With the advantage of hindsight
Transport planning, policy and practice continue to face substantial challenges in seeking to meet the needs of society in terms of economic, environmental and social considerations. Not surprisingly, studies continue to emerge which seek to look to the future and how challenges and opportunities might unfold as a means of informing present day decision making.
Surprisingly, less attention is given to learning from the past. How has our transport and related social and political system evolved? What have been the constraints and motivations facing decision makers? How have decisions been made and in what contexts? What, with the advantage of hindsight, might we seek to do differently or better as we look forward? The incoming President of the the Institution of Highways and Transportation (IHT) has identified this theme for his year in office and for the Presidential Conference in September 2008.
A project funded by a number of IHT sponsors has been set up in which a series of specially commissioned papers from leading figures in transport are being developed. Glenn Lyons is producing one of these papers examining the law of unintended consequences (identified back in the 1930s by a leading sociologist).
The Centre for Transport and Society is also commissioned to produce a major piece of support work which gathers together data and information on how the last five decades in transport and society have unfolded. This is being written by Kiron Chatterjee and Geoff Dudley.