By Steven-L-Johnson (Car, bike, and pedestrian lanes) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Image: 'Neat and Tidy' by Steven-L-Johnson (Car, bike, and pedestrian lanes) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Seminars will be delivered on Tuesdays in weeks 4, 5, 6, 7 & 8 of Trinity Term (May - June) 2016 at 1pm in the Gilbert Room, School of Geography and the Environment, Oxford.

For more information on this seminar series, please contact

Week 4: 1pm - 2pm, 18 May 2016, Gilbert Room, SoGE

The development of the Neighborhood Level Walkability Assessment Tool and some preliminary findings

  • Eric Chan (TSU)

Environmental audit tools have been widely used to collect objectively measured micro level built environmental data to access the relationship between built environment and physical activity. Most of the existing environment audit tools were designed and applied in developed cities in the Global North, involving dimensions of footpath characteristics, safety, aesthetics, destinations, etc. They are mostly applied to developed cities that usually have distinctive neighbourhood characteristics and more simple road structure. However, the cases of rapidly developing cities in the Global South are significantly different. This study aims to develop the Neighbourhood-Level Walkability Assessment Tool, which takes into account the specific features (culturally and physically) of the developing cities. Based on two stages of audit fieldwork in Shenzhen, China. The tool was designed, tested and modified. The process of the development of the audit tool and some preliminary findings will be presented.

Week 5: 1 - 2pm, 25 May 2016, Gilbert Room, SoGE

Competitive railways in Europe

  • Dr Torben Holvad (TSU, DTU and European Railway Agency)

After more than two decades of trying the European Union, is seeking in the proposed fourth Railway Package to ensure that European Railways are fully competitive in all their forms of operation, including inter-modally and intra-modally across the 'Single European Railway Area' (SERA). However, the problem with the railways is that for the last 40 years railways have been essentially 'flatlining' in both the passenger and freight sectors. The changes seen in the United States after the liberalisation of the Staggers Act 1980 have not yet been repeated in Europe. Europe has restructured its railways such that infrastructure is separated from operations thus allowing new entrants into the market especially in freight (since 2007, International passenger since 2012 and domestic passenger from 2019 onwards). This presentation outlines how a more competitive railway market in Europe could emerge over the next few years.

Week 6: 1 - 2pm, 1 June 2016, Gilbert Room, SoGE

Safety in Motion: Uneven Landscapes of Perceived Risk Among a Sample of Pedestrian, Bicycle, and Automobile Commuters in Vancouver, BC

  • Dr Denver Nixon (TSU)

This presentation discusses spaces of perceived interpersonal safety and collision risk across three modes of mobility, amongst a sample of commuters in Vancouver, BC. Forty-six pedestrian, cyclist, and driver commute narrative recordings, GPS logs, and interviews reveal differing senses of vulnerability. As expected, many participants describe automobilized environments as places of potential collision risk. More notably, however, the data reveals that spaces perceived as potentially dangerous to active mode users, particularly with respect to interpersonal violence, such as vulnerability to physical or sexual threats, may be rendered safer through continuous motion. In this way the polyrhythms of motion that create undesirable 'invisibility' to drivers similarly hide the body from potential predators. Though not statistically generalizable, this theme appears more often amongst particular demographics, such as women commuters. Whereas the automobile carapace is shown to offer a heightened sense of safety, promotion of sustainable and just mobility demands alterations of transportation landscapes that alleviate real and perceived vulnerability. Several policy recommendations, such as the reduction of traffic controls and transit waits that force immobility in vulnerable times and places, are provided.

Week 7: 1 - 2pm, 8 June 2016, Gilbert Room, SoGE

Bus rapid transit: the wider economic impacts

  • Dr Fiona Ferbrache (TSU, Keble College, and Oxford Brookes University)

Week 8: 1 - 2pm, 15 June 2016, Gilbert Room, SoGE

Al Nashwa to Antarctica: An Unlikely Story about Sustainable Energy

  • Dr Malek Al-Chalabi

Al Nashwa is a sub district outside Basra, Iraq that houses a portion of the Majnoon Oil Field - one of the world's largest oil fields on the planet in one of the hottest climates. Antarctica is the last untouched continent on Earth - where few have traveled and even fewer have explored due to its harsh conditions. What do these two places have in common? Robert Swan (OBE) is the world's first person to walk unassisted to both the North and South Poles. Based on those experiences, Robert found 2041, which is an organization that is dedicated to preserving Antarctica by promoting recycling, renewable energy, and sustainability. Dr. Malek Al-Chalabi joined Robert on his latest expedition to Antarctica. Come learn about his recent expedition to Antarctica with 2041, the parallels it carries for the oil, gas, and renewable energy sectors, and what a future energy transition in the 21st century may look like.

About the speaker: Dr Malek Al-Chalabi (D.Phil, DiC) is currently a Health, Safety, and Environmental Engineer at the Majnoon Oil Field. Prior to joining Royal Dutch Shell, Malek completed his DPhil at the University of Oxford, where he taught and conducted research on energy transitions.