Monthly Archives: March 2007

Bold CSR


Either the ad men have got hold of the Marks & Spencer CSR account or someone is doing something different on the high street:

Climate Change – We want to become carbon neutral and help customers, and our suppliers, cut carbon emissions too.

Pretty impressive targets, £200m budget, reducing food miles might be difficult for a store that has prided itself on the exotic fruits of air freight in the past – we shall see.


Eco warriors? Treehuggers?


The guy on the right? sure, but what about Alex?

The Guardian’s coverage of Al Gore’s latest visit  mission to the UK tells us that Sir Alex Ferguson has committed to spreading the climate change message. The delegates to the conference were given the Inconvenient Truth slide show and told to come back in 12 months with stories of their success (“sorry, need to secure the Treble first, Al…”) .

Having studied the 70,000 fans leaving Old Trafford on a Saturday afternoon I agree that a lecture from the top man should help when MUFC “think globally and act locally”. I am not usually a fan of celebrity endorsement in environmental debates (Think of the Hollywood Prius fan club), but a man known for his no nonsence approach could be pretty effective.

Private parking (again)


Another website offering private parking spaces , called The key difference from the site I posted about before, Parkatmyhouse, is the use of google maps – hardly a mashup but makes it user friendly. Also if you don’t like the price you can click on the negotiate button – to establish the true economic value of parking spaces (hmm, a possible resource for transport planners). 

Not many spaces offered yet, this is either a dotboom fad or just possibly a niche business – big companies will soon exploit it if critical mass is reached (, anyone?).

London rail growth

An interesting technical paper from David Levinson on whether population density affects the growth of the network (it isnt the only factor, you will not be surprised to hear), but the best bit is the growth movie – 40mb so make sure you have the bandwidth!

Economists and buses


Stephen Dubner, of “Freakonomics” fame comments yesterday on bus stop behaviour in New York. Gaming the bus system must come more naturally to UK passengers, especially in London, where I will often go “upstream” to ensure I get on the bus and get a seat. Any other user tricks of trade please post to the comments section… 

Shift Happens

yes I know, another youtube video, but thats what weekends are for 🙂



Just read for the first time the Wired 2004 article on the “less is more” approach to traffic management, as interpreted for the US audience. The Dutch, as always, credited with innovation in this area.

Like a lot of transport people I went to look at the Kensington High Street scheme (above) when the Borough dramatically changed the streetscape and also removed a significant % of the street furniture. Not being an engineer I liked what I saw of the £5m project but could see how it would upset the highway standards based approach.  A recent LTT article reminded me to go back and see what it is like now, after a few years to bed in.  

Pedestrian behaviour was interesting, with people who I presumed to be visitors still not certain where their territory starts and the car rules. (I would have though the Italian tourists would have felt at home, having sampled their “freeform” approach to traffic management.)

Since 2003 a number of other UK cities have looked at similar treatments, although it has to be recognised it isn’t going to be deliverable everywhere. CABE and Transport  2000 are promoting such schemes to “reclaim main roads from traffic”, but plenty of engineers rightly question the safety impacts of removing all guardrails, for example. Others where I work can say whether or not I am taking a too simplistic view.

The Day After Tomorrow

24 hours after the Climate Change Bill consultation gets published and it’s business as usual – the “rejectionists” are blogging, commenting on blogs, putting out their own videos and speaking on Radio 5. The green voices are welcoming but saying it doesn’t go far enough.

No doubt climate change will be the key topic over the dinner table and in the saloon bar for a few days… well perhaps not, but David Milliband has done a video on Youtube – surely the first time major policy change is announced alongside singing Chinese kids and car crash footage (oh the irony).

(the government is also responsible for some really scary stuff – not the content, but the overwrought style)

Initial reactions from where I sit (based on a quick read and press comment) are that:

  • Setting legally binding limits to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 26% to 32% by 2020 and 60% by 2050 certainly is a world first, but difficult to see how it can be enforced
  • There is still high reliance on new technology to convince individuals they won’t have to change
  • Companies may not like the small print
  • Carbon trading – a business opportunity or a bureaucratic dead end?
  • What about the rest of the world, setting a good example may not be enough


Not the usual transport stuff, but like the “The machine is Us/ing Us” video – well it makes you think… 



Another positive report for the East West rail link, bringing together the outer London orbital rail corridor that’s been discussed for as long as I can remember. The consortium’s latest report says the £134m project could be running 2 trains per hour between Oxford and Milton Keynes, also £64m secures Aylesbury to MK, by 2012.

Last year Government made positive noises, although public cash may be a long way away the report does suggest that £100k could come from developers – would be interesting to know where that figure came from, probably based on the overall sub regional growth, will read the detailed reports later.

And an update on the Stewart Brand post last week – the “How Buildings Learn…” book has arrived from the states already – its hard for an environmentalist when air freight gets your products into consumers hands so quickly.

Lateral thinking on parking

From Boing Boing

Edward de Bono was asked by the mayor of a small town in Australia to consult on the town’s parking problem. The mayor wanted to know how to effectively use parking meters. TK told the mayor that the problem was not about parking meters and how to use them, it was about people parking their cars all day on the street. “Don’t use parking meters,” he told the mayor. “Tell people they can park as long as they want for free, provided they keep their headlights on while the car is parked.”

Parking 2.0

Have you seen Parkatmyhouse ? Its a type of market product that couldn’t work without the internet –  no one really tried it with classified ads in local papers, for example. So as a transport planner what should be my reaction?

Will it generate trips? Is it adding significantly to parking supply? What about its impact on parking costs? Tax issues? Planning law?

I will watch and see, the number of places where it will work are pretty limited. A search on Oxford identified 5 locations within walking distance of the centre, at £5 per day, £25 – £30 per week – cheaper than the Westgate MSCP I suppose. One helpfully speaks of the number of buses to the city, surely you could park for free further out, use the P&R or even get the bus from home?

Whole Earth pt. 2


Stewart Brand is a name not often recognised in the UK, but his imprint on the history of environmentalism and technology is massive, from the Whole Earth Catalog, the Well, to hackers and Wired.  A recent article in the New York Times reminded me not only of his achievements but also his current contrary take on eco and green issues. Pro nuclear power, plant genetics and mega cities, his arguments are persuasive and strong scientific counterpoint to the “romantic” environmentalist view. 

And I have finally ordered a copy of his book, “How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They’re Built”, long out of print in the UK, but thanks to Amazon USA on its way to me. Will review it later…