New Swansea academic puts people at the heart of transport systems

An academic whose research focuses on how travel and transport issues affect the health and wellbeing of aging and older people is to be Swansea University’s new Reader in Gerontology in the Centre for Innovative Ageing (CIA) at the College of Human and Health Sciences.

Dr Charles Musselwhite joins Swansea University from the University of the West of England, Bristol. His background is in psychology applied to traffic and transport and he has developed a particular interest in how transport issues impact on the wellbeing of older people, and relate to technology, public policy and transport planning.


His research has looked how older people cope with the process of giving up driving, and identified the trials and problems they encountered and how some coped well, especially those who planned well or lived near friends and family who could give emotional and practical support, and those who couldn’t cope at all.


Dr Musselwhite’s research also examines how technology affects transport and older people, including how technology could help to prolong safer road use.  He has also studied how the increased use of computing to meet primary needs may mitigate the necessity for physical travel and how this relates to the needs of older people for physical engagement with the outside world.


Dr Musselwhite said: “The whole area of ageing and transport fascinates me and I hope to build on my success of winning exciting and innovative research in this field within my new post and collaborate across Swansea University and throughout Wales.”


His other research areas include examining road user safety and public attitudes to transport initiatives and interventions including the use of carbon calculators, road pricing and shared space.


Dr Musselwhite said: “I believe that the way we look at transport has to change. There has to be a greater understanding of the social issues associated with transport and it’s planning.  Overall it should be recognised that people are at the heart of the transport system and cannot be ignored.”


The Director of the Centre for Innovative Ageing, Professor Vanessa Burholt said: “We are delighted that Dr Charles Musselwhite is joining the CIA. The CIA is a Centre of Excellence undertaking world-leading research with outstanding impact. It has a distinctive feel - it houses an energetic group of researchers and academics who are passionate about advancing our research and education missions.


“Charles will be welcomed to a team that examine contradictions, values, assumptions and consequences associated with ageing populations. The centre nurtures innovation and Charles’ knowledge will be a valued asset to at least three of the six thematic teams in the Centre, in particular exploring the environments of ageing (comprising such topics as transport, design, and rural and urban living), technology and its facilitation and the future of ageing.  Charles’ academic talent and rigour will help ensure that Centre for Innovative Ageing continues to produce research knowledge that is at the vanguard of the field, improving the quality of life of older people”.