EPISODE 1 – Virtual Velo-city 2019

Also available on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.


Interviews with:

BYCS’ Maud de Vries, founder of the bicycle mayors programme.
Satya Sankaran, bicycle mayor of Bengalaru (the official name of Bangalore). 
Rod King MBE of 20’s Plenty.
Christophe Najdovski, deputy mayor of transport in Paris.



Laura Laker 0:00
Welcome to Episode One of Virtual Velo-city which was recorded at the Velo-city conference in Dublin in June 2019. I’m Laura Laker and on this episode we’ll be bringing you a selection of folks we grabbed at the show.

Carlton Reid
And I’m Carlton Reid and I was with Laura in Dublin. We originally recorded these shows almost live and sent them out to our Kickstarter backers the same day. Some of our backers suggested we publish the shows so all could hear them and, via a poll, all the other backers graciously agreed.

Laura Laker 1:00
And with the kind support of the Dutch Cycling Embassy we’ve been able to repackage the shows for you. Originally our backers got a bonkers three-hour first show. Don’t know what we were thinking there. Anyway, we’ve cut up that show into more manageable chucks, and we’ve recorded these new intros for these accessible-to-all shows. Thanks to the Dutch Cycling Embassy for backing these re-cut and slightly reengineered episodes.

Laura Laker 3.06
I’m here in Dublin with Maud de Vries who is the leader of the Bicycle Mayors, which is an international global programme to introduce mayors to different cities around the world. Am I correct, Maud? Please tell me about …

Maud de Vries
Almost. So I’m one of the founders of BYCS, which is a social enterprise. And amongst others, we have the bicycle mayor programme, which it’s a network actually all over the globe. So tonight, we’re going to announce that we’re going to have the fifth bicycle mayor in the world. And that’s really, really cool. That’s fantastic. Yeah. Looking forward to that. So what the bicycle mayor’s do i think is they are the real change makers, our mission, the mission of bikes is 50 by 30. We want to get half of all trips by bike in 2030. Because we believe the bicycle transform cities and cities transform the world. So that’s what drives us. And that’s why we think it’s important for us to have as many bicycle mayors as possible.

Laura Laker 4.00
So you say you started, you founded the bicycle mayors programme, and how did you do it?

Maud de Vries
Well, we started with one in 2016 to be precise. That was Ana and the bicycle mayor of Amsterdam. Yeah, if you remember. And then after Ana, quickly, we had some other ones. And then we thought, you know, we need to pull this because it’s really important. What we saw was bicycle mauors that felt really alone in the cities, you know, because they were working on getting cycling in,

Laura Laker
They already existed in different cities in a different guises?

Maud de Vries
Yeah, they were already active as change makers and related to cycling or in different areas. So there were people like they saw the transformative effect of the cycle of the bicycle. And they really wanted to put effort into that and belong to this global network, I think as well

Laura Laker
Were they tended to be appointed by the council’s by the local government, or were they sort of self appointed campaigners?

Maud de Vries 5.00
Yeah, so we have a two ways – so in Amsterdam, we have a big competition. And that really helps as well because we have so many cyclists already many people think maybe it’s good that I become the mayor because different mayor’s of course have different work plans. But in many cities, we also appoint them and then they need to send in a lot of endorsements, make a work plan, make a video as a big process that goes before that. And of course, we check if this is the right person. And then in the end, we often get help from the Dutch embassies, because they are abroad as well promoting cycling for more sustainable worlds, which is great. So such here for example, you are inaugurated by the by the ambassador of Bengaluru, which was really the I have to say the gen and the Consulur General of Bengaluru.

Laura Laker 5.45
So for listeners we have with us Satya Sankaran. And if I pronounced your name correctly, you are the bicycle mayor of Bengaluru?

Satya Sankaran 6:00
Yes, I am. So Bangalore is this nice, big city in the south of India. And it’s got the same problem that many urban centres have, right. It’s got a lot of [congestion]. It’s got a lot of pollution. And it’s from a developing nation which believes that cars are the future. So it’s a very interesting time to be a bicycle mayor in Bangalore.

Laura Laker 6.20
Yeah. How did you become a bicycle mayor of Bangalore?

Satya Sankaran
Maud made me a bicycle mayor in Bangalore. Interestingly, I’ve been doing a bunch of things like she says.

Satya Sankaran 6.33

The past 10 years I’ve been looking at sustainable transportation and being an activist and campaigning and advocacy in all of those things. But just before the bicycle Mayor programme came in for about two to three years, we’ve been doing a lot of bicycle related related advocacy programmes, popularising bicycle less and more. And then came along this programme. And it kind of amplifies my voice there. You’re doing a bunch of things. And then there’s this whole bicycle Mayor with tips, big network of people and enablement by the organisation.

Laura Laker 7:10
And what does that enable you to do? You’ve got support of the government?

Satya Sankaran
It does well, so it gives lots of support.

Bikes themselves have a lot of support structures in place in terms of how you can craft campaigns, and what are the tools available to do a bunch of things. And the bicycle mayors themselves also come up with a lot of campaigns, you know, they have ideas about how to implement andbikes just pushes that along as well.

Laura Laker 7:41
Yeah and BYCS is BYCS. Which stands for it stands for … nothing really

Just bikes but a different way. Just in case people are wondering, you’re referring to bikes, not bikes with magical powers, but bikes.org the organisation BYCS which is what you call your bicycle mayor programme.

Maud de Vries 8:00
So yeah.

Laura Laker
So how long have you been bicycle mayor?

Satya Sankaran
One year now. Last May, I guess, this May, I finished one year, June, July, 14 months now. Yeah.

Laura Laker
And then what you’ve been doing in that time?

Satya Sankaran 8.06
Lots of things. And one of the biggest things that I’m here for is the cycle to work programme that I launched. So I realised that while on one side, you need a lot of disincentives, which is very important, and the power of disincentives live with the government. And they are empowered to do that. Yeah. So they need to drive a lot of that what is in citizens hands, it is the incentives that you can give. So I looked at how do you enable incentives. So I identified that a large problem large part of the people who create the problem are in the tech industry in Bangalore, especially. And a lot of the upwardly mobile who buy cars are tech savvy. So I narrowed down on a technology platform, which kind of is a leaderboard. A leaderboard is one of the simplest ways of incentivizing …

Laura Laker 9:00
Oh, it’s like a competition?

leaderboard. So three companies. Within companies?

Satya Sankaran
Between companies. So I came up with that, and we had a platform where people track their rides to work. And then you make you make a leaderboard of companies, not of individuals of companies. So you drive collective action. If you incentivize individually, only incentivize them along. That’s also part of it. But the biggest thing is how do you collectively increase the number of riders on the road, so you incentivize as a collective. So you put companies on the leaderboard, and the individual strive to make that a competitive thing, the gamified it, the gamified that, so that’s what it is. So we did a nice gamification programme using the leaderboard. And it’s making a huge mark. Now we have lots of users, we’ve completed around 20,000 trips in the last 10 months.

Satya Sankaran 10:00

We are adding three new riders every day, for the past eight months, on to the leaderboard, and we want to be hitting 200,000 kilometres this month. And that’s a massive thing. And this is only the ones we are tracking. There are lots of them, we haven’t yet begun to track.

Laura Laker
Some people were cycling already, because I guess people are aware that Cycling is healthy for them.

Satya Sankaran
Sure, but what but what the leaderboard does is it incentivizes the non riders to also ride because they the riders go and influence them just to make sure that their company comes up on the leaderboard. So it’s a very useful tool for incentivize, a simple gamification.

Laura Laker 10.38
That sounds really innovative. And so more Is this the kind of stuff that different bicycle makers are coming up with by themselves and then, or I guess, as a collective, and then of course, you can share these ideas, because I mean, I love gamification, I totally buy into all of that. So that’s a fantastic idea, which I guess can spread.

Maud de Vries 11:03
I think it is a great example, Satya and I met also in October, during the bicycle mayor summit in Mexico City. And then together with Areli Carreon, she’s the bicycle mayor of Mexico City. The three of us signed up and will you because we really believe that work, a memorandum of understanding. It’s an official way of saying, Let’s collaborate. And that’s what we’re doing. So we’re collaborating on this idea of creating this leaderboard, which, Satya is creating, we are testing it in Amsterdam, and Areli will be using it as well. So and then, if we if we think it’s good enough, we can scale it, you know, that is one of the examples of a bicycle Mayor coming up with an idea. And sometimes we come up with an idea or product, and then we can share it. That’s the way forward we think.

Laura Laker
Yes it sounds great. So you have this mission? How are you going to achieve it, I guess you’ve got all these different kinds of programmes around the world, and you got a sort of collective push that you’re doing something specific,

Maud de Vries 12:01
We have a we have a bikes eco impact system. So basically, what we do is we have all these ideas to inspire. So for example, the Bicycle Architecture Biennale or to grow or to be a leader, we have all examples of products or programmes or like things like to be another that we have. And then we channel that a little bit. And then we have a bikes lab, like we have here in Dublin during Velo-city, we’re going to extend that for another three months at Trinity College. And this year, because we want to, we want to have more labs in Europe as well and abroad. And we’re collaborating with the Dutch embassies a lot, you know, to just make sure that the bicycle mayor’s have a place where they can meet people where they can create, like, interesting ideas around insights that they already have, where they can then then test and pilot things in collaboration with their city. And then if it’s helpful, they can scan it.

Laura Laker 13:00
Yeah. So tell me about the Bicycle Architecture Biennale, which you’ve just had last week, they come straight from one to the other. licencing .

Maud de Vries
Yeah, that’s crazy. So it’s and the second Bicycle Architecture Biennale, we launched the first one two years ago. And we’ve had so much attention around it. Because, you know, I think it’s, it’s a time when people don’t want to only talk about climate change, or air pollution and stuff, but also want to see things happen. And you know, why not invest in stuff that is really good, looks really good. You know, so we thought, let’s give some inspiration to cities and what we now see cities calling us and asking, you know, that bridge that you’re showing, maybe I want to have something similar my city because it connects like this part where we cannot build because people cannot go to the other side of the river, let’s say, you know, if they start developing in there, make sure that people can go by bicycle to the other side of the river where the city is, that’s massive, you know, so that unlocks massive economic, health and social. Yeah, possible. Yeah.

Laura Laker 14:00
And so what are you hoping to get out of Velo-city? You’ve set up your own kind of side conference almost having you and you’ve invited loads of bicycle mayors over? And how many bicycle mayors have you got? What you going to do?

Maud de Vries 16:05
Well, I think in total, there will be six, seven, so not that much. But of course, flying as sometimes is a is a thing. We just talked about the flight from Bangalore to Dublin, which is the thing as well, we believe, you know, that we can only do that if if our impact is bigger than then the CO2 from the flight, let’s say, you know, so I think such a story needs to be shared about cycle to work, because that’s a big, impactful way of getting more people on the bike. I just got a message from friend that Facebook year, you know, so think about it stuck here all day in Dublin. And we really want to change that only ways getting out the class, you know,

Laura Laker
Maybe the traffic in Dublin is really bad, isn’t it? It’s one of the worst in Europe for congestion. And

Maud de Vries
You’re totally right, it’s the second slowest in Europe.

Laura Laker 15.06
And so Satya, you’re here to share your message. That’s why you’ve come to Dublin to share with the other bicycle mayors

Satya Sankaran
So one of the things is to look at programmes which can incentivize people to get on the bike and work with the government to see how we can make such programmes to success and share the cycle to work story one of the things that we want to do is to take it global, the platform is already global of the block.

Laura Laker 15:33
So you set up your own platform, this is a kind of rebuilt it.

Satya Sankaran
Yeah, just build it. So we have tech partners that I’m working with. in Bangalore. Map Unity’s are delivering the technology.

It’s called cycle to work, but we’re going to rebrand it as bikes to work pretty soon, and we’ll launch it in many more cities, we have to discuss the modalities of which city is ready for deployment. And we would encourage more people to pick it up and run with it. One of the things is to make this, these kind of tech platforms encourage people to get on the bike and commute.

So let’s see how that goes. There’s a lot of stuff, there’s a lot of ground to cover. But we made a very good start. And it’s already seeing the impact. It’s made a lot of impact in the city of Bangalore. And it’s already making waves in other places.

Laura Laker
And I guess these tech companies, maybe there’s parallels with Dublin, because in Dublin, a lot of tech companies have their European headquarters here. Facebook, LinkedIn, Groupon, Google, of course, the big one. So but these companies have a huge amount of a voice actually, don’t they? Because they bring a lot of money. They have a lot of employees. So if employees of these companies start cycling, and then maybe find the roads aren’t quite fit for purpose, then perhaps there’s a there’s a push from companies, local governments say what are you doing?

Satya Sankaran
Absolutely. I think one of the key drivers of this is not the government, it is the businesses. So we are incentivizing companies so they can give benefits to employees. So in Bangalore, what’s happening is there are lots of companies which are coming forward and saying, Hey, I didn’t know so many of my people are by biking now. And now I can see them they used to be able to see. So Google and Facebook, for example. There are lots of employees in all over the world who already bike but quantifying them and making sure they count towards the larger good of the city. How do they compete, a lot of back to our programmes are companies specific. And for example, company x does a microloan programme, the people there do not know how many others are doing this.

Satya Sankaran 17:33

They are not aware of how many others in the cities are doing that. So one of the thing is to create that visibility, saying that you are not alone. There are right now 183 companies on on that leaderboard. And most of them are from Bangalore. But once you scale, you will see thousands of companies where employees are riding. And it’s just that you can now measure the percentage of your employees who are actually coming by bike and the company can give incentives to transform. So this is kind of a traffic problem is caused by

the economics of the city, right? You have an economy and there are people travelling to work and back. So the problem can be solved by transforming that it’s a negative externality of that company, which can be solved by the company themselves saying that, hey, I’d like you to at least shift 20% or 50% off to the bike.

Laura Laker
Yeah. Yeah. Because it’s great for the company as well, because people do who cycle take fewer days sick leave …

Satya Sankaran
They weren’t making any conscious effort to say how you commute, they provision whatever the employee already does. So if an employee buys lots of cars, they go in and encourage more parking spots. So now all they need to do is if a lot of people are coming by bike, he won’t put more bike parking. So you just shift the paradigm a little bit and say, how can how can people commute differently, and you start providing incentives for that. Like in Bangalore, for example, people actually companies give you loans and allowances to buy cars and fill petrol on them.

You get an allowance for fuel. You don’t need to do that. Yeah, so you don’t need to do that you could say, when you come in here, so joining-bonus, take a bike

Satya Sankaran 19:06

Or you know, give the money instead, give them a bike instead,

You can opt out of it, but you can still and it’s it’s less expensive to give them a bike and probably they will choose their place of residence based on what you give them. It’s it’s harder to commute short distances using a cab, because it’s physically not possible. So if you give them a bike, they’re probably settled down closer within a five kilometre radius. And the build form shapes itself to accommodate that. Because there are a lot of [opposition?] people who is like that there are a lot of immigrants coming into work, right? You got to the same in your country as well. So when they come in, they’re new, and they’re looking to buy a car. So give them a bike instead, they’ll live differently, and they will commute differently and the new, you change. From day one, when they join the company, you change the pattern of community. That’s incentivization.

Laura Laker 20:00
Fantastic. It’s really interesting idea.

Maud de Vries 20:07
In the Netherlands, it’s the other way around. So the government really lead takes care of all the people that work at the government level, you know, so they give them to incentivize them to help the companies do it. So the companies became bit lazy, I think, you know, so they should get out of their chairs and say, hey, I want healthier and happier employees, you know, let’s get them go get them on the bike. But here in Dublin, that’s amazing as well, the Dublin cycling campaign, what they do, and lots of other people like such a you know, they just go to the companies and ask them, please help us you know, we need to get more people on the bike. And they do. They sponsor they help and have a great cycling to work campaign here in Dublin. I think that’s amazing. Work really big.

Laura Laker
Wow. Thank you. Is there anything else you want to say about the bicycle mayor programme or plans for the future me and

Maud de Vries
Maybe what would be good to mention is that we also have a junior bicycle mayor. And that that was really good. It was later and she was a announced a year ago. In the Netherlands. Now we’re going to have the second one. On the fourth of July. Tomorrow morning at eight to 830. We’re going to have a junior bicycle Mayor for Dublin, which is easy.

Maud de Vries 21:13

Yeah. It’s so exciting. She’s really amazing. And she has a nice yellow bike, and she wrote a poem about it. So besides from the fact that she will be inaugurated to share her phone, at the lab? Yeah, that’s really good. That’s fantastic.

Laura Laker
Yeah. And I think there’s a lot of power in in children saying this is what we want.

Maud de Vries
I think that’s amazing. And all the bicycle mayor’s picked that up as well. So in October, yeah, we agreed on starting a campaign called Cities Fit for Children. Because we believe that cities are fit for children, they are fit for everyone, you know. So let’s create cities fit for children. That is what we call out, go out for so we started that on the, on the Children’s Day from the United Nations.

Maud de Vries 22:00

And everybody now is really looking into how to get children on bikes as well. And Satya just reached out to me, in the Netherlans, we have this sort of bicycle bus. And he said, you know, we should have that in Bangalore as well, because of course, it makes kids more safe on the road as well. You know, do you know the bicycle bus?

Laura Laker
When you have a group of children riding together, and they’re kind of chaperoned front and back? They do? Yeah, I do. Because it’s a separate machine. It’s not separate bicycles. It’s one machine,

Maud de Vries
One machine, but then they all have individual pedals.

Laura Laker
I know like you see on the stag, the hen-dos travelling around town, and children.

Maud de Vries 22:38
It reminds me a bit of that. But you know, I think it is great, because right now, it’s really hard. Also, I just heard about an eight year old girl that was killed in traffic here, by bicycle. And these things are just horrible to me, I think we should think about where Amsterdam was 50 years ago, and 10,000 people went on to the streets and say stop killing our children. And that’s really that was a turning point for our city. And hopefully, many more cities will see that if they invest in making Cities Fit for Children. And that would be really good. First step.

Laura Laker 23:12
Is that Did you see that? Working in India and Bangalore?

Satya Sankaran
Yes, of course. So we’ve had a lot of success in getting children to understand and talk to their parents about this. Because when they, when they are convinced they are they have a lot of power in convincing the adults as well. If you tell an adult what to do, they generally don’t like it. What if their kids tell them what to do, they will kind of be a little embarrassed and actually do it. So but nevertheless, it’s more important for the kids to understand what is the future they are inhabiting, and how they need to start looking at all the things we have come to gotten us to car as the symbol of development fuel vehicle as the aspirational goal, these are all things that are in the past.

Satya Sankaran 24:00

Global warming is a reality, and it’s going to hit them. And they need to understand what they are inheriting. And it’s important for them to start getting used to it right now. And I think we need to tell them and they are going to be the focus. And it’s for them that we are having to do all of these things. It’s it’s what we have done in the past, we have to start undoing now. And they need to realise that they need to step up and not go back to what we have done. The more successful we are in doing that, the better it is.

Laura Laker
And we seeing this around climate change with children, Greta Thunberg passing off the school climate strikes and how powerful that is.

Maud de Vries 24:40
And I think the same thing for a little later became the first vice mayor, you know, and advantage of what she’s doing. She’s a she has actual tools, you know, so she can do something about it. And that’s really good. And that’s what I see happening all over the globe now as well that children want to step up, but they also want to change something you know, and the bicycle is a really good way of changing cities.

Laura Laker 25:06
Yeah, wonderful. Thank you guys so much. And I look forward to seeing more about the bicycle mayors programme.

Maud de Vries
Hopefully and see tonight at the inauguration of Donna Cooney will be the bicycle mayor of Dublin, and she’s going to be the 50th bicycle mayor on the globe. So they’ll be exciting. Yeah,

Laura Laker 25:24
Great. We’ve just been talking about your different bicycle mayors around the world. And I thought was so interesting. I wanted to ask you about them again. So you were telling me about your bicycle mayor in Mexico City and your bicycle mayor in Istanbul? Can you just tell our listeners, what you what you’re saying about them, and the impact that they’re having.

Maud de Vries
And the impact that they’re having is grand. And I’m so proud of them. So for example, Areli Carreon, who’s the vice mayor of Mexico City, she’s a great change maker. And for her the bicycle was the reason sort of to feel alive again. She was really at a bad moment in life, and she didn’t have any money, you know. And then by school, she was given a bicycle. And then she started. Yeah, to rehab, she was able to go to work again. And so for her, there was a big, big change maker from, let’s say, depression into a new phase of her life where she really thought this is something that really has a transformative aspect to it. And I really want to dedicate my life to this. Oh, wow.

Laura Laker 26:18
So from there, she became an advocate.

Maud de Vries
Exactly. Yeah. And she’s like a really influential advocate. She’s one of the top 10 on Wikipedia of most influential women on Mexico. Wow. She is amazing. Yeah. So and just because of her drive, you know, to constantly work on getting more people on bicycles and making more people aware that you to change the rules, you know that they should make it safer. build roads and stuff like that. It’s really amazing. And so we have bicycle mayor’s like Murat Suyabatmaz in Istanbul, you know, if he rides, he has 10,000 people on bikes, just incredible. The Children’s programmes. He does, you know, impacting like, really, really many children’s lives. It’s really grand.

Laura Laker
10,000 people on a bike ride? How does that work?

Maud de Vries
Yeah, like for him. He has a grant outreach ready, because he has been working in this. He has been working in the cycling field for longer. And he’s also a race champion. So he has a good outreach as well, as a former racer. Yeah, he said he wasn’t racing bike, and he won championships as well. So that that’s why a lot of people in Turkey know him already. And that’s when he thought, you know, he should start and work with this organisation that has this big outreach.

Laura Laker 27:44
And I think what you BYCS? What do you mean, your your organisation? You mean? With like our

Maud de Vries 27:52
No, yeah, yeah. In total? Yes. You know, so tonight, we’re going to announce the 50th vice mayor. And I think also from such a, you know, the people that we have in the entire organisation right now the bicycle mayor’s the leadership that they show us in, it’s big, they’re impacting the lives of billions, I think, and that’s really, really amazing. And

Laura Laker 28:15
how is it funded, do these funded kind of roles these guys come in?

Maud de Vries
So right now the bicycle mayor’s do this?

What to go voluntarily, and our organisation is a social enterprise. So what we do is we are from the Netherlands, and we come up with innovations and programmes in the Netherlands and we get paid for that by the government to do that. And the profits that we make from that work, we reinvest into the bicycle main programme. So that’s how we do it now. But of course, we need to be funds, soon to really get to 50 by 30, to really make change happen, you know. So yes, such a can come up with an exciting cycle to work programme, we can help him build and scale it, you know, but then in the end, of course, we need partners, and we need cities, to be interested in this, this as well, and to really help making the change in cities, organisations. It’s fun, it’s like companies. So we need all the help that we can get to really make this happen.

Laura Laker 29:14
And you were saying that here in Dublin, you you have an installation outside of the main conference, which is open to everyone, obviously, their conferences, a paid event. But you’re going to be sticking around after the conference to kind of share some of the knowledge he was saying, and then hopefully pass that on within Dublin.

Maud de Vries 29:31
Yeah, so we’re going to be here from September to end of November, at Trinity College, in Dublin, working with the professors and the city of Dublin, to see you know, what insights do we get, you know, how can we use them to come up with pilots and innovation? So Dublin? And how can we change the situation here, because Dublin now is the second slowest city in Europe. And I think we should change that by implementing a bicycle. So I think we already make a really good start tonight by starting with the new bicycle mayor in Dublin, and tomorrow with a new Junior bicycle mayor, because the junior, of course will be impacting the children is here in Dublin. And I think, you know, building this bikes lab, which is in this case, a temporary facility really can make a difference where people can come together, they can collect insights, they can talk, they can do presentations. So it’s open to all people don’t have to pay a fee, or people don’t have anyone who wants to can do a talk over there. And then in the end, you know, we’ll make this part of something bigger. And we really want to make top down innovations and make it available for the city to implement

Laura Laker 30:43
While doing the sort of grassroots bottom up stuff from the communities with the mayor’s and selves?

Maud de Vries 30:49
Yeah, we’re connected to that. And I think what we are good at is sort of giving them tools like, like, the Bicycle Architecture Bianele, which gives inspiration or the leadership, which is the bicycle mentor network, or, you know, we have lots of other things by bikes to work. And we have the lab where they can then come start me people. And we also have interesting campaigns and stuff, you know, but in the end, it’s like, it’s an idea where we can start this big movement around cycling, with these change makers and all these ideas, and also the tools to really, yeah, make it happen and get the cars out. And the bicycles in.

Laura Laker 31:29
So I’m here with Rod King, we were in the sort of side conference, the bikes mayors conference, and I bumped into Rod King, who is the founder of 20’s Plenty, the 20 mile an hour campaign. And so Rod was just telling me that he was here in 2005. That was your first public speaking engagement. You cycled here from Belfast? And then you’re here again this year 2019 as a speaker, and can you tell me what’s changed for 20 mile an hour in those 14 years?

Rod King 31:57
Well, when I came here in 2005, it was really to present on how I’d cycled to Warrington Twin Town – Hilton in Germany – and found that they had a 30 kilometres per hour limit. And that was the foundation of their walking and cycling strategy. And when I came here in 2005, to talk about that, of course, there were no Wide Area 20 mile an hour limits in the UK. Now, there’s about 21 million people in the UK live in or authorities, which have either put in wide area 20 mile an hour limit, or making it the default for all residential roads, which there’s been a huge change, right in those in those years.

Laura Laker 32:39
And and that’s thanks to your campaigning, obviously, to a large degree …

Rod King 32:43
Not so much my campaign, but but what we we started was a whole movement. And now there are over 400 local campaigns, not only in the UK, but in Ireland and North America, and Australia as well, where local communities are saying, look, we want a 20 mile an hour limit or a 30 kilometres per hour limit. What are the places where are people live, where they shop, where they were, where their children learn, I’m playing.

Laura Laker 33:14
So words kind of got out about 20 miles an hour and and people are demanding it for their communities.

Rod King 33:20
Indeed, and it’s it’s recognised by so many people in the World Health Organisation, the OECD, the you the global network of road safety legislators that there’s very strong evidence that 30 kilometres per hour is the only safe speed where pedestrians and cyclists have to mix with motor vehicles. So it really is the foundation of making better places for everyone, by by all means, we can in some places go faster. But it’s where we have the appropriate segregated facilities and crossing facilities for people to actually have their mobility safely.

Laura Laker 34:01
And so what would you say is kind of holding more adoption of 20 miles an hour back because there’s places you are doing Edinburgh just rolled out a couple of years within the last couple of years rolled out across their kind of neighbourhoods, but then there’s other cities who just, I guess a behind

what’s holding those back?

Rod King 34:18
Well, actually, more than half of the 40 largest urban authorities in the UK have already implemented 20 mile and hour from most residential streets. And if we look in look at the continent, we find that 30 kilometres per hour is very much the norm. Right, certainly for Northern European cities and villages. So this really is becoming the norm. If we look at London, I think it’s 80% of inner London. Outer London boroughs are coming on board. And we’ve got Wales, recently, the First Minister of Wales said that it was their intention to set a 20 mile an hour limit for residential road in Wales, with exceptions being determined by local authorities.

Laura Laker 35:08
Actually, this is this has become more common than it’s, then it’s not.

Rod King 35:13
Well, it’s certainly moving that way. And certainly, we see it becoming increasingly easier to adopt, it is becoming the social norm, that that really, in those places where we come across people walking and cycling, then, you know, we’re all a little bit better for us all, if we don’t travel more than 20 miles an hour. And yes, some places where it so we can go faster than that. So we’re changing that norm, it used to be, we went everywhere at 30. And in some places, we slowed down into one where we say right, 20 mile an hour is right, for all the most all of our places, but in some places will go faster, where appropriate. Yeah.

Laura Laker 35:56
And and then you’ve got places I’ve noticed, around London, you have these roads that are basically the same roads as they’ve always been, but someone putting enormous 20 miles an hour, and we’re talking like the height of a human being just painted on the road is like a motorway sign. But on a 20 mile an hour road. And and clearly people aren’t going to go at 20. So there’s an engineering piece as well to be done. What else do you think? Is it? Would you say? That’s correct? And what else kind of holding back 20 miles an hour?

Rod King 36:23
Well, I don’t think that holds it back in the all the places I’ve talked about have been predominantly 20 mile an hour limits put in without heavy engineering what we may have

Laura Laker 36:35
Are people sticking to the speed limit?

Rod King 36:38
Well, it’s certainly slowing people down in almost every situation, right where 20 miles has been put in, then speeds become slower. Yeah. Right. And that’s one of the effects. And look, we have to say it’s a long term effect this remember that we’ve had a 30 mile an hour limit set at five years ago, and it was plucked out of the air as being reasonable people have got used to that we are changing, right. And new drivers are saying more and more 20 mile no limits. They’re being tested in 20 miles, we’re changing the social norm about what we see I feel is acceptable.

Laura Laker 37:17
Yeah. And so what kind of evidence is coming out of we’ve got a lot of 20 mile an hour, 30 minutes or an hour areas? What what evidence, are we finding what’s coming out of these places in terms of safety and behaviour?

Rod King 37:29
Well, we’re finding that that, first of all, it’s hugely popular, it starts off around about 60 to 70%, and tends to increase by 10%. Right? When it’s implemented, the reductions tend to be between 10 and 20%. In terms of reduction in, in casualties, there’s better air quality, which comes from, particularly from the modal shift, which we get, because if we, if we make our places feel better, then more people will walk and cycle. And of course, every additional person who walks and cycle is one less person who’s using the car, right to get to where they’re going.

Laura Laker 38:09
So you asked, we are seeing modal shift in 20 miles an hour areas.

Rod King 38:14
We’re getting some local shifts, it’s it’s small, but it’s significant. But what we always say it’s a foundation, right? I don’t think many people are going to say, right, I’m suddenly going to start riding to work everywhere, because there’s a 20 mile an hour limit. But you know, when that other trigger comes, right, change your job, a change of

economies in a family, then maybe people will say, you know, with a 20 mile an hour limit, I feel a little bit safer on the way to work. And so therefore, I will make the change to cycling, or walking, or indeed walk into public transport and doing that. Okay,

Laura Laker 38:55
So what do you think the next challenges are?

Rod King 39:00
The challenges are really to continue our success. And for it to become the norm, I think it will become the norm in an in London already, the mayor has said that everywhere within the congestion charging zone will be 20 mile an hour, we expect that almost be expanded to the to the ring road, right? We’ve seen it being becoming the norm in so many of our largest cities, and the whole of Wales as well.

Laura Laker 39:29
I’m here in the conference centre with Christophe Najdovski, who is the Deputy Mayor for Paris for transport, managed to catch him while we’re having a cup of coffee. So exciting to talk to you, because Paris is doing some quite radical stuff around transport and changing its streets to reduce air pollution and reduce congestion. And I wondered if you could talk to me a bit about what you’re doing there.

Christophe Najdovski 39:52
Hello, and thank you for this invitation to the discussion. So in Paris, we are committed to change our way of moving in our way of making our daily trips, because we are facing the same problems as older Metropolis have in all over Europe and all over the world. That means congestion, that means air pollution. And also we are facing the question of climate change. So we have the conviction that the centre of transportation is it is a great challenge to change the way that we move for our daily trips. And that is why we are committed to change things about daily trips, and especially about giving the opportunity to people to use

cycling as a daily way of transportation.

Laura Laker 40:52
And you said that in your in your talk just now at the plenary session that you see cycling as a key part of tackling the climate crisis and problems they’re having in cities, and in Paris has been quite brave. And some of the actions Mayor Anne Hidalgo done some fantastic stuff. I’m wondering if you can explain what you’re doing and why it’s why you’re taking some quite brave steps that other cities would would consider brave.

Christophe Najdovski 41:20
We are doing it because it is necessary, because we have the conviction that we can’t wait. And that is time to do the things and not to just say blah, blah, blah, but to act and

to to implement

courageous policies about moving and especially about cycling. We have these convictions since several years. And with that conviction, we are committed also to to reshape the public space because it was given to costs from decades and decades, we have still today’s car oriented cities, because you can’t make in just a few years, what was made in the other way from decades and decades. But we are trying to, to share the public space to give more space to the public transport to the active mobility, meaning walking and cycling, because it is a necessity today to tackle congestion to tackle air pollution and also to tackle climate change.

Laura Laker 42:28
Yeah. And you also working to restrict cars in in Paris as well. Can you tell me more about that?

Christophe Najdovski 42:33
Yes, we are we are implementing low emission zone like already 230 cities did all over Europe. So Paris and France is not in advance in that question. But we also believe that we need to work on the capacity of renewing the cost of letting the old diesel cars aside and not using them for the daily treats. Because in inner city as dense as Paris and as London is also we believe that we don’t need our own car to to make our daily trips. So that is why we are also implementing that low emissions zone, but it is not just it is just a part of the policies. One pillar of I would say four pillars about our mobility policy, we are convinced that we still need to invest in high capacity vehicles meaning mass transit, so trains, metros, buses, we will always need this kind of transportation. Two, to make people move. Secondly, we want to invest in cycling and walking That is why we are investing about 250 millions euros by 2020. So in five years, to develop the infrastructure for cycling and also to enlarge the sidewalks for the pedestrians. And third, the third pillar is about shared mobility. So giving the possibility to two people to to use the bike sharing the car sharing systems, instead of having their own car. And the fourth pillar is working on the low emissions zone. So with these four pillars, we are committed to to change things and to go forward to to, to a new city to the city of the 21st century. Yeah.

Laura Laker 44:34
And you said you also said just now about how you were determined not to let the diesel lobby the diesel enthusiasts win? And what sort of response have you had to these policies from those quarters, and what are you doing to kind of keep things moving,

Christophe Najdovski 44:51
We need to change and the city of the 21st century would be very different from the city of the 20th century. And we need to understand that we can’t just change the cities and replace or remove the digital cause and put instead of them electric cars, we need also of course, electric cars, but we need to decrease the number of the of the cars globally, I mean, so, this is also a necessity, because we are looking at every day that the environmental and social crisis is a deeper and deeper month after month and year after year. So we cannot wait and we have to to make things right now. And radically that means taking the problem at the root that is what we mean by radical change.

Laura Laker 45:51
So, it is a social justice issue as well, for you.

Christophe Najdovski 45:55
Yes, it is because the people who are facing the the air pollution are the people who are living close to the the main roads and the main highways, so they are first seat and the first position towards this question, and our conviction is that we must do this, this policy with the people. So giving also them the incentives to change the way of transportation to make also the price of the public transportation being lower than it is now. For example, we took some measures of free transportation for children under 11 years old. So by September of this year, it will be free for the transportation for kids in Paris, because our conviction is that it also brings the kids and their families to to have the habit to use the public transportation, so then then will they will they will be adults, they will have also the this, this, this use and this, this capacity to use the public transport. So this is a global approach of what we should do. For our city. Of course, every city has is a specific situation. But we need now to have a very strong an active policy, if you want to be successful.

Laura Laker 47:31
Um, what about backlash from people who don’t want to see change? How has that happened? And what do you do about it?

Christophe Najdovski 47:37
Sorry, I did not.

Laura Laker 47:38
So when people say that they don’t want change, and they start protesting Have you had much of that,

Christophe Najdovski 47:43
You know, there are always resistance since people have some people have habits, for example, where when we have pedestrianised the right bank of the River Seine in Paris, there was a strong resistance, especially from the older persons that that used to you use this highway, which passes in the in the centre of the city, but what we see is that the young generation are very in support of that measure, we have a very strong support and now we have the support of 63% of the population about this, this measure, so and in the young generation, it is an 80% support. So, we need also to, to to take care, of course about this, this resistance is better, to with explanation of what we are doing. What it is for reducing our greenhouses, gas emissions, reducing reducing our emissions of pollutants. I think that we can also convince the people that we are going in a in a in a good way. And it’s a pity to, to imagine that this, this, this traffic was brought to the centre of the city, where you have already four lanes for the traffic, that means we have six lanes for traffic in the centre of the city. So you can’t imagine to have to have that kind of design of our streets, which was thought 50 years ago, to have it already. Right now, when we are talking about climate change, and things like that, so the cities have to change. And it is right now and not with the delay of I don’t know how many years? Yeah,

Laura Laker 49:40
because that seems to be the case in in a lot of cities that they may be wanting to do the right thing. They know that it’s the right thing to reallocate space from traffic. But when it comes to people saying complaining, saying they don’t want to see the change, then they become frightened, what would your advice be to leaders on that,

Christophe Najdovski 49:58
We need to do that and we need because we don’t have the choice.

If we postpone the decisions, if we delayed them, it will be harder. So of course, we have to change also our behaviour, it can’t be business as usual, we won’t have the possibility to to allocate the possibility for every people to have their own car to drive their own car alone on the streets of our cities, it’s not possible, we don’t have the space for that. And it’s not from an environmental point of view, that is not possible. So and and the public interest is not just the sum of the personal interests. Sowe need to take some measures that are in the public interest. And we need also to to change our behaviour. So because if not, it will be harder tomorrow.

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