The last week gave us a rare opportunity to do things slightly differently compared to how we would normally be spending our weeks. With the conference season just starting up, we thought we would get a head start by attending a few events of our own this week.
This started with an event organised by the Transport Knowledge Hub on The Future of Mobility. It should really have read 'The Future of Mobility and what this means for public transport' as it seemed to be the central question that all of the panellists were seeking to answer. The panel was fantastic, with representatives from the likes of Arriva, Go-Ahead, England's Economic Heartland, TRL, CCAV, Stagecoach, and UCL among others. But we are not sure if the question was really answered.
What made us reflect on our position was conversations that we had during the break with Bus Users UK and the London Cycle Campaign. Both organisations campaigning to get the most basic things in place to enable access for all. Doing this by raising up the voices of the marginalised. Perhaps it was fate that this was raised further by the fact that RICS, where the event was held, is on Parliament Square. The scene of pro and anti-Brexit protests ahead of a key vote in Parliament.
People, feeling disenfranchised, wanting to raise their voices. Doing things to make that happen. Perhaps the question of the future of mobility won't be answered in workshops and conference halls?
The next couple of days we saw another side of how this question is being answered. We attended LCV Cenex, an event specialising in low carbon vehicles at the Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedfordshire. It was two days of vehicles of all shapes and types, charging infrastructure, and bumping into many old colleagues from Connected Places Catapult, Zenzic, and Streetdrone.
What really shone through was the overwhelming belief in the power of technology to transition of a lower carbon future. Which it will play a role, of which there is no doubt. But nobody was mentioning truly radical ideas like travelling less, or changes in land use.
We guess we are being a bit too harsh. This was an industry event, and so naturally it would favour technologists and people who are interested in what things will make a difference. And to be fair, some of things were seriously cool to look at and try out. But a bit more chat on people wouldn't have gone amiss.
We then rounded off the week with a brilliant chat on Transport Planning Camp with the organisers. The event has been all but green lit! 7th November in Manchester. Mark it on your calendars! You can even sign up for reminders on the Eventbrite page.
We have to admit that we approached this meeting with some slight trepidation. It is to be expected with just 8 weeks before a major event, and with so much to do. Will the key decisions be taken? How will the debate go? What unexpected thing will come up?
It was worrying for nothing. Our brilliant organisers debated and decided thoroughly and quickly. All volunteered for additional tasks to make the event brilliant. It goes to show that your worst fears rarely come to pass we guess.