It appears some on these lists may not have received the following
Date: Wed, 11 Oct 2006 10:15:31
Apologies for any duplicate addresses .... also please forward to
Thanks Andrew and Eric ...
This is what we should be discussing ... not just future technologies and
40 year horizons (eg the Foresight obesity project) but CURRENT
applications and evaluation of interventions that were last year's
"future" solutions ... but were never able or allowed to
"hit the road" in terms of trials, demonstrations, short term
evaluations, and then, iterative feedback and longer term evaluation,
And in addition, surely the focus on transporting goods and people while
essential is "back to front" ..? Surely there is a need to
address NOT transporting people and goods (as far or as easily)?
This is one reason why Mayer Hillman's efforts re carbon are so important
even if Greenhouse gas effects, or global warming or oil supply peaks or
depletion are problematic. Is there much point in being technologically
and scientifically advanced but still deciding to take the risk?
Perhaps then a bigger question is why do "we" waste these
"valuable" but expendable resources and 'create' costly 'waste'
from them ... whether in building roads, destroying farmland or forests
or fishing, or by fueling more and more cars, trucks, buses and
Two examples (as illustrative cases).
1. Why do "we" increase the transport distances rather than
reduce them? Is there a limit? In other words, what imperative
"drives" the movement of goods and people further and further?
Then perhaps ITS might have a role, not as we do it now or talk about it
in the future, but in monitoring and perhaps reducing the distance a
tomato or a bunch of cut flowers or a person travels and at what FULL
2. Why do "we" support walking and cycling (arguably efficient
and/or "sustainable" modes of transport) but in reality, do
almost nothing about making them as "safe+convenient" (a
reference to a phrase I use and which might be useful in a GOOGLE search)
as travelling by the carbon guzzlers? Indeed why is it that
"we" can't even develop simple devices to show road users HOW
to "Share the Road" ie with pedestrians and cyclists? Because
"we" still have to give priority to the carbon guzzlers? (There
might even be a link here to the Foresight obesity project?)
One example of showing HOW to "Share the Road" has been in use
in Brisbane (Australia) for over 10 years and in other places similar
concepts for both shorter and longer periods.
But the "gas guzzler" mentality is so strong that most
authorities will automatically reject anything that promotes showing HOW
to "Share the Road" in favour of limited pedestrian crossings
and for cyclists, "bike lanes or bike paths ... or nothing".
[Anyone interested in the case is welcome to use phrases like
<BFZ>, <yellow BIKE symbol> or add <yeates> to those to
search the web]
But back to ITS. One of the ITS ideas which gets a lot of publicity but
little exposure in reality is crash avoidance systems. Why are these not
more advanced and available as a "clip on" accessory for any
vehicle used on the roads?
Putting some of the various (admittedly incomplete) views above into the
crash avoidance technology concept produces a new way of addressing (I
dare not suggest solving) quite a few of the problems where
"we" seem unable to implement solutions (and thus show and
Can you imagine trying to drive something like a "car" fitted
with crash avoidance technology in a street or road where cyclists and
pedestrians also "Share the Road"? The "car" would be
next to useless ... as long as sufficient "people" were around
and sufficiently assertive. Wouldn't Critical Mass take on a new meaning
and role? Wow?
My guess though is that while we are building cars that reduce the damage
they cause to what "Vision Zero" describes as "soft
people", I am not so sure the crash avoidance systems are
being designed to (almost) prevent a "car" to crash into a
pedestrian or cyclist.
Perhaps I'm wrong ... I hope so.
So in a nutshell, it seems the problem is the process "we" seem
to uncritically accept namely the wider community is (almost) excluded
from the scoping and early development of the ideas and only brought in
when those involved think it is time to do so ... usually well down the
development line (thus the Cartesian analogy is fine with me Eric) ... by
which time, the project has a life of its own and develops an almost
inevitable duality between those in support and those against ... and
that of course suits the process, because what better reason to do
nothing than to have the community in a brawl over what to do that is
What better than allow the status quo to continue until someone again
suggests a new (or sometimes the same) idea?
Phil Goodwin covered this well in a recent 'one pager' article in LTT
about how "induced traffic" keeps getting forgotten ... (other
than by those promoting the need for new roads who call the effect
So anyone in the UK or Europe or elsewhere want to implement and trial
some "old" new ideas with an eye on assessing the outcomes FOR
the future instead of continually looking at the future while the status
quo continues more or less unchanged ... despite some marginal shifts,
and very occasional but not usually radical changes?
As just one example, anyone want to implement a project to show
HOW to "Share the Road" with "soft people"?
At 05:07 AM 11/10/2006, Andrew Curry wrote:
I need to declare an interest here before I start to respond: I was one
of the futures consultants who worked with the UK Foresight, which is an
independent body inside the Department of Trade and Industry, to create
(with a wide range of stakeholders) the scenarios component of the
Intelligent Infrastructure Systems project. All the outputs are now
online at www.foresight.gov.uk.
I'm responding here personally rather than professionally.
Full disclosure over. The ITS contracts are only a part of the work being
done to develop transport policy in the context of future constraints.
The soft systems work which underpins the scenarios (which wasn't done by
me) is robust and challenging - and looks at the whole context. A number
of the stakeholders and advisers - including some well-respected social
scientists - ensured that the agenda of the project was as much about
alternatives to mobility as easing/encouraging mobility. Without getting
into the detail of the four scenarios of themselves, at the heart of each
of them is a different 'core driver' of transport use and policy; from
ICT innovation, to built environment, to high resource cost, to carbon
I also know, through my work (and therefore can't say much more) that the
Department of Transport is engaging with other government departments in
the UK to try to develop a cross-government view of future transport
policy which extends well beyond the relatively narrow part of the work
which was mentioned at the ITS. But the Intelligent Transport Systems
Congress isn't really the right place to talk about the other stuff.
Eric, if you've looked at the scenarios and systems work, and the science
summaries, I'm happy to have a debate about whether it covers the right
sort of areas. If you haven't, would you like to do that?
With best wishes
On 10/10/06, Eric Britton
- PS: Harsh criticism as this may seem, my goal here is a
very positive one. Read on.
- Boondoggle : Hate to say it John but to my mind this is
but one more short-sighted interest-fed government-industry boondoggle:
in short the winners are once again circling their wagons and gaily
divvying up the accumulating spoils while the planet and the well being
of ordinary people continue to come under grave attack every day as the
establishment continues in all impunity to ignore the real bottom line.
Which believe me is not "intelligent" transport
- Oops : The fact that such a program is further
interest-driven by members of the academic community, who to my mind
should have a far deeper understanding of the gravity of the situation we
face in this sector and its many components and spin-offs, is, in its own
way, quite grave. Dear academic colleagues. May I respectfully ask
that you step back from this kind of thing until we have made at least
some palpable progress on the terrible matters at hand. Your
intellect, skills and energy are much needed on far more important
- Syndrome : This is part of a larger syndrome to which we
have collectively subscribed without quite realizing it. Namely, our
sector has fallen victim to an egregious Cartesian tendency to parcelize
the whole into many bits and pieces beyond the limits of any common sense
(just look at the organigram of any ministry of transport to see how that
works) and then sub-optimize this and that with gay abandon. Thus we have
roads and streets that have been optimized through construction and yes!
electronics for speed and throughput, when the communities around them
have quite a different set of requirements. And what could be a better
indication of this than our exchanges of yesterday on the subject of the
New York times article 'Delays mire U.S. road project in Aceh
' look at Robert Cowherd's telling comments on this in the morning
mails here. (And BTW, can anyone think of a good name for this
- Refocus : The fact is that we are now at a fork in the
road, and if there is any one thing that can help us make a choice as to
where we are now going to invest our energies and brilliance, it is to
the following simple question which to my mind should stand first in line
every time any public authority is going to use our hard earned taxpayer
money (it's ours, not theirs) to fund stuff that is going to shape the
future. "What can be done via this line of action (in their case
ITS) so that we can put those technologies to use in THE NEXT TWO TO
THREE YEARS TO GET VISIBLE RESULTS AND PATTERNS OF POLICY AND PRACTICE
THAT CAN BE REPLCIATED BROADLY AND AT LOW COST WORLD WIDE. And if
your program is not structured to respond to this usefully, then out it
goes. We can look at the long term when we have some breathing space. But
this is not the situation in October 2006 and will not be surly for the
remainder of this decade.
- So off you go Department for Transport, Department of
Trade and Industry and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research
Council and all your good friends from industry: redline your mandate
along these lines and you have something really useful there. Keep
us informed. We too are part of the solution. Work with us on it.
- Eric Britton
- PS2. Dear colleagues. Am I horribly wrong in this? If so
it would not be the first time. So let me put it in front of our various
peer groups here so that we can get different views on this.
- A radical new approach to funding highly innovative and
- research into key long term transport issues was
announced yesterday by
- Minister for Transport Stephen Ladyman and Lord
Sainsbury, DTI Minister
- for Science and Innovation, at the Intelligent Transport
- Congress in London .
- The new approach to research is expected to result in
- Advances than simply awarding funding to a single
organisation. It will allow a
- small number of consortia with wide ranging expertise to
- collaboration to tackle some of the major transport
challenges we face
- over the next decade.
- The Department for Transport, Department of Trade and
Industry and the
- Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council will
- Â£9 million of funding, with a further Â£3 million
expected from industry
- The Future Intelligent Transport Systems initiative is
- stimulate new ideas, concepts, products or services that
- * Further improve safety on our roads
by reducing collisions,
- casualties and deaths;
- * Result in better, more reliable,
accessible and safer public
- transport services;
- * Lead to even greater efficiency in
the road freight industry;
- * Improve road network management;
- * Provide better travel information,
allowing travellers to make
- informed choices on how and when to
- Further details can be found within the call for
- Interest to participate, which can be found at:
- Jon Maybury
- Innovation Platform Manager
- Intelligent Transport Systems
- Department of Trade and Industry
- Office of Science and Innovation (OSI)
- 151 Buckingham Palace Road,
- London SW1W 9SS
- Tel: 0207 215 1196
- Mobile: 07810 558891
- Home Office: 01252 819610
- Email (on the move):
- Web: <
email from Andrew Curry