By Dave Milne
The first day of the conference began with a keynote address from Sir Peter Hendy of Transport for London, who spoke about ongoing and potential future transport developments in the capital. Without the distraction of slides he provided a knowledgeable stream of consciousness that touched on many important issues. His starting point was to consider the importance of mobility in the current growth of London, which also happened to be the headline story in the day’s Evening Standard.
He contrasted the current strong economic performance of London and the south east with weakness across the rest of the UK.
Perhaps his most powerful statement was that all the best cities he has visited over time have a strong strategic plan, with a directly linked transport plan. He went on to argue that lack of planning is a bigger challenge facing UK urban transport professionals outside London than many other issues that receive attention, including the organisation of public transport. A thought provoking opening to the event.
I also enjoyed a couple of papers that explored the observed phenomenon of young people in developed countries being less likely to drive than previous generations. One conclusion appears to be that driving seems more likely to be delayed to a later life stage than to be ruled out altogether. However, an interesting related development is that younger people seem quite positive about car sharing and pooling schemes as an alternative to ownership, which suggests there may be potential to reduce levels of car dependence.
The day was rounded off with a meal at Le Mercury in Islington, a small French restaurant that is definitely worth a visit!