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Meet Carey Curtis - guest professor in Human Geography

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Bild på Carey CurtisProfessor Carey Curtis is a guest professor at the Unit for Human Geography at the Department of Economy and Society at the School of Business, Economics and Law, University of Gothenburg. She has now arrived for her first of three periods in Gothenburg during 2016 and 2017.

Carey Curtis’ research is within the wider field of transport and land-use planning with a focus on public transport and urban planning. She will work closely together with the Mobility Research Group. The time in Sweden will mainly be research focused, however, Carey will also do some informal PhD supervision. She will also develop and deliver a professional short course on Planning for Accessibility, which is one of the Fellowship tasks.

The visits are financed by the Region Västra Götaland exchange programme MoRE – Mobility for Regional Excellence. Read more about the programme here.

What are your areas of research?

Research interests: sustainable transport; land use and transport integration; accessibility planning; transit oriented development; shared streets; personal travel behaviour; travel demand management; city planning and design; transport policy; governance and implementation. A MoRE Research Fellowship brings me to Gothenburg for a one year period spread over two years. The Fellowship is supported by the EU 7th Framework Program (Marie Curie). My research will focus on innovation in sustainable accessibility.

Is this your first time in Sweden?

This is my second visit to Sweden – I was here very briefly for a public transport accessibility workshop in October 2014 and I also gave a seminar to the Department on Institutional Barriers to Sustainable Transport drawing on Australian research published in our book by the same name (It’s in your library!). I’m hoping to repeat that research here in Sweden.

Why did you choose Sweden?

Well I could say because I enjoy cold weather! But seriously I chose Sweden because there appears to be a dynamic approach to sustainable transport planning. In our accessibility analysis Gothenburg comes out as one of the top cities for public transport accessibility (in a sample of 25 around the world). There are other interesting initiatives such as congestion charging, boulevardisation of major urban arterials and urban renewal projects. I am interested in the institutional mechanisms and players that are bringing these initiatives forward - the drivers, the capacity of institutions and so on.

What are your expectations on your research/collaborations here in Sweden?

I am looking forward to hearing about everyone’s research and hope to develop stronger research links both between institutions in Sweden and this part of the world and also between other colleagues in my Research Centre (Urbanet, http://urbanet.curtin.edu.au/) and my School (Built Environment). In fact I have two colleagues who will drop in in May – so already the ‘bridge’ is being strengthened. I hope this fellowship period will lead to joint research projects and shared PhD supervision. Perth and other cities in Australia offer interesting case studies!

What do you think about Gothenburg?

I can give you my first impressions (as a planner) – ask me again at the end of the Fellowship! So far I am experiencing an impressive public transport system. I have spent many days familiarizing myself with the network and its relationship to land use and activity. I can see that there is still work to be done in some places to improve the amenity of ‘place’ – some places are well connected to the city but the precinct itself is quite fragmented with less than ideal walkability. To me it seems that cycling infrastructure is good – but at the expense of pedestrians.

This is also a city of differences (maybe a title for a future paper!) – there is heavy ‘car dominance’ and large parts of the metro area are geared up to car based lifestyles – in places they look/feel like Australian suburbia. On another angle - the contrast between sunny and non-sunny days in terms of active use of space/place is marked – and it is amusing to see the locals stripped off and ‘drinking sun’ even though it’s still quite cold – in Australia we tend to avoid the sun in this way due to high UV and health concerns.

Something else you would like to add?

I’m delighted to be here – I’m finding settling in a challenge since I don’t yet read Swedish (food shopping a case in point). I’m looking forward to meeting people and hopefully finding out more about your way of life (along the lines of the story about Tigger in Winnie the Pooh… ‘what do you eat for breakfast’ – but rather ‘what do you do on the weekends’ – I’d welcome an invite to go kayaking or cycling for example).