Meet our Associate Transport Planner, Joanna Ward – Latest

Meet our Associate Transport Planner, Joanna Ward

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With a background of over 20 years working in the transport sector and with a special interest in designing, leading and developing sustainable transport solutions, Joanna joins us as our new transport lead.

Meet our Associate Transport Planner, Joanna Ward

What does the role of a transport planner involve?

Transport Planning is essentially about creating connections between people and places; I work with a mix of public and private sector clients to help them get people and goods to where they need them in the most sustainable and efficient way.

It sounds like a massive cliché, but no day is ever the same and that’s one of the main reasons that I love it so much.

From a client meeting to a site visit, from report writing to presenting to hundreds of people, from attending events to learning about the latest thinking and technology.

My area of expertise is sustainable transport, in a small way I am able to contribute to tackling the climate crisis and that’s really important to me. I am passionate about enlightening clients and supporting them in delivering sustainable transport plans.

I am also very curious about why and how people and goods travel to and from places. I ‘walk the walk’ by not driving and walking, cycling and using public transport to get everywhere that I need to get.

What are the current hot topics in the transport?

The Climate Crisis and the massive contribution that transport has made to the situation that we are in now.

However, it’s not all bad news because transport planning, I believe, can contribute to the solution. All schemes and projects that encourage people to travel more sustainably really are part of the solution. But there’s also some difficult conversations to be had around some aspects of transport such as car use and the future of aviation and we need to be prepared to have those; and to influence in terms of building a cleaner, healthier and sustainable future for all of us.

What in your opinion is the biggest opportunity in transport at the moment?

Well – we all need to change the way that we travel because of the Climate Crisis but more than that we need to ensure that all transport systems and choices are open and available to everyone.

At the moment I don’t believe that the sector is as reflective of society as it could be and that means we aren’t designing or building places that are accessible for the whole of society.

So, it’s up to those of us working in the profession to come with positive and new ways of encouraging a wider representation into the profession and more people to join the debate in terms of the kind of built environment we want to create.

What’s been the highlight of your career so far?

Gosh – there have been a few!

I guess the project that I am most proud of is the Sustrans Ucycle Project – I set this up in 2009, in Nottingham to get more staff and students at the University of Nottingham, Nottingham Trent University and the Nottingham University Hospital Trust Cycling. This multi stakeholder project involved everything from master planning and building on the individual estates, to leading bike rides and setting up the biggest long-term bike hire project outside of London.

After 18 months the project was so successful that it was granted another three years of funding and encouraged to widen out to work with three local Further Education colleges.

After 5 years the project had reached far and beyond all its intended beneficiaries and over 17,500 people had engaged with it in some way.

It was nominated for National Transport Award twice and really was a labour of love.

But the fact that all those people cycled and used their bikes more and were healthier, more environmentally friendly and saved money because of it – well that’s got to be a good thing.

I still some of the original Ucycle bikes being used around Nottingham and that really is a nice thing to see.

Final comments

All of the hot topics in the news at the moment can be linked in some way to the way we travel, be those economic issues, health issues, time and the climate crisis and we need to have a grown up debate and discussion, packed up with some real action on the kind of world that we live in and transport can be integral to that.

The time for better and more sustainable transport planning is now.

If you have a transport opportunity that we might be able to help with, please do get in touch at j.ward@elliottwood.co.uk