A Dutch academic known as the ‘cycling professor’ who played the ukulele and quoted John Lennon at the podium was just one of the inspiring keynote speakers at the conference.
Professor Marco te Brömmelstroet, Chair of Urban Mobility Futures at the University of Amsterdam, had already attracted media attention by the time he delivered his keynote presentation on day two of the conference. His thought-provoking questions challenged delegates to change their perspective and reinvent how they design and use towns and cities.
The day before, independent consultant Bill Allen presented the keynote at the Transport Modelling Workshop and spoke about the existing common modelling method, issues of four-step model and alternatives and key modelling takeaways.
The Victorian Minister for Roads and Road Safety, Melissa Horne, and Paul Younis, the Department Secretary at the Victorian Department of Transport and Planning (the official government sponsor) were opening keynotes at the MCEC on Thursday, along with Alison Holloway, Chief Executive Officer of SGS Economics and Planning.
Alison reflected on changes in the two decades since she attended her first AITPM conference, both in the industry and in Australia, outlining that the economy is now focused on population and knowledge-based services, with health, professional services, education, and accommodation and food services the top drivers.
Speaker Phil Jones has contributed to much UK Government thinking on walking and cycling and has chaired taskforces for the Welsh Government on establishing a default 20mph speed limit in built-up areas (which was introduced in September 2023), rather than 30mph. Phil’s keynote encouraged planners to engage early, often, and thoroughly, build immunity to misinformation, and remove risk for decision makers.
Professor Ingrid Burkett, Director of the Griffith Centre for Systems Innovation at Griffith University, spoke about how efficient and integrated transport systems can help to address persistent disadvantage that shape lives generation after generation. She encouraged community ownership of data.
“Citizens are innovators and have amazing ideas – we should collect those ideas, vote on them, and engage citizens to take them further,” she said.
Derval Cummins, the AECOM European Advisory Leader, Transportation, told the audience that significant inactivity among young people in Australia could be improved, as it has been in parts of Ireland, through a cycling to school program. She also labelled electric bikes as a game-changer for people of all ages.
The final keynote speaker of the conference was technology leader and urban futurist Lucinda Hartley, who spoke about about creating thriving precincts, noting that society had experienced a seismic shift in lifestyle.
“The best place to start to create great precincts is to understand our human needs: for belonging, connection and purpose,” Lucinda said.