The University of Bath has teamed up with Bath and North East Somerset Council (B&NES) to lead a collaborative workshop exploring what Bath’s future transport system might look like.

Entitled ‘Beyond the car: Future mobility in Bath’, the workshop focused on what the city’s transportation system might look like if residents didn’t need to use a car – and ways this could be achieved. Bath is a small city and many residents are eager to reduce their driving within it.

The three-day event was run as an ‘incubator’ with a focus on open discussion, group work and collaboration. It was held at the Guildhall and attended by a mix of academics and stakeholders with an interest in transport and urban affairs, including mathematicians, statisticians, economists, policy makers, engineers and others.

Julie Morton, programme manager at the University of Bath and co-organiser of the workshop, commented: “It was fantastic to join with a diverse range of people, all with different perspectives and areas of expertise, and discuss finding alternatives to the car. These conversations were held in the context of wider challenges such as air pollution and the climate crisis, and ways of building a more sustainable future in general for both Bath and the world at large.”

Kristina Burke, project manager at the university’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, added: “I was strongly impressed by the workshop and the dedication. I think some very good ideas came as a result, and the important thing now is to keep the ball rolling.”

The workshop followed on from last month’s launch of Our Shared Future – a joint initiative by the University of Bath and B&NES to bring together skills, knowledge and expertise from across the city to address some of the key challenges faced in Bath and the region.

The environmental impact of existing transport infrastructure was raised by a number of workshop attendees as part of a wider discussion on what B&NES has described as Bath’s climate emergency. This issue was a major impetus for running ‘Beyond the Car’.

B&NES has set a target of becoming carbon neutral by 2030. Achieving this will require a major shift away from cars to a mass transport system, along with more walking and cycling to reduce emissions.

Jon Usher, England South head of partnerships for Sustrans, the walking and cycling charity, said: “I didn’t really know what to expect coming into the process. The collaboration – in depth – over three days was great. Spending that amount of time in the room with the same people has led to deeper relationships and shared values.”

‘Beyond the Car’ took place 3-5 February 2020 and the full line-up of speakers was as follows:

  • Councillor Joanna Wright - Cabinet Member for Transport Services
  • Chris Major - Group Manager, Transport & Parking, Bath and North East Somerset Council
  • Bruce Laurence - Director of Public Health, Bath and North East Somerset Council
  • Rebecca Reynolds - Consultant in Public Health, Bath and North East Somerset Council
  • Jenny McArthur - Lecturer in Lecturer in Urban Infrastructure and Public Policy, UCL
  • Ian Walker - Senior Lecturer in Psychology, University of Bath
  • Julian Faraway - Professor in Mathematics, University of Bath
  • Sam Akehurst - Professor in Mechanical Engineering, University of Bath

Several potential research projects were identified at the workshop. The university will be working with B&NES over the coming months to develop these into projects for Masters and PhD students to take forward. A follow-up meeting with the key stakeholders is planned for April. Please contact Julie Morton for more information about this.