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The first day was an amazing experience learning from industry professionals about all things transport. The first day began with keynote speaker Brent Toderian talking about the role transport plays in making a city truly livable. It involves embracing multi-modal transport and improving walkability, while reducing car dependency (but not eliminating it!). Urban planning focusing higher density around public transport is also key to improving livability.
Next, there were three concurrent sessions focused around traffic engineering and management, transport planning, and transport modelling. This made it difficult to decide which ones to attend but I tried to get a mix of each. Some of my favourite presentations involved forecasting the impacts of autonomous vehicles (even with more people choosing to drive, congestion should improve) and a proposal of how to improve their route choices to further reduce travel time. I also learnt about new technology/infrastructure such as continuous flow intersections, diamond diverging interchanges and smart bollards, and how they can be implemented here in Australia.
The second day began with presentations about smart cities and data. I really enjoyed the speech about advancements in camera technology and object recognition. It is now possible for number plates to be detected at high resolutions, and for people and their pathing to be tracked around crowded public transport. There was also an emphasis on understanding the importance of transport planning in a wider context as there is often a relationship between transport disadvantage, car dependence, income and housing.
Next there was a plenary session with a panel of speakers focused on movement and place. It highlighted the difference between roads – which are primarily for movement, and streets – which are places with a range of functions. By making streets more inviting and walkable, it has additional benefits including improved physical and mental health. It was truly eye opening to see what an impact transport can have on improving people’s lives.
The third and final day involved attending a forum about active transport. It was interesting to hear about the unexpected impact of traffic calming measures (such as speed humps and chicanes) on cyclists and ways to make them safer. Examples of bike boulevards created in Western Australia were presented, which looked great and also achieved great results. I particularly enjoyed learning about protected intersections for cyclists in the USA as they have the potential to be implemented here in Melbourne.
Overall, attending the AITPM national conference allowed me to learn so much about the world of transport and meet many talented people in the field. It was an incredible experience and I’m so grateful I had the opportunity to attend!