Transport Practitioners Meeting
DHA's Paul Lulham reflects on how the Transport profession has changed over the past 10 years.
I had the opportunity to attend the Transport Practitioners Meeting (TPM) in Oxford earlier this month, which is one of the leading conferences for transport planners in the UK. It was great to reconnect with a number of colleagues and friends that I have worked with over the years, as well as to reflect on how the profession has changed in the 10 years since I first joined Kent County Council as a Graduate.
One of the most striking and positive reflections that I took away from the day was how many young professionals continue to enter our industry, despite the fact that it is often misunderstood and undervalued relative to other planning disciplines. Even better was that a significant proportion of them were female. The passion with which these young people delivered their presentations was fantastic and gives me renewed confidence for the future.
The other significant change over the past decade has been the increased emphasis on walking, cycling and zero emission vehicles and indeed, these subjects dominated this year’s TPM. The key challenges for today’s transport planners are how to increase the safety and practicality of these modes within highway networks that were rarely designed with them in mind. In many cases, this is proving an expensive and politically contentious matter and with local government spending continuing to be reined in, there are growing calls for Government to take the lead.
The question is, will these issues receive the air time they need in Westminster when Brexit continues to dominate the national agenda? The answer is probably ‘no’! Within the resulting policy and funding vacuum, forward-thinking local authorities will need to work in partnership with the private sector to deliver the physical and behavioural changes necessary to transform our streets and places. At a time when the rate of young people buying and using cars is falling, and awareness of the economic and public health impacts of motorised travel is growing, this may not be quite as difficult as it sounds!
Paul Lulham, Director