Mr Jones initially studied geography at the University of Bristol. He went on to gain a PhD from the Imperial College of Science Technology and Medicine his thesis being entitled ‘The development of a new approach to understanding travel behaviour and its implications for transportation planning’. He makes a significant contribution to research and has been consulted by Transport for London and the European Commission amongst others. Mr Jones tells us a bit about his background and shares his views on the industry.
How or why did you choose to get involved in your specialist area?
I have always been fascinated by transport and travel, and the way in which it both reflects and shapes our society and economy. After leaving school I suddenly had a gap year (due to the new course I planned to take at university being delayed for a year), so I phoned up London Transport, asked for and got a temporary job and have been deeply involved in the transport profession, from an academic base, ever since.
I have been lucky to have had the opportunity to work on a wide range of applied projects, from designing the Red Route signs in London, to advising Chinese cities on how to manage traffic congestion, and leading a study into the impact of the Jubilee Line Extension in East London. I have also very much enjoyed teaching at undergraduate and MSc level, and supervising some very bright and enthusiastic PhD students.
What is the biggest or most significant change that you’ve seen in your field over the course of your career?
Particularly in larger urban areas such as London, there has been a major shift in emphasis from designing roads mainly for cars and other motorised traffic, to taking a much more multi-modal approach to street design and recognising the importance of streets as ‘places’, where an attractive and high quality environment is greatly valued. In Central London, forty years ago major developers wanted lots of car parking spaces; now the priority is cycle parking and removing traffic from outside major developments.
If you could give one piece of advice to young engineers starting out in transport and highways, what would it be?
Vision and sensitivity to context is as important as technical skills, particularly when it comes to highway design; much technical information is ‘guidance’ and engineers need to develop judgement as to how to adapt this to the local situation. Also, view dealing with the public as an opportunity rather than a necessary evil. An open process of genuine engagement can improve a road scheme, both in terms of its objectives and design – and result in increased understanding and respect for your profession among the public.
What was your reaction to receiving an Honorary IHE Fellowship?
I was completely taken aback and very pleasantly surprised that my mainly academic work was seen to be of sufficient value by the profession to offer me this award. I’m delighted to accept the honour!