Laura Laker 0:00 This podcast series is sponsored by the Dutch Cycling Embassy a public private network for sustainable bicycle inclusive mobility. T 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 you’re listening to episode eight of Vrtual Velo-city originally recorded in June from the Velo-city conference held in Dublin. I was at the show with Laura Laker and we recorded so many interviews we were still pumping out shows for our Kickstarter backers on our journey back to the UK. As you’ll hear, we recorded a bunch of intros from Holyhead rail station after arriving there following an unbelievably flat ferry crossing the Irish Sea.
I’m Carlton Reid and welcome to episode six of the Virtual velo-city podcast. And we are now recording this if you hear a few strange noises in that Holyhead rail station. So you might hear seagulls
you heard in Dublin.
They’re not the same seagulls these are like English seagulls. Welsh, even. Welsh seagulls. And it’s no longer nearly live from the show, obviously because the show finished yesterday. But this intro was recorded in in Hollywood station in Wales on Saturday 29th of June 20 19
Laura Laker 1:37
Yeah, so for this episode, I spoke to Neil Fox whose sister Donna died in a crash while she was cycling in Dublin, quiet near the Conference Centre, in 2016. And since then he’s been campaigning for safer cycling mainly to do with a safe passing distance law in Ireland, which is still campaigning for now.
Carlton Reid 2:01
And I speak with Dublin cycle campaigner Mike McMillan, who I’ve since discovered is actually a doctor. Let me say that I didn’t say that in in the interview but a medical doctor, I believe so. I mean, I just I just saw him name come from Twitter and it’s like always doctor, okay. So that’s why he’s campaigning because you want people to be healthy.
Laura Laker 2:23
I’m here with Neil Fox, who is a local campaigner for safety on the road. Now Neil has a bit of a different story to tell because you got into campaigning after a sad incident, you lost your sister to cycling on the roads in Dublin. And then you you became a campaigner as a result. Can you just tell your your story? What happened?
Neil Fox 2:51
Yeah, sure. My sister Donna was killed nearly three years ago now. Just only a few moments away from where the conference is on. So it’s I suppose it’s kind of a little bit bittersweet this week, but it’s here. And but Donna was biking to work. She would drive parts of the way and cycle the rest. So she kind of used her bike to get from A to B, more so done. She did recreational things as well. She could charge you cyclists and but in general it was more just for normal daily life. And she was experienced cyclist and she was in a cycle lane when she was killed. So I suppose since since that happens, in terms of getting involved with cycling and campaigns, and that I felt quite passionate about not discouraging people cycling in the city. Because it was a lot of negativity, there was people saying, ‘Oh, well, you know, you’re crazy to cycle in Dublin and you’re taking your life into your own hands.’ And that sort of talk. And nobody wants to be negative about my sister was in general, and it was being seen as Oh, well. women shouldn’t be on the roads on bikes. Because, yeah, yeah, well, that was the undercurrent as in, like, it’s staying for vulnerable road users anyway. But like you, you really, they meant that to try and protect other people, it would be better not to cycle that was what I had the feeling I was getting from a lot of people, even people I would know, like family or friends were kind of saying, Oh, it’s crazy to cycle, you know, it’s too dangerous. Now we you know, and so I suppose I wanted to do something that was a bit more positive. And that was saying, Well, okay, there is dangers, but we need to address them and change them. So like cycling should be, like, completely normal part of everyday getting around. And especially in the in the city, I think, because it’s a much easier way to travel. So I I spoke at a couple of a couple of rallies at a time. And I, I don’t know, I just fell into campaigning to be honest. And I suppose more recently, I’m part of the Irish Road Victims Association. So they’ve not had a cycling angle before. So it’s a new, so I’m their cycling spokesperson. So part of my This was in the last two or three years, I’ve spoken TV or radios and done interviews about, I suppose the personal impact, but also the need for change for infrastructure. And in Ireland, and we’re trying to bring in a new law and which is it’s taken forever, like, but it was to be the minimum passing distance. And what now the minister has, the suggestion is that it would be dangerous overtaken of a cyclist and legislation because Donna was over overtaken at a junction. So it would be something that I would really believe that the chances are, she probably would be alive, had that been in place because drivers in general be much more conscious of us. And so I i do think that that’s that’s very important. But I think the other the other thing that stood out for me was to – sounds ridiculous – but to humanise cyclists is very important. And by using I suppose my own kind of tragedy situation – Donna waswas very well liked. And there was a lot of very lovely things written about her in the paper at the time she died. And it was a lot of support from all sorts of people and that. And I thought, well, we can use this for good, or we can just let it be a one week story. And so that’s kind of why I kind of kind of kept kept involved and helped me kind of put on the personal level as well. But I think that the humanising end of it is people especially in Ireland because they’re just such attention given to wearing helmets and hi-vis and all the gear. And so you’re sort of a bit dehumanising that way it sounds because you become an “it” on the bike. And you’re not really seen as a person or as a cyclist or as a “bloody cyclist” or whatever. Now, I think it’s the narrative is slightly changing. But it’s, it’s sad to think that you have to humanise a cyclist, you know, it sounds kind of crazy. But when you’re actually here the conversations that go on or even the narrative in general, you understand that there is a need to do that. And I suppose by bringing the lives of fact we say it’s like, this is somebody’s brother or sister or mother or father, and it’s a worker, it’s a college student, somebody who’s unemployed, somebody who was employed like, it’s like everybody, and all ages, because children obviously cycle as well. And I suppose that, you know, we,
The human story does touch people. And I suppose that’s what I try to I try to portray is, you know, it could happen to anybody, right, they could be injured or killed. And I suppose my, like, anybody who’s lost somebody on the road, you’re quite passionate about not wanting to happen to somebody else. And when it comes to cycling, there are things that we need to do in Ireland, and that I believe, could make a difference and be at the legislation, or an infrastructure, obviously, that infrastructure in this particular area is is quite good. So comparison to other parts of the city. And but it’s, it’s like, it’s the attitudes and behaviours of drivers that needs to be targeted, as more so done saying, Oh, they have to wear hi-vis or helmets. And I’m not particularly opposed to that. But I’m just saying that unfortunately, in Ireland for the last 10 or 15 years, that has been, the minute you mention cyclists being in an accident you will be asked, ‘oh, were they not wearing their helmets’? You know, and I suppose it would have been naive even three or four years ago, and thinking about a helmet would automatically protect you from from injury, and it doesn’t like when it’s with a collision with a car. It’s not really a protection. But, erm, so Donna was wearing sorry, helmet at the time, I think that was the shocking parts. And I heard I think it was in the court, like the helmet was smashed into pieces along the road. So it just made it very, suppose it just brings it home, like the fact that this is it put forward as like the ultimate safeguards. And you know, got some very, you know, and you know, it doesn’t get publicity when that happens. Because normally if you’re if you’re after being I don’t really like using the word victim as such, because I suppose we survived the road death this was like hasn’t it’s a tragedy in our life, but like we’re still here. And but I think that you try to do do something positive out of this. I think that’s important. Yeah.
Laura Laker 9:24
And it’s interesting what you say about about humanising it and humanising people on the road. Because there is that sort of narrative. Sometimes it’s that cyclist is somehow a different group of people. And I think maybe because of the focus on safety equipment, and a lot of people do wear it, because it I think, you know, it doesn’t feel that safe sometimes in roads. But do you do you feel like your work? To to sort of put a human face to this just do you feel like people are responding to that?
Neil Fox 9:58
Yeah, I think that I think it just brings the point home because it can be very abstract and talking about infrastructure and cycling and in general, and it can seem very out there to the average citizen, or the average politician or policy maker. So I think when you actually put a face to a story, and I think that’s important that they actually, and they get a feeling for the person. You know, I know it’s unfortunate that it’s, it’s because Donna is dead, that that’s the case. But at the same time, it’s way I suppose if you try to keep somebody’s legacy alive in some way and find a way way of doing that, but I do think it has had response because like, just people remember her. And because of things I’ve done. I don’t mean me personally, but like, it’s like, I take when somebody sometimes when somebody’s death, especially because it was here, right in the city, it can strike a chord sometimes. And it’s important, you either just leave that be or you do something whether it’s I chose to do something whether it I suppose sauce. Yeah.
Laura Laker 11:06
And you talked about the sort of focus on safety equipment, which of course then puts the focus on the onus on of safety on to people cycling, and which is which is unhelpful. And so you get the chance to say, look, this, this isn’t what we need for to make safer roads, it’s not about cyclists protecting themselves, because you know, they’re not causing the danger. And is that part of the argument that you’re making?
Neil Fox 11:35
Yeah, like, you’re like, if your roads are vulnerable roads are like a cyclists or pedestrian, like you, you have much less responsibility than somebody who’s driving like a heavy vehicle, for example, or any any motorised vehicle really, and you’re not likely I know what has happened very rarely. But you’re unlikely to cause a major injury or certainly a fatality. And as somebody walking or cycling, and or if you’re driving a car, you should have responsibility. But at the same at the same time, obviously that cyclists need to you know, you need to protect yourself in terms of your own behaviour on the roads. But I think it’s very lazy to just kind of have this narrative where ‘Oh, it’s down to it’s time for the cyclist’, as you said, it’s down to the person themselves to protect themselves. And, you know, like wearing helmets, and I think it’s quite different wearing we say, if we’re driving wearing a seatbelt or in a car, and because that that’s a known thing that can actually save somebody and wearing a helmet. Today’s is not conclusive at all, even though we’re kind of we’ve always been led to believe that, you know, it is it’s the safest option. And also, I suppose, like I’m new to this, in terms of I was taught very differently. Three years ago, I would have always advocated to wear helmets, like, it’s not that I advocate not worried. And now it’s not, I suppose it’s my own experience has been that they didn’t save my sister’s life, like she died instantly. And, and I think that by saying that, it’s sometimes like a lot of mostly when people campaign after somebody dies, they’re saying, Oh, well, if only they had worn this, or if only they had done that. So I suppose it’s slightly different from my perspective, and it’s like, far, you know, what should what should be done in law, it’s not so much about the particular driver – I’m actually not angry or does nothing. Like there’s no actual animosity there or anything like that. It’s more about preventing other people from the same thing.
Laura Laker 13:44
So an element of driver education as well?
Neil Fox 13:48
Absolutely, I think so. And I don’t I don’t know exactly how much training like somebody who’s learning to drive gets in terms of …I don’t drive actually. But in terms of like, regarding cyclists on the roads, and, you know, I’ve, I’ve kind of heard not very much like, that’s what people say. And I do think that there’s, there’s a reluctance of drivers to, you know, to pay heed to cyclists in the road, because they think, ‘Oh, well, you know, they shouldn’t be on the roads.’ Yeah.
Because the road space doesn’t look like it’s designed for [cyclists] it looks like it’s designed for cars, basically.
Yeah, exactly. And there’s I suppose this a sense of entitlement as well there, you know, and we’re bigger as well, the new and but, but at the same time, like the irony of it all, is that most adults that cycle here in Dublin and the city also drive. Yeah, so it isn’t really as black and white as motorists versus cyclists. And, but, but there is that sort of, I suppose aspect put across in the in the media loss.
Yeah, yeah. So have you got? You’re working with the Road Victims Association? Is it? So what do you what do you kind of doing for them? The Irish, the Irish Road Victim’s Association.
Yeah, it was set up a few years ago by a lady who lost her son in a road death. But I suppose I’m, I’m only a part of this. I’ve been, I suppose involved with them for a while, but I’m only on the board and the last few months. And I’m their, what you call their cycling spokesperson. And I suppose that we’ve had a lot of focus in Ireland in terms of … from coming from road victims, on drink driving legislation on speed. And also at the moment on, you know, mobile phone usage – they are very important things, but there hasn’t been a huge focus from any victims organisations on cycling before, and what needs to be done. So we’re kind of I suppose it’s, it’s a new thing. And but it’s like I spoke to the Minister after recent and often he’s he he was quite a minister for transport. He was very welcoming. And he said that it’s, it’s great to actually have cycling advocacy involved in victims as well. Because it is it’s kind of new, we had a huge I, that’s the other thing, I suppose after Donna died, in September 2016. But the following year, in 2017, we had a huge increase in cycle fatalities, there was a lot of was a lot of deaths and, and so Dublin, or national know, nationally, nationally, but that’s kind of quite really kind of pushed me forward actually to get it to speak out of it because I was quite, we couldn’t figure out like, what’s the common denominator I suppose. And, and it’s hard to know what it was, I suppose my fear was, and it would remain the fact that we’ve switched increasing numbers of cyclisst, which is a good thing. But on the other side, if we don’t have if we’re not giving the proper duty of care towards them the likelihoods, like being honest, I think it’s a miracle that there aren’t more fatalities on roads, and from cycling,
Certainly cycling around Dublin at times it feels very unsafe and you’re very conscious of the large vehicles and the coaches and the buses and the lack of provision – where there are cycle lanes they’re parked in people’s like buses pulling in now and it’s I think it feels dangerous.
Yeah, yeah, it feels chaotic at best like and the problem as well as a lot of the you might be cycling along for a periods and everything is fine. And then suddenly the lane is gone. And you’re right in the middle of traffic and, and as you say, heavy vehicles. And busses like. We’re quite used to here we because we just take it as part of the norm. But just speaking to some people here over the last few days from different countries, they’re shocked at the double decker buses being so close. And because it’s even from I think when you drive you don’t you probably don’t fully understand like the winds like to you know that you can you can actually be blown nearly off your bike sometimes by certain vehicles going by and you know that like keep it not giving very much space. It’s not It’s not even that you might hit somebody, you might actually cause them to fall as well. It’s just. Yeah,
Laura Laker 18:08
Can you talk a bit about the kind of impact of the loss of your sister on your family? Obviously it’s when you lose someone suddenly such a I don’t know it’s it’s a difficult thing to kind of get across to people this road violence in a way I guess.
Neil Fox 18:25
It’s it’s difficult like to it’s difficult to put into words I suppose. Like it’s still like it’s nearly three years like but it’s still feels not real I suppose like for me like I suppose campaign work and us helps because it gives you a focus and sense to bring some sort of meaning out of us. And but the day Donna died, I I was to meet her the next day here not far from here actually, for lunch. And I text her in the afternoon and say what time, like a very short message. And like she was dead at that point, but I didn’t know and so it was a couple hours before the [police] came to me, they got to some of my family earlier. But
I just remember day
you just go out to your body. I think it’s the best way to describe it. Like it’s an outer body experience. Like you just kind of already listening to this news coming at you. And then just a shock, the shock is. I think, like…like my mum died. Couple years before Donna and my friends I but they weren’t. It wasn’t that they were. They weren’t easy. I don’t mean like that. But there was much more emotion it felt more normal in terms of my reaction to what but Donna death it felt it was so out there, it was so sudden as you said, and so violent like is like the thing people forget with most road that’s the injuries are the same as like a murder case or something like that. It’s not that it’s on purpose. But the injuries can be very similar so that ends and your mind goes everywhere, basically, I suppose. Yeah. And you don’t really I suppose for me the difference with order like others losses I’ve had, you don’t really get to miss the person because you’re in such shock over what happens. I think that was my experience for the first while it’s like it’s better now but it’s Yeah, it’s it’s strange. Like I think us like sometimes I still expected that she’d come back she’ll come back and she’ll say, Oh, that was all a bit of a joke or something like I know that’s not reality because but there is that who’s suddenness and I think that anyone who you know anyone who goes true as it changes you forever like and I think that the important thing is to try and do something with that rather than let it destroy it. Does something can destroy people. Yeah.
Laura Laker 20:49
And so your family kind of I guess I guess this is maybe helpful for them as well that you’re campaigning for. To have something come of this.
Neil Fox 21:02
I think we all are quite different, I suppose in the family like in terms of with different ways of dealing with grief and where I went that was no they do support it like I think that in the beginning my dad would have been very … wanting to make sure this never happened to somebody else. And, Leane my sister, my other sister. Leane was so close to Donna you know it’s it’s difficult but she has a little boy and he’s learned he’s learned to ride his bike recent enough. Do you know so it’s not like you can’t let us stop you’re doing normal things because it’s strange because like I was talking to somebody yesterday here about it if if Donna was killed and had had she been driving it was killed in a in a so called normal car crash. I probably if I was a driver I probably wouldn’t think twice about getting in the car again. What shall I do on the bike you have to us and which is wrong like but it it’s interesting. I suppose you feel more vulnerable, I suppose.
Laura Laker 22:02
Yeah, it is interesting. And it’s just a split second isn’t a split second decision now it’s a split second moment and I guess right I guess we have these moments and sort of near misses and all that was close and I don’t know I guess I guess the faster the roads are then the less catering for people on bikes, people on foot the more of these moments you get, and I don’t know it’s just I don’t want
Neil Fox 22:32
I suppose to one kind of positive I suppose is where Donna died, where she was killed, like that junction at the moment is under construction. And it’s been changed it’s part of a whole new system. But it’s actually it’s kind of ironic, but it’s actually the project has started off that site and it will move move further along the city bus it’s it’s good like it’s it’s kind of strange to see the site gone but I think the same time it’s good because like I suppose I campaigned a good bit to have that changed in some way. And it was very strange – the first time I walked out and saw like the scaffolding and you know building work starting on it’s like it was good, but it was really it was I don’t think I thought they would ever do this you know because but when you say about near misses, at the beginning of this year and I got involved with the local journalists here in Dublin. And she she did she could really go to a search actually on on the site because I asked people to contact me or email me with their stories of the actual place that Donna died like experiences they had good or negative, like they’re mostly negative, obviously the ones that came for it, but there was a lot of near misses. So we we kind of the junction was dangerous and in terms of you’d be turning and if you’re driving up going to the left on the cyclists would be going on straight and
Laura Laker 23:57
There was a cycle lane there going straight down in the left hand turning lane?
Neil Fox 24:01
Yes. So that’s, you know, it’s very difficult, but but I think most I think most cycling deaths in cities do happen at those type of junctions. So it’s I suppose it’s having this was a give way, you know, that the I think in some parts of Europe they have it’s less I don’t know It’s here. It’s quite aggressive like in terms of
Laura Laker 24:25
There’s ways of making jokes and so that you don’t have people cycling going straight. In London, where we have the cycle superhighways- now just called cycleways – the protected ones, you have a left hand lane for cars and the cycle lanes on the inside of that on the left side of that, but the left turning traffic’s on a red light while cycles are on green. And I think that’s quite often how you do it. But it seems like work here is is slow, I mean, you said there was the 1.5 metres passing distance was already on the cards when when your sister died? Yeah,
Neil Fox 25:01
Phil Scelson and two ministers now – they weren’t ministers at the time – and Regina Dougherty and Kieron Cannon had been campaigning and for safe passing distance and one metre to 1.5 metres when overtaken the cyclist. And now obviously after, kind of after Donna died, the significance of that was was kind of brought home to campaigners as well, like, does this really could save a life, you know, that it’s you know, and I think there at first it was initially when I would have I met some in the Department of Transport. And the year after, I’d say it was it was maybe six, eight months after Donna died around that period, there was a huge reluctance to even really take it seriously. And at that point, but then within, I’d say, within a few months, the thinking did change. And the minister to Shane Ross’s the Minister for transport here, he did, and he did eventually back. But the Attorney General refused, because he said it was unenforceable. And it’s to do with the Irish legal system. But I would have I would I be quite positive about the new model of dangerous overtaking of a cyclist being brought in. I do think like he has said he will bring it in. And it’s what it’s held.
Laura Laker 26:23
How do you get a sense of how long it’s going to take?
Neil Fox 26:25
Well, in March I was told to be the end of April. So we’re now what are we the end of June. But like it’s been like this has been in the pipeline for a few years to stage. So it’s not new, you know, it like it’s a new way of bringing it in. But it’s the same idea. Like it should be fast tracked, it should be there shouldn’t be a delay at this point. And like is this supposed I don’t know exactly. But my feeling on it is that there’s resistance from guardi from the police on, on bringing it in, or pushing it forward. And they need the government needs a lot of support for us to bring it in. Now they will in terms we the Road Safety Authority in Ireland did a really good ad campaign last year for the 1.5 metres and that that’s they’ve changed the rules of the road to include it as something that you should do.
Like the highway code. Yeah,
Similar so and so there is like direct positives as well. It’s just the progress seems so slow.
Laura Laker 27:31
And it’s the same with infrastructure. in Dublin, I wrote this article earlier this week in The Guardian, and it was the same complaints about the infrastructure it just takes seems to take so long.
Neil Fox 27:40
Yeah. And there’s like a lot of it actually comes down to the average person, though, as well, people objects, like if there’s a tiny bit of our garden going to be affected or if their view is going to be affected. So there’s a lot of doubts as well. But if there is political will behind us, it will come true. I think you need you need people who will champion something that’s relatively seen as kind of revolutionary, but like passing this and safe passing distance legislation is in some countries since 1973, some parts of the [United] States I think, and Australia and European countries. So you do have to think like, what is so difficult about bringing it in? Like, to me it doesn’t, I can’t understand this. And I and like even if I wasn’t coming from like having lost my sister, I would still find it difficult to understand why they can’t. So it’s not just from an emotional kind of viewpoints. It’s, it’s just quite rational.
Carlton Reid 28:35
I’m outside the conference hall with Mike McKillen of Cyclists.ie. And Mike, we were having lunch, then grabbing a quick coffee as you do in these conferences, and you meet interesting people, including yourself, Mike. And we were having a conversation there about the trucks and buses. And I think an enormous amount of delegates here, wonderful city that Dublin is, have been quite shocked at the amount of motor traffic that is allowed to be right next to valuable people, including the very important delegates at this this conference. But clearly you live here year round, and you’re going to suffer this year round. So, tell me, why there is so much motor-vehicle traffic coming through the streets of Dublin?
Mike McKillen 29:21
Well, Carlton, this country is a highly automobile-dominated country, you only have to listen to our national broadcaster, RT. In the morning, the radio is saturated with adverts for all the car marques. And secondly, we don’t have an extensive public transport system. Like we don’t have an underground, we don’t have the Metro. So people have to rely on buses and coaches and private cars. So that’s why you see this massive congestion because a lot of people don’t have alternatives. And with our housing policy, people are actually scattered in their homes, maybe 80, 100, 120 kilometres away from where they work. And they may not have a train service or bus service, so they drive.
Carlton Reid 30:09
But there’s also a lot of coaches and and big trucks. Now I thought the port tunnel was meant to take the trucks off the road. Yet we’re risking life and limb by crossing over the roads here. So where are the tracks coming from, where are the buses coming from?
Mike McKillen 30:24
Well, the truck issue is very easy. Although there is a five axle and above ban on HGVs entering Dublin City, other than under permit, they just simply apply for a permit from the city, they pay a fee. And they might have to describe their trip origin and their trip destination, but no routing is given to them. So that’s why you see a lot of them along the keys, because they’ve come in maybe from the one under the tunnel, but want to deliver to Guinness. Guinness is a major trip generator by semi-trailers. And then we just look over your shoulder, you’ll see a Guinness tanker truck out there. But they do it.
Carlton Reid 31:07
Thank you for spotting that,
Mike McKillen 31:08
us to keep it all topped up.
And then you see there’s a lot of construction, you only have to look out there to see the cranes that are on the skyline. And, you know, we need bulk carriers for all of that construction activity. So they can come in with permit.
Carlton Reid 31:23
So many of the objections when people say, well, you can’t have cargo bikes delivering this and you can’t have bikes, you’re saying, Well, yeah, we’ve got so much construction, which is a good thing because the city is expanding and and doing well. So what is the solution? How do you see as a campaigner? Or what what what is your aim? Do you have any chance of competing against the economic success that they would see that congestion is actually an indicator of?
Mike McKillen 31:53
Well, the same congestion actually comes with an economic cost. And our economic and research institute has shown what cost of congestion in Dublin is one of the most congested cities in Europe. Drivers are wasting hours, travelling into the city by commuting by private car because they have no other choice. So what do campaigners say? Well, you know, in the early decades, we would have said, we’re vehicular cyclists. And we can mix it with all of this stuff, because we’re brave guys, and mostly guys and very few women. And to this day, it’s 75% males and 25%, female of cycling into Dublin on the morning commute. But we’ve changed our view now it has to be segregated cycling infrastructure. Paint. Ain’t. Enough.
Carlton Reid 32:40
So anybody who says – and I’ve heard this a few times from Dublin City Council folks as well – we haven’t really got the space. And then you look outside. And these are all the roads I’ve seen so far in in Dublin because I’ve only come from Temple Bar through to through to hear the all four lane highways, the pavements, the sidewalks are so quite wide. There’s actually an enormous amount of space here.
Mike McKillen 33:04
Yes, but you see, the the allocation of space is always a political decision. And our local government is councillors, just like in the UK. And most of them are drivers, there are very few cycling councillors, but we’ve just had local elections last month. And I’m delighted to say we now have a lot of not just Green Party, but other parties that have cycling councillors, and they have just agreed a new inter-party framework for Dublin City and transportation. So I think we’ll start to see change.
Carlton Reid 33:41
So Mike, you’re you’re,
Unknown Speaker 33:42
you’re optimistic, you think that the future might be different for Dublin?
Mike McKillen 33:46
Well, it’s different, it will be different simply because congestion is killing the city. And although the city looks dangerous cyclists, actually were remarkably few cyclists get killed on Dublin’s streets. Now, one or two too many. But the system works up to a point. But it’s not for the faint hearted. And if we want to grow the the active travel component, we gotta go for segregation.
Carlton Reid 34:15
I’ve been surprised considering the feral conditions you have got here. I’ve been surprised by the amount of cyclists and they’re not just the strong and the brave. Lots of people out there on bikes clearly. Despite the fact there’s no infrastructure, still getting out on bikes, but the potential there is for for many more, if some brave political decisions were taken, is that right?
Mike McKillen 34:41
Indeed, and I’ll take the example of my wife, she works in the financial services centre, just across the Liffey here, in Grand Canal square. She cycled to work for one year. And then last the end of last summer, she said she would not go back to doing it again. Because the drivers have become quite aggressive. When you get congestion, you raise the aggression level in everyone, cyclists as well as drivers. So we got to get the segregation to lower the aggro level.
Carlton Reid 35:14
Are there any plans, even just being tentative plans, for Dublin to have, for instance, congestion charging, because that seems to be something that I this coming on this walking here this morning, every single car I saw and I came to about 30 was one person one car that clearly is unsustainable, despite the fact you said they might be coming from a long way away. So, congestion charging, is that even on the radar here?
Mike McKillen 35:40
It’s not. It’s talked about occasionally. But there is nothing in any Climate Action Plan to introduce congestion charging in Dublin City or any other city. But it will be forced or Europe will force it on us anyway. Because of climate action, and our transport emissions are just way too high. per capita, we emit more greenhouse gas per person than any of the other European countries. And that’s because our transportation component is so high. So congestion charging with our road pricing as one of our previous prime ministers are fair to I think that’s a better term for it. But you know, you’re up against motordom – drivers feel entitled to road space because they paid what they call road tax, but it’s actually motor tax based on their permission levels from their engines. So they feel a sense of ownership in the road and nobody else should own the road if they’re not paying that “road tax.”
Carlton Reid 36:38
So what is the solution from the councillors’
point of view, from officialdom point of view? What
are they saying they’re going to do to reduce congestion?
Mike McKillen 36:45
I have not heard anything promulgated yet.
Carlton Reid 36:51
Okay, so it’s a solution, waiting for even the questions to be asked.
Mike McKillen 36:57
Well, with our new councillors,
I think the pressure will come on, the officials will respond and a policy will evolve.
Laura Laker 0:00
This podcast series is sponsored by the Dutch Cycling Embassy a public private network for sustainable bicycle inclusive mobiluty. 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 you’re listening to episode seven of the Virtual Velo-city podcast written recorded in June from the Velo-city conference held in Dublin. I was at the show with Laura Laker. And here we are with our intro for the show that initially went out only to our Kickstarter backers, but is now available to you for free, thanks to support from the Dutch Cycling Embassy.
Laura Laker 0:53
Hi, I’m Laura Laker. And on this show, I spent some time with Chris Boardman. We talked about whether this link between sport and everyday cycling.
Carlton Reid 1:01
And from one inspirational guru to another. I spoke with Councillor Clyde Loakes. He’s got such a positive outlook on life he wants to change people’s lives for the better. All politicians say that of course. But the transformation of his neck of the woods into a people friendly borough –. got to love the corporate slogan of “Enjoy Waltham Forest” is making it a reality. Bicycles as the narrative? Nope, birdsong. We’re hear again from Maud de Vries of BYCS. And she was in the conversation with Amsterdam’s cycling programme manager, David Gelauff.
I had to give Laura that. Laura does all the pronunciations that David Girl-off as far as I’m concerned.
Laura Laker 1:50
David, hello. I think that’s right. I mean, if I’ve got it wrong, that poor Dave is going to be loud.
Carlton Reid 1:58
try David. I don’t know David.
Laura Laker 2:00
And that’s also confusing. Oh, yeah, saying, I don’t know. I can’t remember if I remember his pronunciation of his first name, because I think from the recording it was. I remember that lead. And then I had been calling David. I think he takes both. Yeah, I called him David. I’m sure he’d come up with something. We got away with it. Yeah, but Debbie.
Okay, hello. Yeah, hello, from it’s actually
the Dutch do two G’s. Yeah. It’s a very easy language. Yeah. Okay. Yeah, naughty Dutch people. Yeah, so using us multi lingual, not rich. mano Ling do speak up speak a bit German. But
yeah, yeah, but he had sweltering here in Dublin, sweltering hot, 44.5,
Unknown Speaker 2:54
whatever, in France hottest ever, and there’s no real linkage between inside parts of the mass media. It’s just always lovely hot weather, because that’s climate change. Come on, how much more evidence do we need? We need? Like,
Laura Laker 3:08
it’s like, in fact,
Carlton Reid 3:09
that’s that’s a good link, even though I didn’t know that was a link in that. We talked about this in the cloud looks interview. I’m sure you talked about it in in the Chris Boardman interview. There is a plethora of evidence. We don’t need more evidence on cycling, no. Ditto for climate change. The evidence is there. What we’re missing is the narrative the storey the evidence is just incontrovertible. It’s how do you get message of cycling and climate change out to people who don’t want to be part of that story? Yeah, for whatever reason? Yeah, that’s, that’s one of the key things that I’ve picked up from here is we’ve got to have a stronger narrative.
Laura Laker 3:50
I think sometimes people know, it’s like, what Rachel [Aldred] was saying the other day, people kind of know that cars, for example, cause congestion and pollution. And
But they don’t necessarily relate that to a need to restrict car traffic. And I think it’s the same problem with climate change. People largely believe that it’s real. And but then are either too afraid to do anything about it, they don’t want to. They don’t want to have their lives kind of impacted. Oh, they see it, they change anything that their lives are going to be negatively impacted. Of course, we’d have much time to change.
Carlton Reid 4:25
So we do the same for cycling if we don’t get people cycling in the next 10 years. Yes, that’s it for the planet. Yeah, well, yeah. Gotta get people on bikes. Cycling is a part of it. It’s like some other bicycle man from Bank Bengaluru, was saying that, you know, Cycling is a small part of it, but it is a part. And
Unknown Speaker 4:44
yeah, absolutely. That’s how I our nice, yeah.
Carlton Reid 4:47
Or niche. Oh, nice. So our American backers. Yeah. We haven’t been in America and you’ve got to write. You gotta go. You gotta get the link. I’m multilingual. I can speak American. Yes.
color. Know you. I can speak American. Okay, so let’s get into today’s show.
Laura Laker 5:07
Chris Boardman has been talking about the switch from or the link between sport and everyday cycling.
Unknown Speaker 5:15
Those of you listening?
Laura Laker 5:19
What were you talking about?
Chris Boardman 5:21
Yeah. which some people would say there is no link? Why we conflating school and commuter cycling? What do you say? As a very good question, because I like stats and numbers and data.
At the moment, they’re not linked. They’re not linked unless you make them. So we know that we’ve had unprecedented success of the last 10 years in sports or cycling. In the UK, we have static 1.7% of people using a bike for utility reasons. So we haven’t made that link. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t. So I mentioned during that session that in the Tour de France in 2013
15 minutes in exact, and we had the opportunity to put everyday cycling normal clothes normal things in front of a huge audience primetime for four minutes, and paint a picture where people went, well, that’s really nice. I’d like to live in a place like that.
And so that’s the kind of opportunity it gives us. And on the experience from people to sporty and wide, London, 35,000, people now can go and ride the same course of the Pro, so you sort of bridging the gap to sport. And then the day before, families go and ride around a small circuit, eight kilometres or 50,000 of them. So it can be used, but you’ve got to work at it.
Laura Laker 6:37
Yeah. So it’s about creating a platform using sports
Chris Boardman 6:40
spectacle easy to use, but they’re not linked unless you want to make them it’s not, they’re not natural links, just because you use a bicycle. That’s a sporting event, and a spectacle. And that’s a way to get to work. And they might use the same device. And there is overlap. But they’re not the same thing. And nor do they need to be.
Laura Laker 6:56
Yeah. And I was wondering, well, you mentioned tourism following the Tour de Yorkshire and the enormous boom that they’ve had in cycling there. And I guess one thing I was speaking to people about recently for an article was the fact that then the tourists who are attracted to the road local roads then have to deal with the road conditions, which include driver behaviour. And so potentially, then there’s an impetus for local authorities to start dealing with something that’s potentially holding tourism back.
Chris Boardman 7:24
Yeah, pressure, an incentive to change comes in different guises. So you mentioned what it did for the region. So 98 million pound boost to the local economy. So it takes an awful lot of people’s boxes. And then when you get conflict, because there’s more cyclists on the road, then there’s pressure to change how you’re using the road. So it gives you that the sport can act as a catalyst to make all of these things happen to bring them together and a reason to change. But you have got to work at it.
Laura Laker 7:53
Yeah. And then you’ve got these wonderful ambassadors for everyday walking in cycling now, thanks to British cycling, and and they’re now being deployed across cities and regions. They got named Sarah storey, and you’ve got yourself you’ve got Shanaze Reader, and and and they have a platform already that they can then use for everyday cycling.
Chris Boardman 8:14
Yeah, I think one thing I didn’t say during the top just now is the the Banshee of your life, the Olympic gold medals and stuff. It gets your foot in the door, because you’re a novelty, and it’s a bit unusual. And so people will stop and listen. But then it depends what you’ve got to say. So it could fall flat very quickly, if not us well. So you mentioned Dame Sarah storey, she took the time to understand the topic focused in as a parent and said, those are the things that I think are important. Also, the disability groups, which has a lot of empathy with this, right, they need a lot of these people need more time to cross the road. So I’m going to make that focus. And it needs to be more than just an ambassador in the way that we now think of it, which is basically means you turn up and smile. And it needs to go the next bit I think so well, those people are well capable of doing that.
Laura Laker 9:02
Yeah. And the other thing you’re going to be talking about here at velocity is collaboration
Chris Boardman 9:08
is a word.
Laura Laker 9:14
I am quite interested in collaboration. I’ve been talking to people here. And sometimes it seems like the most interesting ideas, new ideas come from collaboration, you know that from your sporting career and the secret squirrel club, and working with people from the car industry, the racing industry. And I’m wondering, what, where you think the exciting areas of collaboration are for everyday cycling?
Chris Boardman 9:35
I think for me, I mean, the example that I was intended to use tomorrow really is a collaboration at scale. And it’s it’s a badly abused phrase. And there’s quite a few words that capture stuff, but don’t commit you to anything, can we get brought into political speak? Yes, we’re going to collaborate on this. It doesn’t actually mean anything. Well, for me, it meant on a large scale, we went to a district with a blank piece paper and says, tell us where you can’t do this. Tell us where you would want to do it, where we need to get you across that. And we let them we gave them the pen. They held the pen, and they have the answers. We just asked the questions. And that for me was collaboration, because we had people who decided they wanted to go with us. And I think it has to be collaborative. And it’s true sense for it to work is what we’re talking about here is culture change. And you can’t make people change how they feel and think you just have a huge fight on your hands. So it’s got to be their choice. And choice means the choice to do nothing. But I am going to make you aware of the consequences. And I’m not going to support you to do it badly. But if let’s explore change, and if you want to do it, let’s go. And when you put the power in people’s hands, they want to do it. And as far as collaboration fair is how you do it. Well. I spent three months exploring which is how I bumped into Brian Deegan, our engineer who’ve been been burned had all these battles. Lots of great ideas on that guy. Kirsty McCaskill backs are our press person great to tell him the storey very courageous about how to get it out there quickly or have that person. So I think if you spend time listening first, funnily enough, you bump into people that are useful to get a job done. And that’s been the way I’ve worked for 20 years now. And it makes it more fun as well.
Laura Laker 11:24
Yeah, what do you say the best kind of collaboration is, I guess, in terms of building infrastructure? Yeah,
Chris Boardman 11:30
be a big BIT bit huge. I mean, what of what I’ve just mentioned about building a network, I mean, that is 10 City, or 10 boroughs of a region, millions of people involved. And we got them to design a network without touching a pen. But ultimately, it starts by listening, because people only everybody likes to be heard, which is a common, and you start by listening and listening doesn’t mean wait to speak. It means putting your own brain into neutral, and asking questions to understand. Rather than push your own view, then it’s amazing what you discover. And I think taking the time and investing the time to do that is critical. Be honest team of five or across an entire city region. First understand, take the time to understand.
Laura Laker 12:16
Interesting and use handed an award for Leadership Awards. Yeah, thanks. Bring that on the I mean, I think people probably realised who they were, who they’re talking about when they said you spend most your life in a bike
Unknown Speaker 12:28
and yellow jersey.
Chris Boardman 12:36
slightly embarrassed. Being that I was sitting on a panel with people, you know, 50% of people ride bikes, and only 60% of kids go to school, and they were like, 1.7%. So our bar couldn’t be any lower. Really, and pretty much any regard. So
Laura Laker 12:53
you said almost anything you do.
Chris Boardman 12:55
I can’t make it worse. You know, it’s the best I’d say got a job. Well, it’s absolutely rocked by to begin to take on a new company to share prices at all time low. You can only you can only help.
Laura Laker 13:06
Yeah, so you’re not going to be using this as a as a ramp for your wheelbarrow in your in your shed.
Chris Boardman 13:11
That’s a bit of an in joke that you have to explain that.
Laura Laker 13:14
I went as a Christmas Christmas performance centre last week. And he’s got a piece of the track from from
Chris Boardman 13:23
Yeah, when I broke the world record the space of the track and I used to keep it in the garbage and use it to get the wheelbarrow and use it as a ramp to get the wheelbarrow into the house. Yeah, no, no, I don’t think I do. That’s mostly because made of glass. Glass. Yeah, I wouldn’t handle it. All right, well, lovely. Thanks so much for talking Chris.
Maud de Vries 13:38
My name is Maud de Vries. I’m the co founder of BYCS social enterprise.
My name is David Gelauff and I’m the head of the Amsterdam bike programme.
Carlton Reid 13:46
Okay, Maud, I’m going to come straight to you first because I missed your presentation. I do apologise, I my timings are all wrong. But you have this this bike index that you’re launching today. So tell me a bit more about that.
Maud de Vries 14:00
Actually, it’s a soft launch of an idea that we had a year ago. And we talked about it with the city of Amsterdam, we think of ranking cities is not the way forward because we think what cities need now is that they need to be challenged, you know, we need to face, we need to show the challenges that all the cities have. And maybe if by comparing that, oh, sorry, maybe by doing that we can make better city. So Amsterdam believes believed in that very much, and we ourselves did as well. So we,
my colleague, spend a year on actually getting this done. And together with a big consultancy firm now, we will be developing the impact index into an index for every city around the world to sort of help them create new insights around cycling so that they that they can grow as a cycling city.
Carlton Reid 14:50
So you’re doing an index similar or different to their Copenhagen eyes indexing because there is one already so so what why to YN number
Maud de Vries 15:01
two else, you know, it’s not about who’s the best. So leadership to us is more about sharing. And we think by sharing, we can all become this human centric city. And we believe in if we want to become that and our mission is 50 by 30 half of our trips by bike around the world by 2030. If we want to do that, then we should stop doing that and we should start looking at what are your challenges and whether or just recently just because maybe we’re working on the same subjects and maybe we can then foster learn from each other
Carlton Reid 15:38
Coming across to you will just walk across the road there from the bikes booth. Yeah, that was by the river there opposite the conference. And we It was a sewer of traffic. Yeah, that we’ve had to walk across that. And it’s not Amsterdam. So what you’re doing in the index is trying to get places Dublin to be ranked against places like Amsterdam, is that is that correct?
David Gelauff 16:07
No, I don’t think that’s correct. I think what the beauty of this is, is that it indexes against the the opportunities of the possibilities to give bikes a place in your city, not so much as it indexes cities compared to each other. So it doesn’t say Dublin is better than Amsterdam. And it simply says, If you want bikes to play a role in your in your city, this is what your main challenges are and this is what your main opportunities are. And so even for Amsterdam, it’s very interesting to be indexed because we still can see more about what what are our chances and opportunities to even get a get more of a bicycle city and it’s already Yes.
Carlton Reid 16:45
It is the index include or do you think about scooters, scooters and pedestrians? And so not just a bicycle city but a people friendly city?
David Gelauff 17:01
Yes, I think that also is about that because it also says a lot about how do you go about with all the different elements that use your public space in your in your city and it’s also something we have to have to worry a lot about in the city so so this there’s so much going on and and public spaces very, very limited. So So how to how to use it. And of course in Amsterdam itself, the idea is that pedestrians are one and after that the cyclists come we have a slightly different approach towards a scooter scooter is because because they they are a different way of motorised, sometimes motorised traffic as well. But still, this is more about bikes and if you if you next to that, like them to them also have a policy of reducing card use, you will also have more room more space for pedestrians for prototypes of presentations, so so basically get
Carlton Reid 18:02
get rid of the cars and then the problems with that. Yeah, the other users getting problems in each other evaporates.
David Gelauff 18:10
Well, if I produce, I think that that’s definitely part of the solution. And that they’re still you will always need always need for at least for the for the next coming decades, places for for cars for different kinds of views. But you can use a lot less than then you already do. And I think we’ve seen that in Amsterdam, because only for the last 25 years, there’s been a reduction of 25 to 30% of car use in the city already. And now we have a new city government that aims to reduce it even even much further and much quicker than I already did. So. So yes, that’s a part of the solution.
Carlton Reid 18:43
autonomous vehicles autonomous cars, is that something you’re looking at for the future? Is that a good thing or bad thing? Could it ever work in a city with so many cyclists?
David Gelauff 18:54
But that’s my personal opinion. So and I’m not the expert on autonomous vehicle. So in a city, I’m also not a politician. So I’m not sure what
Carlton Reid 19:02
the policy is, you can speak the truth?
David Gelauff 19:04
Yeah, definitely. So I don’t think it will work very well, in Amsterdam. I think we saw somebody at the plenary start of the programme, somebody said, as long as you need to attach sensors, to bicyclists to pedestrians, so the cars won’t hit them. They’re not going to be part of the solution. Only if the car again can censor everything perfectly, it will. But even then, autonomous car is still as big as a cars and cars us up about 50% of public space, also in a city like Amsterdam. And that’s that’s simply too much when the way the cities are getting crowded at the moment. So you need to do something about that. Yeah.
Carlton Reid 19:47
And that whereas this index, there’s a website, here, it’s published somewhere where where can people who are listening to this actually get a hold of this?
Maud de Vries 19:57
We are publishing it on the on the byccs.org website. But also, I was just talking to David that it might be nice to publish it with the city of Amsterdam as well, at least to see the results for the city of Amsterdam. So we’re going to be doing that as well.
Carlton Reid 20:14
And going forward. What What were your What are your plans? What are your hopes for the index?
Maud de Vries 20:19
Yeah, my hopes are like we have a we just announced the 15th bicycle Mayor globally. And we as the growth of the bicycle network will will rapidly expand. We hope like we can invite a lot of cities to do an in an impact the next to sort of start seeing you know where the challenges are, at this moment, and to also see a know where we can where we can share knowledge, I think Amsterdam can learn from cities that face similar challenges and the other way around, you know, so I hope that then that was speed up the idea of creating the human centric cities.
Carlton Reid 21:00
What day is it? Clyde? Is it fourth day? fellow city? It’s the Friday. It’s Friday. It’s the fourth date morning starting today. Yeah. So it’s the fourth day of
Velo-city after you remember because we’re all at the base of the pub last night and again is so I’ve got Clyde loads here with me sitting in the reception area of velocity. So you might hear a few people putting their bags in, which is new that they’ve taken my space where I’ve been interviewing people and made it into a colloquium anyway. So Clyde, your wall from Mr. Walthamstow. And my first question to you is one observation really, and that is people often say people like me often say people like Chris Boardman and other people say that what we need to get cycling and walking in this country taking seriously is for politicians to take it
and to be brave. Now, I don’t want to make you blush too much. But I would say you’re one of the politicians I’d hold up and say, Well, you’ve been brave. Are you now pleased that you made all of those decisions back back when and and then coming to conferences like this and being lauded as somebody who was brave.
Clyde Loakes 22:24
Couple of things first, so I am blushing. Carlton. So thank you for that. And I like to think of yourself more as a wolf from forest and just move them so. Welcome. So 17 important part one for us, but 11 HNE for all really important parts to
Yeah, so being brave politicians. Politicians have clearly got to take some ownership of delivering this because it is a policy driven initiative. This is about prioritising funding and resources to deliver and that’s only going to come when politicians actually Wake up and smell the coffee and realise that’s the
status quo, trying to manage the chaos that we’ve created on our streets in in potential areas can’t continue.
And you need someone to step up, provide that kind of leadership. I’d like to think of that I’ve provided some leadership in one voice. But I can also point to a number of other people in London, and increasingly across the country that are kind of, you know, have woken up, smell the coffee and feel that they need to do something and do something pace. You know, one of the biggest lessons that I’ve learned is you can’t just do stuff in a piecemeal way. Taking decades, you can’t just write a master plan. And then you know, spend years writing that master plan early for nothing from that master plan to ever happen. You’ve got to you’ve got to, you’ve got to push really hard and you’ve got to do it at pace. And sometimes that is a really uncomfortable place for politicians to be because they like to test waters, they like to go Softly, softly and trying to keep as many people on board as possible for as long as
But sometimes, you know, when you’ve got all the evidence, saying you’re doing the right things for the right reasons, you know, you just got to go out there. You don’t win hearts and minds, you know, and occasionally you aren’t, you know, you aren’t going to convince people that that should not stop you doing what you fundamentally know is the right thing to do, because all the evidence is there to say you are doing the right thing. So I was speaking to salvia Brice as friends last night at the Guinness Storehouse after a few Guinness’s. And he told me a few more things about himself that I that I knew about him, which is great about the social events, but one of the things he said i thought was resonant and roughly what you’ve just said there, in fact, is that the storey the narrative is really important because we know the evidence, the evidence is rock solid. We know all that. And it almost comes down to Brexit as well. We know that these things are wrong, but then the stronger narrative has worn out. So then develop the
bust one out. And in, in kind of psychological terms. motoring always always wins out even though we know that if a public health reasons for congestion reasons for
equality reasons, it’s the story. So
Carlton Reid 25:18
did you have a story that was able to convince people and how did you tell that storey? Well, I I think it’s more than just the evidence. Now I think you’ve got the examples on the ground. And that’s kind of I guess one of the good things about overprice now, and the move from stone in late and in particular, actually, the schemes are on the ground. So many people are coming to visit and see what we do. And once you can see, feel it actually it deals with some of that kind of Brexit scenario stuff where it’s not just the evidence, it’s not just experts saying it’s the right thing to do. Actually, ordinary people were living in it, can see it can hear the birds singing
Clyde Loakes 26:00
You know, one of the constant themes we get from residents around some in in some of our schemes that we’ve delivered over the past couple of years is we can hear the birds singing, we can see children out in the streets again, neighbours talking to each other kind of community cohesion, you know, a byproduct Yes, of putting in cycling and walking infrastructure, but a fantastic byproduct, all the same community cohesion. Wow, that was never in anyone’s original narrative or script. But yeah, when you can see it, feel it live it, actually, then you really start to kick into touch those people who say, now we don’t want this, you know, the car has to win every time. Correct me if I’m wrong. But what happens though, and what the forest and Leytonstone I’m relatively low car ownership areas anyway, so potentially a lot of the local people who you you’ve done this for and who are benefiting from this, previously didn’t have that much of a voice because the car lobby
Carlton Reid 26:59
voice tends to be quite strong. So you’re giving them something that is, as you’ve said that with the birdsong.
Unknown Speaker 27:09
And a lot of the people who were benefiting from the access to, to these areas in their car, were actually just cutting through. And so the offered road, the street that you put in has been something that that was just a rat run. And the people who are complaining about all this weren’t done, but actually living there. It was that would that be fair?
Unknown Speaker 27:32
Now think a good portion of the people that were complaining didn’t live there, but they probably lived in the borough. And there were using other people’s residential areas to that one through.
Clyde Loakes 27:41
I think that’s a fair assessment. But yeah, there was you know, there was still quite a significant car ownership enabled by so you know, I guess by the time it gets on next census, we may be just nudging around about 50% of households being car free, not owning a car and, you know, there’s a number of different reasons for that, you know, you
Addie expensive to own a car in London anyway, with the insurance and everything else.
You’ve got so many different alternatives, you know, whether it’s public transport, and it is always so close. And then you got the emergence of, you know, car clubs, you know, decently located car hubs for that one journey, maybe a week, maybe a month, that you require a car, maybe it’s because you need to go to IK or, you know, you need to go see the parents in law, you know, to the models of motor oil, something, and that’s your choice when you got family and everything that comes with it. So, you know, different, different pressures that come into bear, but kind of taking out the ease by which people can kind of get out, get out and about by car has been, you know, a really, really important product of what we’ve done in moving fries. And it has seen more people just reclaiming the streets in a in a way that we you know, we constantly see on the continent.
But it’s again, it comes back to is you know, seeing living in
that deals with some of the harshest critics of what we do. Because it’s suddenly becomes, you know, this is a pleasant place to live. Why wouldn’t you want this? Why wouldn’t you want to be talking to your neighbours that you’ve never talked to before? Why wouldn’t you want to get together with some of your neighbours and pants up some planters in in the road? Why wouldn’t you want them to take a little bit of ownership of some of the new street trees that have been planted during some of our harsh summers and put a bit water down for you know, all of those things are starting to come together in a way that you know, previously, they were random, but now there’s a consistency now. All these little byproducts just making our streets so much healthier, and better. Who everyone? Give me a positive history of up until, you know that famous day when the Dutch Ambassador on his first or second day on the job came there was the the coffin protests, the potters history up to that point and then
Carlton Reid 30:01
up until the present day, so basically, how did this all happen?
Clyde Loakes 30:06
So the then Mayor of London whose name I shall not mention, the only thing that I would ever and have ever agreed with him on decided to invest a big pot of cash into our to London rather than in London to try and secure some significant behaviour change, you know, getting rid of some of those short base car journeys and getting more people primarily cycling that was his, you know, a became a power that actually we needed to shift it to, you know, active travel walking on cycling. And he gave one first 27 million pounds and a three year time
table to deliver all the word put into a very large bid and that bid included introducing, you know, low traffic neighbourhoods, you know, because you know about running some quite significant infrastructure range of complimentary measures around cycle parking cycle training and
so we hit the ground running. And the Dutch ambassador, you know, within a year was kind of overseeing the opening of our first scheming, offered Rodin’s will from Stowe. And I think he came along with his true waffles. And he’s kind of branding It was his first day was firstly office. I think it was just going to be you know, why wouldn’t you want all this can be great fun day. And of course, it turned into, you know,
to two opposing sides in quite a tight, tense kind of street. Well, basically, I guess, maxing out on the fact that we closed off with road but enabled a big street route to happen between those supporters of what we were doing and those opposed to what we’re doing. And, you know, in the UK, we love a problem. We have a demonstration and we had a coffin and kind of symbolise apparently the death
of a road which is a small shopping parade. In fact,
We’ve seen is totally the opposite was in transformation. And what we actually get now is people from other bloggers visit often vote at the weekend in the evenings to spend their hard earned cash. It is a visitor destination was before you know, it was a bit of a place that local people know about but certainly wasn’t on podcast outside of the borough. And we’ve seen that since with the fastest road in Layton similar, in fact, probably slightly bigger and better scheme overall. But from that day, we you know, we could have sat there and decided to abandon all hope, but I went out and I talked to the protesters and you know, you know, put my arguments across because you can’t allow them to fill the vacuum with their views you’ve got to take them on. And one thing I have learned to all the consultations engagements and all the schemes that were done in many hot for many volunteer involvement vice is you know, even even the
That consultation allows the issue to be raised. You know, it allows more people to hear about the rights and wrongs of what we’ve allowed to happen for decades on our streets, you know, he exposes more people to those arguments and that evidence, so you start to start to win more hearts and minds as a consequence of just that, that place that big rounds that we’ve created in some quarters. So we continued, we had our judicial review, of course, against that scheme. You know, that was quite an intense time. But thankfully, we, the council weren’t on all counts, you know, and the judge was particularly scathing of those people that have bought the case against the council, you know, suggesting it was, you know, significant waste of time, effort and resources to do so. Because, you know, our case was so watertight and it was very complimentary about the council. We then moved on to deliver some of our other schemes, and largely every single game that we’ve engaged consulted in for more console
Taishan slightly designs, business workshops have been now delivered. You know, we’ve lost a bit of one along the way. But I’m pleased to say that we’re going to start re engaging with that group again, just before summer recess the next couple of weeks, because they’ve seen what’s going on everywhere else now, I think how stupid Worley, you know, this is what we need. So that’s really, really good. They’ve come around to think it is worth coming back to. And one of our slightly bigger schemes, Mark house village, we, you know, we’re just kind of finding ways to kind of deliver some of the of the better aspects of that scheme. You know, I couldn’t get presidents on board. Every single we have inch introduced has been with presidents consent and support. And that’s because we’ve been out there winning hearts and minds, winning the arguments using the evidence and increasingly using the examples of the schemes that we’ve built to convince people it’s a right thing to do for the right reasons.
Carlton Reid 34:57
Do in retrospect, you regret
Unknown Speaker 35:00
or thinking wasn’t the right idea to use the go Dutch type branding, so that the mini Holland, where you then have lots of people say we will not hold on one and no, we’re not the Netherlands in. Whereas if you use maybe different phraseology, that argument wouldn’t have ever been raised.
Maud de Vries 35:19
I mean, we were given that
Unknown Speaker 35:20
that branding that term by the then man whose name I cannot mention,
Unknown Speaker 35:26
Clyde Loakes 35:28
And so that’s kind of what we initially had to run to run with. But it did become apparent that that original kind of focus just on cycling, wasn’t going to win the amount of hearts and minds that we needed to win. And actually, for us moving forward, it was more about demonstrating the cyclists and pedestrians have more in common than divides them. And it’s been one of these kind of great, powerful myths of the Carla, I think, over many, many years, that it’s kind of
portrayed cyclists as the enemy to pedestrians, not actually in the motor vehicle, despite their evidence, you know, the thousands of injuries, thousands of deaths every year as a consequence of motor car interactions with pedestrians, and, you know, cyclists that were evil, why are you spending all this money on cyclists, you know, they kill us, they mow us down, you know, and of course, the evidence isn’t there to substantiate that. So then to switch to the enjoy brand, which is now what we use and kind of really kind of pushing it as an active travel agenda without losing the significance around the importance of putting in cycling infrastructure to to enable and more people to cycle safely around your voice, I think I think was, you know, a eureka moment really. But that came after, you know, some pretty intense debates and arguments, but it was the right thing to do to move it on. And I think the success of us games as a consequence of that did
Carlton Reid 37:00
have a road to Damascus moment or cycle path to Damascus moment where you were converted to this? Or were you in this this whole ethos of in the cycling the walking that changing your, your, your area for the better? Or was it something that you’ve always been wanting to do long term? So what was the what was the impetus originally? I mean, you
Unknown Speaker 37:29
know, yeah, so personally, I’ve always been a bike rider.
Clyde Loakes 37:33
So when I first moved to London, my job embarking I was living in Leytonstone. First thing I didn’t want a new job was, you know, Bike to Work ski.
bike, my Scott’s purgatory, who was recently stolen after 22 years, I’m still engraving.
So I’ve always been a keen kind of not
cyclists but you know you just using a bike from my day to day needs what a shopping, going out whatever go to work commuting to work just a general thing
when I got elected as a as a counsellor 21 years ago
it’s you know, I councillors tend to kind of move into various subject headings you know either housing from housing geeks, children social care, gigs education gigs, I became a kind of active travel travel geek that was my kind of gig really. So
yeah, and invention lab cam, cabinet member and then leader and Deputy Leader, so on and so forth. But I’ve always kind of kept that interest on the environments and
voting for Yeah, they’ve known all along now. He knows there’s a Yeah, there’s a portfolio of pictures of me on bikes.
Let’s go back a long, long time. And I think the
the kind of point out
kind of really wanted to make was, I spent years trying to deliver consulting on trying to deliver traffic management schemes, traditional traffic management schemes, that by the time that consultation came back, it was so minimal, it would deliver nothing, we’re bored, what it did was kept everyone
happy, who was still using the road space. So basically kept car drivers happy, but did nothing for pedestrians did nothing for people who were riding bikes and who wanted to ride bikes and who we needed to encourage to ride bikes. And so you know, that kind of, you know, loads of money over many years invested in doing nothing when it came to modal shift, whatsoever. And I think that’s the one thing that kind of really, you know, made me you know, push our team back and forth is hard to you know, put a good quality bit into the mini Holland. funding was, you know, we, you know, we had attempted loads of stuff. We tried all the Trident
tested wise, but it don’t work. And it needed something big, bold, innovative, and fast. And that’s what you know, the person who I cannot mention,
Unknown Speaker 40:13
allowed us to do. So
Carlton Reid 40:15
my first question to you was about having to be a brave politician. And that’s what we need. My last question to you is, have you had any kickback because clearly, you’ve been voted in again. So you’ve you’ve, that’s always been the fear from people because of the short term cycles of the of the political cycles. If you if you are brave, and if you do do these things, people just symbol will get voted out. So you’re, you’re the living proof that no, you can do this. You can be brave, and you can still be voted back in. I think,
Clyde Loakes 40:54
Is it brave or is it just common sense? Is it about surely doing what politics
should be doing. And that’s in kind of, you know, improving people’s lives. I mean, I didn’t come into the local government and part the politics to kind of manage the status quo. I came in to make a difference, change things, hopefully for the better.
And I believe that’s kind of what I’m engaged in doing.
You know, why would you just want to come in as a say, yeah, let’s just keep it the same. Here. Let’s keep it the same. Let’s ignore everything NAS never got it wrong. Let’s just keep it so why would you want to do that? Well,
first and foremost, and it’s just fundamentally not rights. You know, political leadership means that leadership, it means taking on the vested interest. It means kind of, you know, taking on the status quo. And I think that’s, that’s what we’ve done in in walking forest. And, yeah, was, you know, five year programme we had all our elections last year and I’ve got biggest majority I’ve ever had. And those kind of counsellors within my group that were you know, with me shoulder to shoulder also saw you know, big decent in
crisis in a majority both would believe everything on social media was we were going into elections if we believed all our political opponents,
lines and leaflets and arguments then you know, we were we were heading to potentially lose.
But of course we gained seeds, we pick a majority’s, which just goes to show really, you know, politicians shouldn’t spend too much time on social media and believe everything they read, actually, there is a silent majority out there, who of course, one quiet streets, of course want better quality. Of course, one their themselves and their families and their neighbours to be healthier, of course want to be able to do things in their streets and take that quality immunity back for something for them and their neighbours, rather than just a single mode of transport a plough through and making it unusable for anyone. You know, they are positive things and of course people want positivity in their lives and they want good things in their lives and this whole idea
is exactly about that it isn’t a negative thing. It’s a positive thing. And that’s why politicians really should be at the forefront of embracing this and leading on it and you know, and we’re seeing that in some places, but you know, it’s a little bit more of a push, I think, you know, to see it actually start to build some real kind of momentum so that we can come back to velocity next year. And actually, there’s a, you know, a lot more English politicians here, you know, talking about what they’ve delivered over the past 12 months on why it’s so important. Why their residents would love them for it.
INTRO 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
Welcome to Episode Six of Virtual Velo-city featuring interviews from the Velo-city conference held in Dublin in June 2019. I’m Carlton Reid, cutting straight over to myself from Dublin, introducing the show that originally went out to our Kickstarter backers only but now, thanks to the sponsorship from the Dutch Cycling Embassy, we are able to bring out to everybody. I’m here to let you know that this show was recorded on Thursday, June the 27th. And Laura, what have you been doing today?
Laura Laker 0:57
Yes, I’m Laura Laker. I talked to three amazing women from a group called women on wheels. So they were journalists Louise Williams, transport planner Giulia Grigoli and social scientist Aíne Tubridy. And yeah, they were were amazing.
Carlton Reid 1:16
So give us give us a brief overview of what they said.
Laura Laker 1:19
Women on wheels is a kind of listening project they were they realised that 27% I think of cyclists in Dublin are women. And they wanted to know why. So they set about, and they’re really interesting, because they’ve all got different experiences. They set about sort of talking to women, about what their experiences were and sort of unpacking some of the quite unconscious things that we do as women to keep ourselves safe every day on the roads and, and they’re interesting collaborations and comparisons with other fields. And yeah, it’s really fascinating chat.
Carlton Reid 1:49
And then we’ll have tonnes of fascinating stuff here isn’t that’s basically what we’re shooting fish in a barrel. Yeah, yeah. in
Dublin. Every second person we meet is just yet wonder we should have a microphone. Yeah, they’re in their face. Yeah. So when I read to them so many
Laura Laker 2:04
interesting ideas. Yeah, we brought them into all their ideas fall out. And then yeah, it’s been really really, really interesting.
Carlton Reid 2:11
You spoke to Chris Boardman and Chris Boardman won an award.
Laura Laker 2:14
Yeah, he won some sort of award he didn’t know is another one to stick on his wall. Yeah, I was in the performance centre, Boardman performance centre last week, I think it was. And he’s just got like a whole stairwell of like, awards and plaudits and I think he finds it a bit embarrassing, but um, yeah, and yet another award for for leadership in in transport,
Carlton Reid 2:35
cycling, transport planning from the Copenhagen Denmark cycling embassy. Okay, so we’ll run that audio probably tomorrow. That’s not today. But what just to update you with what’s on today’s show. So you’ve got Laura stuff there with women on wheels. And then you’ve got it’s a very women-centred show. Yeah. And so I spoke with American academic Tara Godard, she’s, no she’s not from Texas. She’s Portland, Oregon. But she
Portland. I think she was
originally California. That’s right. And then she went to Portland, which is a fantastic place. And we were talking about that. And then she went to Texas,
and she’s really and then
University. Yeah, I think so. Yeah. She’s a very important person. Yes. Across in America is fantastic that she’s here. And I also spoke, in fact, it was the same conversation. I grabbed them together. Because we were talking in the in the aisle, they were saying great things. I said, just hold that fire. Let’s just go and talk. So I was gonna interview them separately. And it was so good. They kind of sparked off each other. It was great. So I also spoke to Irene McAleese, that doesn’t sound very Australian. But she’s married to Philip McAleese. And she runs a company, which co found co founded a company with her husband called SeeSense. And they’ve got some fantastic stuff, which makes the Forbes article in fact today. So part of the interview as made up onto Forbes. And that company is very much disrupting the world of cycle use data collection. So there’s been an awful lot of information here about data collection. And I was speaking to will get his name wrong. But it Christopher, the transportation planner at Dublin, and he’s in the story. And I photographed him yesterday on the on the ride smiling away. And I thought I’ve got to go and speak to him. I’ve got a great photograph of him. And I want to talk to him, because he was also in the sense presentation that I was at for the new data collection. And he was just saying as as In fact, Tara Godard and both are in say in the in the interview, it is so important to measure cycling, we think why do you want to measure cycle it’s not that data is really important. But it’s it’s the beautiful phrase, which Tara used. And she said that she uses with her students, we treasure what we measure, and buses are measured. Cars are measured. Trains are measured fairies, and everything is measured. We know the time of all these things coming now we get them on our apps. We don’t know about bicycle. Yeah, it’s true. So we need to know about bicycles. That’s why measuring is so important. Yeah, really
Laura Laker 5:05
important. And also I did an article earlier this year about counters on bike lanes, and it’s super important because people say oh, nobody uses them. Actually. It shows that when you build stuff people, people will ride on it. And humanitarian point is interesting because cycle counters are not as good as the car counters because they are newer because like they’re less reliable ones in London break down quite a few of them breakdown. But yeah, yeah, we definitely need to measure stuff.
Carlton Reid 5:29
Which reminds me the guy from Strava came up to me after the Chris Boardman talk and in fact, I took him away so you could interview Chris, and I took him away to talk to him and he was telling me the same thing and he was saying this amazing percentage like 7% of the UK population now using Strava. It’s just this hugely percentage it might be higher than 7% but he’s just you know, saying you enormous amount of the data that strivers collecting for Strava Metro is people cycling to work.
Laura Laker 5:56
Yeah. satisfying logging your miles. I don’t know something about it. One year I did every single mile even if it was only kilometre, and then I thought it’s getting ridiculous. But it’s strangely faster potentially satisfying to know how far you’ve cycled every year.
Carlton Reid 6:09
I’m nodding and saying yesterday because I don’t
Laura Laker 6:12
I don’t really do it anymore. To be honest, I can’t be bothered, but it’s it’s useful. Definitely useful for urban planners.
Carlton Reid 6:17
So you can turn Strava off
Laura Laker 6:20
have to turn it on its whereas it was a bit of an experiment for me. But um, yeah, people do it. I mean, I noticed on my Strava feed, and people do it for literally, there’s an awful lot of tech,
Carlton Reid 6:29
which you don’t turn on. It’s just persistent. Yeah. And that’s what we’ve been talking about. And that’s partly what part today’s show is the persistent tech over and low power. IoT Internet of Things network. So let’s get into today’s show. So it is Thursday. Now on is this the second day? It’s the third. Thank you, Tara. It’s the third day this. This is a four day conference. That’s Yeah, crazy. But I’m here and now I’ll go to Tara first, because Tara was the one who gave me that the prompt there on how many days is conferences? So Dr. Tara Goddard Of what? I won’t say where you’re originally from, but you’re from Texas. An academic? And yeah, so tell us where are you originally from?
Tara Goddard 7:13
I’m originally from a small town in northern California, a rural ranching and logging town. And I lived in California most of my life until I went back to school and lived in Portland, Oregon, for six years, got my PhD and then got a job at Texas A&M University, which is in Central Texas, one of the largest universities in the country. Actually,
Carlton Reid 7:33
I know it’s Portland, Oregon, where really I know you from so I didn’t even know you have your backstory there. I just assumed you’re born in Oregon, okay. And also sitting next to me from Australia, in fact, or Belfast now is Irene McAleese. From See Sense? Or Lime Forge Limited?Whichever you prefer there.
Irene McAleese 7:55
Yeah. Hi. Hi. Hi, Carlton. Hi, Tara. Great to be here. Yeah, Limeforge limited, it’s actually a registered company name. But we go by See Sense now. So yeah, don’t confuse people.
Carlton Reid 8:08
I do apologise. That’s
Irene McAleese 8:10
okay. Yeah, actually, it’s a funny story. Because when you come up with a company name, you just think, what, what can we do and I think align with something fresh, and forge is about creating stuff. But then, of course, in the very early stages, we had the fortune to be put in front of a proper company who can come up with logos and brand names and things like that. And we they came up with See Sense and we we adopted it pretty soon afterwards, that have been so busy, we’ve never gone back to change the registered company name. So that’s why that’s how it came about.
Carlton Reid 8:42
So I’m linking you here because Limeforge, See Sense, as we should call it, of course, has some interesting tech on on keeping cyclists safe, and, Tara, if I come to you first, you’ve got some studies, recent studies. I mean, you’ve got lots of studies, but you’ve got some recent studies about the kind of the same thing about keeping cyclists safe and, and overtaking distances. So give me a brief overview of, of the studies you’ve done recently. Yeah, at your academic institution.
Tara Goddard 9:17
So the most recent study, and we wrapped up the data collection just a month or month and a half ago, is a driving simulator study. So we brought people in, and we had created four scenarios where they have to interact with a bicyclist and overtaking on a straight segment. And then in the US, we drive on the right, so there’s a potential for what we call the right hook crash. So the car is turning right and put the bicycle was going straight, a potential for what we call left hook. So the bicyclist is oncoming in the other direction. And the driver has to make a left turn, and then at a four way stop intersection. So we were interested in just seeing how people interact with bicycles in these very simple situations. But what’s unique is we also with those same people collected a lot of their attitudes about how strongly they identify as a driver, how they view their own driving skills, etc. And then how they feel about bicyclists. So do they feel that by specially registered and licenced, and you know, a lot of the kind of attitudes we hear, but then we also on top of that tested their implicit bias between drivers and bicyclists. So looking at these subconscious attitudes, which often predict how we behave in kind of high speed or high stress environments even better than our explicit. So we paired all those together, which gave us a bunch of really great data. And I’m happy to talk about specifically the overtaking is what we’ve we’ve just sent out a paper to accident analysis and prevention. So keep an eye out for that, and had some surprising results about how like attitudes predict close passing, and in ways that maybe, like, once we got into it kind of as a cyclist, anecdotally, it made sense, but I don’t think had really come out. We haven’t seen as much in the literature and and the the short answer being that we focus a lot on distance and close passes, which is important. But also speed is a huge thing. And we found that negative attitudes actually predicted higher speed of passing. So they might give people more room, but they’re passing faster. Which if you think about keeping taking your eyes off the road, or some kind of situation where it’s really the speed that can predict how quickly you drift and hit someone. So we’re not saying that these necessarily like one predicts an absolute crash. But there’s there’s a lot more pulling apart this issue of how to drivers know what a good close passes? How are they deciding it. And then his distance as important as a speed or acceleration or how quickly they cut back in front of a bicyclist which we also found was problematic people with negative attitudes cut back in faster, kind of cut bicyclists off. So it’s been really interesting to see all that play out in a driving simulator.
Carlton Reid 11:46
And now, Irene, the sensors in your lights and– you can take these sensors out can’t you and put them into like city bikes and this kind of stuff. So your sensors can detect some of these things that Tara is talking about. Specifically, you know, the bad road conditions, which was like the most wherever around. And then you were telling me that cyclists and then pinpoint where they’ve been close passed on an app. So tell me about that.
Irene McAleese 12:16
Okay, so. So. Just to step back to the sensors in our lights, actually scanning the environment around them 800 times a second, which creates some incredible richness in in the data in terms of granularity and really understanding the subtle kind of movements cyclists make. So I mean, obviously, the things like braking, but we’re also thinking about swerving, but even in braking, how fast do they have to brake and the acceleration and really, you know, that’s something that you don’t get through an app alone, because the sensors are dedicated, and they’re doing, they’re doing a different job related to sensors in a phone. So while we can not to take a close pass, so but we could see maybe a wobble, you know, the other the cyclist it in response to, you know, they’re feeling about a close past if that if bike wobbles, we would start to see those patterns on the road. And then what we’ve also done in retail version, as we add in our project version of the apps, where we’re working on a couple of big projects at the moment for Synchronicity, and Manchester, and web and Dublin is actually allow people to report in the app, their perception, or an incident on the ride. So at the end of their journey, notification will pop up come up in the app, is there anything what you want to tell us about the ride? If yes, they can drop a pin in the map. And then from a drop down box, select sort of close pass and pothole couple of other categories. And what this does is allows us to create, you know, a heat map show where all of these reports are made. And and we’ve had actually quite a significant interest from some of the police forces to know. Because at the moment, they think Well, how do we do enforcement about monitoring close passes? Where do we go? And where do we literally, practically set up our our kit to monitor this. And they don’t have any data to really help them know that a what roads a cyclist travelling on, and B which ones are cyclists telling us that they have concerns with. So our data can really, you know, be used in that way to help inform know where they can monitor the close past, which is quite exciting. And then over time, will bring those two data sets together in terms of the sensor data readings, the wobbles and the things that we’re picking up. And then the reports of the perception of the close pass. And that will help us to refine that algorithm over time. And as the dataset grows, we hope that we’ll be able to begin more predictive through that. So actually, rather than waiting for the person to enter into the app that they had an issue, the predictive element, because so we think you might have had a close pass, if you want to tell us a bit more about that.
Tara Goddard 15:11
It raises the possibility, I would think that it can inform like driver assistance systems like advanced driver system systems, where there’s a, you know, the computers that algorithms can start better understanding all these factors that go into the wobbles, and the diverting around pavement problems and things like that. Because that classic problem with overtaking of like, Oh, they just swerved out of nowhere. And you’re like, Well, no, there was actually a lot of precipitating factors that are bicyclists how to take the lane or sort of out. And so I think anything that we can do to help, it seems like those kind of sensors can can lead to, like you said, better predictive. Yeah, we can
build into say, for example, you know, the quality of the road surface, you know, if the road is actually quite rough and full of potholes in that area, how did that affect the experience of the cyclists having a close half, you know, where they much more likely to have a collision, or an accident resulting from that experience, for example. The other thing is, you know, with with the advent of autonomous cars, their their way out, but I think one of the challenges that they face is understanding the behaviour of cyclists. So they may have a good ability to detect a cyclist and see, you know, where there’s a cyclist with their LIDAR or the other kit. But actually, if there is a pothole there or something, how do they know how far a cyclist is going to beer out and try to come around that and manoeuvre through actually trying to get a bit of data to understand the experience of cyclists and those kind of patterns, maybe help to train some of those cars to react better to cyclists in the future?
Carlton Reid 16:50
On the autonomous cars and beacons front of buying companies are wanting to put beacons on bicycles on people even Is that something that you think should happen? In that it’s only going to be the beacon cyclists and effect it will be spotted by autonomous cars? So do you think autonomous cars should be allowed on the road, if they, they can’t really spot them and less cyclists have got, you know, some form of chip that’s telling them where they are and what they’re gonna be doing? No,
Irene McAleese 17:30
I don’t think it’s possible that you could actually put a chip on every cyclist in the world, and I don’t think you would really want to,
which is kind of like why I like the example, I gave you this before about maybe using some of these data insights from smaller, you know, from the train and be able to detect it in a different way. So you’re not actually putting the onus on the cyclist, to have anything on them to be detected as actually just data and insight that can help those cars in they are trying to do something? No, I don’t think that cyclists should be compelled to have a clear cut. A chip will be required to do that. Having said that, I know there’s a lot of move, there is a lot of interest in that. And it’s probably inevitable that some of that tech will start to hit spikes. And I think that it maybe will, there may be cyclists that choose to put it on their bikes going forward. In the same way, maybe people choose to have a helmet or something else, you know, that they feel gives them confidence. But I certainly wouldn’t say that you should be retrofitting it on all bikes or, you know, making it a requirement in any way.
Carlton Reid 18:40
Tara, same same question to you, but maybe come at it from an equity angle in that the kind of $2,000 and above cyclist is going to be rich enough to be able to fit these beacons and want to save themselves. But the you know, the in inverted commas, the invisible cyclists, so the Latinos in you know, big American cities have already been persecuted by the NYPD. Yeah, for just riding around on their delivery cycles. So these people are not going to be fitting chips, and then it comes down to will if you’re chipped you’re safe, if if you’re not chipped, you’re not saving them. And how fair is that? So So what is your view on beacons?
Tara Goddard 19:21
Right. So I think I mean, beacons in a lot of ways. And I think push the onus on the what essentially is the victim, right? Or are the people to keep themselves safe, even when it’s the other person, that driver who has the ability to do harm. And I think one of the things that I’ve heard a lot at this conference, even though there’s a lot of discussion, obviously, there’s a lot of electrified and highly technical bikes here, and a lot of discussion about the Internet of Things. There’s also been this repeated theme of like, the beauty of a bicycle is in its simplicity, the word analogue I like, that’s been used a few times this idea that it’s this, I mean, it hasn’t changed that much. And in the last, you know, whatever, 200 know, where we go 100 plus years. And that’s okay. And so I think, especially for these people that you’re talking about to just be able to pick up a simple bike that they can share amongst each other, or that’s been passed down, or that isn’t highly technical, and also isn’t a target for theft is, you know, very affordable. These are all things and reasons that like the beacon on the new bike, okay? That’s just not going to be achievable to them. But I also think the another thing that’s a downside of thing about these beacons is the turnover of the vehicle fleet to actually be able to pick up and just talk with those beacons is not going to happen. I mean, where I am in Texas, like, a lot of those vehicles aren’t going anywhere, anytime soon, we’re not going to wake up in six months, or a year or six years, probably, and suddenly have this like, huge, you know, autonomous fleet that’s just talking to the signals and talking to the other road users. So we’re killing, you know, 10s of thousands of people, you’re on the road roads now. And if we say, Oh, well, it’ll be great for safety in a decade, that’s hundreds of thousands of people that were killing along the way, and not making any safer.
Carlton Reid 21:10
Let me let me switch topics completely. And we’ll come back to Irene, and let’s talk about it because Tara mentioned that IoT, so that’s like a useful segue into your IoT project with with Vodafone, which has potential for increasing safety, because you’re collecting lots of real time data. So So tell us about this project.
Irene McAleese 21:33
Yeah, we’re really, really excited actually to, to launch this project here in Dublin. And it’s quite groundbreaking, because it’s about a different way to send data from from a bike. So at the moment, bike share schemes are sending data over a cellular network, which is actually quite power hungry. And so they can’t always send their location in real time without having a big drain on the back tree bike is stolen, after like 10 days or so it simply will not even be able to send its location anymore. And I, you know, I completely agree with Tara’s point about the simplicity of the bicycle, but I also kind of like, I also see that the cities now have so much data about other modes of transport, you know, real time data coming from cars, real time data, you know, from buses, and, and I see that as we move into this realm of, you know, redesigning our cities around smart cities of the future, we have to have the voice of the bicycle in there. And and I think that having better data around real time movement of lights in the city is going to elevate the bicycle in the discussions elevated in the planning and ensure that we don’t get planned out, you know, what happened many years ago. So it’s an opportunity to to allow us to bring the bring the discussion or the bicycle to the for integrated properly as part of an intermodal, you know, system for the city’s having real time data from cycling links it in better with mobility as a service, you know, opportunities, and also this intelligent transport system planning. So thinking about, you know, opportunities to make conditions benefit cyclists, at one end of the spectrum, looking at things like, you know, green wave, you know, allowing the timing of the lights to change to increase the flow for psychosis and better experience, right back through what we do with consensus, the core data and understanding, you know, what are the routes that cyclists are travelling on what routes they prefer to be on? And how can we redesign the network to support those desire lines and flows? And actually, then, you know, what are the conditions of some of those routes, you know, in terms of the road surface quality, the comfort of the cyclists, the safety of the cyclists, where the dwell times happening from the congestion point of view, collision, all of this data is so useful to be able to improve the experience and safety of the cyclists. And I think that if you can make the conditions better for cycling, you have to create a shift, you unlock some of the barriers, you know, that are preventing people from cycling, they’ve got the data to sort of actually advocate about where we need the bike lanes, where they need to be built, how the the evidence to show the baseline of before and after about how those lines that have been built, have actually increase the flow of people through a city, not just cars,
and also how they’ve
improved safety and experience that people, it just allows people to then advocate and do more of it. So I I’m excited about this new project, I mean, I’ve got we’ve got existing technology that where we send data from our bond clients over the buyer and app into the cloud. The new project that we’re doing here in with the phone and Dublin City Council is to, is to use this new Narrowband-IoT (NB-IoT) network, which I genuinely think is is groundbreaking, it’s specifically designed for devices to send data to a network in a low power way. It’s cheaper than sending it over and over cellular networks, it has better connection, it can actually send stuff through walls, it’s designed for parking metres and things like that. So it’s going to allow us to send data in real time, not just the GPS stuff. But all the rich see sets data that we have as well on the road to help the operators as well get data that they can use to manage theft, and vandalism, accurately locate their bikes manage the bike redistribution better, because I’ve got this real time data flow. And also do things like predictive maintenance, there’s, there’s a nice business model that we’re hoping to sort of shape up out of here where the data can be used to help these operators manage their fleet really efficiently in a city in a way that’s can be quite collaborative, but also allow these operators to share data with the city that goes beyond basic GPS really links, these modes of transport into the bigger ecosystem. So yeah, I think that the NB-IoT is going to be quite game changing. Because it just unlocks the ability for this data to be turned in real time and really powerful data. So we’re really excited to be at the forefront of that. We spent a year in r&d, working on this behind the scenes. So where the networks are now being switched on here in Dublin, up and down the coast in UK and going live in the rest of the world. So we’re really positioned well, the as these mark, as these networks being switched on, were ready to go live and hit the ground running have that first to market advantage. And then as other people may be tried to catch up, we’re still going to have the secret see sense stuff of all the road surface and everything else that we bring to the bring to the table. So yeah, exciting.
Tara Goddard 27:02 And I think, if I may, it’s so key what you’re saying, because, you know, I tell my students all the time, we treasure what we measure, right? There’s some variation of that. And and I think the problem with the data we’ve had on cyclists has been, it would no nuance right, we have counts. And then we have routes. And if you looked at the ride that I did yesterday, for example, coming back from St. Anne’s park to here and you just looked at the route, you’d be like, oh, there’s cycle track most of that, and that it must have been a perfectly good ride. But it was much of it was actually really poor. Because of the road surface of the weird turns you have to do, which you would catch, if you were looking at somebody’s wobble and or their their steering of their bicycling, you could get a sense of the noise that might be along the route because of some of the road surface and things like that. And then the connection problems. And so I think, you know, we’ve heard a lot about at this conference and elsewhere, there’s a lot of great research being done looking at how important cyclist comfort is to obtain and staying, you know, staying with it staying with cycling, and then how important noises, for example, to people’s comfort and perception of their safety on on the bicycle. And so I think it’s really going to be helpful to have this much more nuanced information about what it’s like so that we can not just say, Oh, we have the routes on the map, you know, wipe our hands like we’re done. It’s like, no, the quality of the route is so so important. And like I say all the time, like you’re only as your networks only as strong as your weakest link. And when a when a link is bad on a bicycle, it’s really bad, you’re either going way out of your way, or it’s really scary or sketchy, like we did down by the ports last night was literally one of the most dangerous manoeuvres I’ve ever done on a bicycle. And I’m a very confident street cyclist. And yet I was the heart was racing, things like that. So so I’m really looking forward to seeing more of that nuanced data that can help us understand the experience of the bicyclists who are kind of in the middle of that bell curve. They’re not the super hardcore, like Dubliners are the most brave bicyclists I’ve ever seen. And they’re also not you know that the people who are just like no way know how it’s all these people in the middle that are, you know, have, they’re much more sensitive, I think, to these nuances of the environment.
Carlton Reid 29:13
And I’m assuming, and you almost confirmed it there that you’re very excited to potentially get your hands on this kind of rich data. So I’m going back to Irene, and as where this data is gonna be available from so is this is this data for your clients only? Or is this going to be for cities only who’s gonna be able to get hold of this data?
Irene McAleese 29:33
Yeah. So we’re working for this new project, in Vodafone will be sharing the data with with Dublin City Council. So directly with the planners here, who are very excited to get hold of the data, they’re already using the census data as part of our synchronicity project. And so that will supplement that that in terms of like a business model going forward.
We need to, we hope that actually, it will kind of work that the we can kind of be funded by the operators of the bike share schemes who use, you know, they can help fund to get the devices on there. And they get a benefit out of having a better tracking of the bike and all of this and that can kind of as an offshoot of that we can we can work with the city’s with the data and give them access to what about academics? What about
Carlton Reid 30:33
what about academics getting access to this data?
Irene McAleese 30:36
I think I think they’re definitely open to that in a kind of a partnership way. So absolutely, we would love to have academics like yourself to get hold of it and, you know, helps us to build useful case studies about how that how the data is being applied and the uses for it. So yeah, absolutely. And I think,
Tara Goddard 30:52
too, you can really think of partnerships that that pair all this extensive data that you have with some of these more qualitative experiences, and really, you know, talking to users and understanding, particularly groups that maybe haven’t been represented before, or as much in kind of what we know about bicyclists and their needs are the people who are the most vocal already. I think there’s some really rich, mixed methods to be had there. And that, you know, certainly as an academic, we would love to partner on that type of thing.
Carlton Reid 31:21
Because you’re not the only academic working in this field. It’s now becoming a rich field. You’ve got Dr. Ian Walker. Yeah, you’ve got Rachel Aldred, who’s at the conference here
Tara Goddard 31:29
Dr. Jennifer Dill at Portland State.
Carlton Reid 31:30
And then Jennifer’s here as well, as I’ve seen it. So this is this is a an academic field. That’s that’s expanding? What what has been done with that academic information? Is there anything concrete being done to help cyclists? Or is this all just ivory tower stuff? And it’s just, it’s a bunch of academics, you know, benefiting from the research funding? But as poor cyclists, are, there aren’t actually any safer because of your work? Or are you going to tell me no, no, no, we’re, we’re, we’re making safety for every because of our work?
Tara Goddard 32:01
Well, certainly our goal as academics is to have it be very applied and useful to practitioners, a lot of us came from the world as practitioners. So as a bicycle pedestrian coordinator in Davis, California, before I went back to academia, so I think at the forefront of my mind is always not just asking questions and finding interesting answers, which I definitely geek out and love, but also making it useful. One of the challenges to that is still the way that the academic world functions, about journal articles, there’s a lot of pressure on us, and those are behind paywalls. And they’re not necessarily very useful. They A lot of times, like, Oh, I can find statistical significance. But is that really meaningful in the real world? So I think there’s some really fair criticisms, and I and other academics are really pushing, I think for valuation more in academia, have more policy briefs, and practice ready information and partnerships like that. I think anybody who’s in researching in these areas is very much interested in like it having real world effects. And certainly the more that we’re able to partner with, say, local governments, or private industry on things that are interesting, and we can bring, say, methodological tools and resources to play, and just good ways of asking questions, but then real world data and immediate real world implications. And, and that’s why I think, fellow city and other one other places like it are such a nice, you can really mix and we can be talking about what are the problems in the field that you need help solving? Guess what, we’re pretty good at figuring out the asked questions and, and get answers, hopefully. So I think it’s, it can be a fair criticism of the ivory tower. But I also think that all the folks I know really, really care about making actual people safe immediately if we can, or and certainly happier and more comfortable when they’re choosing to do these type of models.
Carlton Reid 33:51
And I know you’re jumping in there, but Irene, your your product is basically keeping people safe, in that it flashes like crazy. It’s very bright, your life product. But while you’re nodding where you live, do you want to jump in there with Tara?
Irene McAleese 34:04
Oh, I just wanted to kind of add actually, that, really, we’re really excited to formed a partnership with British Cycling, we’re sharing actually the data that we’re collecting from the lights with British Cycling, who wants to use the data for advocacy, British Cycling, have a have a relationship with 10 cities across the UK where they’re actively engaged in helping to increase the number of people cycling. So our partnership is very new. But as as our data is building, you’ll see more and more stuff coming out about this. where, you know, the hope is that we can we can use the data evidence to to sort of influence change. That’s already we’ve got quite a lot of data that’s been built up from customers who are just using our app to opt in, in a very transparent way, we want to obtain and share aggregated data insights that can be used by the city. And so I’m excited about this partnership to help bring about change, that’s what we want to see. Ultimately, we’re company of cyclists for cyclists. And we want to see, you know, we started off with a with a bike light that improves your visibility doesn’t very well as categorises, very say like visible reacts to environment, all that sort of stuff. But I’m so excited now to take it to the next level, about also how we create the infrastructure and the other policies that will will support safer and better cycling. And the British Cycling also linked in with a lot of academics as well. They’re working with some up some folks in the guys go University. And I think for that, so that so there’s a lot of opportunity for us to sort of push that out through their corporate partnerships with HSBC and other things like that. And we are in discussion as well with quite a few other advocacy organisations around the world now who’ve seen the partnership with British cycling, and it’s open their eyes up to this opportunity to use data from their membership to support advocacy movement. So we’re really excited about that.
Carlton Reid 36:03
America. What about what about America? You? Can Tara, get involved here?
Irene McAleese 36:11
In as in, in an advocacy
Carlton Reid 36:14
world getting getting the lights across there? Are there any projects across in America that are being you using your lights is similar to the ones in the
Irene McAleese 36:20
Yeah, so yeah, can help introduce us into the year. I mean, we sell Actually, we haven’t really tackled the US market in a really focused way. Because we’re we’re a small company and where our market is mostly UK, Ireland and actually into Europe, we’re getting a lot of interest in Europe, also Australia, I’m proud to say, the US we sell probably about 20% about like sales, I just came to the US at the moment and completely organically without us even driving that. So I’m just like, wow, once we got to, we got to mention in the New York Times, once nearly broke our website for the week. So I know the market is definitely there. And we’re also kind of in discussions actually with a big US distributor and some folks from there. But so I think we’ve definitely see the huge potential of the US market and we’re big appetite to engage with it. So with the right partners, that may be creating some nice case studies to show some stuff in the local area could be really compelling. And that might help us to unlock some stuff because you know, we obviously want to work at scale.
Carlton Reid 37:28
Well, I hope you two can exchange business cards, and that your technology and your your cleverness transfers across to to Texas and wherever you use it for Yeah, thank you very much.
Laura Laker 37:43
Okay, so just day three at velo-city in Dublin and I found women on wheels who do you want to tell me who you are and what women on wheels is?
And thank you for wearing our badge by the way, the Women on Wheels badge
I am wearing your badge, on my lanyard.
Yeah, we love it
I’m Aine Tubridy
I’m Giulia Grigoli
And and you are a part of women on wheels, which is,
yeah, so we’re a bunch of women who and there’s there are other women involved who just aren’t here at the moment. And men, we allowed a few men in, and but we looked around and wonder where all the women are in Dublin. and. The the figures for Dublin are quite low.
Yeah, so it’s what? 23%? 27%. Okay.
Yeah, that’s women who commute to work. Okay, so it’s not, that’s an aspect of the work is, you know, not having proper data, we, that’s not only commuters for paid employment, as I
Laura Laker 38.44
Oh I see. So. So that’s part of it census data that’s from census data. Yeah,
Yeah, from census data. We gathered the data from 1986 to 2016. And despite the trends of increasing and decreasing of cyclists are very similar pattern between men and women, that women representation has always been considerably lower.
Okay. So even though well, so Cycling is increased, but the proportion stayed the same between men and women.
In the boom time it went way down. I think everybody was like, let’s get cars. We’re rich now. And then as it as as we, as we moved into more of a recession, people started cycling.
And they say that recessions are good for cycling, right?
Yeah, but not good for women who cycle. So the number of women, the sort of the ratio of women who cycle didn’t rise in the same way.
And then just it’s worth mentioning, the number of, the ratio of teenage girls cycling as compared to teenage boys is dramatically lower. So we’d say, as you look into your 20s, their 20s, those teenage girls are perhaps even less likely to cycle. So maybe the the proportion of women who cycle will actually go down in 10 years from now. So it’s an urgent issue that we want to have addressed.
And so did you, was it your idea?
It kind of I don’t think it was like any one person’s idea but I do remember going to a meeting of the, in the cycling advocacy world and wondering where all the women are. I really did I just wondered, I just felt there was something really missing in the conversation and and so we’re very keen to look at representation as well and have more women talking about cycling and looking around about the city. And you you’re experiencing as I’m sure there’s quite a lot of men, there are a few MANILs, you know, male only panels
And so, so what so so what is women on wheels? So, yeah,
Giulia Grigoli 40.26
well, we started about a year ago and wanted to investigate. Well, we, we started with the scope of investigating whether street harrassment was a factor that influenced the low number of women cycling. And but then yeah, after we did the focus group, and we gathered more than 40 women around the tables to talk about their experience of cycling, where they cycle when they cycle, how did they feel about it? And we discovered that it is much more to that. So there are different barriers, perceived. And yeah. And so it’s very interesting what Louise was saying about the representation like the image of, like many women don’t do not really identify with the cyclist. Because I actually think that many people if they, they’ve been asked like, close your eyes and think about a cyclist in Dublin, I wouldn’t think about a woman, probably.
Yeah, so as Giulia said, in that listening group that we hosted, I think, around a year ago now or last autumn, we started off with this idea of street harassment being one of the prominent barriers to women’s cycling, as well as the lack of infrastructure and but from a listening session, we we did find that street harassment was an issue and that women do experience it regularly to varying degrees
on the bike?
On the bike yes on the bike. And yeah, from from different road users, pedestrians, kids, drivers,
Kids, that’s one of the things that we,
Oh I see.
Yeah. And being shouted at there’s this thing, they just like, make a loud noise.
Oh, just as you’re cycling past? Yeah, I’ve had that in London they’ll say bang or something or like, lunge at you, and think it’s really hilarious.
Yeah. And so that did arise, but it was one of lots of different issues, including, like how amazing cycling is and how much freedom and joy it gives people so we moved on from that listening session, and wanted a way to encompass all of those varied experiences, and identities and approaches to cycling. So it took us a while. But we settled on an approach that uses the Liberty Bell platform, which allows people to map their routes around the city. It’s usually used for transport planning, but we wanted it to be more qualitative. So we added this diary. Yeah, the diary tool. So for two weeks, we had, I think, 18 women tracking their movements and their experiences and feelings around cycling. And after that, we did interviews, but like our, our long interviews with the 18 them
we wanted to unpack all that internalised decision making and minimization of risk that we know happens, and we know the women are doing all the time. So we were very influenced by Fiona Vera-Gray, who wrote a book called the right amount of panic. And it made us think a lot about public space and gendered public space.
What is the right amount of panic?
Well, it’s that balance that we’re constantly calibrating as women as women. That you need to be a little bit concerned and a little bit afraid. But you also want to experience the joy and the freedom of cycling. Sorry, there goes my notes. But um, yeah, so it’s kind of it’s the right amount of panic being how to how to sort of balance and juggle all those risks that come from, as Aíne said, the infrastructure or the lack of infrastructure, which is very important. Add on to that the gendered harassment and the risk of it. So we’re not what we’ve started to do was trying to look at how women calibrate that risk and minimise that risk, rather than saying, counting the number of incidents of harassment.
So we really wanted to understand what are the safety strategies that women put in place when deciding where to go, when to go, but anything that influence even their decision to decide whether to cycle or not, yeah, the time of the day, but also very interestingly, I think, came up that cycling itself, and can be a safety strategy in the sense that some women wouldn’t feel safe, let’s say to walk at nighttime in certain places, but it would feel really okay to cycle in places instead. And I think this is very important, because if cycling makes women feel safe than that we need to make cycling safe for them. And for everybody.
Aíne Tubridy 45.23
Yeah, yeah. So a feature of Fiona Vera-Gray’s work as well, which influences as what Giulia was saying was this concept of safety work. So it’s this idea that we’re constantly working to be safe, we’re constantly thinking of it. Like as Louise said, it’s on our minds all the time, and we’re aiming towards it. So it wouldn’t really have been useful to try and qualitatively count episodes, or incidences, it was really, about how women strategize in ingenious ways to keep themselves safe around the city. So it was things like negotiating rules of the road, which aren’t suitable for cyclists, making the oftentimes very uncomfortable choice to break, say, red lights or to go on the pavement, and having to deal with being judged as a ‘bad cyclist’ as a ‘bad woman’ on the road. But having to make that choice, because it’s the safer thing to do. And we did find that women are really conscious of appearing to be respectable on the road, things like wearing a helmet for other people to maintain your image as a good cyclist.
I saw this because there was an article, you’ve had quite a lot of coverage on this, and it was an article. And this was mentioned the fact that women are wearing helmets, for other people, which I just found astonishing.
I think a lot of these things, the team, the women on wheels team, like, we didn’t really find it that surprising, because it’s our experiences as well, we came to this with wanting to explore what we already intrinsically know, and experience every day and share that with other a wider group of women
It definitely made us more aware of our experience of cyclists as well.
You don’t think about a lot of the things that you do that it’s so unconscious, it’s like you’re saying, and until you actually sit down and think about it and unpack it. It’s really fascinating, actually, isn’t it?
I think in this intersection between cycling and gender, and the blame culture that goes in both that is common to both. And think about that intersecting in our experiences, women who cycle and the burden that we’re being made to bear. Because the cycle lanes are being designed in as much as you can talk about cycle lanes being designed in Dublin at all, there is no plan as we know. But like, there’s an assumption that men and women will use whatever facilities are available in the same way. So it’s, but we would argue that it’s male by default, and that there isn’t nearly enough thinking and study about what women’s experience is and how women have the right and equal access to cycle safely in the public space of Dublin and anywhere else for anybody listening.
Yeah, and research has shown that women are less likely to put up with conditions that feel dangerous and more likely to need safe cycling infrastructure in order to get on bikes at night.
So what we would say in response to that is to change the infrastructure rather than change women’s perception of safety, because it is a rational, normal, good thing to not want to go out on the road.
And it really is it really is. Because if you think about I say this to people, when they tell me they are too afraid to cycle on London’s roads, for example, and I just say, well, that’s a normal response. Because there’s a very small percentage of people who actually do and we’re the ones willing to take that risk. But it’s it’s totally normal. You look out there. You see the lorries in the bike lanes and, and yeah, why would you cycle?
Giulia Grigoli 49.05
especially if you have a child to carry to school, or other other activities that don’t necessarily involve going as fast as you can to work but involves maybe doing grocery shopping like I do it as well on my bicycle isn’t is really like if the surface is not good? Like can be very hard and wobbly with all the bags.
Yeah, no, it’s true. It’s true. And women can benefit more from cycling. Because it’s a short journey. It’s often the short journeys that tend to be women’s kind of childcare, and shopping and stuff, which do tend to fall on women.
And there seems to be in Dublin City Council, like it’s, you know, you know, Dublin now you’ve cycled around as you’re aware of kind of the the sort of the fragmented nature of the facilities. And but I think I do want to
Yeah, so Aíne has to go
Sorry I have to run off
Sorry to see you go. But
So I think it’s brilliant that the city council has some ambition for some major projects. Now, as you might know, like we have, there’s a Liffey cycle route, which has been planned for seven years of various levels of consultation, and hasn’t yet been successful although there seemed to be the seems to be a bit more of a commitment. But I think from a women on wheels perspective, what we want, kind of picking up on your point about the trip chains, so this idea that women will go on short routes, and they will do a series of stop offs, we also really need as a matter of urgency to be able to advocate for a greater focus on the inter community routes. So it would be routes in between neighbourhood communities, or within those communities, so that women and children will feel safe, and will judge it to be safe for them to go out and have active lifestyles, and the kids can learn the independence that they want to learn about. And one of the participants in our research has always said that, for her kids to learn to be independent was one of the most important things. So she has to make an incredibly complex range of decisions every day in order for them to be able to experience that. But all kids should be experiencing that, like that’s essential for growing up.
Yeah. And yet a lot of the cycle rates are the ones that are going to get high volumes of people. It’s usually the commuters into the city centre, which are those linear fast routes which aren’t going to serve or be attractive to people with children, women.
Yeah. Yeah, definitely. So basically, the aim of our research was really to listen to these voices and to understand that there are different needs and different perception of safety out there. So yeah, we really need to change the paradigm of how we think about cycling and the provision of services that that should be promoting equality.
yeah, and representation really matters. So that’s one aspect of what we want. So we want more work and representations of women. So it’s not as as Giulia said, you know, think of a male cyclist. Think of a cyclist, you think of a man automatically. And that would be applicable, I think, to men and women, and periods and pregnancy also came up. It’s worth mentioning that sometimes women said, when I have my period, I don’t feel like cycling, and pregnancy, there’s obviously your body’s changing quite dramatically. And you know, women will be perfectly healthy, and able to keep cycling, but you may make need to make adjustments with your centre of gravity shifting. One of the researchers actually with women on wheels, she actually cycled herself to hospital to give birth. But she always says, Oh, it was a scheduled cesarean as if like, it’s no big deal. She was nine months pregnant, like, but it just goes to show, you know, that this can be done, you know, and we there are so many ways that women can benefit from cycling, I think, like I think it’s a really. It’s kind of a critical point right now, though, I feel. I feel that cycling is becoming an issue that is being discussed a lot. And I think it’s an issue that is becoming maybe I don’t think it’s becoming mainstream. I don’t know if it even should become mainstream. But I think it’s an issue that is really coming to the fore. And we’re talking about climate change and how to mitigate climate change, etc. And I think this is really an absolutely critical point for us to start having our voices heard as women and to start having gender disaggregated data. So looking at the patterns of cycling around cities, and really understanding on a deep level that women’s patterns are likely to be different. and obviously, men who are who are looking after the kids, they will have a different pattern as well. But we need to urgently now, while there are ambitious projects and funding going into cycling, we really need now to start counting how and measuring how women do cycle and want to cycle because so many women say to us, I’d love to cycle but I’m just not sure about the helmet, the intersections and and that’s quite a natural response and in rational response in Dublin. So like, we really feel that this is an urgent moment, especially like that’s just Dublin, if you look at the number of teen teenage girls cycling, I’m sure well, there’s a good chance in other English speaking countries, for example, that teenage girls are having the same reaction. So we need to, like I think we would like as women or girls, we would like to network more with women internationally with women around Ireland, and really try and kind of see if there’s options for coalitions or for raising our voice and for solidarity. And to really make this make a difference now, because looking around this conference centre, women’s voices aren’t being heard, there are quite a few talks, and we’ve presented our research here, and there are quite a few talks about gender, but we need to be really influencing at a high level. That means also budget allocation, it means collection of data, it means decision making, it means being around the table when the big decisions are being made. And this this has to happen, like otherwise things are going to get much worse.
It’s creating. I mean, we have unequal cities, don’t we effectively? And that’s a huge issue.
So the same, we should have the same rights to access spaces because yeah, the bicycle, it’s such a convenient and easy way of getting around. And also it gives access to workplaces to to education. So definitely, yeah, we should have the same rights to have accessibility
and public sector. So in Ireland, we call it the public sector duty, which is the duty of public services to not discrimination to have equality at their heart. They’re not doing us a favour. It’s this is a rights based issue.
And it’s the same in a lot of countries, there is legislation, of course, to not discriminate.
Louise Williams 54.57
And and so we need to really challenge the paradigms, we really need to challenge the assumptions and the bias that is so built in, especially I think in the cycling sector, which kind of sees itself as being perhaps somewhat left leaning and perhaps a little bit kind of gender aware, and may not actually be aware of how deep that bias can be. Because people who have been in positions of power for you know, and and decision making positions and doing great work, I’m not knocking the work they’re doing, but I don’t think they are fully understanding the needs, didn’t the need to make this radical paradigm shift now.
Yeah, and a lot of these it’s unconscious, like the these decisions women are making,
like, for example, the expectation a lower level of activity from women like already, or even the clothing, it’s a theme that came up a lot like some women would consciously decided to drop their femininity and be more sportive on the bike. Also, for practical reason, but then this means that they would only cycle to work it if they were provided with the right facilities to then change and get on their professional image instead, while for some guys, this is maybe not really an issue, because maybe there are less expectation of how they should appear in the workplace as well.
That’s a really interesting point,
I think there’s one more point at which like they where women on wheels, and that’s really we really want to talk about women on wheels, but like cycling needs to be safe and accessible for regardless of your age. So this this, we should be also advocating, obviously on people who, elderly people who want to cycle and who you know, would benefit from, and I was actually the gang of the bee bandits yesterday, who are a bunch of women and one man who are a gang of cyclists. I don’t exactly know their ages, but they’re not young. And that’s a gang of people who are embracing cycling, and they’re a little bit older, but they should have, yeah, they’re just the best fun I had the best time at the parade yesterday. But it’s also about mobility challenges, you know, any ability should be we should be creating public space where they can access it. in Dublin, you’ll see cyclists dismount signs around when our public works going on. If your ability is challenged, but you can still cycle you won’t be able to necessarily dismount. Yeah, so there’s a there’s a discrimination there as well. So just, I mean, it’s not the core point of what Women on Wheels is doing. But we absolutely believe that the intersection of ethnicity, ability, age is very important to highlight.
And within the women and wheels group you’ve got quite a… How did you get together in the first place?
Well, we’re all volunteers of the Dublin cycling campaign. Part of the policy group is one
so you all have different backgrounds.
Giulia Grigoli 57.33
I’m a transport planner Yeah. And working for SYSTRAN limited.
Tell people who might not know what that is
Yes, SYSTRA is a transport consultancy. We are, we have a worldwide well it’s a global group. And yeah, we do transport engineering, transport planning. And, yeah. Our clients will be the local authorities, but also so we will do planning development. But also, strategic modelling for the National Transport Authority. So we are very much involved in a sustainable transport, public transport especially, here in Ireland we would help a lot with public transport project. But yeah, definitely a focus on on cycling.
So you’re, you’re working on this every day?
And do you find that the people in the industry are aware of these issues?
Well, again, Women’s representation in the engineering and transport planning industry is also lower. So hence, some in I guess, some people will be more aware of this issue. But they are a bit neglected in the industry as well. So that’s why it’s, it’s important to have more women in the discussion and more women in these roles. So then, when we plan a new housing estate, for example, as well, then we can take in consideration and we obviously do our mobility management plans, traffic impact assessment, and we need to make sure that when we do this, we take into account of gender, to know who is going to access these facilities and where they have to go. And yeah, so definitely the discussion about gender and safety is really worthwhile. And an important when we do transport planning definitely.
I think Women on Wheels has a little bit of magic to it, because it’s interdisciplinary, you know, do you know we’re quite passionate as I think it’s probably, hopefully come across?
Yeah, it’s brilliant.
Yeah. But I think it’s a little bit of magic, when you bring people together, like Giulia is the transport planner, we have Aíne’s in social science, Janet is policy development, Conor [Cahill] has a technological background, we’ve also had input from Brian and Michelle, and quite a few other people.
What about you?
So I’m a journalist and a writer. So that’s my background. And actually, I mean, I’ve worked in development as well. So I worked in Congo, places like that. So I would have worked on gender policy in a conflict environment. So I actually do some advice on peace and security, internationally, when it comes to gender. And it’s funny, then. I actually see an absolute correlation and a kind of a parallel, not that I’m saying Dublin streets are like, you know, the UN peacekeeping troops have to move in, not yet, not quite. But it’s funny the way for me, it’s very natural kind of move between the two. But actually, when I, when I talked to people in the international development sector, they just glaze over when I talk about cycling, but I’d love cycling to be actually much more of a kind of a, you know, a thread that would be logical within these different sectors.
Laura Laker 1:00:57
What are the parallels?
Well, I think one of the first parallels like the first and I think the point of departure is, as you’ve heard from Women on Wheels is listen to women, start with women’s lived experiences. That’s that has to be your starting point. And once you build that in, in a, in a way, where you’re listening to women of different ages, different experiences, cycling, or whatever their experience is, and once that is your starting point, and you really build it in an inclusive way. So you have ethnicity represented as well, and hopefully ability as well. Then, if you build on that conversation, and that dialogue, and you keep on referring back to those women and people and kind of using them to validate what you’re doing, you’re going to get it right, and you’re going to build something sustainable. And that’s what like sustainable peace and sustainable transport solutions. I would say there are some parallels there. So sustainable peace. I know from living in eastern Congo, where you know, women have borne the brunt of a lot of the conflict, that if that women are constantly being excluded from the peace negotiations, and constantly having to ask for a place at the table, do you hear any parallels? And that’s not right. And and all the international research shows that if you if women are involved in peace negotiations, so it’s UN Security Council, resolution 1325. If women are involved, the peace, the actual peace agreement will last better. it’ll it’ll be late last longer, it will be better, and it will build better equality into the society on which it’s based. And I would say the same thing here. We believe that Cycling is an equality issue. And that your building inequality into the transport system, by not consulting with women. There, I think I might have made some parallels. I hadn’t actually thought about it until you asked.
It’s so interesting. It really is. And yeah, it’s fascinating. What do you think Giulia about that?
Yeah, yeah, no, absolutely. Like, being women like, yeah, we we do experience ourselves sometimes. Yeah. Our voices are not heard in.
And it is getting better. And within campaigning now cycle campaign, and for example, you see more women and within conferences like this, there seem to be more women.
Yeah, definitely. And that’s why I actually one of our recommendation, in order to raise female representation is actually to, to connect with other groups who are working on the same subjects, internationally and probably building like, a subgroup of the campaign, maybe that looks into the league looks into this specific issue. Yeah, that’s right to influence. Yeah.
Wouldn’t it be great to have a kind of international forum of women in sort of sustainable transport? Absolutely.
You might have to set it up. You can write your favourite podcast big. No, absolutely. And maybe maybe we need to set up a forum, maybe cycling, maybe sustainable transport. There are academics working on gender and transport at tap into those networks, but also help them to speak to each other. I think we need to network we need to listen to each other. But we need to build that kind of like for this whole kind of issue to be sustainable. I think we really need to work in Coalitions and solidarity, because we are like, I think as women, we’re quite kind of generally quite good at doing that. But we really, we really, like women on wheels. Dublin’s cycling sector is tiny compared to the US, compared to Australia, but if we can contribute to a greater conversation, and proper influence and impact, on a rights based approach as well. And we don’t think it’s enough to just talk we want action based on rights as well.
Yeah, what kind of action? What are you thinking?
It has to be it has to be, you know, I would I mean, you could look at quotas, you know, at conferences like this, you could start to look at quotas and representation in the European Cyclist Federation, for example, who have said that they want to put gender, give gender a more stronger role within their organisation, and quotas, you know, have been controversial, but they’ve also been shown to have an impact. And, and then if you look at policies, like the thing about gender is that, and this would work in the international sector, as well. So it would work in a place like Congo as well as a place like Dublin, is that if you want to really make a transformative, go through a transformative process, with an organisation, particularly where there are power, you know, power sort of interests embedded, it’s very important to have a kind of a monitoring body. So it means like a body where you’ll have gender experts who are watching what’s going on. And then also think about how it’s going to be implemented within all the activities of the group. So you need to kind of have a monitoring body, which has gender at its heart, and to look at how gender is, is, is kind of, in Yeah, folded into all your activities. So yeah, there were there were there. This has been done before in lots of other sectors where there was a gender imbalance. It’s not rocket science we can do it
which sectors can we learn from?
What a political representation like, you know, if you look at the political life, you know, and discrimination that has been embedded within political life in Ireland, for example, in terms of political representation, there’s been quite a lot of work on quotas, it hasn’t been without controversy, but it does seem to be having some impact, it takes a while. And you don’t need to rush these things necessarily. But you need to be embedded, you know, it’s a, it’s a fine balance. So it needs a lot of conversations behind the scenes.
Yeah. And, Giulia, you’re saying in science as well?
Yeah. In fact, I know, here in Ireland during this STEM project, like there are a lot of talks, like, I worked in different consultancies, and many of them will be involved in going to schools and talk about being an engineer and just to have more teenage girls of thinking about a career in engineering in science
And maybe support journalist like yourself, you know, if you, if you were to call us up and say, I want a comment on such and such about Dublin cycling or Irish cycling conditions really make sure that that you we get you have an opportunity to talk to women because often as, I’m a journalist as well, often we’re under a little bit of a rush, but really, you know, the representation is going to matter as well. Because once it becomes normalised that will be women speaking on behalf of all of cyclists, you’ll start to see a change. So it’s, it has to work at different levels, it’s complicated. But we you know, the more Yeah, the more like women on wheels is brilliant, but we also are pushing quite hard in it and Dublin campaign are really supporting us to become also the main spokespeople for Dublin Cycling campaign, not the main, but you know, one of the main spokespeople
One of the great things about that is that, you know, you were talking about you close your eyes and think of a cyclist, it’s a man and often there’s so there’s kind of people associate certain things with that they associate maybe aggression, they associated, this is a narrow type of person who is a cyclist. We know why should we build infrastructure for that person is not not they’re not thinking about the sort of wider society, other people who could benefit from cycling infrastructure, so
yeah, yeah, exactly. It’s really a matter of representation. Like because often people think of the cyclist, that persona, that that guy, young guy in lycra zipping around the traffic and yeah, fighting for space around buses.
And also doesn’t make it appealing to other women, if that’s what you see on the street.
Yeah, exactly. So we really need, maybe also for the campaign to be the role models for women and maybe even a companion in the path of uptake in cycling, because I have many friends and colleagues and people talking to me, yeah, I would cycle but I feel afraid or and there is some time a sense of vulnerability. And and yeah, so obviously, we are, we are advocating for infrastructure that are that are more gender neutral. So then they are appealing to both women and men. But I think what is very interesting, what came up that an opportunity for a support network for women who actually don’t cycle now, but they will be happy to if they had a buddy or someone supporting them, at the beginning may be cycling like there is this a bike angel that I really like? And it was I think it’s something in Brazil. So it’s basically somehow teaching how to navigate the space, especially for immigrants for women who are not Dubliners and people whoever may be haven’t cycled in years just because maybe they had an accident when they were a teenager and they just stopped doing it. And they had some sort of incident. So it’s, I think it’s good also to work in towards building really a community of, of cycling and of women’s cycling.
Yeah, that can really help can’t it, a female friend at University got me into cycling by basically showing me the route. And this is what the bike angels doing kind of showing people routes, giving them support advice and
Exactly on the how to navigate the space. Maybe for more experienced cyclists. Because so when we when we learn the rules of the road, let’s say we always learn from the perspective of a car driver, but cyclists do own the space too it’s our space. I attended a lecture Yes, it was very interesting, say Public, traffic space is public space. So they are and there is always an assumption that the lane it’s for the cars only, and that’s, that’s absolutely not true. And, and many people and you hear a lot about oh, cyclists, even when they’re in the cycle lane, they don’t stick to it. But no, if the, especially when the cycling, it’s packed with cars, or, you know, you need to take your space and, and sometimes it’s just that, that feeling of having to take it that it’s intimidating. But once you learn it, then you can pass it to others, I think
not to have to feel like you need to get out of the way of other road users,
We’re so kind of used to in a way. It’s ridiculous that we’ve minimised ourselves. I think Giulia said, like, I think that idea that, you know, cycling can be like a solution to you know, at nighttime, some women would actually see it as a solution to perceived or real risk. I think. For me, there’s something about cycling that is also on women is also quite deep, you know, the suffragettes use the bike as a tool of emancipation and as a kind of a symbol of how we can be independent, we don’t need to call anybody up, we don’t need, for a lift, we don’t need to wait for the bus to come along. So the bike can do something really deep for us. And it still can today. And I think so there’s this quote from Susan Anthony. ‘I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world’. And it could be doing that here, it could be freeing up women to get around to go to college, to pick up the kids to go to work to do whatever they need to do without having to wait for public transport to come on, to calculate if the bus stop is going to be in a dark place. And if they should stay a bit longer on the bus to the next up just because they don’t want to get over that stuff. So it could still be a tool for us to fulfil our potential. And we have the right for it to be that way. So hopefully, like we can really change the paradigms. But it’s funny isn’t it, do you know what I mean about this kind of deep sort of connection that a woman can have with a bike?
Yeah, it’s so freeing, and it’s wonderful. And I think so many people feel this, when they take up cycling, they get this, this just wonderful sense of being in the moment, being free being just you can go where you want when you want, especially in a city like Dublin, which is so congested, and traffic speeds are among the lowest in Europe. And you really are sort of at the mercy of how, of so many other factors if you’re in a vehicle. But if you’re in a bike, then it’s just so much more agile.
Yeah, exactly. And this I really relate to all this concept of independence, because I do cycle everywhere. And I am, because this is what makes me feel really independent. And so yeah, don’t have to know that if I have to be somewhere in 30 minutes, I’d be there in 30 minutes. I know that if I want to leave earlier from a party, whatever I go, and then just rely on myself and yeah, it’s really, actually and I have my flatmate who arrived in Dublin only a few months ago. She’s also Italian. It’s amazing to see just to reconnect about the joy of cycling, that we talked about before, which is one of our main findings, because lots of the women we interview like, they were all really talking positively about cycling despite the the conditioning in Dublin are not the best. And she also was not really into cycling, when she was in Italy, she was feeling maybe a bit clumsy about it. And now Now she started doing it. And partly because of well, this is also kind of marking her life changer, of coming here on her own, and being really completely free not living with her family. And now she really signed off on this sense of freedom and independence that she got by, got her bike very recently. And, and she told me, I wouldn’t consider I wouldn’t ever consider cycling before. And now, I just wouldn’t go anywhere without my bike. And I think this is really
Laura Laker 1:14:02
such a wonderful story. And I think that’s I don’t know, if we, if that’s a nice place to leave it.
Yeah, I think it’s lovely. I think it’s a gorgeous story. I love this. The other quote, I think that you That was the key message from our participants, which I think is it was also one that you identified Giulia, which I love is nobody’s going to take my safety away. And I think it’s
I refuse to not feel safe.
Yeah. And that’s us, that’s Women on Wheels
Laura Laker 1:14:28
Wonderful. Thank you so much, Louise and Giulia, and thank you for Aina for being with us while she could and yes and all the best for the ongoing projects and hopefully we will see this international forum of Women on Wheels. Yes. Thank you.
This podcast series is sponsored by the Dutch Cycling Embassy a public private network for sustainable bicycle inclusive mobility. To learn more about their global mission of cycling for everyone, visit their website at Dutchcycling.nl and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.
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.
Carlton Reid 0:07
Welcome to virtual Velo-city recorded at the Velo-city conference held in Dublin in June 2019. I’m Carlton Reid and this episode is tech-themed. On the conference stage, I talked driverless cars, scooters, beacons again and much more with Dr. john McCarthy, who is the European intelligent mobility leader for Arap and an expert in autonomous cars. Alongside us, was academic john Parkin, author of a recent cycling infrastructure book. We’re also including the audio from john Parkin’s 11 minute show presentation. At the Google HQ I talked beacons and more with Kevin Mayne of Cycling Industries Europe. Later in the show we hear from the European Commission Deputy Director General of transport Matthew Baldwin and then finish with Phillipe Crist from the OECD’s international transport forum.
John, there was a very long introduction there in like in the in the text where I read all the things that you’ve done on the PhD and stuff. Can you give me like, an even briefer summary of that long introduction of who you are and what you do?
John McCarthy 1:55
Pretty good question. Because you know, what, what two titles mean? And what two roles, I suppose my job is as a storyteller in the digital age, but to try and connect, you know, our analogue solutions to the, the 21st century as well, and vice versa. So I try and define what what good might look like working with stakeholders, and then working together to actually deliver that I think delivery is a key fears. We all need to dream, we also have to kind of deliver those dreams as well. And that’s part of the rule.
Carlton Reid 2:25
So the dreams of the future, from any technologists is autonomous cars.
John McCarthy 2:31
It is I think we get sidetracked a little bit just by the vehicle itself. You know, fantastic looking vehicles, shiny lights, always good data and stuff going on. The question, you know, I always pose back as what do we want from them? How can we integrate them with the cities that we have right now the cities by and large and blank campuses, where you know, we’re suffering from congestion, you know, the city’s the fiscal road space isn’t going to change? Maybe we can make it a bit smaller. But what we want from any technology, what do we want from dear? So what we want from connected vehicles, autonomous vehicles, and it’s coming back to you and me as individuals? What do I want? What, what makes my life better? And then that brings the back of my head, at least to having cities that are livable, that are sustainable? And certainly autonomous vehicles have a fantastic role to play as part of a bigger jigsaw.
Carlton Reid 3:23
How do autonomous vehicles work in a city when a pedestrian or a cyclist can go in front of it?
What rules are going to be
Brent Whittington 3:33
brought in to get autonomous vehicles into cities if they’re ever allowed into cities in the first place?
John McCarthy 3:39
Yeah, I think it’s a good question in terms of the rules, but I will put a slightly different lens on it in terms of what what we want in terms of the city, the performance metrics of our city to do. And certainly, you know, there’s the challenge of cyclists and walkers walking our cyclists and walkers going in front of any vehicle, whether it’s autonomous or not on, what is the vehicle supposed to do, then you stop you give priority. What I hope we are working towards is an ecosystem where we’re not competing for that space. And that’s on a boat. That’s about respect. And that’s about trust. And that’s about behaviours. And I think that’s as important the discussion right now, as it isn’t an autonomous vehicle world. I think the challenges from a technology perspective, how will the technology react, and what’s really important is, any new technology that’s introduced into a city environment or an urban environment has to be tested, it has to be fully understood before it’s brought out into reality. And that’s the work that, you know, lots of cities and lots of governments are involved in is trying to understand the testing that’s needed, and to understand what safety requirements are necessary. And again, I know it’s a bit of a long answer. But autonomous vehicles, there’s different levels to it. So autonomous vehicles, level five, is there’s no steering wheel, and I’m sitting on I’m doing nothing, I’m playing chess in the vehicle stroking itself, autonomous level fours, it’s driving itself in certain environments, but I will be expected to take control. Level three will be technical control at certain times level two, adaptive emergency braking systems. So we have vehicles that have levels of autonomy, anywhere I can, we kind of get lost in kind of the stereotypes of you know, what it means. This is where we need to get into the detail. And this is where we need to have, you know, really detailed conversations around autonomous levels, two vehicles, and a city environment exists now. And the vehicles will react with the emergency braking with the land assist. So that’s a conversation that needs to happen today, autonomous vehicles level five, slightly down in the future. So it’s it’s bought a conversation around, you know, understanding that things are there right now, today? And what do we need to ensure that level five wonder is no effective driver, that we have that integration? That’s the
Carlton Reid 5:57
last question, beacons
RFID, chips, whatever, whatever technology exists, or whatever technology they dream up to? Should they be on bicycles? Should they be on cyclists should be on pedestrians?
John McCarthy 6:25
I’m very reluctant to say “should”, I think everyone needs to have a choice in this. And I think we need to understand the parameters of that choice. When does it make sense for technology to be used in an immersive environment? Personally, you know, when would I feel comfortable having a piece of technology on me? And what value Am I getting out of it? On the flip side, I have my mobile phone, which has location services turned on, probably more than I understand or want. And that’s going off to a third party doing which watch? I don’t know. So I think there needs to be a question around what do I want as an individual? What services do I want? What services Am I willing to pay for? And what do I give up as part of that engagement? And am I giving it up freely, which I think we have to work towards. And I think that honesty and transparency have to be brought into the conversation, I think banner comes back to the rules of government. Government is not a private sector organisation or government is one that looks after all individuals, what are poor, what a rich, and that’s another conversation as well, to ensure that whatever technology is brought into the future isn’t just for the rich, it’s for everybody, and what has to be integrated. And so these are big questions. This is where we need to have conversations, and not just one person, but multiple stakeholders involved to fundamentally work towards defining what does good look like a simple question, but a hard one to answer. And hovering is john.
John Parkin 6:25
Hi, Carlton. I’m talking
about exactly this now. A minute ago, my answer to that last question is: Never. Full stop.
Carlton Reid 6:25
Especially with the poor. Yeah, because yeah, all the rich people can have beacons and can talk to cars. But then what about every else
John McCarthy 8:02
must be fully integrated, but I think we should have the choice.
John Parkin 8:06
And it has to be a level playing field. And therefore, if you have an autonomous vehicle, that has to be able to operate around people, people, not people with tech.
John McCarthy 8:10
100% agree, completely agree.
Carlton Reid 8:12
But the bike industry isn’t going that way. Of course, the bike industry, Trek, whole bunch of a bike companies are going down the tech route, and it’s like, well, hang on, that’s for the $2,000 bike person, but it’s not for the person that’s already good with it.
John McCarthy 8:26
But you see it even in the cycling comminity as I see I’m like I wasn’t really committed cyclists now. Like first kinda put us on the back burner slightly, but you know, cycling and you know, fantastic apps like Strava and others and you know, cycling as a hobby becomes cycling as well. I look at my metrics to see I’m performing against my competitors or you know, my my fellow cyclist we
John Parkin 8:52
performing safety function, those
John McCarthy 8:55
It shows what kind of technology is kinda integrating itself, whether rightly or wrongly, into our lives. And I completely agree with you, john, that technology shouldn’t be forced upon us. I think it has to be a level playing field that goes back to the rules of government to ensure that transparency and trust and I as an individual, have a see and how this gets handled rather than company that’s basically interested in profit making with a message around, you know, selling a fantastic story. We have to get that balance right. But I, again, I go back to the point I made that we can stereotype technology as bad as you right. I know. It’s too easy. And it’s too glib a phrase is to be evil thinking. This was a little bit of worried what I hear from everything being said is that there’s a conflict. We talked a lot about
John Parkin 9:44
the way the chair was placing without that that’s a device isn’t there. And if you were listening to pick up Bronwyn Felipe, they, they weren’t actually doing. Yeah, I mean, Bronwyn actually said, No, we’re all smart technology. Humans are smarter actually.
So it’s kind of understanding that broader context. But yeah, that’s the chairs device, two stories.
Unknown Speaker 10:04
Create prerogatoves., Carlton Reid John I am coming to your talk.
John Parkin 10:12
I think you’ve probably had a chance to read the title now. So you know what I’m going to talk about. And I think my first image for me says it all cities are for people without pedestrians and cyclists there. And that, you know, that’s where I’m at in this whole piece. But unfortunately, as an academic, you have to chase the money, the money from every UK that invested millions in autonomous vehicle research, even though Google and Uber and so on, invest billions, I don’t know how we can think we can get as good as buying this thing so little compared to the rest. But there you go. Anyway, we had a project, the research project, connected with autonomous vehicles called Ventura. And our objectives were to partly develop AV technologies. I think john McCarthy’s in the room, Susie and cookies, yes, there is involved in the project more particularly on that side of things, public acceptance, as well. And then also, insurance and legal implications, which some of our colleagues did. I was particularly in all the three titles. One was the hand over trial. The second was interactions within the motor vehicles. But for me, the most interesting one was the final one, when we developed the technology to its highest level that we could investigate and trust amongst babies and pedestrians and cyclists. That’s what I’m going to be reporting to you today. That trial had seven events. So I’ll just talk you through those events, crossing the zebra with and without a pedestrian, those are the top two images there. And then second, two events were overtaking a parked car with and without a cyclist approaching in the opposite direction. I just point out that the manoeuvre of overtaking a car car is really challenging. Think about it from a human point of view. Is there a vehicle coming towards me yesterday is where’s my position? What’s my speed? Where’s the stationary vehicle? How fast do I have to travel? How fast is the vehicle travelling ahead? Will I move back in before the distance that it’s a really complex problem. And the final three are turning into a side road without any other road user with a pedestrian crossing, and where the cyclists crossing as well. Those are some images, you see, we had Yellow Jackets there. That was when we were still doing the kind of safety testing our distress, we didn’t put yellow jackets, on the pedestrians and cyclists in the actual trials, we had, in fact, what we call actual pedestrians and cyclists. And then we had observers responding to us, and 134 people 49, who are as it were pretending to be acting in the driver or 45, and a cyclist role. 14 the pedestrian role, although, of course, the vast majority of the hundred and 3400 licences anyway. But the rest were predominantly either side fish or production. Anything else they’re all age ranges male, female. And I think the graphs on the right are really indicative to me the show the trust scores, overall, the top one for the real world, the bottom on the simulator, the trust scores are generally very high. I’ll come back to that later on. And you don’t mean meant to read all the numbers on this, I’m going to unpack these numbers for you now in the next few minutes. But this is the summary of the raw data. So the first column is all respondents. And then we have the trust scores for cyclists, drivers, and then their strings. And then they, the two principal rows are all top Thomas vehicle, the real world. And then the simulator. what we were doing, it was a kind of experiment, and we were asking for trust ratings. And we couldn’t have asked for comfort ratings as well. But we felt that the conditions were not so different that we would get differentiation. So you just asking about trust.
So from there on them, we can had five research question, take you through each of those. Now. The principal interest was what the effect on the trust school they have the presence of a pedestrian or cyclist. Now mostly there were no significant differences in the trust goes overland in for the, for the for the non junctions, these two conditions. When the pedestrian was present, the trust code decreased on the zebra, which is perhaps slightly odd by a significant amount statistically signal does the presence we don’t really know. But it does the presence of destiny and actually acts as a reminder about what the several crossing is therefore, which might be slightly worrying. And people pointed out don’t really realise that. intriguingly, but inversely, when the cyclist was president, when the autonomous vehicles are overtaking the pump car, the the trust school, what did you do to increase the trust score? So maybe the inverse is happening here, Laura, describe its complex problems, the autonomous vehicle and what’s going on? Is it that the people who are in the vehicle wondering how a vehicle myself operate, had there been something coming towards it? Well, when there was a cyclist, they were comfortable with that. But perhaps I’ll come on something a bit later, perhaps the vehicle was being overcautious. So then, at the junction, the effect of the pedestrian cyclists being present, the pedestrian didn’t significantly affect the trust scores. But the cyclist did. So just sort of looking through that there’s no difference between know the pedestrian, but there is a significant difference when the cyclists was their competitor, no person, and when the cyclists was there compared to a pedestrian. So again, there’s the actual presence, keep confidence about what’s going on? Or was it that that autonomous vehicles too cautious, I have to stress that, you know, that we’re not there yet. We’ve got autonomous vehicle technology, as you’ve just seen from the tragic American example. So the second research question was, is there a difference by the type of respondent, I’ve already described that relatively speaking there was sort of homogenous in the sense that they were all driving anyway. But we were asking them to think in those different roles. But we found no statistically significant differences between people and the respondents based on what their role was. I’m going to skip over the next two research questions, bear in mind the time and I’ll pick up on these in the conclusion. But we also looked at the fact that the platform platform meaning either the real world or the simulator, and then the fourth question there effect to the driver versus autonomy, we actually got the person performing the driving wrong within the simulator to actually drive the vehicle. And we could compare the responses of the cyclists in production in the simulator to autonomy or the driver of skip over that. And then the final research question was, and just to understand differences based on age driving experience, there were none. But there was high correlation between the trust scores. And we had a whole batch of psychometric tests, including one on general trust in technology, and claps. And surprisingly, there was correlation between the trust scores and general trust in technology. So let’s move on to the summary. In conclusion, then each of those research questions in turn, I just want to have a code if I can, I’ve got a couple of minutes for code after this slide.
So differently, the presidents of pedestrians and cyclists, broadly speaking, the trust ratings were very high. And the trust ratings were high with the cyclist present. But you know, we’re not really sure, you know, too little release, there’s one trial with 134 people and perhaps not, not a particularly good vehicle. But I would say this is the first trial like this in the library. There’s been other material done with kind of respondents suggesting in a kind of conceived and setup scenario, what they what they would think, but there’s no scenario like this, where they’ve been exposed to it, the effect of the participant role wasn’t important. So perhaps, you know, we are still real people responding to technology in a kind of fairly homogeneous way. So maybe there’s no need for different messaging. There’s no effect of the platform that suggests to techies that we can actually use a simulator as a use of tests, but before testing in the real world, which is quite useful, because it means that you don’t kill people in the real world before you’ve kind of got someone’s reassurance from the simulator. And the fourth point, then, the effect of manual driving versus autonomy was higher trust always in the manual driving, because of the way we set the thing up the mic actually been an older effect there. But that’s quite interesting finding. And then no correlation runway personality type. But do we need to gain gauge against being true to trusting? So that’s my research findings. But if I could, people who know me will know that I this is not an advert? Well, it is I’m slipping in. Well, now that I’ve written a book called designing for cycle traffic are some leaflets here, which I’ll leave on the front. But interestingly, the same publisher institution of civil engineers, is now asking me to write a chapter on a book about autonomous vehicles on infrastructure for autonomous vehicles. Now, I’d rather write that rather than leaving somebody else. And certainly, there are some key messages that you know, I’m trying to get in there. Particularly, and I think this is this is the point for me, we’ve heard very interesting discussion this morning in the plenary, I think the use of autonomous vehicles won’t be to do with the technology at all. It will be to do with how we choose a civic society to create the infrastructure for autonomous vehicles. We’ve only got mass motoring because we created infrastructure for mass motoring. So I think we still offer playful. But I’ve got some notes here on my ideas for the book where we might pick that up in q&a. But the other point I just want very briefly to make is that the law commissions in the UK, the England one and the Scottish one, but just finished consultation on the changes in legislation that is needed for autonomous vehicles, the rather intriguing fire they put up three contentious scenarios. One was the autonomous vehicles. Could they could they mount footways? In what circumstances could they mount? it in my view, extremely surprisingly, a very large proportion of the respondents suggesting that they could, which to me is rather worrying. The second one was the contingent, could an autonomous vehicles any circumstances exceed the speed limit? Again, and the majority of respondents was suggesting that they could. So it’s a lot to play for here. And we we have to really think carefully about these and the final contentious one. Should autonomous vehicles be allowed to nudge pedestrians in order to assert some some supremity? You know, some priority and otherwise production priority areas. They took quite seriously the response of the Game Theorists, who is suggesting that unless you did allowance Norio, that an autonomous vehicle wouldn’t be able to move at all. So currently role playing game theory. Rather than being collaborators in a public space, I would rather like the collaboration rather than the competition. And I think that has already been mentioned. But I think I want to make those points because we are all now in terms of legislation exactly at the point where we need to begin to influence what might be in our legislation and fish and I’ll leave it there.
Carlton Reid 21:51
I’m here at Google HQ with Kevin Mayne of Cycling Industries Europe.
Kevin. Bits. What does Bits stand for?
Kevin Mayne 22:03
Very simple abbreviation: bicycles, and intelligent transport solutions. Bicycles and ITS is the shorthand,
Carlton Reid 22:10
Is that beacons? Are we talking putting beacons on bikes? What are we talking about?
Kevin Mayne 22:14
It could be, but it’s a broader cliches about ecosystems and frameworks. But frankly, connected mobility is intelligent transport systems. So yes, it’s the inter-vehicle stuff. But it’s when you give your data to the city to help design better bike lanes. It’s when you go on to an app. It’s the it’s the kind of smarts in transport is the intelligent transport systems,
Carlton Reid 22:38
So, Cycling Industries Europe and who?
Kevin Mayne 22:41
The BITS project is conceived by six municipalities in the Netherlands, Belgium, UK, Denmark, and Germany. We have research partners as well and and we have a one from province of Antwerp are also bringing in specialists to design data centres. And it’s five
Carlton Reid 23:00
million euros and a five year project
Kevin Mayne 23:03
Is 5 million euros over three years, three years. Yeah, we got to work fast
Carlton Reid 23:07
And the end result will be?
Kevin Mayne 23:11
The end result is that we want to show in the cities that we can get up to a 10% uplift in cycling through just the ideas component. So but complementary to their investments in infrastructure and other stuff like that. But from Cycling Industries Europe point of view, it’s the first kind of paid up chance to create the frameworks where we understand what we have to do in data standards. What do we have to do in data sharing, so I hoping it helps us catch up with the automotive sector and the public transport sectors are a long way ahead of us. They’ve got big corporate investors, people can see the money shining in in automotive data, they can’t yet see it in cycling. So we’ve really got to prove the case that cycling can connect.
Brent Whittington 23:52
Automotive sector seems to want beacons and the bicycle industry seems to want beacons, but you can’t have beacons on every single bike,
Kevin Mayne 24:02
We’re pretty well agreed with all the major bike makers that there’s no kind of pressure for some massive retroactive fitting, and what I talk about a lot is that there’s going on the very bottom of the of this process. I mean, if you go to pedestrians, we’re not going to microchip our children. automated driving will not depend on beacons being attached to soft moving objects, end of storey never going to happen. However, if you like a bicycle helmet, or like bicycle lights, feel more confident on your bike because you got some extra tech, then frankly, we’d love to give you that confidence.
Brent Whittington 24:38
Rich, white man rich white person thing I mean, these aren’t gonna be on all bikes out there like the like the famous invisible cyclists and they’re like that,
Kevin Mayne 24:48
no, no, they’re gonna be say there’s two groupings, I think there is the the technology that you can buy if you want it, and it will tend to be enthusiast or high and lead. But look at the market, Netherlands, nobody can argue the Dutch need he bikes, when they already said that 80% of the population still cycles every month anyway, do the last one, he bikes because it makes their cycling easier and less complicated. And then you know, whatever, then Klay, they do. So they’re making a consumer decision to buy into increase technology. And there is some feedback that in certain and 10s perhaps be the low volume syphon countries that people say this kind of tech, I think I’d appreciate it. And appreciate the ability to talk to cars, from some kind of detection. But it is not the core, the core is actually a wiser system, where frankly, it’s not the data you give to the car is the data we collect as a society that builds better bike lanes, that creates better knowledge about black spots, that does, you know, enables you to switch seamlessly from my cargo bike on Monday to a bike share on Tuesday to rent a folding bike on Wednesday. That’s when it gets smart. So I think we’re getting distracted by one or two case studies such as beacons. But isn’t I’m
Carlton Reid 26:05
gonna I’m gonna go keep on going on beacons here but is not a danger with beacons that you almost get the like the helmet example in that if you’re not wearing the helmet, it’s your fault that you haven’t got a beacon on that’s your focus be
Kevin Mayne 26:19
absolutely clear, you know, the bottom end of our mobility system. Let’s go back to walking. Now if we go back to the Dutch model, a column wheeled pedestrians, if we want to build a cycling world, where cycling as as easy as that, we have to base it on that premise, a very human city, a very mobile city, a very active city. And we are not going to be canonise up our society to deliver this. And we had a fantastic plenary this morning at Villa city where people talked about the human values. So the the task is to do I think the clever stuff, which is to make our city wiser to make our ability to go on a cycling holiday in a different country easier because we can access certain information. And when you look at the European Union’s objectives for this at the legislative level, they are talking about how do you make it easier? They have a new European Union regulation on the data that should be available. And it’s got nothing to do with beacons. It’s got all to do with what kind of bike lane is it? Is there bicycle parking? Is there an interface with a railway station? Yeah, and if we ever did have that on an EU wide basis, we wouldn’t have a richer cycling society. And within that there might be some automated cars that are using beacons to avoid us. But that’s the bonus. The core is actually say almost like a been a designer wiser system, for the cyclist, and for the city planner.
Carlton Reid 27:50
Right I am now with Matthew Baldwin, and Matthew, and I’m going to read this out because you could have your business cards about six foot wide. So you are the Deputy Director General for transport in the EU. And then you are also the European coordinator for road safety. So you’re right here at velo city,
Matthew Baldwin 28:09
supporting what exactly? Well supporting the case for road safety and sustainable mobility to be looked at together. I think for too long, sometimes these communities have been separated off, you’ve got the, you know, the road safety engineers looking at Vehicle Safety over here. And then you know, here you’ve got these, I’m putting this in quotation marks, you know, crazy people who want to cycle and walk in cities, and gotta bring those two things together. I mean, the latest figures show I think that 70% of the people who are killed in cities, what we call it are horrible road safety, jargon vulnerable road uses. I people with soft tissue that can be hurt by hard metal objects. And that’s 80% I think in London, and it’s 90% I believe in Swedish cities. In Canada, when you stop thinking about how if you’re driving around a Swedish city in a Volvo, how do you get killed, I guess you get hit by a bigger Volvo or something like that.
That’s as close as you can get to a joke in road safety.
And it’s still a sackable offence. Little bit, I want to bring these two things together and get both communities into a real discussion about it. And there’s some great work going on the European Transport Safety Council has done a great study on urban mobility. So linking the two issues together. POLIS have been doing great stuff, the ITF have done a great study. And I really think we’re starting to, you know, win those arguments and it’s somebody said in a panel earlier today, this conference here Velo-city in Dublin is not about what we can do for cycling it’s about what cycling can do for sustainable mobility and by reference what cycling can do for cities. And I’m a believer.
Brent Whittington 29:54
But there are more than two communities in this space. Because scooters and e-scooters are not really been talked about here. It’s almost like the elephant in the room.
Matthew Baldwin 30:05
In the room, I hear nothing but scooters here. And maybe you’ve been in different panels,
Brent Whittington 30:09
like official stuff like you know, we are now talking about scooter. So the be mentioned. So they were mentioned in the plenary this morning, they mentioned obliquely, but there’s nothing nobody coming on head on and saying, this is a good thing. This might be good for bringing bicycles on board as well. What Philippe Christ this morning was talking about was forget bike lanes, we’re going to have just mobility lanes. So from the EU’s point of view, I’m not I’m not asking you for any official breaking stories here. But what is your point of view on on these things?
Matthew Baldwin 30:42
Well, I think across Europe and all the different levels of governance, you know, the, in the European Union, and the member states in the cities, there is a scramble, a sort of head scratching scramble to figure out how to deal with these things. I mean, on the one hand, they are another solution to promote sustainable mobility and to reduce our dependence on the private car in the city. They’re fun, they’re happy, they’re fresh, they’re new. And, you know, a big part of me says, you know, the European Commission can’t afford to be, you know, this big wagging finger of caution and prudent saying, you know, there’s not in regulations 625 1981. So it’s not allowed. And I really don’t want to be in that position. on another level, we and everyone else do need to ensure a reasonable level of safety. There’s no hard data. Yeah, on the situation. Anecdotally, I’m hearing quite a lot of bad storeys, about, you know, emergency wards filling up with people who have come off these things. The wheels are small, the centre of gravity is not ideal, from a safety perspective, certainly not as good as the bike. And so I think we need to develop a frame work for safe TV scooters in which they can grow sustainably and be part of good urban mobility solutions. And, you know, we’ve got to get on with it. It’s, it’s in this great world of subsidiarity, it’s certainly not going to all be for the European Union, it might be at the level of the safety of the scooter as opposed to the traffic laws, which is much more for the member states in the cities, we’ve got to do it together. And the cities are under the most pressure to act and just chatting to the deputy mayor of Paris, you know, Paris is acting against the 14 at the bidet being rolled out a different cities in different time. So that just arrived in Germany. I made a bad jokes, but like the grey squirrel, the way they’re moving across Europe, you know.
And everyone’s gonna have to figure out how to react, I’d like us to react in a coordinated way.
Brent Whittington 32:52
A coordinated way means regulations?
Matthew Baldwin 32:57
Well, that will be the old school reaction to say, you know, the commission doesn’t do anything unless it regulates. I want to have a dialogue with Member States share information about, you know, which company is established where safety information, and very important is, what’s the modal shift information? Are they replacing car trips or other people not getting in the bus and going on these on these scooters? The Polish network of cities, they’re sharing information a lot as well. So let’s make sure we’re all operating on the same basis. The key to good regulation of any kind is data. And we don’t really have enough data yet.
Carlton Reid 33:37
Matthew, where have you come from? What’s your
what’s your back …?
Matthew Baldwin 33:41
I just met you in the reception.
Brent Whittington 33:43
OK, I fell into that one. Where have you come from in your career? How have you ended up here in an elevated position?
Matthew Baldwin 33:53
Well, I’m 56 years old, how long have you got? Well, I was a British civil servant for many years, a few years. And then I got the chance to work in the European Commission. And frankly, I found my vocation, I don’t mind telling you on a on a n a thing that’ll be broadcast in the UK, I’ve loved every second of working for Europe, profoundly believe in it. And that’s all I’m going to say about anything else
Brent Whittington 34:18
The B word is that the word you are trying to avoid the word? Bollocks. I think it is when we can say, what can I say to
Matthew Baldwin 34:26
Bollocks. Thank you very much. I feel very good. No, I didn’t say no, it’s been it’s been a wonderful experience. I’m a trained negotiator. I’ve worked with some extraordinary commissioners, Pascal Lamy was the first Commissioner, I worked for, a man of extraordinary depth and energy. And I worked also in the cabinet, President Barroso and in the cabinet of Commissioner Hill, who left right after Brexit. But I’ve come back to mobility through choice. And I use the word advisedly, when I try no longer to talk about transport. And as Deputy Director General, I get the chance to focus a bit on some of the things and I chose to focus on road safety and the linked aspects of sustainable mobility because they’re profoundly exciting. And I feel that in in some modest way, I can make a contribution in these.
Brent Whittington 35:17
What do you think these kind of conferences even though this is your first day here? Which is the kind of conferences that we’ve got here? What can they do? Because it’s just a bunch of talking heads? And and talking amongst ourselves? Really, how can we get the message out of these? I’d like to say four walls, but we’re in a big circle. So how do we get the message out of the ivory tower?
Matthew Baldwin 35:41
Well, I’m very impressed to be here. firstly by the size and the scale of the event. And the breadth of people who come in. You know, you got the mobility as a service crowd, you got the ITS crowd, very interesting. Here. The bike ITS the bike ITS is looming on the horizon. You’ve got the of course, the bike advocates who are eloquent and fun. And I think on a very good, strong pragmatic policy track, they’re pushing with pedestrians for active mobility strategy, I get that I understand why they’re pushing for it. And it’s very welcome. And I was interested to see the cycling industry come of age, of course, now we’ve got the separate advocacy. This separate industry groups now have emerging at the European level. I’m urging them to continue to work together to keep a unified voice for cycling. And cycling is becoming big business. Incredible. And you look at the the mushrooming sales of E bikes. I’m a bit of a biking traditionalist, myself, but I’m come around to e-bike because great new study that shows that the health benefits of using an E bike can be just as big as for the bike because you’re cycling longer distances. And it broadens the commuting.
What’s the word? Carlton Reid Demographic.
The demographic, the commuting era. And so so it’s a rambling and long answer, but it’s a wonderful cocktail mixture of people. And again, not just interested in promoting the thing we all do as a as a hobby or to get to work, but because we can see the benefits it brings to cities and communities.
Brent Whittington 37:16
So you mentioned BITS, bicycle Information Technology, that that partnering with Cycling industries Europe, now one of the streams is not the major stream but one of the streams there are our beacons. So these chips whatever whatever technology is going to use to demarcate vulnerable road users that term that you didn’t like to use (valued road users). Valued roads users, okay. So that you know that the autonomous cars of the future or potentially even you know, equipped vehicles now will be able to spot similarly equipped cyclist? Is that something that from a whole population point of view? How equitable is that, because clearly, it’s going to be the the rich people who will have this beacon technology first. And the poor people who won’t have this technology will be the ones potentially getting squashed because they haven’t got the beacons.
Matthew Baldwin 38:17
It’s not a subject I’ve thought too much about. You raised it today. And I was very interested to hear the way you expressed it in the whole, I’m very interested to hear the responses you got to which were very mixed. And the Commission’s job isn’t to pick the next generation of technological winners. It is to again, sorry, sounds terribly bland, the Bill of Rights facilitates a framework through which good new technologies can be deployed effectively. And so there is a role for technology in bikes. And that’s that’s very clear. And it’s you know, not just technology in the terms of new gee whiz gadgetry, but the sharing technology and everything else. And this is a, I think, quite a revelation to people who think that it’s a it’s a one trick pony, the poor old fashioned bicycle. Now, technology must serve our broader interests. And so I’m finally getting to your question. And it’s got to be promoting safe and sustainable and affordable and accessible mobility.
If it isn’t, I’m less interested, frankly speaking. And that’s, that’s the goal,
we’re all about.
On your specific idea of a beacon, it doesn’t necessarily trouble me so much for an equity point of view, because you got expensive and cheap bicycles, which you can do better things already. And hopefully, in the end, this kind of, if it takes off, this kind of technology can be rolled out relatively cheaply for for the marginal units to speak like a proper Forbes person. And and, you know, you can you can maximise the the cost benefit ratio with this type of technology. I don’t know, I’m not speaking about the specific but the idea is to when you have a good idea to ubiquitous it and get it out there.
Carlton Reid 40:10
Phillipe Crist, you’re gonna have to tell me your official job title. Yes, but quite a long one. Yeah. But at the International Transport Forum of the OCD,
Phillipe Criste 40:18
Yeah, the OECD, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation. Carlton Reid So where are you based?
We’re based in Paris with so the OECD is a intergovernmental body working on all aspects of regular governments education, policy, environment policy. And there’s also a semi autonomous body that works on transport. And that’s the international transport forum, we have 16 members around the world.
Carlton Reid 40:39
And is your background is as a statistician, is
that right? .
Phillipe Criste 40:43
God, no, my background, my undergraduate studies were in economics and anthropology and my graduate studies were in a natural resource management and logistics, management. I mean, the National … in French.
Brent Whittington 40:57
Is it the land use management part that got you in transport?
Phillipe Criste 41:01
What got me into transport is growing up in the United States and coming back to France every summer, and realising that even as a young child, the degree of freedom I had in France, being able to walk around to take the bus to cycle in cities was something I cannot even imagine in the United States. And I think when I think back, that was really the moment in which
those were the experiences that made me want to go into this field.
Carlton Reid 41:26
And if you had to describe what you did on a daily basis, what would that
Phillipe Criste 41:31
What do I type?
Carlton Reid 41:31
be? Describe your job, Phillipe Criste I sit in front of a computer, and I type
Who do you type to?
Phillipe Criste 41:40
We provide advice to transport ministries, and our member governments around the world and, and on a number of different levels. So on the first level is the classic world of the OECD, which is countries have objectives, targets, things they want to have happened. And then there’s what they do to make it happen. And our work is actually to analyse what they do to see if it actually will deliver what they want the objectives, the outcomes they want. Sometimes it’s yes, sometimes it’s no, oftentimes, it’s maybe. And so we provide the analysis on how to actually better craft their policies to meet their objectives. But then there’s a whole other aspect, which is actually thinking beyond what they’re finding horizon is beyond where their their visibility is to try to find out what may be important for them in the future that they’re overlooking or not aware of, and help prepare them for that. And that is both the function of foresight, so everything that what’s coming down the pipeline, but it’s also a function of hindsight, and what is it that they should not forget? And a lot of the work around active mobility is of that type. What is it that we should not forget when we think about transport policy going forward?
Brent Whittington 42:13
But you gave the very thought provoking plenary, this morning, but I believe it was afterwards in like the Q&A session, where something jumped out at me in a meeting wrote it down in my notes, where you said in the future, we don’t want bike lanes, we want, in effect, light mobility lanes. So what do you mean by that? And I’m presuming you mean scooters? Or do you mean more than just scooters?
Phillipe Criste 43:09
I think we’re at a moment in time where the cities that we have the infrastructure, the transport infrastructure that we have in cities, has been built on a design that was made, at least in the 1920s and 30s, so almost 100 years ago, and that served relatively well, okay, a bit poorly in some areas. But generally, that’s the design we’ve inherited from having large vehicles, four wheels, with one person driving around. I don’t think that’s the model going forward. And I think in order to deliver better mobility outcomes in cities, we have to really think about seriously, and in some cases radically think about the reallocation of space in our cities. I don’t think having a model where you provide a lot of space for nearly empty vehicles is the right one going forward as we see urban crowd and go up around the world. And so that’s the point is that maybe we can think of reallocating, redesigning, reallocating space for different forms of mobility that isn’t based just on on if it runs on a combustion engine, but more on is it large or small? Is it fast or relatively slow? Is it measurable on a human scale, and can handle interactions with people walking, cycling or not? In that case, instead of having streets as we have in today, I think at some point, maybe in 100 years, let’s think far away, they will have a network that will be segregated, or defined by the mass and speed of objects on that network. In that case, it doesn’t make sense to talk about bicycle lanes and increasing them 30 centimetres, 50 centimetres, it makes sense to actually allocate all the street to things that are light and small, and not terribly fast. So light mobility lanes, and that allows you to have bicycles mixing with scooters, mixing with all types of things we have not yet thought of but that would fit into that category of not necessarily terribly dangerous things that should be given a lot of space in cities, and having the large, more dangerous things being pushed out to parts of the network where we feels comfortable, they can operate without actually harming or killing humans.
Carlton Reid 45:13
So that means behind us here, where we have lots of cars in the city centre might not be something for the future, we should be getting rid of the cars.
Phillipe Criste 45:24
that’s a that’s a leading question. But yes, that’s exactly what I think I’m looking outside the window here. And I can see there are three lanes, one that’s taken up by coaches, another one that’s taken up by a lot of other to their pickup by a lot of cars. I would be surprised that in 30 to 40 years, we would see that it would also be seen, it might also be seen as something that was in unthinkable and 30 or 40 years that we ever allocated space in that way. I think that of course not in all parts of the city, can you see this reallocation of space, this reallocation of the use of the networks that we put in place in our cities, but I think in much of the cities, it does make sense to actually, it’s not a question of banning cars, it’s just actually making the most efficient use of that space, and, and ensuring that the priority is given to those uses. When we talk about the the scooter wars, you know, the scooter wars are having both on where they should be stored and where they should run. It’s a discussion we’re only having because we’ve been pushed off into a very small slice of space that we have to share with bicycle scooters, pedestrians, etc. That’s the problem. It’s not the scooter itself, it’s the amount of space with which we have to work to actually use sensible sustainable options for the city.
Carlton Reid 46:39
And then in your plenary you also use the concept, I might be paraphrasing you a little bit but you are you are potentially cynical about the future for autonomous vehicles.
Phillipe Criste 46:55
I don’t think of myself as a cynic, a technical cynic, though I am French. So there’s maybe a little bit of that in my DNA. No, I’m a technical realist. And I have to say that we do interact a lot with the technology industry and those that actually are designing systems. And I think that kind of hyperbolic optimism that we had a few years ago, is of course natural with any new technology, but so also is natural, the kind of phase of deception that I think many are coming into, because we realise that the main issue with automating transport and making driving this transport possible isn’t actually replacing the mistakes that a small share of drivers make, it’s actually replicating the very good performance that most drivers have almost all the time. That’s a very different technical challenge. It’s easy to get rid of the mistakes, it’s very hard to actually duplicate what it is that we do well. And so that I think is a realistic view on where automated driving is going forward. probably makes sense in a few limited context. At first, it may never make sense in all context everywhere.
Carlton Reid 47:58
So it might work on a limited access freeway. So you have maybe trucks coming into the outskirts that then cargo bikes, maybe taking over in the cities, that kind of thing?
Phillipe Criste 48:10
Yeah, and think I think a real fundamental question that we tend to leave aside is, so, you know, we have this technology, automated driving. But oftentimes we forget what the question was that that’s the answer to and if if the question was, for example, we really need to make transport safer, we need to make car driving safer. Okay, that’s fair enough, that’s a very good target, very good goal to have, there are probably 30 to 40 things that I can think of right now that we could do first, to make it safer today, without having to go all the way to automated driving, and even those technology options like ISA – intelligent speed adaptation – even if we put that in place that might make the case for full on automation, not nearly as compelling as it seems to be today.
Carlton Reid 48:55
So I’ve just been driving a Tesla in the US, and I put it on autopilot
Phillipe Criste 49:00
now. And Scary, scary.
Carlton Reid 49:03
You can make it go faster. And you can just say, right? Well, autopilot mode, go at 90 miles an hour. So you’re you’re already 10 miles over the speed limit. And it does it because it’s just following your commands. But with the ISA, as an introduction, you’ve got to stop that sort of thing. And you could Tesla could do that right now it could just say, Well, okay, where we put an autopilot mode, it’s got to follow all the laws. And right now, it acts actually allowed to break the laws. And that’s that surely is down to lax regulation in the US would, but you can do it in the EU as well. So are we going to have regulations have to be brought in for this technology? Level two, level three, level four, whatever, before it can happen?
Phillipe Criste 49:47
Now, I think one of the things that we’re realising when we look into this space is technology space around transport. And one of the things that we see is that there are a large number, an increasing number, of automated decision making systems that are being deployed self driving vehicles. Tesla’s autopilot is one example of that. And at the same time, we have, of course, have at public authorities, concerns about what should happen and shouldn’t happen. We have laws and regulations to enforce that and to make sure that what happens does happen, what shouldn’t happen shouldn’t happen. Those laws and regulations are made in paper, they’re made in analogue form they’re made in human language, these automated decision making systems, they all run on code on algorithms. And I think that gap is in fact where you see a lot of tensions in this sort of technology space today. From a regulatory perspective, I think we need to think about machine readable law, machine readable regulations, ISA being one example of that, that makes it very difficult to and in some cases, impossible, transgress the law. There is this issue of the How then you actually designed a system for full automatic control, it’s very different than what we have today because our legal system is made for having some room for human interpretation in the world that I described to you human interpretation is not part of it. And so you have to really think about what law and what levels and what thresholds. But I think generally going forward, we can’t just sit on our backsides and think, well, we’ll just keep regulating as we have been, we as we have always, when the whole object of regulation is changing in a very different way. And in order to interpret our regulations, we have to depend on third parties, almost like an outsourcing of government for for that to take place. So I think self I mean, machine readable law, algorithmic systems of government are going to be part of the regulatory answer to all these technologies that are being deployed.
Carlton Reid 51:37
So, final question, and we can to hear that the the audience here is heading out to the nightlife of Dublin, I’m a cycle advocate. And again, I’m assuming that you professionally have got to be a bit more of a transport agnostic, you probably can’t come down on one form of transport or the other. However, on a spectrum, where would you place your views on cycling? And so how much could you say you’re a cycle advocate?
Phillipe Criste 52:05
Oh, are you kidding? I’m not a cycle advocate. I’m just someone who, who understands a good sense argument when you see it. And, and I don’t have to temper what I say. Because what I say about cycling and a lot of it is very good about cycling is based on evidence and it’s based on the outcomes that our country’s adhere to, something that is going to make us better, something that makes our cities function better, something that has monetizable, demonstrable benefits for society, those things cycling contributes to so I have no problem. saying those things without even being an advocate. Just on the facts. It makes sense. And of course, yes, I also quite like cycling.
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.
Laura Laker 00:00 I’m here with Lars Stromgren – hope I pronounced your name right – now Lar’s from Sweden and has been doing some work on Vision Zero. Obviously, in the UK, we have Vision Zero is just starting to pick up as an idea and as a policy. But Sweden is far ahead of this now. So do you want to tell me a bit about where you are now?
BYCS’ Maud de Vries, founder of the bicycle mayors programme. Satya Sankaran, bicycle mayor of Bengalaru (the official name of Bangalore). Rod King MBE of 20’s Plenty. Christophe Najdovski, deputy mayor of transport in Paris.
Laura Laker 0:00 Welcome to Episode One of Virtual Velo-city which was recorded at the Velo-city conference in Dublin in June 2019. I’m Laura Laker and on this episode we’ll be bringing you a selection of folks we grabbed at the show.