The full title of this RGS-IBG 2013 session was “Mobility as Practice: new frontiers in geographical understandings of urban mobility”. Report by Mags Adams (Salford), Noel Cass and James Faulconbridge (Lancaster) .
This write up is of two sessions (basic descriptions of which can be found here and here) that took place at the RGS-IBG annual conference 2013 and was written by its conveners Graham Parkhurst and Juliet Jain (UWE).
Report by Angela Curl (Glasgow), RGS-IBG session description here.
This open session brought together a diverse range of transport related papers resulting in an engaging session which stimulated much debate.
Firstly, Brendan Doody gave an in depth account of his fieldwork with London commuters, highlighting strategies for ‘coping’ and drawing out the habitual nature of commuting. Filip Chvatal discussed some of the challenges in developing a measure of accessibility related to development in the Czech republic, using a variety of spatial scales. Anna Kenyon’s paper looked at inequalities in levels of walking in Scotland, related to measures of the built environment. Finally Kees Maat enlightened us with problems faced by Dutch commuters in finding a bike space at stations, and discussed some strategies for alleviating bicycle congestion.
Report by Justin Spinney (Southampton)
The two sessions took place on the afternoon of Friday 30th August (see the session on the RGS-IBG website here). Rather than squeeze five 15 minute papers into the sessions we opted for three 25 minute papers and 25 minute group discussion. The focus was on exploring the role of designers and design knowledge, including marketing, in shaping mobility and immobility. Bringing such questions of governance and economy to the fore, this session sought to illuminate the linkages between seemingly mundane spatial practice and the broader dynamics of knowledge and production networks in a number of ways. We had one speaker drop out (leaving five) but this worked to our advantage as we simply finished at 6pm rather than 6.30pm in the second session. Mainly (I hope) because of the timing (and to some extent location; tucked away in the Sheldon building) the sessions weren’t fantastically attended. However, this didn’t detract from – and may well have helped facilitate – some excellent and uninhibited discussion in both sessions. Indeed, I felt that not only did the time for group discussion make the sessions more dialogic, it also meant the papers were more substantial because of the extra time allowed. I would certainly recommend it as a format over trying to fit in 5 15 minute papers. After interest from at least one publisher who attended the session we are looking at the possibility of putting together an edited book on the theme using the papers as a starting point.
Colin Pooley, Emeritus Professor of Social and Historical Geography at Lancaster, has recently published a new book alongside other editors. Normally a new book alone wouldn’t merit a post on the website, but it has received very good reviews from established academics in the field:
- “This pioneering book is much needed, as it calls for a new
understanding of travel and a real engagement with people and
policy makers, so that effective actions can be taken that will
transform the quality of the urban environment.” (David Banister)
- ““This book addresses one of the major lifestyle challenges of our age – how to embed sustained and sustainable mobility
within community and society. The learning assembled will be essential to the effective design and implementation of
policies and interventions.” (Dr Andy Cope)
This book is timely, coming when walking and especially cycling policy are receiving heightened public and policy attention. So please take a look at it’s full details at the Policy Press and consider picking-up a copy if you’re interested in the subject.
The last TGRG session of the conference, ‘The Geography of Business Travel’, comprised a range of papers, from theoretical studies drawing on a range of disciplines, to empirical research based on primary and secondary data, then further to a presentation of a practical tool available to support decision making.
It commenced by exploring the how the practice of business travel has become ingrained in society despite compelling reasons to find alternatives to travel. James Faulconbridge outlined how market development, the marketing of travel alternatives and the image associated with business travel are challenges to countering this trend. The company car, a key contributor to business and in some cases leisure travel, was the focus of the next presentation. Using a London-centric approach, Scott Le Vine answered questions such as ‘How, when and where are company cars used?’ and considered what access to a company car means for household as well as individual travel. In considering the procurement practices relating to business travel, Paul Adderley presented a tool designed to consider the door-to-door travel and mobility options with consideration for environmental costs. The tool identifies the range of options providing information about the impact of each; it includes the option not to travel (using a technological alternative) and also recognises that private vehicles may provide part of the solution. Lisa Davison then examined the characteristics of business travellers who fly as part of their work, highlighting the difficulties in responding to a homogeneous business air travel segment, where in reality a range of sub-segments exist. The interrelatedness of business and personal travel formed the focus of Kate Pangbourne’s presentation, which emphasised the need to better understand how individual and organisational factors come together, so as to better inform business practices and inform transport policy.
As the conference drew to a close, presenters dashed for their trains or engaged in activities typified by the ‘leisure’ tourism segment thus demonstrating some of the complexities of the geography of business travel.
Continue reading to view a selection of the presentations from the session. Continue reading ‘The Geography of Business Travel’ session at RGS 2013