A wall projection advertising Tim Schwanen's talks at NECTAR 2019

On 6 June Tim Schwanen gave one of two keynote lectures at the 15th NECTAR conference in Helsinki. The theme this year was ‘Towards Human Scale Cities – Open and Happy’.

Tim’s lecture focused on the relationships among wellbeing, inequality and the everyday mobility of people in the city. One of his key arguments was that, given the deep and often growing social inequalities in cities across the planet, research and policy considering the linkages between mobility and wellbeing cannot afford to disregard how socio-spatial inequalities are implicated in those linkages.

He outlined a framework based on Amartya Sen’s capabilities approach for analysing the interrelationships among mobility, inequality and wellbeing, and illustrated aspects of it with examples from research undertaken as part of the DePICT project. That research considers citizen-led initiatives to support walking and cycling among disadvantaged groups in São Paulo and London. Tim used the empirical research to argue that mobility-related wellbeing is always in the making and particularly precarious for the poor, those in ill health or differently-able, children, and city residents who are otherwise disadvantaged.

The same day Tim also gave a speech at the annual seminar of the Helsinki Regional Transport Authority, again about the relationship between everyday mobility and wellbeing. At the event attended by more than 300 policy makers, transport professionals and private sector representations, he explained how conclusions about the relationship between everyday mobility and wellbeing depend on the definition of wellbeing that is deployed. He also outlined the implications of this claim for transport and urban planning, and in particular for interventions in public transport in urban areas.