Last Monday I attended the Austrian Ministry of Transportation and Innovation (BMVIT) 2008 conference on transport research: Mobility for All - Sustainable Regional Transport (Nachhaltige nahmobilitaet). The conference was very good, five very interesting presentations and lots of time for discussion with the attendees.
The first speaker was the BMVIT State Secretary Christa Kranzl. She is an elected official who is responsible for managing the ministry (along with the actual minister). She spoke very intelligently about the importance of regional transport and sustainability; it was impressive that she understood the important issues and also that she stayed for the first lecture and asked intelligent questions about key points.
The first lecture was by Prof. Dr. Heiner Monheim from the University of Trier's department of regional development. His lecture focused on many of the small things that we can do to make local/regional transport more sustainable - in contrast to spending lots of money on huge infrastructure projects designed to move people over long distances. Two key recommendations: bicycle streets and "shared space" roadways where different modes of transport share the same space.
Another lecture was given by Werner Broeg from the institute of Transport and Infrastructure Research at Socialdata (Munich). They specialize in detailed surveys to help improve planning. His results were fascinating, showing transport similarities between Europe, America and Australia ... the three continents share more than we sometimes think. One of his main points was that planners need to focus on getting people who really have options to bike/walk and/or use public transport (the low hanging fruit), we waste too much time and effort trying to get people without realistic options (e.g. three times longer travel time, three transfers, etc.) to use public transport. Some of his data was fascinating, more in a later post.
Prof. Dr. Hermann Knoflacher from the Vienna Technical University's department of transport planning and technology spoke on the need for leveling the playing field if we want people to use public transport. One of his main ideas is to put parking equidistant away from people as public transport stops - when people have to walk as far to their car as they do to public transport, they will use public transport more often.
All in all it was one of the best conferences I have been to in a long time. More later when I have time to