mixed use of the transport infrastructure, to assess flows, behaviour and conflicts between different types of road users.