Transport: Only Connect

Excepting some leisure trips, travel is a means to an end, not an end in itself. Few people get any pleasure from the daily commute crawling to work. The inconvenient necessity of travel now results in almost any debate about design, planning and place being dominated by traffic and transport. But talk has not lead to action and Britain suffers the worst congestion in Europe.

The evidence of many historic towns, savaged by inner relief roads and gyratories, shows the folly of trying to build our way out of the problem. Moreover, given the way in which this gives priority to the car, it is increasingly seen as myopic in the extreme: we cannot rely on continued carbon fuel dependent personalised travel.

We live in an increasingly interconnected society and we need to develop a mindset that addresses the challenges sustainably through connectivity, rather than simply through travel and transport. Moving towards connectivity requires a vision of how things might be better, it requires a respect for place and an integration of policies and actions, and it requires leadership and new behaviours. The connectivity mindset must be adopted by politicians, planners and developers alike.

And by the public, us, too! The old behaviours will not suffice: we all need to make, and crucially be given the chance to make, smarter choices and make them with confidence. People need to know that cycling is safe, walking is a pleasure, buses are reliable and comfortable and the boss will be happy when we are working from home.

Brian Human,