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blog: A look back on 2020

Author: Jon Parker

What a year it has been – in so many ways….

It’s hard to imagine at the start of 2020 that we would be reflecting at the end of the year on the enormous health, well-being and societal impacts resulting from the Covid pandemic.  Like all organisations, it’s meant we have had to adapt to radically different ways of working and living.  Signs are that, although we might be facing a few more months of Covid restrictions, we remain optimistic for the start of a return to some sort of normality during 2021.  

Covid Transport

As we do, we expect the ITP team will seek to make the most of what we’ve learned from our remote working experience, but also start to reconnect our staff and clients in our offices and on-site.

In transport terms there is much to be optimistic about – the significant reduction in car trips during the first lockdown meant that our cities had cleaner air, carbon reduction targets were being met, and the population embraced active travel as a means of both travel and exercise, with cycling levels reaching 300% of the pre-lockdown levels.  

Group Cycling 2

Accelerated by Covid impacts, central and local government also recognised the importance of creating more space for pedestrians and cyclists in our towns and cities.  The Emergency Active Travel Fund has seen all local authorities introduce dedicated cycle facilities, often taking away space for the private car, at a rate never previously imagined.  With more investment through the Active Travel Fund and Transforming Cities programmes, the key challenge now is maintaining momentum and enthusiasm for more people-focused places to live and work.

Planning policy also saw a much-needed shift in focus with the publication of the Consultation Draft of the Planning White Paper heralding a further shift towards more sustainable communities.  Whilst in ITP’s response we highlighted some concerns, the general spirit of a rejuvenated planning system that gives greater weight to active and sustainable travel has to be something we continue to work hard to achieve.  

The shift in focus away from ‘predict and provide’ approaches to vision-led planning builds on ITP’s work to support the CIHT in the excellent ‘Better Planning, Better Transport, Better Places’, the principles of which were skilfully demonstrated in the work of the RCA in the Our Future Towns programme.

Internationally, ITP’s work has flourished despite the inability to travel – making use of Teams and Zoom to ensure we can still connect to local communities and stakeholders, we have continued to deliver programmes that will bring long term benefits to developing cities across the globe.  It’s fair to say that public transport has seen a massive short-term impact from Covid, but we are confident that it will rise back and be centre stage in the recovery for many of the cities that we work in.

Cario Cityscape

Aside from Covid, there has also been another ‘significant chapter’ in the ITP story during 2020.  After 22 years, we have joined forces with new colleagues and friends at Royal HaskoningDHV!  This builds on a long-standing working relationship between the two companies and recognises our shared culture and beliefs. Most important of these is the desire to make a difference, whether through ‘enhancing society together’ or ‘improving the way the world moves’.  2021 should certainly be an exciting year as we start to work more closely on joint projects and programmes.

Here’s to a healthy, happy and sustainable year ahead for all our staff, clients and collaborators!

Enjoy the festivities, as best you can in these times, and stay safe everyone.


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