Traffic and Health in Glasgow

MotorwayAs part of a wider initiative in urban regeneration, a new five-mile section of the M74 motorway has recently been opened in Glasgow. This ‘natural experiment’ provides an opportunity to evaluate a major change in the urban environment, which may have positive or negative effects on the health and wellbeing of those living nearby.

The aim of this study is to increase our understanding of how and why changing characteristics of the urban environment does, or does not, affect how people feel about living in their neighbourhoods, where they go in those neighbourhoods and how active they are. This is important because there is currently little clear public health evidence to guide decisions about investing in expensive urban regeneration projects of this kind. Indeed, an independent public local inquiry advised the government of the day not to proceed with this particular intervention because it ‘would be very likely to have very serious undesirable results’ for local communities.

Our research will test the competing claims for and against the intervention, and will therefore help inform future policy and planning in other parts of the UK where population growth is anticipated or urban redesign is proposed.

Study design

We have built on our previous baseline study (conducted in 2005) by investigating changes in travel behaviour, physical activity, perceptions of the neighbourhood environment, wellbeing, and road traffic casualties in a follow-up study between 2013 and 2015.

We surveyed adults living close to the new motorway and comparing them with those living in two matched comparison areas of the city: one where there has been a motorway since the 1960s, and one that has no motorway. We then invited some participants to spend a week wearing unobtrusive monitors (accelerometers and GPS receivers) to provide objective data about their activity patterns, because we are particularly interested in where people go in their neighbourhoods and how this may have been affected by the changes in their environment. We also interviewed a smaller number of local residents and other key informants face-to-face to explore their experiences. We have now finished collecting data for all parts of the study.

Read more about the study design here.

Full list of study publications to date

The final project report is currently in press at Public Health Research.

  • Foley L, Prins R, Crawford F, Humphreys D, Mitchell R, Sahlqvist S, Thomson H, Ogilvie D, on behalf of the M74 study team. Effects of living near an urban motorway on the wellbeing of local residents in deprived areas: natural experimental study. PLoS ONE 2017; 12: e0174882. [PubMed]
  • Ogilvie D, Foley L, Nimegeer A, Olsen J, Mitchell R, Thomson H, Crawford F, Prins R, Hilton S, Jones A, Humphreys D, Sahlqvist S, Mutrie N. Health impacts of the M74 urban motorway extension: a mixed-method natural experimental study. Public Health Res, in press.
  • Foley L, Prins R, Crawford F, Sahlqvist S, Ogilvie D, on behalf of the M74 study team. Effects of living near a new urban motorway on the travel behaviour of local residents in deprived areas: evidence from a natural experimental study. Health Place 2017; 43: 57-65. [PubMed]
  • Ogilvie D, Foley L, Nimegeer A, Olsen J, Mitchell R, Thomson H, et al. Health impacts of the M74 urban motorway extension: a natural experimental study [abstract]. Lancet 2016; 388: S5. [Lancet]
  • Olsen J, Mitchell R, Ogilvie D, on behalf of the M74 study team. Effects of new motorway infrastructure on active travel in the local population: a retrospective repeat cross-sectional study in Glasgow, Scotland. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act 2016; 13: 77. [PubMed]
  • Olsen J, Mitchell R, Mackay D, Humphreys D, Ogilvie D, on behalf of the M74 study team. The effects of new urban motorway infrastructure on road traffic accidents in the local area: a retrospective longitudinal study in Scotland. J Epidemiol Community Health 2016; doi: 10.1136/jech-2016-207378. [PubMed]
  • Ogilvie D, Mitchell R, Mutrie N, Petticrew M, Platt S. Shoe leather epidemiology: active travel and transport infrastructure in the urban landscape. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act 2010; 7: 43. [PubMed]
  • Ogilvie D, Mitchell R, Mutrie N, Petticrew M, Platt S. Personal and environmental correlates of active travel and physical activity in a deprived urban population. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act 2008; 5: 43. [PubMed]
  • Ogilvie D, Mitchell R, Mutrie N, Petticrew M, Platt S. Perceived characteristics of the environment associated with active travel: development and testing of a new scale. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act 2008; 5: 32. [PubMed]
  • Ogilvie D, Mitchell R, Mutrie N, Petticrew M, Platt S. Evaluating health effects of transport interventions: methodologic case study. Am J Prev Med 2006; 31: 118-126. [PubMed]

Study team

The study is led by the MRC Epidemiology Unit under the auspices of CEDAR in collaboration with the MRC Social and Public Health Sciences Unit and the Public Health group at the University of Glasgow, the University of East Anglia, the University of Edinburgh and the Glasgow Centre for Population Health.

Investigators

Lead researchers

M74 lead researchers

Lead researchers. From left to right: Jon Olsen, Amy Nimegeer and Lou Foley

Survey management

  • MRC Social and Public Health Sciences Unit Survey Office

Funding

The M74 study is funded by the National Institute for Health Research Public Health Research programme.

Data sharing

Enquiries about the possibility of data sharing should be directed to Dr David Ogilvie.