DV Manohar, Shri Shakti Group, India
Daan Pelckmans, coordinator of the cycling unit in Ghent.
Ciaran Ferrie of advocacy group IBikeDublin.
Chris Bruntlett of the Dutch Cycling Embassy.
Sue Knaup of the One Street non-profit of the USA.
Timings to be corrected
Laura Laker 0:00
Still day one at Velo-city. So felt like a long day so far. We’re in Dublin, we’re sitting in the lobby of the conference centre. And I’m here with DV Manohar, who has many credentials, which I’m going to I’m going to read off. So he’s the Vice President and treasurer of the world cycling Alliance. He’s the chairman of the All India Bicycling Federation, chairman of the Hyderabad bicycling club, and the past chairman of the Confederation of Indian industry, and I bumped into you I remember in Arnhem-Nijmergen in 2017, two years ago at the Velo-city there, and I remember you and you were saying to me that you are quite heavily involved in bike share in India, which is interesting, because it’s on it’s on a massive scale. And I wanted to talk to you about what you’re doing and how it’s going and perhaps lessons other countries.
DV Manohar 0:00
First thank you very much for the introduction. Yeah,
Cycling is my passion, yeah. I got into cycling in 2010
basically, to combat diabetes, and I was on the border for some years, then my physician told me that your cross the border, you are a diabetic, and you have to do this this this then gave me a long list of do’s and don’ts, okay, I said no, I’m not ready for that, then I did some research find, I found that Cycling is a very good antidote. Yeah, I decided to try it out. Now, diabetes is gone. And cycling as a passion continued.
Laura Laker 1:58:51
So, you started off sports doing kind of rides?,
DV Manohar 1:58:56
No, I did vigorous cycling, like I cycled from London to Paris twice Well, there is a distance of you know, 518 kilometres, I did it in three and a half days. So, with all that, you know, well,
I became an ardent cyclist. Having done that, I wanted to spread the message, then we set up our bicycling Association, both in our city and later at the country level at the national level and then motivated more and more people to cycle then we found that though people are interested to cycle Well,
there are constraints, either they don’t have cycles are
they needed as a last mile connectivity, take a cycle somewhere and drop it off somewhere else? And that was not available in India at that time, then we decided to promote bike sharing and we took the initiative then we spoke to the government’s both the state governments as well as the Government of India,
Laura Laker 2:00:17
Where are you based?
DV Manohar 2:00:18
I’m based in Hyderabad. Then we got started in a on a major scale in the capital city of India and New Delhi and New Delhi we set up a world class bike sharing system and it became very popular
Laura Laker 2:00:37
with the with the local government. Yes. The government Yeah,
DV Manohar 2:00:40
that is the city government gave us space, there’s whole space at 50 locations
Laura Laker 2:00:46
First in India? When was this?
DV Manohar 2:00:49
Oh that was last year.
Laura Laker 2:00:52
Really that recently?
DV Manohar 2:00:53
Yeah, very recent.
Laura Laker 2:00:54
Is it docked or dockless?
DV Manohar 2:01:03
it is 500 bicycles, smart bikes. That was followed by Chennai. In Chennai, it is much larger, it is 500 bikes stations and 5000 Smart bikes. And we are in the process of implementing it. And there are also the responses more than encouraging than our own city, Hyderabad in Hyderabad. We are setting up about there also about 500 bike stations and 5000 bikes. And we are now getting ready to spread in other major cities in India. India is like a continent by itself. Yeah, with a population of 1.3 billion. And the city’s getting choked up with regular pollution.
Laura Laker 2:02:02
Yeah, there is an urgent need to spread is off the scale in some cities.
DV Manohar 2:02:06
Yeah. Yeah. So we are now scaling it up. And we are also going to launch electric bicycles. And escooter. [Yeah, both okay.] And we will be launching them in the next within three months. In the next three months, we are launching in three cities, New Delhi, Chennai, and Hyderabad. In these three cities, we are launching e bikes. Yeah. And we did some trials. And then we well made available these bikes to the people. Yeah. And the response is very, very positive.
Laura Laker 2:02:50
What kind of what kind of usage numbers do you have?
Any how kind of usage? Are they getting the bikes?
DV Manohar 2:02:58
Okay. As you said, No, we only tried it out before the launch in the next three months. And then whoever tried it in all these three cities. They were very happy with it. Yeah. Because in India, the weather is hot, hot most of the time. Yeah. And is difficult to cycle for a long time. So if you want to cover a distance of five kilometres in the Indian traffic, and in the Indian heat, it will take half an hour. And an E bike. It could be in it could be done in 10 minutes. Yeah. So, yes. So and you don’t spend that much. So people are receptive to this. And we are sure that it will take off very well. Yeah. What
Laura Laker 2:03:50
kind of people do you want the demographics you see using the bike?
DV Manohar 2:03:54
Now, our present bikes, the smart bikes.
Well, they have all the
requirements, like they are geared. And then they have GPS connectivity. And they are very much user friendly. But they are not acting bikes. What we find is, it is the younger generation. When I say young, it is say between 20 to 40. These are the people who use it most. I would say more than half of our customers are from this is group. Yeah. And then we have people between 40 to 50 also using quite a bit. And
the ladies, the women constitute about 25% was so there is a well, the profile.
Laura Laker 2:05:04
Yeah, it’s similar to cycle usage in the UK and in Ireland. It’s about one woman cycling for for every
three men cycling.
Yeah, so that’s very interesting. Because the, like mass car ownership is is a phenomenon of the 90s. And, and, and after basically in India, isn’t it? Is that right? mass car ownership.
DV Manohar 2:05:30
Please say it again.
Laura Laker 2:05:31
Ownership of cars on a large scale, like every every day sort of ownership of cars, regular people owning cars is quite a modern phenomenon in India.
DV Manohar 2:05:41
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Well, in India, India was a cycling country. Yeah. till about 30 years back. Yeah. In the last 30 years. The habits change. And people would like to go for flashy motorbikes. Yeah. flashy cars. It is trendy to be seen in those vehicles. Yeah. So cyclists tend to be looked down upon. So we had to change that outlook first. Yeah. So it called for a great exercise. We made our Bollywood celebrities, you know, Bollywood,
Laura Laker 2:06:30
Bollywood celebrities, we got
DV Manohar 2:06:31
Bollywood celebrities to ride the bikes.
We made our prime minister also endorse cycling. Prime Minister Modi, who is very popular in India. And, and he said that everybody should cycle on Sundays. So he rooted for cycling Sundays. So all that help. So now, what with the smart bikes that we introduced, which are not like the cheap, old bikes, yeah. These are
the modern, modern.
Yeah. So now people would like to be seen on them. Yeah. And when we launched the E bikes, I’m sure it is going to change everything.
Laura Laker 2:07:17
And that’s the speed at which you managed to scale. I mean, given the first bike share system, we were saying was last year only. And then you were telling me you work with smart bike before. But now you you’re producing your own your own bikes, basically. Yeah. Which is impressive. You mean, you kind of said that quite casually. But it’s a it’s a massive undertaking, isn’t it? You’ve got to get all the components, you got to get a factory in the skilled workforce to
build all of these bikes.
DV Manohar 2:07:45
We are in business already for a long time. I’m a first generation entrepreneur. And then we are into we are into manufacturing also. So is not difficult for us.
Laura Laker 2:08:02
And you’re already in a manufacturing industry before the bike. Yes. Yeah. Okay.
DV Manohar 2:08:07
Well, we are known as the Three Shakti group, we are into hospitality. We are into LPC bottle manufacturers. And we are into education. And we are into solar power.
Laura Laker 2:08:24
So manufacturing is easy for you, once you have the ingredients.
DV Manohar 2:08:28
Yeah. So we set up two assembly plants quickly. One in New Delhi. Yeah. And the other in Hyderabad. And assembling the bikes not is not tougher for us.
Laura Laker 2:08:41
that’s wonderful. And so what are your plans? In terms of scaling up? It seems? Yeah.
DV Manohar 2:08:49
This year, and I said this year in the next 12 months, will be
operationalising bout 10,000. bikes, these 10,000 bikes, we already have agreements, contracts with a city governments in in the three cities. So well, based on the agreements or contracts, we have these three city governments. In the next 12 months, we will be putting on the ground and operationalize using about 10,000 bikes, and most of them will be e bikes. And our target is to have a fleet of hundred thousand bikes in the next five years. And ecooters we are launching soon after launching the E bikes, then a few weeks later, we’ll be launching the escooters arsenal. And we feel that they are very appealing particularly to the younger generation. Yeah. So we are targeting that cultural support to people’s commutes
Laura Laker 2:10:07
look like they’re using these bikes for the last mile and they’re getting trains into town they
are getting buses they driving or
whatever they have. So the people using their bikes for the kind of last mile or last five kilometres. Yeah. How are they? Are they getting from stations? Or are they living quite close to work? Or
DV Manohar 2:10:31
Mostly people use the bikes for last mile connectivity from the metro station to their home or to their offices, or for short distance? Or to go to the grocer. Earlier they were taking out their car to drive one kilometre two kilometres. Now they do it on the bike. So it is good for short distances, as well as for last mile. Correct. And we are encouraging them to do it. for leisure. Yeah. And for them as part of their physical regimen. Yeah, cycle 10 kilometres 20 kilometres in the morning or evening, wherever they find time. It is good for their physical well being.
Laura Laker 2:11:22
Yeah. And do you think you’re tapping into an awareness of environmental issues? Because obviously people in in big cities are very aware of air pollution, and especially young people? Do you think that’s helping the cause?
DV Manohar 2:11:39
Very much, very much. Yeah. In fact, that is one of our main trust areas, India is getting more and more polluted. And
a lot of cities in India are already highly polluted, regular pollution menace is engulfing the Indian cities. And it is estimated that in New Delhi, the lifespan of a citizen is reduced by 10 years, because of the pollution menace. And in other cities, it is much much lesser. So this is one reason as to why people now are
coming forward to cycle. Yeah, because it is good for the environment. Good for the city, and good for themselves.
Laura Laker 2:12:33
Yeah. And presumably cities a congested as all cities are. Yeah.
And what about infrastructure? What are the roads like for
DV Manohar 2:12:44
Infrastructure is being built. Not as fast as we would like it to be …
Laura Laker 2:12:50
A familiar story? Yeah.
DV Manohar 2:12:53
Well, first, you know, we told the government
companies like ours will set up the bike sharing will put that infrastructure in place, you have to build matching infrastructure by creating dedicated cycling lanes. Only then people will be comfortable. Yeah. will come forward to cycle.
The government agree, the government agree. But the implementation well, needs to be
speeded. Yeah, it needs to be speeded
Laura Laker 2:13:29
What’s holding things back?
DV Manohar 2:13:31
Now that our very popular leader Modi won a second term, with thumping majority, we are sure that he will expedite these plans, his pet project, the Smart Cities mission, wherein the government of government of India will be promoting hundred smart cities across the country. They’re not building new cities, existing cities, they’re aiming at making them smart. And we pursued the government to put bike sharing as an important ingredient for a very smart city. So once that is implemented, the state governments with the support of government of India, they’ll be building the bike lanes, and that will give a big boost to bike sharing in India..
Laura Laker 2:14:28
OK. And you and you believe that that’s, you feel that that’s going to happen? Yes. Yeah.
DV Manohar 2:14:34
Yeah, sure, that will happen during the present term of this government. That means in the next four to five years, we will see cycling lanes dedicated cycling tracks, in many cities, and of course, from the private sector.
Come companies like ours will be setting up the bike sharing systems. So I expect a lot of changes. A big thrust to the bike sharing moment in India. Yeah, in the next three to four years time.
Laura Laker 2:15:10
And there must be pressure from people who are concerned about their health. I mean, 10 years is shocking to figure New Delhi. Yeah.
DV Manohar 2:15:17
So this is badly needed. Yeah. Very much required in India. So I’m sure it will be supported by everybody, all the stakeholders.
Laura Laker 2:15:27
Okay. Well, let’s hope so. And I look forward to hearing more about it as you progress with the with the expansion. So thank you, DV Manohar. it was great to talk to you
DV Manohar 2:15:35
It was my pleasure, enjoyed speaking to you.
Laura Laker 2:15:38
And I am with Daan Pelckmans, who works for the city of Ghent. Now, there’s been a bit of a buzz on Twitter and in the conference today, around what you’ve managed to achieve in Ghent, in terms of reducing traffic in the city. Do you want to just tell me what you do for the city of Ghent and and what you’ve done in terms of your transport policies.
Daan Pelckmans 2:16:00
Yeah, so I’m Daan Pelckmans, coordinator of the cycling unit in for the mobility department in Ghent. So of course, we mainly work on the cyclists. But of course, if you want to do something about with cyclists, you always have to keep the older modes of transport in that into account. So that’s really what we did with the introduction of the circulation plan. I started working for the mobility departments two and a half years ago. But so just before the introduction of the circulation plan, I’m not the one who designed the entire plan. But of course, now we’re here to Velo-city
Laura Laker 2:16:40
You’re the kind of implementation.
Daan Pelckmans 2:16:42
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, yeah. And I’m really like all the like the positive consequence, let’s say of this circulation plan – we really benefited from it as a cycling unit.
Laura Laker 2:16:54
So people are excited: one person has tweeted, they’re blown away by the presentation, and reducing through traffic in Ghent.
So this is
through a circulation plan. What is that?
Daan Pelckmans 2:17:05
Well, the main idea is pretty simple. We want to have this through traffic out of the city. So while we did was just creating six sections within the inner city ring roads, surrounding the restricted traffic area, which was extended as well by 126%. But the main idea was that if you wanted to move from one section to the other, you always have to go back to the ring road. So just by doing that, you can I I mean, yeah, these pretty simple, but just the motorised traffic cannot just go through to city centre anymore. And that’s really makes a huge impact.
Laura Laker 2:17:47
When did this happen?
Daan Pelckmans 2:17:48
it was in 2017. So we implemented it in just one weekend time, of course, lots of preparation had to be done before. But we really want to do it all at once. weekend, yeah.
Laura Laker 2:18:03
Is it just through signage? Or did you have to follow up in the streets and stop people from driving through?
Daan Pelckmans 2:18:09
Well, in approximately eighty streets we really had to change travel directions, so of course signalisation had to be replace for the most and also all kinds of signalisation – in total. ther e were 2500 signalisation were removed, or we can we can time, of course, with a lot of preparation has been done in the weeks before.
Laura Laker 2:18:36
Like, like traffic lights?
Daan Pelckmans 2:18:37
Yeah. Well, traffic lights were a little bit of depth in the city. No, because there were a lot of concerns about the the flow of the of the traffic on the inner city ring roads. Yeah, we wanted to make it as fluent as possible. So also timing signal timings. Yeah. Of course, a lot of communication has been done as well.
Laura Laker 2:19:00
So I rememeber visiting Ghent in? Definitely before 2017,
maybe, before 2015,
well, and it was already quite well pedestrianised in the city centre. Yes. There were a few taxis, I remember the tram. But it’s, it’s it was already been that kind of idea was already in the city, so to speak. So it was about lot of pedestrian and cycle space.
Daan Pelckmans 2:19:22
Yeah, it’s changed a lot, the last decade, so to say, it all started. In fact, it’s, it’s, it’s nice, we try to have a kind of circulation plan in the late 80s, as well. But the communication about the plan wasn’t really that good. And after a couple of weeks or months, the plan was just from the table again, went back to how it was before. So politicians were kind of afraid to do something about mobility in general the the upcoming years. So the first thing that I did was to do something with mobility, again, was about cyclists cycling with the Bycycle plan in 1993. And then the really big change or start from something new was in 1997, when we created the district traffic traffic area zone within the city centre,
Laura Laker 2:20:12
With nice paving slabs.
space, it’s now
would that would have been through traffic. Right, isn’t it? Yes.
Daan Pelckmans 2:20:19
Laura Laker 2:20:22
And so other policies within the city, you had a 30 kilometer an hour zone. Was that there before or new?
Daan Pelckmans 2:20:30
That was new – was also part of the mobility plan.
Laura Laker 2:20:34
Daan Pelckmans 2:20:35
No, not same weekend! But, for example, this
implementing this maximum speed of 30 kilometres an hour, was also part of the mobility plan that was set up in 2015. So the main idea was also pretty simple, just within the inner city ring road. On all streets, the maximum speed was lowered to 30 kilometres an hour. And even right now, we are still extending that to all the neighbourhoods, in Ghent as well. So we will not stop it with that, because it was also just so positive. Well, difficult, just to say that’s that the results are because of lowering the speed or because of the circulation plan. But I think it’s a combination of both prefer, certainly what plays a role as a play the role in lowering the number of accidents in Ghent. That’s really reduced also by 25 20% in this just two years time. So because of lowering the speed and implementing the circulation plan.
Laura Laker 2:21:48
And what else we got restricted parking policy?
Daan Pelckmans 2:21:52
Yeah, that’s something that has been
parking. Yeah. Well, there was a very sensitive issue as well. Yeah.
Well, yeah, the also the idea was that parking within the city centre itself had to be a little bit less attractive. So raising up the prices for parking your car in the city centre, certainly on-street, if you wanted, if you had to be in the city centre by car, it’s not illegal, of course, people have to be in the city centre sometimes by car, we encourage them to to park the car in the underground parking, which is cheaper compared to on-street parking, certainly for a longer period of times. And of course, raising up these prices. By raising up this price we also wanted to encourage people to use the park and bike or park and rides around the city centre. So
Laura Laker 2:22:52
is that hire bike by you have for park and bike?
Daan Pelckmans 2:22:56
Actually lots of people will have their own bike. Lots of people in Belgium have two bikes, three bikes, four bikes. So generally, mostly, they just put an old bike at the bike park, bike, Park and bike just don’t really have to bike that far. It’s only 2, 3, 4 kilometres to city centre for most of these these places. So these bikes just stay there for you know, all the time, except when they have to work and you have to use the bike bikes. Kind of depends on the location and how attractive the route is to watch to see the centre.
Laura Laker 2:23:37
The infrastructure is there.
Daan Pelckmans 2:23:40
Now, there is already a lot of has already been a lot of investments in bike infrastructure the last decades. So it’s not only a thing of the last couple of years.
And that has still a lot of work to be done as well.
Laura Laker 2:23:56
And someone mentioned something about you met your 2030 targets,
in just two years.,
And there was a
60% increase in cyclists between 2016 and 2018?
Daan Pelckmans 2:24:10
Yeah, that’s correct. Yep.
Laura Laker 2:24:14
Based on your baseline?
Daan Pelckmans 2:24:15
Yeah, we were pretty overwhelmed by that as well.
Laura Laker 2:24:22
People just people obviously responded to the policy.
Daan Pelckmans 2:24:25
Yeah, definitely. Yeah. And also where the decrease of car use makes makes a huge difference. For example, we we get a lot of comments from from citizens as well. Right after the introduction of the circulation plan. Quite a quite a lot of response from the from the citizens saying, you know, it’s the first time that I’m not afraid anymore to send my kids to school by bike. So that’s really the reason why you do something like that.
Laura Laker 2:24:54
So you had targets for 2030 for cycling.
mere two years. Yeah. So size area we talking about the inner city?
Daan Pelckmans 2:25:05
Of course not that big. It’s three on three. So yeah, nine kilometres, nine square kilometres. I think it’s quite compact. But in size Ghent itself is quite a big city because we have the harbour as well. And also they are they’re all small harbour neighbourhood. So I would say where it’s, of course, a little bit of a different story, but the city centre itself is small.
Laura Laker 2:25:40
And just looking
at your one of your slides, if someone’s so how did you, you talk about a different way of implementing communicating with people compared with the attempt in the 90s? What? What was the
Daan Pelckmans 2:25:57
Well, I was born in 1987. So I don’t really remember that much about the communication plan of that time.
Laura Laker 2:26:04
You weren’t that much into transport as child, sadly.
Daan Pelckmans 2:26:10
But of course, there was a lot of media attention for it this time. For example, one of the the national newspaper on this time national newspaper, even the change to have quarters for a week, just before the introduction of the of the plan. So the media was already very enthusiastic about it. So that makes it made it a little bit easier. But also from the mobility department there was a lot of comment and as a lot of communication being done towards the people in Ghent, of course the citizens but also people living around Ghent. So we printed for example, this kind of like a newspaper from Ghent, only about the circulation plan and all people living in Ghent and living in the in the in the communities around the old city they all received this newspaper twice. So I it was difficult not to know that there would be a circulation plan implemented, beginning of April.
Laura Laker 2:27:08
Did it explain why it was being done?
Daan Pelckmans 2:27:12
of course, why it was as been done how the plan looked like, but also all kinds of extra measures that were taken as well, because it’s not only about implementing the plan, but also about creating extra measures like a shuttle bus to the park and rides, which was operated by or is operated by the city.
Creating new kind of, you know, sharing bike sharing system for the parking bikes. Also, the small walking bus, as we say, it’s a bus that is driving around within the restricted traffic area. And that you can hop on hop off for free.
Laura Laker 2:27:54
Okay, not like the Flintstones, with feet facing out of the bottom?.
Daan Pelckmans 2:27:57
No, a bus for elderly people, for less mobile people. Well, it was a lot of criticism about that as well. So that was really of the one of the measures that we implement.
Laura Laker 2:28:08
So it was about
allaying people’s fears, addressing
Daan Pelckmans 2:28:12
Not only for the fears, own, I also chose to make it the circulation plan successful was not kind of green rush and pushing more on the idea of making it work with you.
Laura Laker 2:28:31
Knowing it was going to work.
Wow, that’s amazing. What’s next. I mean, that was easy … Sit back …
Ciaran Ferrie 2:28:42
My name is Ciaran Ferrie. I’m a founding member of I Bike Dublin, which is a direct action cycling advocacy group, which is set up two years ago in Dublin. And what we’ve been doing is I suppose trying to make a nuisance of ourselves on the streets to raise the issue raise awareness of cycling issues in Dublin. And in a way that perhaps more traditional campaigning hasn’t been able to do.
Carlton Reid 2:29:04
Were you involved with the standing in front of the coaches in front of the Spice Girls concerts? Were you one of the
naughty ones that did that? So tell us what’s going on there?
Ciaran Ferrie 2:29:14
Okay, em, recently there was the Spice Girls are playing in Croke Park, which is the biggest Stadium in the city and the traffic management plan which was prepared by the National Transit Authority, the promoters of the concerts, Croke Park itself the venue and Garda Síochána [police service] there, their plan was that coaches bringing people to the concerts would park on one of the best segregated second lanes we have in the city on Alfie Byrne road. And they would do this on a Friday afternoon at rush hour when it is most used. And we decided this wasn’t acceptable. So we went along to we … we rallied the troops, we managed to get about 80 people there in total. And we lined up alongside the cycle lane to prevent busses coming onto it. One bus did try to get onto it. And one of our colleagues, one of our campaigners had a sudden cramp in his toe and had to sit down in front of the bus unfortunately. So the buses couldn’t get on to the lane. So we managed to keep the keep the lane clear. And funnily enough, they managed to find somewhere else to put the buses in the meantime, one of the things that really frustrated us about this was that the National Transport Authority has recently built a Coach Park specifically for this purpose, not very far from from where we are now, and not very far from where the Spice Girls concert is going to be on. But for some reason, they decided that they weren’t going to use this for the concert, and that they would resort resort to putting to what they used to do, which was to putting coaches on the cycle lane. So we’re hoping out for future events in Croke Park, that they may come up with a more simple plan that
Carlton Reid 2:30:55
Now Velo-city has been here in Dublin before. The dream of campaigners, and the organisers of events like this is that it leads to a catalyst, it starts
of the streets. So what you’re saying to me really, given the fact that you’re doing direct action stuff, is that the previous Velo-city didn’t really
bring forth the goods? ,
Ciaran Ferrie 2:31:25
Well, yeah, I think what the previous Velo-city he might have done is raise awareness of cycling. And over the subsequent years, there were a number of very good plans produced – there is a quite a good plan for Dublin, the greater Dublin area, the greater Dublin area cycle plan which proposes to increase the cycle network in the greater Dublin area from 500 kilometres to 2840 kilometres. And that was produced in 2013. It’s a very good plan. But it’s been sitting on a shelf in the Department of Transport gathering dust for the last six years. And we’ve seen very little implementation of it. And that’s one of the biggest issues we have is that we’re very good at producing plans and very good at coming up with proposals but very bad at implementation. And we … Another example is the Liffey cycle route, which has been in planning for about eight years at this stage. And we’re still at design stage, still only at a stage now where they’re ready to go for a planning application for the process. So the very slow pace of delivery is has been very frustrating. But there’s lots of other simple things that could be done that hadn’t been done as well. Enforcement of people parking in cycle lanes is a big issue. The quality of the cycle lanes themselves and in most cases, it’s just painted line, painted lines on the road, we’ve seen in the last couple of months, we’ve seen a flurry of activity, which happens to be kind of around the area of the conference venue here where we’ve seen repainting of roads and putting in Orcas (plastic dermarcation bumps] and Wands. And that’s all to be welcomed to a degree but it’s quite, we see it as quite superficial in terms of the improvements is making. And we’re a little bit cynical at this stage about the fact that so much of it has happened close to the conference venue.
Carlton Reid 2:33:08
There’s an awful lot of motor traffic – it is very noticeable across those bridges, certainly in the mornings. And even when I’ve been walking around out there now it’s pretty difficult to to cross the road, you kept waiting. It’s almost like American-style waits on these these bridge crossings. So given the fact that all that motor traffic there
even if you put infrastructure in,
you’re still going to have an unpleasant experience – is there any way that there’s going to be the political courage to actually discourage motoring with, in effect, reducing of the infrastructure for motorists?
Ciaran Ferrie 2:33:46
Well, I think that’s the key thing. I mean, any of the cycling infrastructure we have seen over the last few years, it’s been put in, but not at the expense of motorists and not at the expense of private cars coming into the city. And it’s when you try to introduce infrastructure that is going to have an important product cars, that it gets a kickback and it gets supposed, and that’s when we start to have problems. I mean, I’m an architect as well, and I have an interest in urban design. And I know that you know, if we’re going to make the city work better to make this city, a nicer place to live. Removing cars is a key is a key aspects of that. And so we have to and it’s not about banning the cars. I know there’s a very emotive issue when you start talking about removing cars from the city, what it’s about, it’s about giving people the choice and the opportunity to take all the modes of transport, which aren’t there at the moment. Even public transport public transport is subservient to private cars and a lot of cases where, where it gets into the city centre and both lanes merge with general traffic and the bus is no longer a priority. There is a plan in place at the moment called Bus Connects, which plans to change all that was driven by public transport. And it will also include upgrades of cycling infrastructure. The plans we’ve seen to date are not perfect, and could do a lot of improvements. But there has been a lot of opposition to this as well, because for some reason, the National Transport Authority thought it would be a good idea to remove trees and front gardens rather than remove cars from the road. So now there’s I mean, the positive thing about that is that now there is a discussion about Okay, well, if we really want to keep the trees in the front gardens, maybe we do have to sacrifice the cars. So it’s beginning to be discussed and people are beginning to see you think that this is the solution to the problem. And that’s that’s very much Dublin focused. I think our original cities have a long way to go to reach that conclusion. But I think it has beginning to happen here in Dublin at least.
Carlton Reid 2:35:43
Now, Laura Laker my fellow podcaster here
wrote a very nice article. Well, nice for campaigners not so nice, I guess for Dublin politicians who they’ve got this nice shiny convention centre with a bunch of cycle advocates from around the world here. And here’s a Guardian piece. But the headline starts at “Dublin disappoints…” So why are you happy with that article? And why do you think politicians would be unhappy with it?
Ciaran Ferrie 2:36:12
Well, I think in I mean, I think politicians see us as a annoyance as a nuisance that we’re always giving out, we’re always complaining about, like, what’s there and when, you know, they feel that, you know, this, that we’re overreacting perhaps. And what’s important for us now is that people who are visiting this city, and people who know about good cycling infrastructure are being equally as critical of what’s here. And that, I suppose gives us some strength as to say that we thought we’re on the right track here that we know that this can be better, we know that this can be improved. And we know that the progress hasn’t been good enough. And it’s not just us saying this now – it’s the best minds in this industry, the best minds who understand psyche and restructure, who understand urban design, are agreeing with us and are coming to the same conclusions having only been here, you know, 24 hours at this stage. So, for that reason, that’s very important. And I think this is, I don’t know if this is in other cultures as well, I’ve been in Ireland, people, the politicians tend to take notice, when outsiders start to give out about things, you know, if it’s just us giving out it’s all ‘you know, you’re just moaning.’ But when they don’t, they don’t want visitors to be to have a bad impression of the place. And when I spoke to Laura, I talked about this concept in our society of the “good room” in a house and is that the room in the house that you show, you bring the visitors into it, and you keep it nicely decorated. And as a sense that that was what Dublin City Council has done for this conference, they’ve tried to present the good room. But I think delegates have seen through that. And I’ve seen that, you know what, what they’re looking at it isn’t, can’t be classed, as good quality cycling. infrastructure.
Carlton Reid 2:37:47
opposite where we’re sitting now there’s, there’s some light segregation, I’m assuming, has been put in relatively recently. So there’s some Orcas there on the road, and there’s some wands, but then it just starts now I’ve been looking at it, I’ve been scratching my head thinking, Well, how do you physically get on there on a bike, you’ve clearly got to go around some sort of concrete bollard, before you get into this protected or semi protected lane. And and that’s, that’s absolutely in full vision of every single person coming to this conference. And it’s like, you almost want to say:
How did anybody sign that off?
Ciaran Ferrie 2:38:27
Yeah, I think it’s it’s just a piecemeal approach. As I said, there is a big plan there, there is a plan to do this. And we do have some good policy doctrines, we have a design manual for urban roads and streets, which gives very clear guidance and mandatory guidance that local authorities should be following, for how to make, how to make urban streets and how to make them comfortable for people walking and for people cycling. And there’s a hierarchy of modes there, which starts with people walking, and then has people cycling, and then has public transport and then has cars. We’ve got that the other way round in the city for a lot of our streets. And
know why. I mean, you know, if you talk to Dublin city council, they’d say it’s a funding issue. And that explains maybe the disconnected nature of the infrastructure. But I think there’s a there’s there’s a vision issue there as well. And that there’s I do think that there is — there’s an expertise issue as well, I think there are some people who are designing slightly infrastructure who have a road engineering background, and it needs more and more, more of a holistic approach to design, it needs to have urban design input, it needs to have landscaping input, it needs to have accessibility input. And I don’t think we’re getting that I think it’s, there’s a certain amount of siloed thinking there where the transport engineers are road engineers are designing this stuff without looking at it holistically and without looking at what it means to create,
you know, a beautiful city street.
Carlton Reid 2:40:02
So we’ve been quite negative there. I’ve been asking you negative questions. And of course, you’re going to give me some negative negative responses. But let’s go positive now. So the previous Velo-city might not have come up with like a Delft Nirvana. What about this one? If you have had that that kind of criticism the good room criticism and delegates from around the world saying what you’ve done isn’t good enough? Are you optimistic that in the future, things will now start happening?
Ciaran Ferrie 2:40:34
Okay, and yeah, I think what has happened in the last five or six years is that Dublin has become a cycling city, despite the infrastructure, and there are a lot more people cycling here then than were even five years ago. And it has, it has become an issue. We’ve been very active in campaigning when we when we started IBikeDublin we realised when we had been lobbying and politicians before and politicians were telling us, this isn’t an issue on the doorsteps, you know, you’re just a small advocacy group. So we started the direct action because we wanted to make this a broader public issue and raise public awareness of it and change the media discourse about cycling. And I think that’s beginning to happen. We recently had a local and European elections and for the first time that I remember, cycling was an election issue, we saw politicians posing with bicycles in the same way that you would have seen them kissing babies in the past. And I think that that’s, you know, they’re beginning to recognise that that people who cycle also vote and the Dublin cycling campaign had been an Ibike, I vote campaign and running in parallel with the election. And the results of the election are quite promising as well as certainly here in Dublin City. We’ve had the the parties who have very clear Pro Cycling policies did quite well, the green group increased its number of seats from three to 10 on Dublin City Council, and have formed a kind of a governing coalition with the Social Democrats, Labour and Fianna Fáil, and have produced a manifesto or a vision for the city, which is very much about making Dublin a livable city and about promoting walking and cycling initiatives. So I am optimistic that the tide is turning. I think funding is still the big issue. And I think the our current Minister of Transport hasn’t really grasped that nettle yet. He spoke this morning and talked about greenways. It’s a little bit of an obfuscation. He’s also our minister for tourism. And my view on it is greenways are for the most part, tourism infrastructure and not transport infrastructure. And sometimes almost by accident, they do become transport infrastructure. But that’s that’s not their intention. So what I’m interested in, in hearing from him is the funding that he’s putting in place specifically for cycling projects. And in particular the greater Dublin area cycling network. So I think the tide is beginning to turn. I think it might need another election cycle before we start to get the politicians in there who will really make a difference. So
Carlton Reid 2:43:18
Now we are in the foyer of the Convention Centre in Dublin, we can see the Liffey across the way there and, Chris, just to give people a description you’re wearing a bright purple jacket, like I couldn’t miss you there, Chris. [Laugh]. The last time I actually spoke to in the flesh was in Vancouver.
Chris Bruntlett 2:43:38
That’s right. Yeah.
Carlton Reid 2:43:39
But I have talked to you over Skype because you moved to the EU
to take up a dream job.
Chris Bruntlett 2:43:46
That’s right. Yeah. I mean, this is all been a real, crazy journey from Velo-city in 2017, Arnhem-Nijmergen meeting Miriam the then director of the Dutch cycling embassy, planting the seed that eventually we would like to move to the Netherlands. And here I am, two years later, as a resident of Delft working Marketing and Communications for the DC, which has been an absolute dream come true.
Carlton Reid 2:44:10
Would it be right to say you’re the person in charge of all these great videos,
you’ve done a tonne of content.
Chris Bruntlett 2:44:18
The content all exists out there. I mean, there’s so much that shines a spotlight on the Netherlands. But I think,
in helping my co workers understand,
as people born and raised in the Netherlands, how
unique and special of a place it is. So they’ve grown up on a bike, they now cycle with their children, but to them, it’s a mundane
thing. And so when they see a video of a cycle track in the Netherlands, they don’t think of it as something that’s extraordinary. But to these Canadian eyes, where, I was often the only one cycling on certain routes in Vancouver and coming to the Netherlands has been absolute revelation. And so I think providing that fresh perspective to my colleagues has been one of the more interesting parts of my job, not just my colleagues, I guess, but also other Dutch people that we’ve come into contact with, that really don’t think of their country is anything that’s remarkable and showing them what’s what’s remarkable about it.
Carlton Reid 2:45:22
So what are you doing in Dublin here with with the embassy, and how many people have you got here?
Chris Bruntlett 2:45:28
We’re exhibiting as the the Dutch Cycling Embassy, we have 17 of our member organisations that are all part of this exhibition. So we’ve got everything from municipal governments, academic institutions, private consultants, engineers, bike companies and they’re all here to showcase their products and expertise to the the attendees of Velo-city. And so we just kind of wrangled that and manage it as a guess a bit of a trade organisation, a private public partnership to help them reach those, those markets overseas. That
Carlton Reid 2:46:04
Previously when I’ve talked to you, this has been your dream job. In that you you move from the wonderful city of Vancouver, but you then move to the bicycle Nirvana of the Netherlands. So is that still holding out for you? You haven’t lost that sparkle?
Chris Bruntlett 2:46:22
It’s, it’s honestly, it’s, it’s just a joy every time we step out of our apartment, I mean, we’re only four months in but it does, it just feels like we’re still in a bit of a honeymoon phase. I don’t know if that will change by the end of the summer. But
I mean, just the the number of people on bikes, the things they do on their bikes, carrying other people carrying other objects.
That’s the culture – there is something that we really marvel at, but just the way the city’s feel, even in absence of the bicycle, because the Dutch have done so such a good job of managing the car traffic in their cities, that the city centre of Delft is so quiet and peaceful, and, you know, the loudest noises of the church bells and the birds and that is just, yeah, we can’t, I don’t think we’ll ever take that for granted. Coming from again, Vancouver’s, you know, in a North American context fairly, has done a lot of great work, but still remains pretty dominated by cars. And Delft is just, it really is a special special place. And we’ve been lucky enough to welcome guests from around the world and show it off in the short time that we’ve been there. And it’s always fun to see the expressions on their faces and their
their appreciation of what their city could look like, if, if they just continue on the path that they’re on for maybe two or three more decades.
Carlton Reid 2:47:56
Any words of advice for Dublin because you’re talking about the motor dominance there of a North American city, you come to Dublin here, which is obviously showcasing itself as a cycling city. But you know us talking about, you can hear the birdsong in Delft, but you can’t hear the birdsong in Dublin, especially outside of the Convention Centre, because it’s a very busy road, it’s a struggle to get across. It’s not that attractive for pedestrians, or cyclists. You can’t even get across the road into the Convention Centre without going a bit of a detour. So what advice could you give to Dublin? What What will they have to do to become a Delft?
Chris Bruntlett 2:48:34
Well, it starts at the top really, and I think far too often our politicians let the loud minority control the conversation. And we’ve seen that in London recently, where proposed cycleway schemes and traffic calming measures have been shot down by a few angry people. And it’s really unfortunate when you see that because I think there is a quiet minority – 60, 70% of the population out there – that would support these these kinds of measures to make their city a better place. They just don’t have the time or the energy or the interest to go out there and attend public hearings and lobby for, for it. So at the end of the day, it’s about making politicians aware that that majority exists. And as advocates and urbanists, we have to support those politicians and let them know that it’s going to be okay, push through the controversy at the moment, because when you get to the other side, it really is, it’s worth the fight. And you will reach a tipping point where you get the media on your back, you get the business community on your side. And as we saw in Vancouver, that’s when you can really start accomplishing things with little to no controversy and, and build on that momentum. And I think we’re lucky to live in a place like Delft where they’ve been, they were fighting those battles in the 1970s and 1980s. And we’re reaping the rewards of those battles, but
change doesn’t happen without a fight. And we have to, I think, again, support those politicians that are willing to put their neck out and make the change happen because the status quo is far too easy. But it’s, as you’ve described out here in Dublin, it’s it’s really destructive to our humanity and our our senses. And
this, you know, pretty little city of Dublin is just really unpleasant place to walk or, or ride a bike. And hopefully the politicians can can can do something about that and build off the momentum from this conference and start making some change.
Sue Knapp 2:50:47
I am Sue Knapp, the executive director of OneStreet.
Carlton Reid 2:50:51
And you’re from the US.
whereabouts in the US are you from, Sue?
Sue Knapp 2:50:55
Well, I’m based in Prescott, Arizona, but we work internationally. So So I work with many organisations all over the world,
Carlton Reid 2:51:03
Including in Eastern Europe, because you were just hugging the guy there from Eastern Europe. So so tell me about
Sue Knapp 2:51:09
And it just, you know, so happens that some from Eastern Europe have contacted me, it depends on who contacts me. What OneStreet does is coaching and consulting with nonprofits. Of course, they have to have some sort of bicycle programme going on, to help them with whatever they’re struggling with, whether it’s programme issues, or board issues, group issues, these sorts of things. And lately, we’ve really been engaged in campaign planning, development. So that’s one thing in Bosnia and Herzegovina we’ve been working with lately, and have done others, you know, actually in Eastern Europe, European countries, too. Yeah.
Carlton Reid 2:51:55
So why would somebody in Eastern Europe come to you in America? Why can’t we source that locally?
Sue Knapp 2:52:04
I think OneStreet is unique in that we are looking into campaign planning very diligently and in detail. If you know of Saul Alinsky in Chicago, and back then in the, you know, 1930s or so he was the first campaign planner or, you know, social organiser, you know, community organiser, to write down the steps that worked for successful campaigns. And I wouldn’t say that he’s the best writer or even the best campaigner or the best, you know, doing what he did. But what’s extraordinary about him is that he wrote down, if you figure out the problem, you figure out the solution, you figure out who has to make the change, and you find out what that person is interested in, you’re a long way ahead of most campaigners who just want to go out and protest. So we’ve taken that very basic idea from Saul Alinsky and expanded it to create a workshop or you know, whether it’s just over the phone, hey, five minutes, have you figured out your problem to three weeks, you know, in the country saying, you know, this is, you know, what, we would recommend not tell me, you know, what you’re doing and let’s see, let you know, I’ll go and visit your community and see, you know, how it’s going, and maybe I can find places where you can, you know, get a little bit more momentum. But through all that experience over the years, I have captured like, sort back then and, you know, 1930s captured what works and what doesn’t, and so we’ve gone way beyond what he did. And what I think the perspective of it, or you know, the perception of it is, Oh, that’s a lot of work, you know, so there are very few organisations who really engage in the long term, you know, projects, but those who do see results, I mean, really extraordinary results. And then once those campaigners learn the process through maybe a small campaign, they can do it in a medium medium size campaign and a huge campaign, they can change the whole communities once they know this process.
Carlton Reid 2:54:42
And you were telling me earlier that you were here, the last time that Velo-city was in Dublin – was that 2005? I think? Yeah. Okay. And then you’ve been to quite a few of these things. You’re a bit of a groupie, a Velo-city groupie, you’ve come to an awful lot. Where have you been to?
Sue Knapp 2:55:01
Let me see.
It’d be easier to say which I haven’t been to so did not go to Brisbane did not go to the one in Taiwan, wherever that was
one or two others, but all the others since I’ve been to
Carlton Reid 2:55:21
Why do you keep coming? What do you get out of them?
Sue Knapp 2:55:24
Generally, connecting with my peers, my colleagues, I’ll go to the sessions and see what’s going on. You know, what if there’s something new but I’m finding that there isn’t too much new, and I think in the conference has to stay very basic, you know, for the new people. But really, the value comes with connecting with my colleagues and the people I can potentially work with or are working with.
Carlton Reid 2:55:47
At the top of the show. I promised you an interview with Kevin Mayne. But as this episode is already approaching three hours long, it’s best if we call it a day now, Kevin will, however, be on tomorrow’s show, along with a whole bunch of other folks. It’s been a fascinating first day at Velo-city in Dublin, and we hope you enjoyed today’s round up. By the way, the music topping and tailing this show is “Wheelie” by Me For Queen. Thanks to them and to you for listening.