Transport Camp: Melbourne 2017 - A Beginners Guide from the Inside

Transport Camp: Melbourne 2017 - A Beginners Guide from the Inside
Transport Camp: Melbourne 2017 - A Beginners Guide from the Inside

Transport Camp. Yes, you read that right, and no it’s not like Band Camp, where not much is achieved. Transport Camp Melbourne 2017 was the third iteration of the ‘unconference style’ conference, hosted in the Melbourne Town Hall in late October 2017.

As someone relatively new to the city, I have recently gained an understanding of the history behind Melbourne’s transport planning and where the current economic and political climate is taking the city. As a first time attendee to a conference like this, I left excited for what the future is going to bring.

Transport Camp’s goal is to bring together different silos of expertise within Melbourne, to discuss transport, technology and innovation. To appreciate the level of interest the conference is generating, the total attendance for 2017 has more than doubled compared to the previous year, with over 130 people present from City Councils, to students, to transport-aligned companies.

Instead of having a set presentation list, the Transport Camp agenda is established by the attendees. The day’s agenda is decided by putting forward an idea or presentation they want to be discussed. The topics were pooled together and the attendees voted on interest. There was no requirement to attend your selected sessions, but rather gauge the level of interest and logistics of the available space. Your topic was effectively up for election, and the current mood of the city was deciding if you made the cut. The photo attached shows the resulting agenda for the day.

From the beginning, the topics being put forward clearly reflected the cities current ‘hot topics’. A large number of ideas related to the ever-growing focus of bicycle sharing, along with key topics addressing design for a more female orientated city and improving sustainable transport modes.

Transport Camp: Melbourne 2017 - A Beginners Guide from the Inside
The Agenda - image: supplied

In order to really get the most out of the day, I spread myself across a variety of topics that included: pedestrian access in activity centres; understanding why people move around and getting bicycle sharing right, amongst other topics.

The last topic, in particular, was a great example of the current climate of transport in Melbourne. The initial discussion looked at how bicycle sharing as a whole could improve and was led by a representative from oBike. By the end of this discussion, I was aware we were in a room full of other bike sharing companies (RACV, Mobike, Ofo, Melbourne Bicycle Share) and heavily interested parties (The Green Party) that were all acutely aware of the view that Melbourne was currently holding of our new two-wheeled friends. This certainly was a great opportunity to see different sides of the same bicycle.

Each session I attended was engaging and allowed for participation to really gain different perspectives on transport topics affecting Melbourne. The key messages I took away from my time at Transport Camp are:

  1. Bicycle sharing is in for a further shake-up – with larger companies like Mobike and Ofo looking to expand their Australian operations and the already established providers in Melbourne Bike Share (the blue ones) and RACV, Melbourne will be seeing different ways to address the last mile.
  2. Unconference style conferences are awesome – Transport Camp is all about being involved in the discussion. By having topics you are interested in and want to be a part of, you are less likely to be left uninterested in a particular session. You also are able to leave a session to find a more appealing one, making the entire ‘conference’ more beneficial to the attendee.
  3. We all view transport in different shades of colour – whether it is an area of expertise or as the user of a particular mode of transit, there is always a variety of opinions on transport. The key is to take a step back and discuss with an open mind, which was on display in each session I attended.
  4. The future appears active – Active transport modes were a big part of the sessions on offer this year, and accompanied by public transport topics made up 50% of all sessions. With public, private and future employees engaging in discussions around sustainable transportation and improving user experiences, the thought processes in Melbourne are planning for a future where private car use aligns with alternative transport modes, rather than dominating our trip choices.

I would recommend anyone who has a topic they want to get out there, or are interested in learning more about Melbournian transport topics, Transport Camp 2018 is an event to get to, and make sure not to leave it to the last minute, as this year sold out 3 days prior.

The summary video for 2017 gives you an insight into what to expect: TransportCamp

If you’d like to know more about the sessions that ran during the event, scribes were on hand to record each and every formal discussion, which was especially helpful for attendees who missed out due to clashes. See the link here: Sessions

Ben Thomson is a Traffic Engineer at Ratio Consultants.


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