EPISODE 10 – Virtual Velo-city 2019

Interviews with:

CEO of Sustrans Xavier Brice, and Wheels for Wellbeing director Isabelle Clement .

Direct download [MP3]

TRANSCRIPT

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This podcast series is sponsored by the Dutch Cycling Embassy a public private network for sustainable bicycle mobility. To learn more about the global mission of cycling for everyone, visit their website at Dutchcycling.nl and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

Carlton Reid 0.24
Welcome to Episode 10 of the Virtual Velo-city podcast with an intro again recorded at Holyhead station.

Laura Laker

I am recording this intro on Saturday the 29th of June 2019 from Holywood station Yeah, we’re never getting out of here.

And I’m Carlton Reid and on this Holyhead station episode we’ve got Laura’s interview with Xavier Brice of Sustrans. He give me some great background to his life. Fantastic. He’s a he’s a long distance rider. He’s an old ex rider.

Laura Laker 1.00

Yeah, I knew that. Well I know that he’s not didn’t know that. I mean, I know he’s into cycling.

Carlton Reid

Yeah, yes, he has tonnes more. In fact he told me everything. And we also talk to Isabella. Isabel Yes. Not Isabella. We have another Isabella on this is a different just Isabel. Isabel Clement from Wheels for Wellbeing.

Laura Laker 1.21
It’s lunchtime on day two, you may be able to hear various sounds in the background plates clattering babies crying. Hopefully it’s not gonna be too distracting, but I’m here with Xavier Brice from Sustrans the CEO of Sustrans. And you are speaking today? tomorrow morning. Do you want to tell us what you’re what you’re going to talk about?

Xavier Brice 1.40
Well, I’m gonna be talking about paths for everyone, which is our vision for the National Cycle network, which we, Sustrans, are custodians of, and which over the years, we’ve taken, well we’ve taken some warranted criticism about the state of the network.

Laura Laker
Yes. Well-known criticism

Xavier Brice
So yep, pop on to any social media outlet and take a look. Which is a shame because the original vision was for a network modelled, actually, on the Danish network, that a sensible 12 year old navigate by herself.

Laura Laker
And that was the original intention

Xavier Brice
That was the original intention, which, which has a simple purity about actually. And an anachronism in the sensible word any 12 year old should be able to navigate it by herself, my 11 year old should. But, but what we know, and what many know is that the network is not suitable for that. The network grew, there’s 16,000 miles of it. And, and we did a review of the network a couple of years ago, well, over two years, rather. And we published the outcome of that late last year, which basically showed that one thing we knew already, only a third of the network is traffic free, two thirds of it is on road. And the third that’s traffic free, most of it is good, not all of it, not all of it by any means, but most of it is good. And we need to fix the bits that aren’t good. of the one third, that’s on roads around around five, I’m sorry, two thirds on road around 10,000 miles, a lot of that is poor, or worse. It’s own roads that have become busy, that maybe were busy to begin with fast, poor condition, were stop gaps. And they’ve been stopping gap for many years. And that’s not good enough. So we have said that we want an entirely traffic free network, which is quite a bold ambition.

Laura Laker
Yeah, because it’s a lot of miles,

Xavier Brice
it’s a lot of miles. We also want a network that is safe and accessible for all that means traffic free, it also means accessible, traffic free, which means removing the coincidentally 16,000 barriers or redesigning them,

Laura Laker
so one per mile,

Xavier Brice
That litter the network and make it inaccessible for anyone on a non conventional bicycle. Anyone in a wheelchair, a mobility scooter, or anyone on adaptive trike, for example, or with a pushchair. Back to the vision we set out it’s not only is this traffic free it’s that this becomes paths for everyone. So it’s not about cycling, and half the users of the network are not cyclists, it’s about people walking, scooting, wheeling, rolling, in places on horseback. And the notion of people sharing paths together.

Laura Laker 4.28
Now shared paths is a bit of a controversial issue between pedestrians and cycles.

Xavier Brice
It is so there are plenty of places not least on the National Cycle network, where shared paths are entirely inappropriate, putting pedestrians and cyclists together, such as along the high street in a busy urban context. Often, when the path isn’t wide enough to begin with, it’s not good. It’s not good for anyone. It doesn’t work, especially for pedestrians where the bicycle is they’re the most powerful object, and it’s threatening. So However, there are plenty of places not least on 16,000 miles of National Cycle network where actually Greenways, for example, other traffic free paths segregating it to my mind would be over engineered for the context. And where path is nice and wide. And two there’s also something about being able to share a path that gets to the core of who we are. Because if somebody on a bicycle, somebody in a wheelchair, somebody walking, cannot share a path cannot exchange pleasantries, which of course you’re more likely to do when you’re sharing a path, then, then what what does that say about us as a society, if we can’t actually share a path together? Again, an appropriate path. And I think that there’s something about traffic free routes that bring people together, all different backgrounds, from rural, urban areas, from all sides of political divides. And the notion of sharing space, space to travel, of course, but also space to be, because I know that if I go out along a traffic free route to get just from A to B, I will probably say more exchange more pleasantries with people and have more interactions with people pleasant ones, then I would do walking half a mile in London.

Laura Laker
This is a kind of ideological thing for you. You want people to interact, and it’s understandable. I mean, you talked about how we’re kind of living in a divided society, I kind of picture those sorts of interactions being i do i do have those on my commutes. But it’s kind of a leisure thing. If you’re going if you’re trying to get to work, then I don’t know, maybe you’d be less inclined to, people might argue, and less inclined to do that. You might just want to get somewhere quickly and just get there.

Xavier Brice
It depends, doesn’t it? So um, I think if you’ve got large flows, large volumes of people going along into central London from inner London, for example. You just want to get from A to B. But that is not everyone’s experience of going to work. And there are plenty of places where there are more dispersed trips that take place that can be or a park along the canal. And we know that much of the National Cycle network has different purposes in the same way that roads have different purposes. So along those stretches, actually being able to exchange pleasantries on your way to work is arguably part good for our well being that sort of building that into our daily routine. Not everywhere feels like London in rush hour essentially, not everywhere feels like a busy dual carriageway. And, and it is not going to serve every journey. So I think it’s probably fair that that is about leisure, but it’s not just about leisure, actually. It’s also about how we move about our daily business because of course, it’s not just work trips, it’s going to the shops, it’s going to visit people, it’s going to visit visit family and friends during the day. And and I think and all of that can be can be served through that too. But I I make no pretence, back to the National Cycle network, that this is everyone’s local network. It can’t be that, we need we need cities, towns, to build their local networks. This is about a core spine network and about about a special place. But a place that isn’t just about leisure. It’s also about those functional trips in the same way that the road network is not just for getting to work or going on holiday.

Laura Laker
Yeah, yeah. And it’s away from motorised traffic. It’s away from the noise. It’s you get to enjoy the countryside.

Xavier Brice
And it’s not a substitute for high volume commuter cycling routes where they’re needed.

Laura Laker
I just spoke to a woman from the Danish cycling embassy, and they were talking about the supercycle ways in which they, they didn’t call them cycle superhighways in Danish, the direct translation apparently is super cycleways. And, but they are kind of the separate main, you know, they’re kind of the main main routes for cycling, and they are sort of protected, separate from pedestrians.

Xavier Brice
They are, and I think on those it’s a question about what function they serve. Because that there’s a danger with that type of infrastructure that, that they can, it can actually be create a barrier itself, especially to pedestrians and other users can do so. So I think if it’s about moving huge volumes of people over over sort of longer distances than people might otherwise travel, which I think is the Danish model, actually,

Laura Laker
yeah, that’s kind of their purpose, I think. 10 kilometres, more, 11,15.

Xavier Brice
Yeah. And those are ideal for e-bikes. And they’re major transport arteries, aren’t they? And I think that, that is not what the National Cycle network path for everyone is about. That’s not what other cycling infrastructure is about be that, for example, the quiet ways in London, that’s not what they’re seeking to do. It’s what it’s like super highways in London, for example, seek to do and that can become problematic depending on how they’re used and also how they’re marketed. So it’s interesting on how they translate and how they’re being presented.

Laura Laker
Yeah, and I think in London, they’re stopping using the cycle superhighway term, well they are and they they’re calling them cycleways now and I think because because there was that. It was interesting hearing you talk about interactions on your way to work. There’s a bit of my commute sometimes that I go through Victoria Park, and I quite often stop and talk to people with their dogs. And yeah, it’s really nice actually, I’ve had some nice experiences, there was a puppy escaped one time and I stopped, put the kickstand on the bike and rounded up this puppy. Yeah, it’s a nice way to go to work.

Xavier Brice
isn’t that why we live in cities and towns? I mean, one reason we live in cities and towns is because the people are there. And because of other people. Yeah. And so there’s something about, I mean, there’s something for me about travel. The danger of seeing travel is about how do I get from A to B as quickly as possible, is that you miss out on the fact that we travel so much in our lives, that it should we should travel as we want to live shouldn’t we? Which is about about with care consideration with a certain humanity. And with joy in human interaction, especially as so much else becomes digital and not physically placed. Travel is physically rooted, it’s the one thing that is definitely takes place in time and place. Yeah, and therefore, and it’s in it’s a time, isn’t it somewhere where you’re not getting your streamed feed on Twitter, which gives you the news and the views you want to see or the products you want to buy, you don’t know who you’re going to meet or who you’re going to bump into when you move around.

Laura Laker
Yeah, and I feel like on a bike or probably walking as well, if you’re not staring at your phone, it’s one of the few times in the day that you I don’t know you, you have to concentrate on what you’re doing. And you have to be in the moment in a way. And I that’s one of the things that I enjoy about cycling and walking is the fact that you’re you’re in the moment in the physical space. And it’s kind of kind of thinking time in a way or it’s just being present, enjoyable.

Xavier Brice
Yeah, absolutely. There is. There is something about, as you say, especially walking, cycling, also sitting looking out the train window, isn’t there? You’re very conscious of time passing and, and of place passing. And, and it does ground you and root you in place and in time. And yet, which which conversely can allow your mind to wander and go and that’s why that’s why I enjoy the notion, enjoy travelling in that sense, enjoy movement. And I mean, just walking here to this conference centre, from my hotel the other side of Dublin. I mean, I experienced Dublin I mean, it’s such a familiar trope, isn’t it, you experience a city by walking through it. But you do, and you also see people I remember people who I noticed on the way here and, and so to be able to turn your commute or your everyday journey and something a bit special. I remember I used to work in London Underground. And I remember saying that that special thing at London Underground, the special thing the underground could do was a member of underground staff giving a funny announcement on the tube, which the tube is famous for, and rightly so, puts a smile on a commuter’s face. And that is priceless. And a cycle right does the same and a walk and can do the same and it it can spark it can spark something of interest in the everyday. And and that’s really important, isn’t it?

Laura Laker
Yeah, that’s Yeah, that’s a nice thought. And so you’ve done this. I mean, you have this aspiration for the network. Obviously, you’re the custodians, you don’t own much of the land, and so it’s a case of talking to landowners, of getting the money as well. Because you’re kind of in the position where you’re funding a lot of this network. So how is it going it was launched, remind remind us when it was launched.

Xavier Brice
So um, so we launched we launched the vision on November the 12th last year, in the houses of parliament, and it’s important this is not a Sustrans vision. This is a shared vision with all our partners. So that’s local authorities across the UK. It’s the only UK network transport network actually spanning Scotland Northern Ireland, England Wales and and we launched it with we did the review of the network and launched our vision with devolved government with local authorities with national government with with landowners, big landowners like the Forestry Commission, National Trust, Canal & Rivers Trust, and also with user groups Cycling UK The Ramblers, disabled Ramblers, British Horse Society. Wheels for Wellbeing, you know, which is what we want this is about this is should be a network for everyone, special places for everyone, and how? It’s going well, we’ve we’ve set our ambition, and we started off with 55 activation projects. And when we had funding for a handful of them, mainly in Scotland, and then we’ve received funding from the department for transport to the tune of in total £22 million, which has given a real boost to the activation projects in England. And we’re going through a process of prioritising those and working out which ones which ones we can do. And we need to do them quite quickly. And a lot of that is about taking on-road route and turning it traffic-free. What the vision is about and that is hard and it will take time to do the whole thing. Our vision, what we’re saying is that we want to have two thirds traffic three rather than a third by 2040. One third on quiet way type routes, which isn’t London quiet ways by that we mean traffic calmed, lower speed limits on other roads. And in rural areas, 40 mile an hour speed limit urban areas, no more than 20 miles an hour. And we’re basically back to that original design principle where you would feel, or I would feel, where anyone would feel safe, letting their 12 year old daughter or son cycle on there by themselves. And that has to be the litmus test. And we’re on our way to achieving that.

Laura Laker
Are you? So you said there’s a bit of a you have to get a move on spending this 20 million, why?

Xavier Brice
Really, um, well, um, so the money is for this year, this financial year. So, but we we are able to, we’re able to move quickly. And why are we able to move quickly? Well, we’re able to move quickly, because we are the custodians, we work with our partners, we’ve been working with our partners. And also because we had identified 55 activation projects,

Laura Laker
and you’d already talked to the landowners and etc.

Xavier Brice
So for all of those we’ve already started talking to the landowners, so I’m so we’re in a position start moving on some of those other times it takes it takes longer. So an example we opened our first activation project in Scotland,

Laura Laker
I was there!

Xavier Brice
You were there. It’s a fantastic example which goes back to your point about leisure. Yes, this is part of the leisure route, the glorious Caledonia way across Scotland,

Laura Laker
It’s beautiful,

Xavier Brice
but it’s also actually a functional route to school for a number of for a number of local community.

Laura Laker
and loads of school children turned up the opening, it was wonderful. They were saying that they couldn’t cycle before it was like a rooty, muddy path, it felt dangerous in the winter in the dark. And now they can cycle to school where they couldn’t before, because it was a main road, their alternative,

Xavier Brice
which is which is fantastic. And but that path was over 10 years in the making, because of issues around land ownership. And so it does take time to assemble the land to make traffic free routes, which is why we’re saying we want to achieve this by 2040. And it’s not going to be easy. And it will take money, it will take a lot of coordination and work. But I’m a firm believer that you start with what you want to achieve. And you rally people around and rally others and work with others. And you set out a compelling vision, you’re clear, you set a path for how to do it. And then you work on building the money behind it. And we I would have loved to have had even more from the the Department for transport. Well, whether we could have spent it quickly enough at this point is a different question. But it would it would be great to have more. It’s always good to have more. But I think the point is, is that we are starting to see investment come into that. And we are going to need to look at lots of different sources of funding, including existing sources of funding, the Scottish Government have funded the National Cycle Network very well in Scotland as understandably they see it as a critical piece of infrastructure for Scotland in terms of both local accessibility, rural accessibility and tourism.

Laura Laker
Yeah, and huge health benefits.

Xavier Brice 18.12
We are in Ireland here, on the South of the island. In Northern Ireland there are ambitious plans, vision for a greenway network, which should basically become the National Cycle Network in Northern Ireland, where it’s largely on road. Indeed we’re talking to the government and talking to stakeholders about that here.

Laura Laker
Day three velocity still, it’s just before lunchtime. I found Isabel Clement, on from wheels for wellbeing on the day of the launch of their new inclusive cycling guide. Do you want to just tell me, tell our listeners a bit about yourself what you do, and then we can go on to the inclusive cycling guide.

Isabelle Clement 18.46
Absolutely. So I’m Isabelle Clement I am the director of a small charity called wheels for wellbeing. And we are an organisation which exists to ensure that disabled people can realise that they can cycle and we also exist to ensure that the cycling world realises that disabled people do cycle. I’m a disabled cyclist, myself, and I cycle a clip on hand cycle which I’ve been showing off throughout the conference. It’s been getting, it’s been turning a few heads.

Laura Laker
Yeah, fantastic. Because I’m until I think until you sort of came on the scene, I think, disabled cycling was not really on the agenda in the campaigning world or in the infrastructure world. And you’ve really helped to raise the profile of that, which is fantastic.

Isabelle Clement
Now, absolutely, we, I realised a few years ago that actually, nobody was talking about it. Literally, nobody was actually informing or educating the cycling world to the fact that disabled people do cycle and that disabled people encounter a lot of barriers to cycling, if if those barriers were removed, which they can be, then many, many more disabled people could cycle and benefit from the same benefits as everybody else from cycling, so it really sort of became a bit of an emergency, I just had to go out there. And also this is why, nice link, but that is why we wrote our guide to inclusive Cycling it’s because, again, it is not anywhere to be found otherwise, there is no manual out there so we’ve just had to write it.

Laura Laker
Yeah. So you get manuals for infrastructure of all kinds, you get manuals for cycle routes, some better than others. You get manuals for roads, obviously. But until you started producing this document on inclusive cycling, i.e. designing for disabled people who cycle in all of the forms of machines that you get for disabled people, then there was nothing really out there. So you want to just talk is, this is your second edition of the guide to inclusive cycling, the first one came out,

Isabelle Clement
first one came out in 2017, at the time of our 10th anniversary, and in the last two years, we’ve come across more things, we’ve done more work around things, we’ve done more research, and we decided we needed to update it to share with people you know, all of our knowledge, basically.

Laura Laker
Yeah, so what’s in there?

Isabelle Clement
So the guide starts with just really giving the picture of what is inclusive cycling. So in our side of the inclusiveness debate, which is around disability and non standard cycles. So we give a bit of a picture about disability in the UK, the legislative background, how equality legislation relates to the roads, etc. So that’s the sort of start off, and also we talked about the types of cycles that are out there because as you said, most people don’t realise that other than a bicycle, they’re actually there are a load of different types there are tricycles that are hand cycles there are side by side tandems, who knew, so we we explain that and we provide illustrations to that in our guide and of course then summarise: what are the barriers to cycling for disabled people from disabled people’s point of view and their from their lived experience? So that’s that’s our sort of introduction. We then go into talking about the importance of the recognition of the fact that disabled people cycle and the the awareness of how do we get the awareness out there of the fact that disabled people cycle and and how we do that is super important in terms of, we need to start changing the language that we use around cycling so not you’re not talking about the bicycle all the time just talking about cycles, start reshaping people’s brains we are we have been conditioned for all these years of thinking of cycling, meaning bicycling, and and actually bicycling is not the only way of cycling.

Laura Laker
Yeah, because a bicycle literally means a cycle with two wheels. And you have your hand cycle wheelchair which has three wheels, but like you say you get four wheelers, and you getthree wheelers.

Isabelle Clement
absolutely and and if we don’t reshape our brains to think about cycling in a wider way, we continue to only ever plan with the bicycle in mind, which is one type of cycle, but if we do that we exclude from the infrastructure and from everything else, the other types of cycles, therefore the other, you know, the broader type of cyclists so

Laura Laker
now includes imagery as well, doesn’t it?

Isabelle Clement
Imagery, absolutely. So we really are pushing for people to use a variety of inclusive images. And as we’ve been hearing in the rest of the conference, as well, it’s not just about disabled people, it’s about making sure there are more women represented, you know, if women never see themselves represented on cycling infrastructure, on cycling imagery, they don’t think it’s anything to do with them. It’s the same with disabled people. It’s the same with older people. It’s the same with kids and youngsters and teenagers. So we need inclusive imagery. So we talk about specifically, the recognition of different types of cycles on the imagery, talking a different language when we talk about cycling rather than bicycling. And also what states and authorities can do in terms of officially recognising the fact that a lot of people use cycles as mobility aids. So currently, a wheelchair or a mobility scooter are well recognised, they are defined in law in the UK as mobility aids and therefore, they are allowed specifically on the footway, for example, now myself who rides from my wheelchair, but I ride my hand cycle, I also need to use the way for part of the beginning and the end of my journey at least. And some people don’t use a wheelchair and a clip on but they might use a tricycle or even a two wheeled bicycle, but they are equally disabled, they may not be able to get off their cycle and walk it but because the cycle is not recognised as a mobility aid it they are doing something illegal by being on the footway. Therefore, if it is illegal, they cannot cycle, not because they physically can’t cycle but because the law says they can’t cycle.

Laura Laker
And in some cases, that would mean someone not being able to get around. And you found in your surveys that a lot of disabled cyclists do use a regular two wheeler and so and Sometimes when when they’re cycling, their disability won’t be visible, they may not be able to walk very far. But yeah, so that’s, that’s really important.

Isabelle Clement
Absolutely. So the bicycle or the tricycle or it or any kind of cycle, completely transforms the mobility of disabled… potentially completely transforms the mobility of disabled people once they’ve found that they can do it. And but if we put these, for example, legislative barriers by saying, well, you’d be all right here. Well, basically what people get told is, hang on, you get off the footpath, you’re on a bicycle. And if they explained, no, it’s my mobility aid, they’ll get ‘pull the other one, if you were disabled, you’d be in a wheelchair’, that’s the kind of thing people get told. Now, obviously, if they were in a wheelchair, they wouldn’t be being challenged. But if they were in a wheelchair, they would not have the mobility they have with their cycle. And I think we need to re educate the public’s understanding of of impairment and mobility, there are plenty of people who can cycle and who cannot walk that talk tends to blow people’s minds.

Laura Laker
Yeah, it is it is really, I spoke to someone for an article I did about your some of your research, I spoke to someone who was in that very situation. And, yeah, it was a surprise to me, but it’s it’s the situation for people.

Isabelle Clement
Absolutely. There are people for whatever reason that, people with pain conditions, which mean they cannot drive, but they can ride. And that’s just their. So they are a disabled person recognised in law. But currently, we do not have that recognition of the fact that their mobility is maybe a cycle that is not recognised now. So that’s all of that is included in our second part, which is about recognition and awareness, we then in the guide, move on to talking about inclusive and integrated cycle networks. Because it’s really important for disabled people to be able to use just like anyone else, the cycle at the right point of their one of the right point of their life and the right point of their journey. So but it’s, it’s everybody will have, at some point had to, for example, to discover they could cycle so a lot, a lot of people discovered they could cycle when they were kids, you know, we that most people will have been taught to cycle as a child, what a disabled child may or may not have that experience, if they cannot cycle on to I was tried by my parents on the two wheeled bicycle at 10. I’ve been disabled all my life. And it didn’t work. And that was the end of that chapter we all assume me included my parents, etc. Assume I could not cycle and that’s generally the experience of disabled children is that unless they can go on two wheels they are thought of and they think themselves that they can’t cycle. So and again, then they might need to be a bit like me only only discovered cycling in my 30s. So where do people get to realise that they can cycle. So one of the points we make in our chapter about cycle networks is that it starts with having access to hubs where people can try lot different types of cycles, not just going to you it’s difficult, if you can’t use it to will buy it to just find somewhere where you can try out or rent out, etc, a cycle. So really important to have the kinds of hubs that we run in South London, but to have them everywhere where people can meet other disabled cyclists try out, you know, they might think they want to try but at the end of the day, they might realise they don’t need a tricycle, they might need a recumbent kind of cycle etc.

Laura Laker
And these bikes are they tend to be quite expensive, don’t they? So they’re not sort of readily accessible in any other kind of situation. So if you have these kind of dedicated hubs that allows people to test a lot of different things at one time, and also Yeah,

Isabelle Clement
exactly. So it’s about one the being able to have the experience of trying and finding the right cycle for yourself. But two, not being barred by the fact that as you say things are so expensive that a lot of people cannot afford these kinds of cycles. It’s it’s relatively cheap to get a bike, a bicycle. But to get a trike, to get a hand bike, to get a side by side tandem, etc, you are talking thousands of pounds. So having the ability, one to try out for very low cost and two to potentially hire, that is absolutely crucial. So we really recommend that policymakers and decision makers, etc., put some investment in local organisations organising those sorts of facilities.

Laura Laker
And you want to see these in every city, don’t you? I mean, ideally,

Isabelle Clement
we do absolutely. So I mean, London is quite well, you know, catered for, for example, but even then, I mean, there isn’t one in every local authority. And if getting about is an issue, you want something very local. So really, we push for the development of more inclusive cycling hubs, but also cycle hire, as I said, in general, I mean, it’s great to have, you know, municipal cycle high schemes, who, with docked or dockless, etc. But they’re generally are limited to two wheeled cycles. It’s great to see that two wheeled e-assist cycles are starting to come into that market, because that opens again to more people to a bit a wider demographic. But we also think that having a local inclusive cycling hub gives the local authority a partner to then potentially expand their cycle hire schemes through without having to invest themselves in, you know, a lot of big variety of cycles potentially to be hired at some point. We think there’s still a sort of partnership situation that is really fruitful, there, for municipalities to think about,

Laura Laker
and obviously, the expertise that comes with that as well.

Isabelle Clement
Exactly, absolutely. Again, it’s back to being able to advise people being able to give people a choice, being able to give people an opportunity to try them out away from traffic before they ever actually hire it out. So that’s all in our chapter on integrated cycle network, as well as the whole debate about integrated journeys. So we all talk about the fact that you know, people might walk cycle then public go on public transport, and then walk inside or cycle at the other end, that’s for the the trying to get people out of their cars, that’s what majority of people could be doing, well, disabled people could do that, too. But they’re unlikely if they’re cycling a non standard cycle, they are unlikely to be able to just leave the bike docked at one end, hop on the train and hire another one at the other end. So they really need just like they would with a wheelchair, they need to take this cycle with them on their public transport journey, you know, and that is tricky, because very few public transport operators will let you take a non standard cycle onto a train, say or to an underground, train, etc. So really, we need transport providers to be thinking about that and to be planning for that. So all of that it’s about integrating networks. Another very big chapter, you will expect it is on infrastructure. Because infrastructure is the number one barrier when we ask disabled people who cycle What is your number one barrier to cycling more or as often or as far as you’d like? infrastructure is that is the main one. So yes,

Laura Laker
It’s the same for anyone, isn’t it but sometimes when stuff is built it’s too narrow, or there’s too steep sections. And the classic ‘cyclist dismount’ which obviously isn’t possible for for a lot of people.

Isabelle Clement
Absolutely. So we’ve actually now in this new edition, we’ve given some more specific highlights about the specific bits of infrastructure, which are problematic. So we’ve cut it in 1,2,3,4,5,6 sections, one is about access to the cycling infrastructure, so are their literally physical barriers, before people can get onto a bit of cycling infrastructure or get off it all I can. in Dublin, for example, I’ve been experiencing the fact that people are often, the infrastructure weaves in and on and off the pavement, and the turning points are really sharp, and for me with a longer cycle, but also with therefore a longer turning circle, it’s actually quite scary, I found myself once or twice finding it quite scary that suddenly I’m I’m needing to actually go into the road much further than the the two wheeler cyclist is expected to because I need to turn, I need more space. And if there’s traffic bombing down down towards me, so access to the cycle infrastructure really needs to be thought through, of course width. And then also the surface, actually again, in Dublin, I need to talk to the city’s authorities here about the quality of even the road cycle infrastructure, the on road cycling infrastructure, which if you take if you get any kind of speed, when you when you’re sitting on the back wheels of your cycle, as I do on the two back wheels and my cycle I nearly jumped off my cycle earlier because I’d got a bit of momentum, a bit of speed down the hill and the bumps in that road, the quality of that road surface were appalling. So that and I’m not talking 30 miles an hour, I’m probably only talking about seven miles an hour or something like that, you know, and that’s why as a disabled cyclist, you have to be so much more aware of that kind of, you know, the surface that you’re going to be riding on. But also, that includes gradients and it includes camber, I mean, camber, I’m, I’m often having to go much further into the centre of the road to avoid the edges of the road, which is where people expect you to be as a cyclist, because it’s cambered for drainage issues. But as a Three Wheeler cycle user, I’m finding that that’s very dangerous, because yes,

Laura Laker
you’re tipping non, you have to say,

Isabelle Clement
exactly, I’m liable to tipping if I’m going, you know a little bit fast, and if it’s too cambered, and then I need to take say it, you know, go around the corner, I’ll empty out of my chair, it will, you know, can happen. It is very scary. So, all of those, this, the quality of the surface that we ask to ride on is really important; then there’s timing. You know, cycle crossing, I’m finding I’m sorry, good old Dublin, but I’m finding that the cycle phases on on the lights, traffic lights are really, really short. I mean, let’s you know, it’s hard to get loads of cyclists through. But it’s also hard as a hand cyclist, where the the hardest actually is to crank up to speed from zero. And when you’re stopped at the lights, if you’re only given two or three seconds to get through that’s just not going to cut it. So timing is an issue. manoeuvring is an issue, the shape of crossings, etc. So all of that we discuss in our infrastructure chapter. And then before the conclusion, we also talked about cycling facilities, inclusive cycling facilities, there actually Dublin gets a first star, a gold star, because it has opened up unveiled on Monday, its first it’s not a city cycle parking space. It’s a Trinity College cycle parking space. But it’s the first ever that I’ve seen disabled cycle parking facility very clearly marked, it’s accessible, it’s going to be monitored. And it’s there for cyclists with an impairment. And it’s very exciting. And I’m so proud of Dublin,

Laura Laker
you showed me a picture of it. It’s It’s fantastic. So it’s got, as with a disabled parking Bay, it’s got blue paint on the ground, it’s got the disabled symbol, and then it’s got a kind of fence next to it, which is, a rail, yeah, which is sort of flexible for different kinds of cycles for locking. And they’re going to test out how it’s used. And then and then feedback to you.

Isabelle Clement
Absolutely. So that is extremely exciting. There is a disabled member of staff at Trinity College who cycles in and who needs to be able to park right by where she works. Otherwise, it’s extremely painful or it’s too difficult. And that that threatens her, I don’t know how well enough, I don’t know if it’s her only mode of transport. But if she couldn’t actually park by where she works, she wouldn’t be able to cycle there. And it may be she couldn’t actually get to work. So that is really crucial. So well done Dublin on that front. And we have been talking to Dublin City Council people who want to broaden that into the city as well. So really exciting. And they did, Trinity did refer to our first edition of our guide to you know, in the thinking of developing that that space. So we’re very, very proud of our guide and of Trinity College, for having actually now a first example, a first ever; we now need to update our guide, again, having just done it because we will then now feature the Dublin parking space. In our inclusive facilities chapter we also talked about cycle storage, we’ve said that these cycles, some of these cycles are very expensive, we need to be able to store them at all, we need to be able to store them securely, because there is a lot of bikes left out there cycle theft. And if you’re riding something that yes cost you know, as much or more than a second hand car, you really are not going to want to leave it somewhere that you know if it’s not very securely attached to something. So cycle storage is very important. And that’s that’s it really that’s the main chapters in our in our new edition of our guide, we also have some conclusion we draw some conclusions at the end. And really what our message is that in order for cycling to become truly a default mode of transport for the general population, we need to start by making it accessible to the people the furthest away from cycling and that’s disabled people but it’s not just disabled people is people who experience barriers to transport in general. So people who cycle with children see people who cycle with gear with stuff, you know, people who run their, their their business with a cycle, we all have similar issues. We cycle heavier, wider, longer cycles, more expensive cycles, which take more space and need more secure storage.

Laura Laker
Yeah, so things like cargo bikes, and whether for, like you say parents with children or for goods for deliveries.

Isabelle Clement
That’s right. So if we want to solve huge health issues, like congestion and pollution, but also lack of physical activity, etc, for the majority, not just for the few, then we need to be thinking beyond the bicycle. And that’s our motto now it’s for all of us, all of us together, not just disabled people. But if if the cycling world learns from the experience of disabled people who cycle we will then be able to move to fully inclusive infrastructure, fully inclusive facilities and the recognition that everybody cycles. Yeah,

Laura Laker
yeah. And yeah, which is fantastic. And you do some great work and you also liaise directly with councils. And I know you’ve done a lot of great work with Transport for London around their new cycle superhighways, as well as what they do with the cycle routes when there’s roadworks on the cycle route. So you’ve sort of actually tested some of these innovative bypasses of cycle lanes to check that the camber’s, okay, check that the width is okay, which is really helpful for cities as well.

Isabelle Clement
Absolutely. So it’s, it’s an expanding work, part of our work, which is to, I guess, now provide our own consultancy, you know, share our knowledge and our experience with professionals who work in or around cycling. Because we’ve realised that you know, there is such a knowledge gap so, we also provide training on with our cycles we provide training on a such as the content of our guide in terms of the theory but also the practice of getting people who work in cycling to take a trike on the road to take a hand cycle on the road to experience camber because I’ve only recently realised that camber is not a thing for bicyclists.

Laura Laker
you lean on a bike you just don’t notice it.

Isabelle Clement
Exactly. Therefore, it’s never been you know, if there’s a drainage issue it you know, just add a bit of camber. Well, that just excludes more cyclists. So really important that you know, people who design cycling infrastructure experience the lived experience of disabled people who cycle or parents who cycle with children who might use a cargo trike. I’ve heard so many families exchange information to each other, read it on Facebook or whatever, saying, you know, should I get a cargo trike? Is it should I get a cargo bike? And people often say well, I started with a cargo trike, but I hated it because you the camber was such a problem. So I moved to a cargo bike Well, great that they had that choice to be able, well and also the money. to be able to afford moving from one cargo bike to another but some of us don’t have the choice we are on three wheels, and that’s where we’re going to that’s how we’re going to be accessing the environment. We must think about camber, we must think about those facilities being accessible for everyone. And if we start by designing it from the point of view of the people who ride the longest, the widest the heaviest cycles with impairments, then we’re going to be providing for absolutely everyone and if we think with then we also allowing for higher volumes of bicyclists, let alone the you know, the occasional tricyclist going through, we are needing to start thinking in a grown-up kind of a way for mass cycling by everyone and then we’ll have a healthier population we’ll have a better air to breathe. And and also we’ve got to stop saying oh well Yeah, well I you know, you want to invest in infrastructure for for cyclists, but hang on a minute, not everybody can cycle. Now, of course not everybody is equipped and aware of the fact that can cycle or can afford cycle or has the local infrastructure to cycle and some people have no inclination to cycle but actually if we can make it that the the the infrastructure is there and the facilities are there, and the the the financial incentives are there for everyone who can as in everybody to be able to cycle then that’s it, you remove the barriers, and then the whole of the population has that choice, and many more will take that choice. But at the moment, the choice is only for a few people who who, one, can use manoeuvre around the environment that’s, that’s there and also are brave enough currently.

Isabelle Clement 44.00

So we need to start right back how we think and how we designed who we design for and what we design for. And then we will have a proper cycling revolution.

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