Transport Symposium

Saturday 12 November 2011, Jacqueline du Pré Building, St Hilda’s College

19 May 2012

Civic Society members were joined by local Councillors, City and County officers, members of the public, students, visitors and representatives of local action groups who enjoyed a thought-provoking and compelling day of debate at this event.

Each of the presentations listed below attracted searching questions from the audience, with plenty of lively discussion continuing over tea, coffee and lunch intervals. In a final review session chaired by Peter Thompson, Society Chairman there was general agreement that

  • the future is bright, it is green, and Oxford is already well placed within national statistics as a city with exceptionally high take-up of public transport, cycling and walking – but there is no room for complacency
  • there are no easy answers to the daily problems of congestion and lengthy journey times because of the topography of Oxford and the necessity of long-distance commuting
  • as in most of Britain we face financial constraints and the rural areas of Oxfordshire are not so well served, while the city enjoys a bus service which is the envy of many others
  • there is much to be done yet to bring CO2 emissions within global target levels but we are better placed than many cities, as we have made significant progress already
  • anyone travelling in and around Oxford needs to question how they do so, and what they might do differently

The Society seeks ongoing dialogue in pursuit of integrated solutions to alleviate the obvious problems and to create robust, visionary and mixed mobility for the future

Transport in Oxford: The Broader, Longer View – Peter Headicar, formerly Reader in Transport Studies, Department of Planning, Oxford Brookes University reviewed 40 years of transport planning in Oxford and emphasised the step-change needed for a transition to a low carbon economy in the next 40 years.

Transport Planning in Oxford: Past and Future – Steve Howell, Deputy Director of Environment & Economy Highways & Transport, Oxfordshire County Council outlined road planning in Oxford, current financial constraints and what might be achieved in the next 10 years

Self propulsion and a healthy city: the importance of going on foot and by bicycle – Ros Weatherall, until recently the Society’s Environment Secretary and OxClean Chair, and an active walking and cycling campaigner, explained how our travel habits affect our health and the city’s well-being

Shared space – Emerging ideas for traffic and movement in civilised public space – Ben Hamilton-Baillie, Director of Hamilton-Baillie Associates, Bristol has been at the forefront of introducing the concept of shared space to the UK. Ben illustrated the often surprising possibilities for streets and spaces that forego conventional traffic signals, signs, road markings, barriers and bollards in favour of low-speed interactions, social protocols and civility.

Bus transport in Oxford: (i) Recent Developments, and a little history – Louisa Weeks, Operations Director, Oxford Bus Company described some of the revolutionary changes in bus transport in the Oxford region in the last 30-40 years which have not only improved the service but also greatly reduced dangerous pollution (ii) Today, Tomorrow & The Future – Martin Sutton, Managing Director, Stagecoach in Oxfordshire focussed on some of the issues but emphasised the efficiencies that have been made, largely without subsidies, across the region

Rail developments for the Oxford area – Chris Aldridge, Principal Network Planner (West & Wales) Network Rail gave an overview how a large number of enhancements to rail infrastructure in the region in the next 10 years will both increase capacity and reduce travel times from and to Oxford

Sustainable Transport: Looking into the future – Professor David Banister, Director of the Transport Studies Unit, the University of Oxford delivered an authoritative summary of the need for action on transport in the context of climate change and the possibility of considering mobility as a service rather than as transport in the future. NB This presentation is intended for personal research only.