Remembering Paul Mees

by Federico Parolotto

Transport for suburbia cover

I first got to know of Paul Mees through Amazon, I was looking for some books to read and I ended up finding a title “Transport for suburbia – beyond the automobile age” that had a comment in the back by John Whitelegg.
I knew John Whitelegg work and I really liked it and I knew he is a little reluctant to appear on media, the fact that he was spending his name for Paul was definitely intriguing.

I read “Transport for suburbia” about 2 years ago, and I was wiped away, all the questions I had been asking to myself were answered there, from the origin of the magic minimal figure of people/hectare to make PT viable to the analysis of the super quoted (but a little dubious) curve that shows the relationship between energy and urban density produced by Newman/Kenworthy

After reading the book I started thinking about a project call “Conversations across mobility”, a series of interviews with different influential people from all over the world on the future of mobility.

Paul was the top of the list and I managed to retrieve his mail, I wrote to him asking for an interview and he immediately answered to our request ( http://www.flow-n.eu/2013/02/paul-mees-interview/)
I met him only digitally, through that skype conversation, but it was a privilege for me to talk to Paul, among other things we discussed about Europe and Milan and the possibility of him coming to visit us.

We then exchanged a couple of mails and then he told us it was not going to be available due to health reasons for a while, I often thought about writing to him but I was not certain about his health and so I waited…

I learned through twitter of is death a few days ago, the news left me shocked and sad, although I never got to know him personally I felt it as a huge loss.

As professionals in transport planning we try to change cities for the better, we often find the friction of reality difficult to overcome and we constantly have to compromise.

Paul came across as an uncompromising person, and we looked at him and at his writings for directions in our work…
Without him now we feel weaker and lonely.

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