Former mayor of Copenhagen Klaus Bondam.
University lecturer Amanda Ngabirano from Kampala in Uganda.
Transport planner Brian Deegan.
Academic Rachel Aldred.
Direct download [MP3]
Laura Laker 0:00
This podcast series is sponsored by the Dutch Cycling Embassy, a public-private network for sustainable bicycle inclusive 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
Hi there. I’m Carlton Reid and this is show number five of 12 podcasts plus a bonus episode we recorded at the Velo-city conference in Dublin in June 2019. Originally, our Kickstarter backers got 11 shows, but we rejigged them a little, adding new intros on some of them. But here, almost live from the show, is Laura Laker recording an intro from our fifth floor apartment in the centre of Dublin. I join in and, well, so does a local seagull.
Laura Laker 1:00
I’m Laura Laker. And on this edition of the show, I spoke to academic Rachel Aldred about her new research and attitudes to cycling and driving, what it uncovered about public support for restricting car use, how austerity may exacberate a backlash and the new Active Travel Academy I’ll be working with her on from September. I also managed to grab a few minutes with a very busy university lecturer, Amanda Ngabirano from Kampala in Uganda who is single handedly influencing government, transport planners and society by campaigning through her work and riding her bike in the city. And she tells me she wants Velo-city to come to Kampala in 2022. Oh, by the way, I’ve had some feedback, saying it’s a bit hard to hear me in some of the previous interviews. Sorry about that. I’ll work on turning the mic round so you can hear me better.
Carlton Reid 1:47
Before the show started this morning. I grabbed the former mayor of Copenhagen Klaus Bondam, and barman extraordinaire Brian Deegan, the sociologis-turned-transport planner who, under Boris Johnson
and Andrew Gilligan, helped to instal London’s second generation cycle superhighways. Brian is now working his magic on Greater Manchester with Chris Boardman and is also working with the Mayor of Leicester and I think we can hear some seagulls. They are Dublin seagulls Of course.
Laura Laker 2:21
Tomorrow we’re going to be back at the show. Laura Laker Yeah, where the seagulls more seagull? More seagulls tomorrow. Yeah, yeah, because we had we had some pretty good better ride today, didn’t we? We had the bike. The bike parade. It was really nice. Yes. Awesome. Good seagull action. Yeah.
They went out from the city. Yeah, went out of the way. Yeah, it went to the centre of town to like, do a protest right or anything.
It went out to Clontarf. So there’s a protect cycleway out there and which I mentioned in my article the other day, was they used to coach parking (Carlton Reid – in your Guardian article). Yeah. The Guardian article which Yeah, which is used to coach by
during concerts, and there was some spray paint on the bike lane saying no bikes, only coaches and they had a hashtag the good room because someone likened improvements around the conference centre on the bike lanes to the Irish tradition having a good room for visitors. So yeah, that was quite funny it but it’s beautiful weather sunshine, we rode out around Dublin Bay, which the UNESCO biosphere full of birds and lovely palm trees, palm trees anyway there’s spiky, spiky looking trees that
are looking. And then yes, very hot, and we had some falafel and then cycled back then there were seagulls. Yep. Yep. We have the sea here, that’s why Yeah, lovely sea smell. Carlton Reid Then we talk about campaigners, and cos you’re still trying to catch a few of the campaigners that we’ve got our eyes on. Laura Laker: So yeah, I was gonna speak to the Dublin campaigners. I
hoping to catch them over the next couple of days. I think a lot of them have been helping more one of them in particular and helping to organise
liaise with the conference and so he’s bit frazzled. And so also maybe a little bit shy of being recorded. So yeah, I’m hoping to catch them, I’m hoping to catch Women on Wheels, which is group of women who have done listening projects for why more women don’t cycle, which is of course applicable to a lot of places.
And then I’m hoping to speak to people from Ljubljana who are going to be hosting Velo-city next year. Carlton Reid: And that’s kind of controversial and that it was gonna be Mexico, wasn’t it? So normally Velo-city is in Europe one year and then not in Europe, somewhere international The next year, and Mexico pulled out Yeah, and so Liana found out about three weeks ago apparently so they have they have less than a year to put out bag. Not easy, beautiful medieval city happily so that should be a nice one. Yeah.
Carlton Reid 4:53
Okay, so let’s get on with today’s show. Yeah, enjoy.
It is the morning of the second day of Velo-city in Dublin and I have got a former mayor of Copenhagen here, Klaus Bondam and good morning to you Klaus. But before we talk about
Copenhagen or what we’re doing here, just briefly, tell me you had a new government last night. So what what does this mean for cycling? It’s very hard to tell. I thought it was midnight last night. What could this mean for cycling?
Klaus Bondam 5:26
Well, actually, we had an election three weeks ago. So they have been negotiating for a long time. We have a minority Labour government now run by the coming Prime Minister, and this has made
the youngest Prime Minister that democracy ever had, she’s 41. I had the big luck of going out cycling with her the Monday before the election, three, four days before the election.
And, of course, I saw that as a signal that cycling was kind of a part of
the the the the the foundation of the government but what is interesting is that she
is supported by for three other parties, the Liberal Democrats and socialists and the Unity List, which is kind of the far left party. And in the they call it an understanding paper and paper of understanding.
They talk about cycling as a part of the
green change that that we make they have a very, very, very ambitious CO2 emission reduction target of 70% up to 2030. So, I mean, is it going to live up to what they have said in the campaign during these negotiations.
We will be extremely busy in the green transition. And I’m very, very happy that cycling an active mobility, sustainable mobility is a part of that discussion and that cycling is specifically mentioned that it’s not all about electric cars, autonomous vehicles, but cycling and active mobility is a part of that discussion.
Carlton Reid 7:00
And is sport cycling part of that, and I’m kind of angling here on Le Tour, so the Tour de France kicks off
Christian Prudhomme has talked to talk previously about transportation cycling. So where does this fit into the ecosystem?
Klaus Bondam 7:18
It is in Denmark will host the Grand Depart. They start the Tour de France in 2021, which is I believe the most northern Grand Depart that they’ve ever had. We heard from Christian Prudhomme and ASO the Tour de France organisation that that they wanted a specific focus on everyday cycling
during the Tour Depart, during the Grand Depart.
We have also seen that the UCI, the Union Cycliste Internationale, I think is the sports cyclist, International Federation. We’ve seen that they have put a
big focus on everyday cycling. Also partly sponsoring the new solution platform that the Cycling Embassy of Denmark launched a few days ago.
I do find with the with the Danish Grand Depart organisation, I find a good basis for very, very good dialogue, good cooperation. We know that the French are very keen on leaving a kind of legacy.
Of course, in my position as a CEO of the Danish Cyclists’ Federation I love very much to the Dutch Tour de Force thing
which goes very much aligned with some of the one of the probably the most important agenda which we have which is basically moving everyday. So I think policies away from being only transportation policies, not only about us health and infrastructure, but also being a part of health policies, climate policies, urban policies, children educational policies, mean basically integrating cycling and all these different policy areas. And I think
That they have that is what they to a certain extent have succeeded with in the Netherlands and with it with the Tour de Force initiative, because it is basically about getting different government
organisations talking to each other, which is in a democracy, sometimes something of a challenge
Carlton Reid 9:22
There tends to be a lot of government agencies and people
representing government agencies at conferences like this. So what what what do conferences like this add to transportation cycling? You’re here so opposite it’s an essential place to be but what do you think they add?
Klaus Bondam 9:43
I think a lot of civil servants and also a lot of politicians on all levels are basically looking for solutions these years.
I heard a quote somewhere in the election campaign. He think he stole it from somebody else but the quote is
very good, that the cities of today are basically facing three major challenges, congestion, obesity, co2 emissions, Cycling is a part of the solution to all three of these major issues. So I think I mean, any clever civil servant would basically be looking into where can I find something that is useful to
incorporate these, solving these challenges that we’re facing. And
active mobility is, of course, and cycling is of course, everyday cycling, is of course, a very low hanging fruit. But having said that, we are now also in the everyday cycling world, we are also facing new challenges. How do we integrate new forms of sustainable mobility, the electric scooters, for example? I mean, are they good? Are they bad? From a sustainable point of view, they’re actually quite good. I mean, they don’t take up that much space. They they run on electricity.
They create efficiency and mobility is in our cities. But as an not active mode of transportation, they’re not very good.
As a especially the, the, the rent systems, which is becoming a major problem in Copenhagen, they just left everywhere on the road, and which is, I mean, I can see them but if you’re disabled if you’re blind if you’re in a wheelchair, it’s not very, I mean, it’s not a very inclusive town if you put it that way. So I think I mean, these sorts of these these kinds of new modes of transportation, it opens a lot of questions. A lot of challenges for us in in in the everyday so I think, well, because what I see is basically that there are a bit rude now or bit arrogant, but they’re very kind of invading our space. We have very good cycling infrastructure in Copenhagen and a lot of other Danish cities. Right now, we should we have seen
the result of the How can you say political implementation that has basically been put it on the bicycle infrastructure, put it on the bike tracks, I mean, so I have
come up with some some statements about I mean, it’s not very nice seeing the bicycle tracks being kind of the dustbins of, of new transport developments. So we should really I think that one of our challenges in the years to come, how do we integrate everyday cycling in the discussion on
new forms of mobility, mobility as a service, smart cities, connectivity is all these kinds of things. And it’s an extremely interesting discussion because
definitely in the Danish context, but I also see it very much in a German context in a Dutch context, of course, actually, also in a British context that is getting more and more mainstream politics, which, I mean, we’re not a niche any longer. We are part of the solution. We are an essential part of the dialogue.
Laura Laker 12:49
It’s the afternoon of Velo-city on day two and I have met Amanda Ngabirano. Can you can you tell me pronounce your name for me, Amanda , no. Amanda
who is from Kampala, you’re a lecturer at university and you’re doing fantastic stuff around cycling. And I was very impressed with you on the first morning of the plenary session hearing you talk and so I’m trying to grab you ever since but you’re very popular woman do you want to tell me tell our listeners, what you’re doing in Kampala to try and get more people cycling.
Amanda Ngabirano 13:23
I’m putting myself on the streets, the chaotic streets on my bicycle so people can see it’s possible it can be done. I’m helping the city authority to plan for cycling infrastructure and also walking facilities. I’m helping my friends, the general public, to respect cyclists and cycling. And because of my job, it’s unique for me as a university lecturer and a woman to be riding in our chaotic, city. So that alone is a statement that is I think, helping the other cyclists, including men, because they are they are now getting more visibility because of my being on the streets with them as well.
Laura Laker 14:00
Wow. So you’re you’re really making waves by appearing on the streets on a bike and you look fantastic. You showed some pictures of you on your Brompton just dressed in your normal clothes, looking great, and and people respond to that.
They do actually, they ask me why do I ride with my handbag, but I need my handbag, there’s my makeup, there is my mirror, there is my phone, my wallet, I need my handbag. Because I need it also, when I’m walking when I’m in the car and a taxi. Yeah. And people actually respond it positively and say, Wow, I can go to work with my bicycle and also with my bag, something like that.
Yeah. And so you’re a lecturer at university, what do you lecture in?
I teach urban planning, and so this actually helps me because I teach also students how to plan streets very well and safely in an inclusive manner. So when they see me riding my bicycle, they just know what I’m teaching them I’m practising a bit of. And so that’s my job. I love to do it. And I’m representing many other people. And I hope the city planners can buy my message and redesign the streets of Kampala, and also
Amanda Ngabirano 15:00
most African cities because they need it.
Yeah. And so describe the streets of Kampala, for our listeners, what’s it like cycling around the city?
It’s a lot of work you have to behave like you have three pairs of eyes, like you have two brains, you have to be sharp, you have to be alert and see all the things, the potholes, see the traffic coming, the trucks. But with time one actually gets used to it that you become part of the chaos. And so you know, the solution.
Laura Laker 15:28
And there’s no kind of designated space per se for cars going one place. There’s often no sidewalks, you were saying, no pavements, and so everyone’s mixing them together.
Yeah, actually, they’ve been having a lot of walkways, but the city is now working on that. But for cycle lanes, we have just one green one already painted. And it’s not even a kilometre, but construction works is going on for bicycle lanes and walkways. So there is progress, but it is quite slow.
Yeah. So the message that you’re putting out there is being received by the Council the government.
Amanda Ngabirano 16:00
The message is being received because the project is now under construction and is fully funded by the government of Uganda. It’s not a donation, it’s not a grant. So that’s already a good sign. And I hope other cities within my country can also learn from the capital city of Kampala.
And what’s made them change their mind? is it you?
Because I am so pushy, I need the lanes for myself, I need them for my children. I also need them for my profession, that this is how a city should look like. So they I support them, I go to present to them, I backup their concepts and help them to defend their projects within the public realm that yes, the city is doing something right. So my role is quite, I cannot explain it, it’s quite unique, but it is having a lot of impact.
Wow. That’s incredible. So you’ve gone to the council, the local government of Kampala, and said to them, this is what needs to happen, this is how you do it. Is that so?
Since 2010, I’ve been going to this building. And I’ve been pushing for this project which just started this year. So I go to them and I don’t give up. The first time I went to see the mayor, he told me that, look, we don’t want motorcycles in the city centre, and you’re bringing bicycles? That was the first statement I was told, but I did not give up, so I keep going there. I keep changing tactics. Now I’m engaging the public through the media and social media as well. And it’s a discussion going on, which is nice.
Yeah. And you said there’s quite a lot of discussion happening around you cycling, and what that means and what that means for you and what that means for other people as well, which is quite interesting.
And I deal with tough questions, you know, things to do with a woman not being safe on the saddle, the impact of the saddle, but I’m facing them hard on and head on because I need to help my people change their mindset as the city is also planning for better infrastructure.
And there’s talk of car free days now, in Kampala
Yeah, that’s also very nice, because car free days are now popular, and also in Nairobi, Kigali, so I think Africa is taking some steps. But we can be faster than this.
Yeah, because car ownership is quite low still.
It’s still very low, but it’s going up very fast. So that’s a risk that the people that are walking now, and cycling probably it’s not because of choice. So when they are able to buy a car there’s a risk that they will shift and we will lose that percentage of active mobility.
And you were saying that you feel like now is a critical moment for Kampala, and for African cities, a lot of African cities,
this is the point where we must decide and think properly and take quick decisions, because we are also at a risk of going the wrong direction. We are the risk of following the steps of mistakes made by Europe in terms of road infrastructure developments, so that point is so critical, but I don’t know if the planners and the leadership that we have understands that this critical point in time. Yeah.
And you’ve become kind of someone that people ask about the infrastructure, when’s this going to be finished? I love that you’ve become almost the face of the of the new cycling wave, or
I’ve had to tell people go to the city council, go to the city authority and find out about when they’re going to complete this, but I’m sure that it’s going to be completed soon. And I’ve had people telling me, I’ve seen bicycles in the Netherlands. Hey, I’m in Amsterdam. I’ve seen bicycles. And I remembered you. And this is really nice that the bicycle now is being respected somehow because of my work.
Yeah. And there’s huge opportunities for African cities, for Kampala, because there’s health issues, there’s issues of poverty, there’s issues of access to schools, and so having access to bicycles, to cheap transport is a fantastic opportunity
It’s a big opportunity, because whereas vehicle levels are so low, the numbers are so low, the traffic situation is really bad, a distance of 20 kilometres, one could easily spend three hours, a distance of five kilometre one could easily spend 30 minutes. And this is a big problem for most of the African cities. So the bicycle is something that we can try out because most of the distances are really not that long. And also it is something that we could try to keep people healthy and children getting access to school, especially in the rural areas where the distance is quite long and walking, of course will take longer. I only see opportunities, probably I’m biased, but I don’t think I’m biased,
well, all of our listeners are gonna probably agree with you. Because everyone’s into cycling, who’s kind of following this podcast, I would say, but how is the response from political leaders in Kampala, and in Uganda?
the response is good. The mayor, the current mayor that we have is the one actually who launched the project that is under construction. So that’s good. But we need more political support beyond the mayor, we need actually, top leadership, we need to see ministers involved, Minister of Environment. health, transport, we need the leadership at the top to sink into the cycling activities.
But you’re very ambitious. You were talking just now you want Kampala to be the Velo-city 2022 host city.
I’m hoping that we can successfully submit a bid and we need, and have the whole of Europe come to Africa for Velo-city 2022. I hope it works out.
Because at the moment, it’s a very sort of European conference isn’t it, and I guess that’s because we’re in Europe here. But Africa is not really represented in Velo-city. Certainly not this year. So it’s great to see someone from Africa representing African cities and what’s happening there. And it’ll be great to find out more.
It’s very difficult Indeed, for us Africans to come to Europe, for all these Velo-city conferences, it’s very expensive, we have visa issues. So it’s time to get this discussion. Come to Africa, and then we’ll have an African audience from it.
Thank you so much, Amanda. It’s great to talk to you, fascinating.
You’re welcome Laura. Thank you.
Carlton Reid 21:36
I’m here with Brian Deegan, who’s arrived fit, hale and healthy. And yesterday, Brian, you were talking, you just told me about getting rid of the auto congested mess. So I can agree with that. But how do you do it?
Brian Deegan 21:54
Um, yeah, so what it told me yesterday was like a sort of first steps to take and then really like
concentrated on on the work we did in Manchester which is a, an auto congested mess if ever there was one. So talks about like the sort of collaborative planning techniques that were used in there like the kind of go around a blank map with like a interested stakeholders, counsellors like a
local town centre managers, people from region people from planning engineers like a Ramblers like a working group cycle groups getting everybody in that actually knows about the situation and getting them to acknowledge the kind of mess that we’re in really. And that’s that’s what I took people through. That’s all through the process. We did kind of simplified network planning
to as simple as it could get it really started with again them a red pen and said tell me everywhere that’s bad. Tell me everywhere that’s busy. That’s like congested, that’s a rat run said complete severance of community in there. Nobody kind of got together and and all kind of decided amongst themselves how to get at least two people to agree on it. So there was some kind of collective responsibility there. Empty all the red pens and that kind of flipped it and
Okay, well look 80% of the streets are all right. Now that’s the situation we have wherever we’ve done it the probably the the only place that really broke it was Tunbridge Wells, when we did it there, but
that was about 80% red, what everywhere else is usually about 20% in red. So you gotta look at a good story, look, most of the streets are okay to walk in cycle and then how do we connect them up and I pulled out a green pen and said, well, tell me where we could put a crossing of these difficult roads. So at least we can connect the good bits with the other good bits. So you can do some kind of basic walking or cycling journey and there are people started putting the the green dots and they’re having a bit of discussion like a network managers will that site will not too near that junction, put it more in the middle and we had options then. And then really the kind of be network approach was like joining the dots in the quickest possible street syntax that you had there. So you’re looking at the arrangement in there, then you basically get a whole network for free because you’ve already decided the streets are okay in there. You’re putting the crossings in and the just building crossings which like in consultation terms are pretty easy. When
Really everybody wants to cross busy roads. That’s all you’re asking for, you know, you’re not asking to go down people’s streets take out a parking mess with their businesses, you are just saying, how did you get across the difficult road? And that’s the bit you need to remember in there. So one there was one in that situation you mentioned there was always like, because people put it together themselves, it was on their plan was that it was like a group plan. And really, we’ve got to get this kind of mess together. Really, that was the thought you could have a few geniuses that run the data. And so yes, there should be a cycle route here or you could look at a propensity tool and go yeah, there should be a cycle route there. We’ve always known why they should be are making them happens a very different story. So we can get people to acknowledge the shape of their streets and the way it operates in the severances the made and plot the wrong way out like a logic puzzle. Then Then you away people have got a plan. And the final bit of data pulled out black pen with much pomp and ceremony I said, right one of them that all these red lines off, give me one that we’re going to transform. Lots of all the drama there with the businesses was the park in the local residents. Let’s do somewhere where
We really think needs to be transformed – might be an area that’s completely severing a community or, or ruined High Street – pick, pick one that we can transform and roll all the beans at that one. And meanwhile, we’ll get a basic network functioning elsewhere. So they would have kind of practical steps and I was, I was delivered in a way to say, Look, do this. It wasn’t just, I’m not just talking to you, you’re gonna do something for me, you’re gonna learn something, you’re going to apply it and we’re all going to get some kind of plans together. from doing the two hour sessions with 10 districts in Manchester. We came up in a couple of days with a £500 million plan. And it can be that quick when I’m when I went to most of the people said no one wants to do anything. Nobody cares, whatever. And yet the old came up with their own plans together and it was substantial. And then people have been out doing each other to see get the best up and first so for me, it’s the it’s the way to do things. It’s the way I kind of wanted to do it in London for a while, which is, you know, the strategic cycle analysis is fantastic. Don’t get me wrong, but it’s still top down. Unless you’ve got the local councils and local residents coming
up with the plans together will never get it you have situations like [would laymen?] and the rest okay. I was an opening monologue for you.
Carlton Reid 26:07
It was a monologue. Thank you. I’ve seen some pretty pictures, I think Helen Pidd from the Guardian and things as you described it some pretty pictures of Sale. And a few other places. Is that you Brian, that’s that’s that’s part of your work. .
Brian Deegan 26:24
Yes. Well, yeah, clearly like the districts have plans in there but the early kind of building stage just got look, we want to do something transformational here. We think something like this, and I’ll work with designers and visualisation people to go Okay, well, that look a bit like this and I’ll show schemes of words and I’ve been involved in a couple of thousand scheme so I’m normally have something that somebody has done before. And we kind of recreate it like there’s a bit in the in the BA champion manual that we did in Altringham which is based on the scheme that company did in Lambeth on Bangorth Walk, so there will always be something, go, you’re thinking that you want this one. You’re
doing an Enfield green lanes, which is a bit like the Sale one, maybe look at that. That’s pretty much like Palmers Green. Again. So yeah, that’s a large part of my roles kind of say, Okay, I get your aspirations. We’ve done it before, give people confidence that it can be done and show them examples and then tell them how it gets built for what process are. So that’s that’s really my job in a nutshell.
Carlton Reid 27:21
And your job in a nutshell used to be as a barman you told me before so how did you get into transport planning? What was what was the leap?
Brian Deegan 27:28
Oh, well, I’ve done every single job in the world, started off as a journalist. Oh, yeah, that’s, that’s, yeah, that that is bad and then I worked in finance, worked there for ages.
I used to do barman stuff on the side. I used to do a weird combination of like, working in finance for six months and then used to run a production company used to put on like a theatrical productions for another six months and I had that kind of weird to life, going for years. So we randomly wanna got broke
doing a production that just said I couldn’t go back to the City of London planets in there and kind of finally wore me down just said to my agent me kept me a job the council want to be around nice people and randomly turned up at the London Cycle Network where I thought oh my god you can work in cycling and I’ve been holding on desperately ever since really.
Yeah, so exciting times.
Carlton Reid 28:25
So currently are working for Urban Transport. So John Dale’s Urban Movement.
I was working late last night Forgive me. But John Dale’s Yeah, yeah. So you’re based in London still but then moving around the country and mainly, is that right? Mainly Manchester.
Brian Deegan 28:45
Yeah, my big job, big jumps, also like the healthy streets advisor to the Mayor of Leicester, also working on the avenues project in Glasgow. And there’s a few other things as well. I’m trying to get the whole UK going. That is my kind of mission at the moment, so.
kind of felt for 20 years it was a bit of a London bubble going on and there wasn’t much that was transferring outside
The last year or so I’ve been going around do you know you can do this? Do you know you can do this for a single junction? What is this madness that London’s doing? And so I’m just trying to get everybody to get a plan and start working towards actually making walking and cycling happen. That’s my side mission, all while getting paid as a consultant.
Carlton Reid 29:24
And the Metro Mayors is that being what is that the transformation? I mean, London’s obviously got a mayor now the North has got mayors, is that is that what you need? You need political courage with these things. And that probably requires a local politician to have that courage.
Brian Deegan 29:40
Um, yeah, certainly, it’s great having a single point of contact and the person who kind of calls the shots and and puts it on the tend to appoint like commissioners as well. And that’s the kind of level that I go into. We just had the first meeting of that last week. And I will say like, frankly, the Department for Transport has given a lot of money to Metro Mayors to kind of support this kind
of devolution of power in there. So yeah, if they were sending money to places that didn’t have Mayors, then we’ll all get rid of the Mayors. It’s, it’s that kind of situation, don’t tell Andy Burnham that, you know. So we look at what the situation is then for me, it’s been great having a person who actually calls the shots, they’re
like, there’s places that I’ve worked in there there was like, who makes the decision, and I can pass in there and it can be like a labyrinth and the kind of like a public sector of who actually decides this thing. And you can be stuck in loops for the years trying to get decision and you can go straight to a mayor or commissioner right and on behalf of them, and start making some big decisions and joined on a lot of money quickly in that so they’re golden in that regard.
Carlton Reid 30:42
And how important is it do you think to have an iconic Commissioner? Because Chris Boardman clearly has a lot more resonance than maybe don’t be rude here, but Andrew Gilligan is more of a technocrat, but Chris
Boardman is somebody that kind of is above and beyond that, and and and has resonance with ordinary people.
Brian Deegan 31:08
And yeah, that certainly helps. I mean yeah, I mean he’s a winner and a champion and he will get you in rooms and it’s not as if you can say to Chris Boardman all you’re a loser what would you know which someone could quite easily say to me, I’ve been banging on about these things for years. And why would anybody listen? Why would anybody care of Chris Boardman saying The thing is, you and I in a different ballpark and gets gets us into rooms with arguments that we’ve never been able to do before. But I will say in terms of Andrew Gilligan, he had a lot of sway and he knew a lot of people in there, and he was the greatest I ever met at not taking no for an answer, which we really needed at the time, you know, to get something good done in the UK, and those those second period superhighways were the best things that we probably have or ever will do in the UK. Now, we had to make some kind of statement and now he was absolutely the right man around at the time. It’s just not taking no for an answer and that, you know, take unbelievable amounts of grief.
Wiht Boardman when some of the other commissioners is now the definitely more affable, but the one is still driven in their own way that they you know, the definitely all people who’ve had success in life and we can use that and go wild people want to be associated with the success. Department for Transport and ministers don’t want to say I’m not giving Boardman what he wants, what would he know? It just doesn’t happen in there and until it’s done we have like the first meeting of the other commissioners in there and they’re all like that so there’s a lot of winners and it it might well be a key part of what we do if you get like a real technocratic one like you say like someone’s like oh Brian, why aren’t you a Commissioner – because nobody knows who the hell I am. Well, I like to get in the ears of all the commissioners ago Wouldn’t it be nice if did this and this is the way we’ve done that before? You know, you kind of acknowledge your roles but you know,
I was saying Chris Boardman is but he’s kind of calmed down a little bit with his TV work. No, do more, do more. We need your fame. Can we get you on Strictly Come Dancing, you know, that kind of situation? And then then I’ll be able to ask for 2 billion pounds from Manchester in there. So yeah, it
plays a big part
Carlton Reid 33:01
While talking about strong personalities, with one of the people I’m going to mention here has got a strong personality for sure, and that is the next Prime Minister of Great Britain. Well both of them are commuter cyclists everyday cyclists in effect, but one of them Boris Johnson is also the person who signed off on Andrew Gilligan’s work so we’re about to see a Nirvana, a blossoming of everyday cycling in in the UK because of this this wonderful thing called Brexit and and and the people who are bringing in like Boris so we’re ready for
a transformation. What would that be right?
Brian Deegan 33:41
Yeah, no, yeah, give me the good questions. And what I like to think so I remember when Boris was going for Mayor and everybody ought all this is going to be lots of disaster. But having worked with him, one of the things he did was get the best people in the best areas to to kind of run things and let him know. He really wanted stuff that made a mark and then like
putting his name out there but really improved the city as well. So I’m, I’m hoping he does bring that kind of attitude to becoming PM. I know it’s not sorted yet, but you know, If i was a betting man, I was a betting Man. And I’ll be going for …. So yeah, I’m certainly excited about like his views on cycling. And now when he left he said, he said like, as it did take six years from to do anything there. But then he said at the end, I wish I’d done this from the start and I hope he takes the attitude into becoming Prime Minister if he is prime minister, sorry Mr Hunt if you become Prime Minister when he does I hope he goes right let’s do this from the start and it gets all big and I think we’re at a tipping point in general like worldwide and particularly in in the UK in your people actually we we might as well just do this the the evidence is overwhelming. The data is there. We seem to know what we’re doing. We’ve got effective stuff that we can prove now. We’ve got 10 year long studies showing the effects of it. And so I’m hoping we can hit the ground running and then people can get serious about it because you know, planet to save and all that.
Yeah, on the Brexit side.
decided, who knows? You knows, I still don’t think it’s going to happen. That’s how it got but in the morning, because there are a lot of work in Europe, and there’s a lot of work with the European cycling Federation and particularly, and the commission and
we’re using a lot of that data and it’s great to feed into that one in there and, and you want to show what you’re doing in the UK in the in the mirror of what people are doing in Europe and this good healthy competition and I certainly don’t want to you lose all that but yeah, that’s very much out of my hands. annoyingly.
Carlton Reid 35:32
Oh, Brian Deegan for mayor …
Laura Laker 35:35
Found Rachel Aldred this morning of the second day of Velo-city. And we are in a nice little square in Smithfield area of Dublin. And I wanted to talk to Rachel, maybe you could actually say who you are first. And for people who might not know you. Sure.
Hi, everyone. So I’m a reader in transport at Westminster University. And I specialise in active travel, walking and cycling. And I’ve been working in that area since sort of 2007, 2008 now,
And you’re you’re pretty prolific with the publications aren’t you and your work has quite an impact. I think when you when you do publish, it seems like people take notes. I hope
so I try. And when I’m doing research, I sort of try and follow problems that exist in the world. Like when I started researching cycling, then really the big issue for me was, well, we in the UK, we had been trying to increase cycling, supposedly since the mid 1990s. So that was for over 20 years. And it actually hadn’t happened at all it at a national level. There was very, very little change in levels of cycling. So my interest was yeah why? Why is this? If this is a policy priority why is it not happened? And that was also the pattern across a number of other countries too. So and I’ve done that with a number of sort of other problems as well as like, yeah, curiosity, why is this happening? Why is this not happening? And very often, which is lucky for me, because I’m a sociologist by background it’s not like an engineering problem, it’s not about not knowing how to lay the concrete properly, or whatever. It’s about politics and policy and things like
Yeah, I was talking to Peter Cox yesterday, who’s also a sociologist, and I mean, he’s got a sort of, almost like a mystical element to it. I don’t know, in terms of people’s behaviour, but it’s funny. I mean, on the on the other hand, it’s, you know, if you make conditions right, a lot of your research shows that, you know, it’s it’s infrastructure as well as,
I mean, one thing I would say I wouldn’t separate out, like the infrastructure and the culture too much. Sometimes it’s kind of seen, and you see this in transport policy and practice as well that like, we put infrastructure n one box and behaviour change, in another box, and which was seems a bit weird to me, because one of the reasons I’m interested in infrastructure is I think it’s really cultural. And that we, when we go out on the streets, as pedestrians, cyclists, drivers, whatever, we’re constantly being given messages about who’s important how we should behave, you know, who we can disregard, who we shouldn’t disregard. And it’s funny when, you know, talking to say interviewees, participants of research, it’s really clear that this is, say on UK roads, it’s like a modal hierarchy that people experience and people feel exists on the road. That’s the opposite of what it’s supposedly the sustainable transport modal hierarchy. So the bigger the vehicle is, the more you’re meant to get out the way is the feeling that the roads give to people. And that’s not just a kind of broader world view, it’s there in the really little things. Like I don’t know, if you saw along the Quays here, there are signs telling drivers that the road is about to narrow, and they’re on the footway and the footway’s really narrow, so as a pedestrian, you’re having to get out the way of this sign that’s placed for drivers, but it’s placed in your space. So it’s like telling you as a pedestrian, you’re not that important, we’ll just put a sign in your way. But they wouldn’t do that to drivers, there wouldn’t be a big sign in way of drivers saying the pedestrian space has been narrowed, right?
Yeah, it’s really interesting. And most people wouldn’t even think about that. They’d look at the space and say, well, this is a car space. And therefore someone on the bike is in the way.
Exactly. And so it’s it is all it’s not just about the, you know, road users disregarding others, being bad people, it’s about the whole design of the environment, the policy, the infrastructure, and so on, that gives people a message that it’s okay to behave like that, as well.
Yeah. And which kind of segues into you’ve, you’ve got a new study, and you report out which you’ve come to present here in Dublin, on attitudes to cycling and attitudes to driving.
Exactly, so that was my Velo-city presentation yesterday. And it’s a sort of side bit of analysis from, so I did the main study I’ve been working on, called the people and places study, which is looking at the impacts of active travel interventions focused on increasing walking and cycling in outer London. So the main study is quantitative, and has some good news around interventions do increase Levels of walking, cycling. And so I’ve published that but,
and that’s places like Waltham Forest isn’t it?
Exactly. Outer London boroughs that are not typically, what interested me about those interventions was Yeah, this isn’t Camden this isn’t Hackney this isn’t central London. This is outer London that is quite often quite car dependent.
Yeah, not traditionally a cycling place.
Exactly. But it seems like if you do stuff there, you can get more walking UK and more cycling. But this paper was was sort of a slightly different angle. So this is a study of 1500, more than 1500 people, every year going back to people and asking them about what their behaviour and attitudes. So we got a lot of quantitative data, lots of stats, but also loads of comments.
People love to talk about transport, don’t they? I think like over 60% of people left comments in the survey, and there were like four open questions they could leave, like, you know, is there anything you’d like to add about transport in your local area? That kind of question. So lots of comments. And I thought, Oh, we should, you know, be lovely to look at these comments. My background is qualitative. So I would like to look at these comments. And they’re very, you know, people have opinions, people have strong opinions and views about transport, as you know. So, so, anyway, all these comments, I analysed them. And I looked at them in relation to what driving and cycling was; the reason why I wanted to look at driving cycling first. I mean, there’s other things you could look at, was that, that we have a quantitative questions survey that asks about levels of sort of investment, institutional support for different modes, you know, do you think that Transport for London, your local authorities, is supporting buses too much, too little, about right? So that kind of question, okay. And generally, people for most modes of transport people were, most people said it was about right. But there were two exceptions. So first of all, cycling, there was clearly quite a bit of controversy around investment in cycling.
And there was a lot of, there was a big group of people who said there wasn’t enough support for cycling. But there’s also a reasonably large minority, who said there was too much. So there was there was more controversy, also for driving. That was quite interesting. So for car use, it was, you know, a small but significant minority, saying there’s too much support, institutional support, for car use. So I thought this is interesting. This is outer London. Yeah. Again, this is not inner London. So let’s look a bit more at these attitudes to driving and cycling. So I did a kind of analysis of any comments that had anything to do with driving or cycling, which was a lot of them. And so there were quite large minorities, talking about driving and cycling, and you could classify these comments, almost all those comments, it’s like pro or anti for driving and cycling. So people had views, people weren’t sort of saying, you know, I’m being charged too much to park or there’s not enough cycle lanes, or you know, those kind of things. So I coded all those, I looked at what people were saying, and sothere’s a couple of really interesting things came out of the analysis for me. So one was that there’s a lot of awareness of the negative impacts of driving, car use too much car use: pollution, congestion, noise, all these things that we know about. But that didn’t necessarily lead people to say, therefore there should be less support, there should be restrictions on driving and I thought that was really interesting in policy terms, because it suggests that just increasing awareness about air pollution is not enough to get support for restricting driving, people would say things like, you know, they add cycle lanes, and that slows down the traffic and that increases pollution. So
It’s quite a common, slightly awkward arguments,
yes. And not not just cyclists as well, but other things that restricted driving. So there will be people saying, well, they put in speed humps, and it makes the drivers rev and it increases pollution, or they put in 20 mile an hour zones, and it makes people overtake dangerously, and it causes risk. And it’s kinda like all these things to restrict car use or to support other modes, are then see as causing, pollution, congestion injury
The prevailing assumption is that is the car use is gonna be the same, regardless of conditions, it’s like, beyond our control.
Exactly. And that’s the whole that is the whole reason why I mean, if if you assume that people are sincere, which I generally do, then then why would people think that? Why would people say cycle lanes cause pollution or a lot of those other things? The assumption is that yeah, that the car use is going to continue and also, perhaps also that driver behaviour is going to continue as it is, and that these are two really big problems that we can’t do anything about, we just have to negotiate ground.
It’s hard to picture to change, isn’t it?
It is, and it’s even in London, where we’ve seen a big mode shift away for the car, primarily towards buses, walking to lesser extent, and we have seen a lot of change in London, any big city, you see change all the time, but it’s still and to some extent, it’s not the fault of the public, it is that politicians, policy makers are not providing a clearer vision of we have to change. This is possible, there will be these benefits, although it will be hard, for some people at some times, but also transport planning as well. I would like because transport models tend, you know, don’t assume that, yeah, basically, demand doesn’t change.
It’s really skewed towards driving as well, in terms of what’s valued, still,
yes, appraisal processes. And the fact that this kind of somewhat arbitrary valuation of drivers’ time is often the biggest element when we appraise transport projects. So the whole range of ways in which our tools tend to embed this assumption.
Yes, well, so what do we do with these attitudes? I mean, once Why do we need to ask people? I guess you could argue that, you know, investing in public transport, investing in cycling, walking is the right thing to do. Therefore, we need to just do it, and people will kind of get it, or.
I mean, I think it does, it does make it clear. It’s about having a strong narrative about the kind of cities or towns or whatever that we want to live in. And that change is necessary, desirable, possible, and so on. I think. So I think that’s really important. It’s not just about the facts. So hopefully, you know, I mean, facts are important. And hopefully, you can monitor schemes, and you could look at the results. And if there’s problems, you can adapt them and so on. But it is about people, I think, you know, most people are not fundamentally that interested in the specifics of kerbing, for instance, you know, I mean I know some people are… but they’re kind of interested in what sort of a place they’re going to live in. And if, I think, I hope, that if you can take people with you on a journey about, we are trying to create places that don’t injure people, or make them sick all the time, that do make them healthier and happier. And so I kind of hope that and I think also things are changing the way that we the traffic plan transport and the way that we consult and things around that as well. But it is it is about being bold, I think because there are big changes that will need to happen.
Yeah, either way. And it’s interesting talking to people at the conference yesterday and cities who managed to make quite bold change in Ghent, for example. And I spoke to Daan Pelkmans.
Oh, yes, his talk was great.
Yeah. So he was really interesting. And one of the things I asked him about was, how did you get a kind of public acceptance for these schemes, and he just said, we basically spoke to people a lot we spoke to businesses, we spoke to residents, they basically produced a newspaper explaining why they were doing it, what the changes were going to cause. And, yeah, it seemed like that was that was very helpful in sort of helping people understand why this is happening. And so I guess, understanding people’s baseline attitudes, you can pitch things in a way that will allay those fears. And you can address those fears in any plans that you make.
Yes. And I think one problem that we had in the UK around some of the, with the years of cuts and the austerity and so on, we lost a lot of expertise, a lot of local authorities, and perhaps as well, particularly in terms of communication as well, because in transport planning departments, you know, what was seen as essential, what we really have to hang on to, was often the kind of what was seen is the hard engineering skills.
Yeah. So it’s interesting, what you said about people coming out of councils being sort of the kind of people are going to be doing the communication. I mean, that’s probably something that a lot of people haven’t thought about, all the backlash that we’re seeing with some of the schemes that are coming in, I guess can be partially blamed on the fact that councils have been hollowed out, in a way.
Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Not the communication. And engineers are not necessarily the best people communicate those things. I mean, that’s not their specialist area. So I think having those that communication skills, but also being able to adapt stuff in relation to what care about, what they’re worried about. And also thinking of more about mitigating impacts, I suppose, perhaps, particularly on small businesses, because I remember an example given of a restaurant business, that when this walking and cycling intervention was put in that restrictive motor vehicle access. It wasn’t that, the custom didn’t fall, I think, if anything, it went up, but the patterns changed. Yeah. So instead of having people driving in at lunchtime, on a work on a weekday, they had more people at the weekend and in the evening. And in a sense, looking back, you think, well, that’s not that surprising, but people didn’t think about it in advance and actually be able to think about that, and predict it and change the shift patterns and provide support. So I think we need to do more of that in advance as well, because it is important that, you know, I do have a lot of sympathy for small businesses, this is their livelihoods. And, you know, they need to be supported when when change happens.
Yeah, I think a lot of a lot of expertise was lost, and people need to have, when people have challenging jobs, where that they’re making these changes can be really fulfilling that count, but also can be, can be quite difficult, it is important that, that you have that strong professional structure, that people have good jobs, don’t, you know, think they’re going to lose their job in a few months? So I do see, I think it is important to have a good career structure for people. And you saw that I think you saw that make a difference in Transport for London that they started to, initially cycling and then, more broadly, active travel, have, you know, that that that area of expertise is recognised, and you were just going to be the cycling officer sat in the corner with no-one talking to you. It was actually part of the career structure.
You might not have a job in a couple of years. Yeah, I mean, that’s the case in a lot of local councils isn’t it, with cycling money.
Yeah, you just lose all this expertise. And they, and it’s such a waste. You know, I mean, these jobs are not often not that well paid. And people do need job security, they do need to be able to transfer those lessons to different projects.
And, so part of your research, stigmas around cycling and driving.
Oh, yeah. That was the second point for the paper that. So what I then did, I was interested in looking at how people talked about bad driving and bad cycling, a lot of talk, you know, people in these comments, people complain a lot about other people’s behaviour. You know, pedestrian walking too fast, too slow on the escalator at the conference, why are people walking that kind of. So anyway, people complain about other people’s behaviour. So I thought, looking at how they talked about bad driving, and bad cycling was interesting. And there was there was more negativity about driving than cycling, as generally, in the comments, but you know, there’s a lot of negative comments about both. So I did some analysis of how people talked about about driving about cycling. And what was really noticeable was that they were talking about differently. So for driving, it was really it was very often the car that was described as doing things. So around parking, say, cars park on the foot way or whatever. But also for drivers for driving too fast. Where the drivers really obviously present. It would still be you know, cars drive too fast cars are speeding. And that’s, it sounds like well, you know, that’s not a big thing, but I think it is because it implies that it’s the car that’s doing something and it also helps to naturalise it, like I was saying before that there are just these cars, and they kind of do these things. And the way it was so different for cycling though, showed that you can talk about these things differently, and we do for different modes. So for cycling, it was very different in that, this was around footway cycling, this was the main thing that people complained about in this data. And it was almost always cyclists. It was these cyclists ride on the pavement, they do this, they do that. And as a group as well, so often when drivers were talking about people. It was as people like, commuters park on the pavement at the station or something. But for cyclists, it was almost always cyclists like they’re a specific group they’re not commuters they’re not, you know, whatever. And yet people didn’t talk about bikes do that. Well, a few people did. So it is possible. A few people would say things like bikes ride on the pavement, but it was almost always cyclists and then it would, and then in quite a few cases, it would then go on to they are the most dangerous group of road users and kind of generalisations like that. So it really did indicate how in the language that we use, I think you see this not just in I mean, I’ve seen it actually in an academic articles. We’ve seen it in different contexts. But the way that we talk about driving and cycling, the way we talk about driving sort of naturalises car use in the way that we talk about that cycling stigmatises cyclists.
Yeah, yeah, it’s really interesting, isn’t it? This human agency in one, and not the other. Yes. And the implications are that, it kind of feeds back into this narrative. There’s nothing we can do about these machines.
I know, in a sense, yeah. They just that we just have to deal with them and it’s like this bad group of people, cyclists and, and it kind of the language you can see, that is the way that we talk about these things, predominantly, but it has all these negative implications, I think. So that’s another, you know, thinking about how these are integrated how policy talks about driving and cycling. And I think you can see that feeding through to some policy documents, and some authorities trying to talk less about cyclists and more about cycling or cycles, people on bikes,
Things are changing.
I think I think things are but i think it’s it’s also it’s really prevalent as well, it’s kind of hard for one local authority, or whoever, in a policy document to change things, it’s still out there
Who reads that, it’s a niche group.
Yes. And I think it is important to be aware that those things exist and sort of be challenging them and not allowing them to derail stuff. Because in a sense, when you sort of step back and think about it, then, you know, people who are walking or cycling are generally doing other people a favour in a whole range of ways. Whereas driving a should be seen as something that isn’t taken lightly, that it causes a whole range of problems. And for some trips, you know, particularly at the moment when walking, cycling conditions are not that good, public transport may not be that good. You know, for some trips, it’s hard to find alternatives, but it imposes a lot of costs, a lot of problems and risks on other people, and it really shouldn’t be prioritised in way that it often has
Yeah, and it’s a societal problem, isn’t it, and it kind of touches every element of our lives. I mean, from people driving through our neighbourhoods, to the health implications, and the way that we talk about it in public life. And it really I don’t know, it’s almost like needs a kind of societal approach. Which is, which is coincidental, because you just announced the launch of an Active Travel Academy, which is going to sort of bring different disciplines within the university and outside of the university together, and you’re going to be heading it up. So maybe you could say a bit more about that.
Yes, I’m really excited about that. So that, just found out about that a few weeks ago. So it’s funded by it’s called the Quintin Hogg trust, and its funding this the Active Travel Academy, at the University of Westminster, so I’ll be leading it, but also, there’s a range of other people involved. And it’s Yeah, the idea is, this is, you know, getting more active travel, and supporting active travel is a big problem, we’ve been trying to do it for a while, we need all these different disciplines involved. So I’ve been talking to colleagues recently in health and bioscience, who do stuff around machine learning, which is very exciting. It’s not an area that I know very much about, but in terms of being able to, like, measure the quality of street environment, or being able to model how people interact in street space, then that’s really exciting, too. And I think we need all these different, all these different disciplines. And also to be able to reach out and make create international collaborations, perhaps set up things like awards and open access journal, there’s a range of different things you can do. And also, as well as doing our own research just to sort of share and amplify the best research out there from a range of disciplines. So I’m really excited, because I feel like it’s just going to open up a whole lot of new possibilities. There’s so much stuff that I would like to do that I really don’t have the time or the skills to do.
It’s a huge body of work to be done. And it’s such a huge problem. And I’m excited as well, because I’m going to be involved one day week, with you very excited about that as well. Yeah. Yeah. Be nice to be Yeah, to be involved in sort of something collaborative. And yes, that involves different disciplines, because that’s where new ideas come from, when you start reaching out to people from different areas, and they say, Oh, we, you know, we do this this way. And, you know, ideas start to build.
I know. And so often, I mean, this is a bad thing about universities, we’re often all in our own little box. And when I put this application together, it’s like, oh, I need to reach out to colleagues in different disciplines. And suddenly, I was like, these people doing interesting things I should have talked to years ago. And so that’s good, and also to have students involved, because some of the, I just learned so much from students. I was also here in Dublin to do to examine PhD do a PhD viva, and I’ve done four in the last six months, and there’s such exciting new research, to sort of nurture early career researchers and to manage PhDs, and ensure that people get to do exciting new research at that level is Yeah, looking forward to that, yeah.
It’s really exciting. And yeah, so this is starting in August, and it’s a three year.
Yes. Well, it’s probably more likely to be, they slightly delayed the announcement. So it’s more like September, to give me slight breathing space to organise stuff. So yes, basically, say, September, in practise, for three years. And doing exciting stuff will include things like having a couple of international visiting fellows each year to come and bring expertise and do stuff with us. And also organising summer schools, and workshops. I’m really keen to do some methods workshops using, I’ve got back into collecting visual data. And really keen to use some cameras on bikes and do some kind of analysis based on that, look at cycling experiences, walking experiences, and I was involved in a workshop recently in Mexico City where we did something similar, and it was really interesting, sent people out to intersections around the city to do some recording, and then do some analysis, then so yeah,
Great. So of course there’s VR as well now, and that can be quite helpful in helping other people understand what it’s like to be on a bike.
Yes, I think some of these new technologies are, have a lot of potential. I think one of the just in just talking about like videos and photos, I mean, those things, being able to share those on social media. I think it’s been really important for active travel advocates, and got to see I just show go, look, it’s like this over there. Look what they’ve done. And look what they’re doing in Mexico City on a Sunday. Look what they’ve done in New York in Times Square. Look what the Netherlands is like. And it’s, immediately you can look at it. And you can see you see a little video clip, you can imagine that you’re there and it’s really powerful.