UCL Grand Challenges


Disturbed and disrupted

The impact of floods on mobility and consequences for health and wellbeing in cities

1 October 2013


Grant: Grand Challenges Small Grants
Year awarded: 2013-14
Amount awarded: £3,000


  • Nicola Christie, Dept of Civil, Environ & Geomatic Eng, Engineering Sciences
  • Liza Griffin, Developing Planning Unit, The Bartlett
  • John Twigg, Dept of Civil, Environ & Geomatic Eng, Engineering Sciences
  • Helena Titheridge, Dept of Civil, Environ & Geomatic Eng, Engineering Sciences  

It is estimated that 1.7m homes and 130,000 commercial properties are at risk from river or coastal flooding in England and many more are at risk from flash floods. Floods cause widespread disruption to transport and peoples mobility with a disproportionate effect on vulnerable members of communities. Regaining mobility is a key part of a community’s ‘recovery’. However, research has tended to focus on quantitative analysis of trip patterns from a transport modelling perspective and not the lived experience of people. There is a dearth of research exploring people’s experiences of flood related mobility problems and their impact on health and wellbeing.

The research aims to explore the experiences of people who have experienced flood events to understand impacts on mobility, health and wellbeing. It will explore strategies people and communities use to prepare, respond and adapt their mobility and to what extent frontline services, emergency planning officers facilitate resilience.

This research will take place in Oxford which has been severely flooded three times in recent years. Research participants will be identified through community flood action groups that have been set up throughout Oxford and belong to the ‘Oxford Flood Alliance’. In-depth qualitative research (focus groups and interviews) will take place with communities that have experienced recent floods with particular reference to vulnerable groups such as the old, the poor and the disabled.

A stakeholder event will be run to explore implications for policy and practice.

Outputs and Impacts