Collaborative working to overcome barriers to active transport: Learning from a living lab

Innovative research on barriers to active transport in Palmerston North set out to “disrupt” conventional approaches to research in a number of ways. First, council managers and planners worked collaboratively with university researchers to determine the focus of research and the approach that was taken. Second, the two organisations (council and university) chose to focus on their own staff in order to be able to demonstrate leadership in the community in addressing the challenge of promoting active transport. An online questionnaire was developed and administered to staff of both organisations. Third, recognising the need to have a long-term approach, both organisations have continued to collaborate in carrying out follow-up research and implementing the findings. This paper outlines the background to the research that was initiated in 2014 and discusses the importance of the long-term relationships between planners, policy advisors and active transport researchers. It shares insights for local government, district health boards and other key agencies about working collaboratively to co-create research about and implement solutions to increase participation in active transport.