Car club barriers faced by disabled people to be investigated by UK charity

The barriers facing disabled people in accessing car clubs are to be investigated for the first time, as part of a ground-breaking project funded by grant from the Motability Foundation.

Published on 03 May 2024

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Collaborative Mobility UK (CoMoUK) and its partner TRL have been given a grant by the Motability Foundation to study the experiences of disabled people who use car clubs. The ultimate aim of the project is to widen access to such schemes, which have more than 750,000 members across the UK and carry a wide range of benefits. Research by the Motability Foundation has shown that disabled people make 38 per cent fewer journeys than non-disabled people, with almost no improvement in the past decade.

The project, delivered by CoMoUK in partnership with transport research consultancy TRL, will engage with disabled users and potential future users of car clubs, to understand existing challenges and identify ways of making them more inclusive. The two organisations will also work with operators to understand the practical and commercial constraints associated with delivering inclusive car clubs. CoMoUK and TRL will then co-develop potential design solutions and improvement measures in collaboration with disabled people and operators that can widen access.Previous research by CoMoUK has highlighted the many benefits of car clubs, which help people save money at the same time as cutting road congestion and improving air quality. However, the market share of car clubs remains limited and disabled users remain in the minority, with little research done into the barriers that they face. CoMoUK’s most recent research into car clubs in the UK, published last year, found that more than a quarter (26 per cent) of those with lasting health conditions would not have made their last trip if they had not been a member of such a scheme. One user from Edinburgh said that as her partner was disabled and could no longer use public transport easily, being a member of a car club helped them get out and about more.

Richard Dilks, chief executive of CoMoUK, said:
“We are delighted to have been commissioned by the Motability Foundation to conduct this important research into the barriers disabled people face in accessing car clubs. From our previous work we know that such schemes carry huge benefits, both for those who use them and for wider society. Widening access to as many people as possible is crucial to maximise take-up, and we hope this project will lead to a variety of innovative solutions. This will not only help disabled people get around more easily, but will also contribute to cutting air pollution from transport and helping the UK meet its net zero targets.”

Rachael Badger, director of performance and innovation at the Motability Foundation, said:
“We are really excited to be supporting CoMoUK and TRL to carry out this important research into the barriers disabled people face when accessing car clubs. This project will utilise the lived experience of disabled people to explore how car clubs could be more inclusive. User research, led by organisations with a deep understanding of the issues and barriers, is a vital route to finding new solutions for accessible travel.”

Dr George Beard, head of new mobility at TRL, said:

“We’re delighted to be working on this exciting and important project with CoMoUK. There is growing evidence of the positive impact car clubs are having on the transport sector, however the market is still in its infancy and disabled car club users are in the minority. To date there has been very limited investigation of car club improvement measures which can better serve the needs of disabled people. In this project we aim to widen adoption of car clubs by working closely with disabled people and other stakeholders to co-design, develop and test solutions for making car clubs more inclusive. With CoMoUK’s unparalleled connections and expertise in shared mobility and TRL’s experience in user research and transport accessibility, we feel excited about the opportunity to join forces and make a positive impact on the future accessibility of car clubs nationwide.”


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