This article describes a symposium hosted by the University of Oxford’s Transport Studies Unit (TSU) on December 7th 2012. Entitled Modelling on the Move the event kicked-off a new series of seminars sponsored by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). The aim is to explore how quantitative models can inform a transition to a low-carbon transport system, by “bringing together researchers and practitioners to discuss innovative ways of responding to pressing policy problems in transport”. The premise of the series is the interlinked problems of the obesity crisis, climate change and oil depletion.
My first thought, before the conference had even begun, was respect to the organisers for facing such overriding problems with our transport systems head-on, rather than fiddling around the edges or arguing over academic minutiae. This symposium aimed to tackle the ‘big issues’, against the grain of academia’s tendency to “tell us more and more about less and less” (Gallagher and Appenzeller, 1999).
Convener Rachel Aldred introduced the need for ‘systemic transition’ in the context of climate and energy objectives, obesity and economic crises and the rise of ‘big data’. It was certainly a broad remit. Below I sketch how researchers focussed on one or more of these objectives are harnessing new modelling techniques and collaborating to foresee the transport systems of the future.
We are preparing for the RGS-IBG annual conference 2013, to be held on August 28th to 30th in London. If you plan to present a paper related to transport geography, please submit abstracts of around 300 words to Kate Pangbourne (k.pangbourne at abdn.ac.uk). Sessions are yet to be finalised, but session themes will include:
GIS and “big data” approaches to understand personal transport flows
Energy and transport
Transport Geography in an interconnected world
Watch this space for more details on this abstract call.
The Transport Geography Research Group and Transport Scotland held a ‘Bridging the Gap’ event on 6th July at Transport Scotland in Edinburgh. This was timed to coincide with the RGS-IBG annual conference, held in the same city.
The event brought together practitioners, policy makers and academics to share good practice, to identify key policy priorities and to inform future transport geography research.
Workshops involved presentation of international examples of transport geography research under themes identified as important to policy-makers and practitioners. This was followed by wider discussion under each theme, namely
As part of the annual conference of the European Regional Science Association (ERSA), held in Slovakia, a guided tour of a Volkswagen/Audi/Porsche car assembly factory took place. We visited the Bratislava plant, one of the largest and most sophisticated in the world. It produces ~400,000 cars per year and has contributed over 3 million wheeled metal boxes to humanity during its 45 years in operation. This post describes the visit, from the perspective of an environmentally minded transport geographer.