By Dave Milne
The second day of the conference is always the longest and this year there were timetabled activities from 9am until 6pm, with then only a 45 minute turnaround to get back to the hotel & change before we headed off to the conference dinner at 6:45!
During the day I spent much of my time listening to presentations about the relationship between transport and location, land use and urban form. In particular, one student paper used NTS data and structural equation modelling to explore how land use characteristics affect the volume of travel. It appeared to show quite convincingly that development density, albeit quite simply defined at a coarse level, is well correlated with the amount of travel in ways that might be expected (ie decreasing density leads to more travel). While clearly not surprising it could potentially provide a useful starting point for further survey-based research on more detailed definitions of development types and on causal factors.
The final session of the day was a plenary from ITS’ own Bryan Matthews (see photo below), who gave a unique insight into the issues surrounding the use of technology to improve the mobility of visually impaired people. What was most striking to me was the fact that I suspect awareness of the technological approaches and associated user issues Bryan described is quite poor within the transport community, despite the fact that many academics are already thinking about issues that reduce mobility for other groups in society. We really need to engage with this area more and increase the volume of ongoing research.
Finally, I must mention the boat trip. Taking a ride down the river at night over dinner was an excellent experience and a good way to appreciate the scale of the city. Definitely an inspired decision by the conference organiser. But my personal highlight was being able to use my contactless debit card in a seamless fashion to use the tube. The one thing I forgot to pick up early on Monday morning was my Oyster card and I was interested to hear Peter Hendy talking about the initiative to allow normal payment cards to be used instead on the grounds that he didn’t think TfL should be “running a bank” in the long term. To then find out that the system is already working & that a whole conference of academics can use it without an obvious problem occurring was impressive. West Yorkshire definitely has some catching up to do!