George Dow shared an interesting view of Localisation and kindly wrote up the feedback from the afternoon workshops.
Our invited speaker Dr Steve Melia, from the University of the West of England, talked about his research on ‘car free’ urban developments and on low impact transport systems. This is explored further in Westley Ingram’s report of the day printed below. Plus there is a second report by Martin Davis one of CELs regular bloggers. More photo’s kindly taken by Martin can be seen here.
ecocell: The place to Be
Members of CEL’s ecocell discipleship community were joined by new friends on January 12th for the ecocell transport seminar: From A to B? Or Making A a good place to Be?
The title of the day spoke volumes as we spent time considered how we travel, why we travel and what it means for us to stay put.
Paul Bodenham, chair of CEL, said an opening prayer.
How we got here
Tony Emerson, joint co-ordinator of ecocell 2 gave an overview of our current position. First of all we took a cooks tour of the last century’s developing relationship between personal motoring and town planning and the corresponding trends in emissions. Those of us committed to living lives that are responsible in terms of emissions of CO2 and everything else have a long way to go. The ecocell community usually concentrates on our personal lifestyle choices and their impact on our co-creation but the choices we make are limited to the choices available to us in the place were we live. Today we would be considering what it means for a community to be sustainable in terms of transport and travel.
Where are we
The new joint co-co-ordinator of ecocell, George Dow, reflected on what it means to live in a place. Our willingness to curtail our travel, to travel more slowly and more deliberately derives from our ability to find meaning and purpose in the place we find ourselves. George reflected on the place he lives in now and how he came to accept his place in it and then to see the potential in the place. Staying put allowed him to find places of beauty and people of peace who he had not seen before.
Steve Melia, Senior Lecturer in transport planning at the University of the West of England in Bristol spoke to us about his research into car free communities, concentrating upon the examples of good practice from Freiberg, Groningen and Lyon. It seems that Britain leads Europe in our reliance upon the car. Nevertheless reliance upon the car is common throughout Europe and even where car use is discouraged within large cities Europe’s system on motorways means that intercity driving is on the rise.
The examples given were very interesting, showing how it was possible for a city to move away from car use over a period of decades of consistent town planning. Steve’s research revealed a lot of challenging facts also. When people are asked what needs to be done to encourage people out of their cars they usually say “better public transport” but he showed that cities that invest in improved public transport do not necessarily significantly reduce car use. Usually new and improved public transport provision mainly leads to new trips or people switching from existing modes of public transport with only small levels of transfer from the car. He cited one interesting example of free public transport for the young in Holland having the primary effect of reducing cycling. Ultimately it is important to disincentivise car use while making public transport easier. This will not only make for more liveable communities but will also increase resilience in the event of resource shortages to come.
After Lunch we broke into groups speaking on vibrant communities, car free communities, living within carbon rations, virtual pilgrimage and carbon calculators.
We were seen off with a prayer from Chris Walton.