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Chatting round the fireside - transport tales from the pandemic

Lyons, Glenn

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Glenn Lyons
Professor of Future Mobility


On 23 April 2020, one month after the UK Prime Minister announced a national lockdown in response to COVID-19, PTRC hosted an online Fireside Chat to address the implications for transport of the pandemic. At a point when working (full-time) from home was still relatively new for many transport practitioners, and when online events were yet to be normalised, over 600 people participated in this event. The panel discussion that took place considered the unprecedented shock that the pandemic represented for the transport system and its use. It was becoming apparent that this could be highly significant for the future of mobility.

This was, however, not to be a one-off event. Any hopes that disruption in response to COVID-19 might last a matter of weeks were dashed as weeks turned into months (and then years). The Fireside Chat event became a Fireside Chat series. The free-to-attend format, thought provoking orientation, and high-profile panels have proved popular. I have had the privilege of being centrally involved in the organisation of the series and have chaired and written up most of the events.

This paper examines the written accounts of the Fireside Chats to assemble a combined picture of key issues that have been and will be faced by the transport sector during and beyond the pandemic. It draws out overarching messages for the sector and contemplates what may lie ahead. Coverage includes: the plight of and prospects for public transport; the purpose and priorities ahead for our road network; the outlook for and importance of goods movement; the need to marshal the mutation of mobility towards a better future that has walking at its heart; the role of young professionals in shaping the future; the future form and function of modelling in the wake of the prolonged global behaviour change experiment; consequences of the pandemic in terms of the urgent need to decarbonise transport; perspectives on transport beyond white male privilege; and views from around the globe.


Lyons, G. (2021, July). Chatting round the fireside - transport tales from the pandemic. Paper presented at 19th Annual Transport Practitioners Meeting, Online

Presentation Conference Type Conference Paper (unpublished)
Conference Name 19th Annual Transport Practitioners Meeting
Conference Location Online
Start Date Jul 7, 2021
End Date Jul 8, 2021
Deposit Date Jul 9, 2021
Publicly Available Date Jul 9, 2021
Keywords COVID-19; pandemic; future transport; fireside chat; knowledge exchange
Public URL
Additional Information This paper was presented at the conference at the conference organisers make the papers available in the public domain and are fully supportive of this paper being in the UWE repository and widely publicised.


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