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Co-Motion: Co-design of the built environment for mobility in later life

The Co-Motion project, investigated the links between mobility and well-being among older people.

Inactive project


Related people

Steve Cinderby

Senior Research Fellow

SEI York

Howard Cambridge

Research Support Group Manager

SEI York

The project explored the physical and environmental issues faced by mobility scooter users. Photo: H Cambridge / SEI

We all experience major changes in our lives, particularly as we grow older, and these changes can make a difference to mobility and well-being.  The project  worked with older people in York, Leeds and Hexham who have experienced such changes.  This will lead to intensive co-design workshops with older people to create policies and tools to make this easier, as well as work with national and local stakeholders.

The Co-Motion project was one of seven Design for Well-being projects looking at ageing and mobility in the built environment funded by several UK research councils (EPSRC, ESRC and AHRC).

The consortium, which included York Departments Computer Science, Health Sciences and the Stockholm Environment Institute as well as colleagues from the University of Leeds, University of Newcastle and Northumbria University aimed to create a step-change in mobility and wellbeing in later life.  The work included a longitudinal study of older people in York, Hexham and Leeds who had experienced transitions affecting mobility and wellbeing, and this led into intensive co-design workshops with older people and local and national stakeholders.


Our approach had five distinctive, equally ranking objectives:

  1. Transitions and time. We aimed to explore mobility and wellbeing for older people going through critical but common life transitions such as losing a driving license, losing sight, losing a partner, becoming a carer or starting to use a mobility scooter.
  2. Consensus and contradiction. We investigated and addressd variation and contradictions in needs of different groups of older people, and between different built environment agendas and guidance.
  3. Participation. We worked very closely with a relatively large and diverse group of older people and local stakeholders in the built environment, ageing and wellbeing. Older people and stakeholders will act not only as informants but as co-operators and co-designers.
  4. Complements and alternatives. In proposing interventions to promote mobility and wellbeing, the project focused on complements or alternatives to physical design or redesign of the built environment.
  5. Impact. In addition to concepts and knowledge the project used a suite of tested models and prototypes: crowdsourcing and participatory GIS for mobility information gathering and analysis; deliberative methods in identifying consensus and priorities; tested prototype technologies to provide alternatives and complements to changes to the built environment; Initial evidence on the impact of prototype technologies on mobility and wellbeing.

Engaging older people using digital participatory mapping. Photo: H Cambridge / SEI

Key Findings from the research

Listed are the key summary documents from the various sections of the research.

1. Overall results

The Co-Motion project had three overarching aims: to explore mobility and wellbeing for older people going through critical but common life changes; to investigate and address the needs of different groups of older people; and to create practical tools which can act as complements or alternatives to the re-design of the (physical) environment. Read the summary below to see our key findings and recommendations for policy and practice, as well as potential directions for future research.

CoMotion key findings summary (PDF, 2,055kb)

2. Results by geographical location

The results can also be read by location – please click on the summaries below for the findings for York, Leeds and Hexham.

Lay Summary for York (PDF, 1,326kb)

Lay Summary for Leeds (PDF, 987kb)

Lay Summary for Hexham (PDF, 1,371kb)

3. Results for the different aspects explored

The research around attitudes and behaviours reveals that the physical design of the built environment is part of the jigsaw that shapes the ease with which people navigate outdoor spaces. The attitudes and behaviours of others can also impact positively and negatively on people’s experiences of being out and about, as well as the capacity and confidence to be mobile.  Read more about our findings…

Attitudes and Behaviours Key Summary (PDF, 315kb)

The research around mobile applications shows how technologies such as smartphones and tablet computers can be help support older people to take part in physical activities and maintain their wellbeing. However, to make sure that such technologies are usable and acceptable by older people, it is crucial they are involved in all stages of their design. Our research involved older people in creating a prototype walking for wellbeing app. Read more about our findings…

Mobile App Key Summary (PDF, 329kb)

The research around driving cessation shows that given the significance of older people keeping mobile, as a society there is a need to reconceptualise driving cessation as more than a private or family matter but one that has profound health, economic and social consequences. Read more about our findings…

Driving Cessation Key Summary (PDF, 424kb)

The research around mobility scooter use discusses how improvements to the built environment and future designs of mobility scooters might better support mobility and well-being in later life. Read more about our findings…

Mobility Scooters Key Summary (PDF, 417kb)

4. Mobile App proto-type

This shows the prototype app we developed for the walking for wellbeing app.
Mobile App Prototype (1,511kb download)

Topics and subtopics
Air : Cities / Health : Cities
Related centres
SEI York

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