Research

The Impact of Fast Route Geometry in London

Professor Les Mayhew delivered the attached presentation at the International Geographical Union (IGU) conference in Leeds this year.

The heyday for geographical theory coincided with the quantitative revolution in geography in the 1960s and 70s, yet it left many questions unanswered. In this presentation Professor Mayhew lists key classical geography theories and how they have been applied in the real world, with a particular focus on London. These applications do not necessarily fall under the aegis of geography anymore, but under subjects like logistics, operations research, planning and so on. Yet geography is a common factor because "space" is an intrinsic variable in each case.

The presentation looks at the example of London, a global city with a huge population that requires major investment in its infrastructure, and asks "what are the geographical implications of developments such as low emission zones and congestion charging, what would the impact on traffic be of new river crossings, why was London's planned major road never never completed and what have been the impacts, and where to locate major services such as A&E centres or other major facilities such as airports?". The issues are not peculiar to London, but universal and could apply to cities large or small.

The presentation is split into four main sections:

  • Urban spatial metrics and key spatial concepts - a refresher
  • Introduction to properties of orbital radial metrics
  • Overview of applications (such as congestion charging, airport location, river crossings)
  • Conclusions

Taking a topical issue the presentation later asks "Should London build a new airport in the Thames Estuary?". The presentation recognises that there are compelling reasons for airport developments, as they are major employers and demand for air travel is predicted to increase in the coming years. However it questions whether the Thames estuary is the right place to locate a major new airport, with its remote position presenting a near zero value market area. The underdeveloped transportation links to London, and the small local labour market are further reasons that suggest the construction of the Thames Estuary airport would prove to be a tremendous folly.

In summation this paper provides a completely different perspective on the subject, based on geometric principles which have been developed over a number of years. It presents London in a novel way but which leads to important insights into the geographical impact of the congestion charge and the viability of existing and proposed airport locations serving London.

Each slide is accompanied by extensive notes, which you should find instructive.

The complete presentation file can be downloaded at the link below.

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