Hosted by David Bernstein & Carlton Reid since 2006 Posts

September 5, 2023 / / Blog

5th September 2023

The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

EPISODE 338: Bikemap: In conversation with Bruna de Guimaraes

SPONSOR: Tern Bicycles

HOST: Carlton Reid

GUEST: Bruna de Guimaraes

TOPICS: Interview with Bikemap’s Chief Operations Officer Bruna de Guimaraes


Carlton Reid 0:13
Welcome to Episode 338 of the Spokesmen cycling podcast. This show was engineered on Tuesday 5th of September 2023.

David Bernstein 0:28
The Spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast is brought to you by Tern bicycles. The good people at Tern are committed to building bikes that are useful enough to ride every day and dependable enough to carry the people you love. In other words, they make the kind of bikes that they want to ride. Tern has e-bikes for every type of rider. Whether you’re commuting, taking your kids to school or even carrying another adult, visit That’s t e r n to learn more.

Carlton Reid 1:04
I’m Carlton Reid. And welcome to the second episode about cycle routing apps, both episodes of which were uploaded at the same time. On the previous show, I talked with Richard Fairhurst of And here, I talk with Bikemap’s Chief Operations Officer Bruna de Guimaraes. And where are you right this time?

Bruna de Guimaraes 1:31
So I’m currently in Munich, in Germany. And yeah, but I’m from Brazil originally.

Carlton Reid 1:38
And how long have you been with with Bikemap?

Bruna de Guimaraes 1:42
I’ve been with Bikemap since November last year. And it’s been a great ride,

Carlton Reid 1:49
literally. And and

Bruna de Guimaraes 2:02

Carlton Reid 1:52
Where were you? So let’s go through a biography of you. Before we even get into what Bikemap is? Let’s get into you. So where were you before Bikemap? Give the trajectory.

Bruna de Guimaraes 2:03
I’m happy to give because this is a really interesting way on how I landed in back live. But I actually graduated in law. So I became a lawyer. And that was in Estonia, which is a completely different story on how I ended up in Estonia all the way from Brazil originally. And I lend him in the software industry as if you know, the Estonia is like a land of digitalization. And so many companies are coming out of there. And especially so many unicorns. And I landed in Pipedrive, which is became a big unicorn in the software industry. And I fell in love with this world in a subscription based businesses and just having this contact with the users. And in Pipedrive, it was responsible for the whole business development. And I had a mini life crisis at the time because I did not know what business development actually meant. But I got the CEO at the time to be my mentor and teach me everything I know today. And as I said, business development is so broad, that my area was more related to product strategy. So basically everything when you’re trying to find a country to go to when you’re trying to find a market to expand your product to you cannot just think about going there. You have to take many things in consideration, such as localization, such as pricing strategies, such as product strategy, and maybe even a strategy or how you get into these countries. Maybe it’s through partnerships, maybe it’s through sales, maybe it’s through integrations. And what we did there in Pipedrive, was actually that my responsibility was to find these countries, and actually adapt the product and create a strategy to enter the market, with partnerships with integrations, and then a sales team would come in. And that was my world for multiple years. I continued developing in the CRM space after I moved to Germany. And that’s also a completely different story, because it involves moving to a different country because of because of a love story. But I continue to decide the SAS industry consulting and advising for a lot of CRM and software businesses.

Carlton Reid 4:34
Jump in there because anybody who doesn’t know Customer Relationship marketing is what you mean by CRM, yes?

Bruna de Guimaraes 4:39
Exactly. It’s basically a tool right that you can manage your relationship with their with their customer. So all the data you have also managing your sales processes. So it was towards all b2b. And I’ve been in this industry for eight years and I’m I had a little bit of contact with the b2c industry. But it was only last year, where then I was contacted by the headhunter of bike map to actually enter and try to help bike map to elevate to the next level. So bring a little bit more of a experience from a different industry to see if we could actually take pipeline to to the level that it deserves to be.

Carlton Reid 5:25
And have you done so far.

Bruna de Guimaraes 5:27
It’s really good. It’s, as I said, it’s been a ride. And I actually see a lot of similarities, if I must say, because as I mentioned, in the b2b space, and especially in the CRM space, where I was, I used to work with a lot of small and medium businesses. So it wasn’t working with enterprises and a long sales cycle, it was actually a very short one. So we had to deal with a lot of product lead growth, which means a lot of your product is your Sales Machine, your contact to your customer is through the product, you don’t have time to actually talk to every customer. And this is something I see very similar in the b2c industry. So this is what we’re trying to do. And this is what we have been doing in bike Mac now, and talking to our customers and really understand them based on the data that they actually use the product on the review that they give to us and the Apple Store and the Google Play Store, and the communication that we have with them through our support system.

Carlton Reid 6:31
Because you have a lot of competitors, many of whom, in fact, the majority of whom are free. And I’m kind of looking here at you know, things like you know, that people will have on their phones and use all the time, Google Maps and Apple Maps. So you are competing in a marketplace, where there’s some incredibly good free products. So why are people paying good money to subscribe for a month, six months a year to bike map?

Bruna de Guimaraes 7:01
That’s a great question. And I love to say that they are really our biggest competitor because that’s what been used by everyone until today. But the differentiator of bike map specialty is really the fact that we have this community aspect. So if you think about people going through these routes every single day, or when they plan a route to with their friends or with their family, you have actually this aspect of you know that someone has been through that through there. And they really have this trustworthiness. Because one thing is you’re being guided in Google Maps and how many times you were living in the city, for example, I don’t know what has how it’s been with you. But with me, if I want to go somewhere, even with my bike for transportation reasons, I know that there is a faster route, I know that there is a safer route for me, and Google Maps gives me just maybe what’s better regarding traffic, may be what is the fastest. But that might not be my favourite profile of my favourite decision. I have a daughter, for example. So I want to make sure that the rides that I take with her, even if it is from point A to point B, or if it is a tour over the weekend, it’s actually the safest way possible. So I want to make sure that it is the recycling lane, I want to make sure that people with kids have done this route as well, but that they can vouch for this route. This is the main thing that differentiates bike map to Apple Maps and Google Maps. And of course, our community reports as I said, so you want to know during your route to where you can have a resting spot where you can actually pump your your tires, if there is any issues or charge your eBike This is what makes bike maps special, our community aspect. So

Carlton Reid 9:01
are you saying that it’s like a ways like feature in that it’s plotting where people actually go. And that gets mixed up into your algorithm? It’s it’s not it’s not something that’s served up? From a server, it’s actually it’s all being fed back into the system?

Bruna de Guimaraes 9:19
Exactly. Nothing that you see in the system is actually done by us. It’s all by the community. So what we do is just give you the best route possible for you as a user and you as your profile. And everything else is populated by the community by our almost 9 million users worldwide.

Carlton Reid 9:43
And which countries are bigger than others? Where are your biggest markets where you’re where the not as big as market but also most the most users who are using this, you know, really frequently?

Bruna de Guimaraes 9:56
Yeah, as you can imagine as a Austrian company And Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the dark market, the back region, as we like to call it is our biggest market. But of course, Italy friends, you say the United States as well. And funnily enough, we have a really big user base in Brazil and in Korea,

Carlton Reid 10:19
and then I’ve got the app open at the moment on my phone. Because I’ve got, like, you kindly sent me a code to access this. And one of the benefits of membership is you can you can swivel through the variety of maps. So there’s open cycle map is probably the kind of the base one, but then you’ve got a whole bunch of other ones, including, like, an open like a satellite view, as well. But when you look at products, like Apple, Apple Maps, net, right now, only certain cities are being mapped, you know, with with bike routes, by Apple, but you can imagine it in the fullness of time, because they are not just they’re not providing just the routes, they’re also providing the the actual maps. So you know, they’re sending cars and people on foot around getting incredibly detailed maps, presumably, you know, with with speed limits, and signs read by artificial intelligence to learn and populate that map. So do they not have this incredible advantage, you know, companies like Apple, but once once they get up to speed, and once they you know, do other, you know, many other cities apart from just London and certain key cities, when they can map everywhere, they’re gonna eat you for for breakfast, aren’t they because they provide the routing and the maps whereas you don’t provide the maps, you’re you’re you’re sucking your maps in.

Bruna de Guimaraes 11:47
I mean, we do provide the navigations for for the users as well, right? So the differentiator really is just the community aspect. You can get this information from open street maps, we also use it and we also the Apple can do it. But the community aspect, as I mentioned before, is really what makes bike math different. You want to as a person, especially in the industry, nowadays, where technology is just consuming. Everything AI is consuming everything you want to trust the human, especially when it comes to a safety feature. And that’s why I like to say that safety is one of our biggest values, if not the biggest value that we have a sitemap because you want to trust the system, you want to trust what you’re using, and you trust more a person, a neighbour, a friend that has been through that, than actually technology nowadays, it’s kind of a paradox. But at least that’s what I see more and more happening. We want to become more and more human, every single day more.

Carlton Reid 13:00
In Germany, and in places like Cambridge in the UK, you basically have, you know, down to streetlamp level on open on OpenStreetMap, where the community of map users and map contributors have contributed so much. It’s just so so much more dense than than even an Ordnance Survey map or just you know, you know, even the best topographical maps will never have this level of detail that you’ve got on Open Street Map. But that’s that’s true in certain areas, and certain countries where there are an awful lot of willing contributors who are doing that. But in places you know, there are there are there, there are parts of the world where there aren’t that many tech tech savvy people populating maps. So you’re not going to have some cities are going to be complete. I’m presuming going to be almost completely dark to Open Street Map type products. So how do you how do you grow in in those places where the mapping probably isn’t anywhere near as good as somewhere like Germany, or places like Cambridge in the UK?

Bruna de Guimaraes 14:14
Yeah, that’s, again, the community aspect is what is fascinating about bike map. We have users that travelled the world planning trips and planning routes through throughout the world. They do big, long cycling tours. And that’s how they populate the app for us. We have most of these places, being populated by existing users, for example, in Germany, they are Germans, but they’re travelling the world, or they are Brazilians and they’re travelling the world. And this is where it makes these routes even more special from the point that you actually mentioned

Carlton Reid 14:58
and how do you know The routes that are in there are put kind of like inverted commas here, like family friendly routes, because you could have a whole bunch of, of really keen cyclists who will take the routes that they want to use, but it’s not the route that you know, a brand new cyclists would want to take. So how do you differentiate between the routes that are in your system that have been genuinely done, but be made by very, very keen cyclists who don’t mind traffic, compared to totally traffic free? How do you differentiate?

Bruna de Guimaraes 15:32
Yeah, when you’re actually looking for a route, you’re able to see all these specifications that the user used elevation, the type of ground if it was a gravel, if it was, also, if the bike was a mountain bike, if it was a road bike, you can see these differentiators. And that’s actually what makes them the user choose these routes? Yeah, and there was another question in the beginning that I forgot if you could repeat it,

Carlton Reid 16:03
where there are areas of the world that don’t have that much mapping. How do you get into there?

Bruna de Guimaraes 16:11
Yeah, that’s what I meant before with the, with the cyclists that just travelled the world. But the I remember the question was, was regarding the the people that are more savvy right there, they’re able to do it. They’re not scared of any route that comes into their way. But that’s also our app, you’re able to come in there and say, hey, I want that in that in that route. And explore it and really, find the best one that’s possible for you that we’re actually going to create this profile that is going to fit you and we’re going to suggest to you the best routes for you. So for example, if you’re more of a safer person and you have a road bike, then we can recommend you a specific route that actually fits your profile better. And if you’re more an adventurous one, that are looking for a way longer, or way, way harder with elevations that are not something that a beginner would use.

Carlton Reid 17:13
So tell me what you get with the free version of of your app. And then tell me what you get when you start paying.

Bruna de Guimaraes 17:23
Yes, so with the free version we have recording, and you can plan your route. So you can discover routes all over the world. You can also plan it, if you’re thinking of taking a trip with your friends. And you actually want to do it, you can do it with blank map and the free version. And you can record your route. So let’s say you want to go for for this route, you can record it. And then the end of this route is created for other users. This is what you can use with our free app. With a paying app, actually, you can have multiple map options. And you can navigate, you have turn by turn navigation, you can download the maps as well. So maybe you go into the area that you don’t have connection. And also you don’t want to use all the battery of your phone. Because you know it could it takes a lot of battery. And yeah, besides that we have more and more features coming in also with your like routing profiles, as I mentioned, and on the free version as well. You can keep on populating the app with discriminative reports.

Carlton Reid 18:35
I know when I would use it, if I’m in a in a different city than I would fire it up. That’s when I fire up navigation apps. But most people are not using you know that they’re just staying to the roughly the same place. So is this something that can also recommend the routes that you could go for, say, a nice a nice day trip? Can you can you like what how can what can you plot with your app?

Bruna de Guimaraes 19:04
Yes, exactly. So that also goes back to the other question about these routes that the people post into our into our system, they all come as well with pictures, you can also see what happened in these community reports. Resting spots, you can then plan around that’s actually based on that. So say for example, you want to stop at this restaurant and actually have a nice beer or you want you’re going with your kids and you want to make sure that it goes through a playground, because you want to have a resting time there while your kids play in the playground. Or you have an E bike and you want to make sure that you actually charge your bike midway or in case something happens that you’re actually able to also charge your bike so you can plan your route through that and that’s what The community gives back to us these informations that we get from the community based on the routes that they written. That’s all there for people as well to also plan their route and find this route and proud for themselves.

Carlton Reid 20:14
So tell me about your privacy level, because I’ve just clicked into a route in my local area. And it says, actually looks like a German fella has uploaded this this particular route in near my near my, where I live. So how are you? How are you? What are you doing with privacy? How are you protecting anonymizing people? Give us your privacy. Settings.

Bruna de Guimaraes 20:44
Yes. So I mean, we’re coming, we’re compliant with all the GDPR rules. So this is super important for us. And you can make all of these routes are private. So all the information that you have there can be private, it’s only public, if you want to be public, no one is going to see it unless you actually want to see it. And a profile is created automatically for you. And we don’t have any access to that until you actually allow us to have it.

Carlton Reid 21:17
Okay. And I’m also still in the app here. And I’m obviously on like, premium membership, because I’m getting all of these these things, the basically, how much are people having to pay to get the premium? What are your What are your payment, subscription levels?

Bruna de Guimaraes 21:40
So we have a monthly plan, and we have a yearly plan. And in our yearly plan, which is the best one is 49 euros

Carlton Reid 21:50
per year. Okay, and you’re getting full detection in that as well. How you doing for detection? Is that from the phone from?

Bruna de Guimaraes 21:57
That’s from the phone? Yeah. So if your phone is on, you’re on your bike, and it needs to be iOS. Right? So then if it’s in your bike, and it falls, then it gives a very big noise, that it loud that it announces that you actually fell from the bike so you’re able to

Carlton Reid 22:14
get safe. I’m presuming you’ve got Android as well.

Bruna de Guimaraes 22:18
Yes, we’re just implementing that. Alright, so

Carlton Reid 22:21
this is basically an iOS for a long time. And it’s only just becoming Android.

Bruna de Guimaraes 22:25
No. So we the app, we have an Android app. I thought you meant from the fall detection.

Carlton Reid 22:30
All right. Okay. So how long have you had the Android version of the of the full app compared to the was this originally iOS?

Bruna de Guimaraes 22:37
No, it was originally a web app. So we started all in the web app. And then for the last seven, six years, we started with mobile apps at the same time. So iOS, and Android.

Carlton Reid 22:55
And what’s the difference? Compared to us? Have you got many more IOs than Android? What’s What’s the split?

Bruna de Guimaraes 23:02
Yes, so 70% of our users are iOS users. So it’s a really big majority of our users are using iOS. And then the remaining ones are using Android. And they bought they use both web app and the and the app.

Carlton Reid 23:23
So that’s maybe a good question I had before about the the apple potentially eating your breakfast, because if they come out with an all singing, all dancing, every city, kind of bike routing, it does take away from you. I know you’d say yes, we have the community. But that’s community, but ya gotta pay for it. So are you monitoring? Are you looking at what Apple’s doing constantly? Or do you think they’ll always be so far away because of that community element, you don’t have to worry about what they’re doing city by city.

Bruna de Guimaraes 23:55
It’s not what we have to worry about. Because I think competition is always actually making us challenge ourselves and make us look into what the future brings. And I see Apple Maps, especially there is a partner. So for example, we’ve been featured multiple times in Apple, we’ve been featured at the WWDC, we do a lot of partnerships with them in regards to our features. And I think the market is very big, especially for cyclists. When you think about a generalised tool, like Apple Maps or like Google Maps, it’s it’s good. Yeah, it’s it does what it needs to do. But you as a cyclist, you wanting to actually plan a route and have an experience. You actually search for an app that actually gives you that that is focused on that. That was also why we never wanted to go into trailing or we never wanted to go hiking. We want to focus on site plus, because we know that there’s people and the market is there for really just cyclists in the cyclists experience.

Carlton Reid 25:08
So you still have the web app that will have, you can plan and do all sorts of stuff on the web, download is whatever and then and then follow up on your phone. Is that that you can do that? Yes. And plan. So you were saying before about, you know, we’re going to be adding features that, you know, when people pay for this, then they’ll be getting, what have you got anything? What amazing features do you have kind of potentially lined up?

Bruna de Guimaraes 25:38
Yeah, so for example, as I mentioned, we have the planning and tracking, navigating your routes. But if you think about it, more and more people, especially the young generation, they are actually using their bike as well for commuting. And they want to combine that. So imagine if you think about, Hey, you, I don’t know if you’re a fair parent, but maybe you take your kid to school. And you want to make sure that you take the fastest route possible, or the safest route possible with your child. But on your way back, after you actually taking your kid to school, you want to make sure that you take the fastest one back, it doesn’t necessarily need to be the safest. So we want to make sure that these are things that we’re actually giving to you and showing to you what’s the best route possible for you to do that. Also through weather, so you can also get weather, push notifications, and telling you, Hey, today is going to rain, maybe you want to leave today, and maybe want to leave now. And instead of 10 minutes from now, or in 30 minutes from now. And the same thing, of course with a personalised heat map, that’s when we think about actually a big route and planning your rides. Getting very specific ones tips on the Discover, and also from your profile, the best route possible for you.

Carlton Reid 27:10
And then I’m presuming I haven’t actually done this yet. Even though I have got one on my wrist at the moment, I’m assuming the app goes on to the smart an Apple Watch. So you don’t have to have the iPhone on your handlebars, you can have it in your pocket and be directed turn by turn on your wrist in effect

Bruna de Guimaraes 27:31
Exactly. And this is something that’s going to also be released very soon as well. We have the new updates from the WWDC that we’re actually going to be releasing for our watch OS. And that’s not only for iOS, but we’re also doing it for Android for the wherewith. So you can actually have navigation through your watch. You don’t need to have your phone on the handle bar, as you said, and you can really know where you’re going and receive the turn by turn navigation there.

Carlton Reid 28:07
And how are you reaching new people? How are you? How are you? How are you getting out there.

Bruna de Guimaraes 28:13
So we do it all through organic growth. And we have our marketing and our social media, really just trying to be there and talking to your users. So as I said, the community is a really big aspect for us is a really big point and value that really this word. How do you how do you say it in English word by word or word to word for word. So word of mouth and the very, what I like to call the organic growth from our app store, App Store and Google Play Store. This is really what takes us there. Do you get a

Carlton Reid 28:55
feeling from your from the kind of profiles you’ve got? How many people are incredibly keen cyclists? And how many are for want of a better phrase like new cyclists, you know, potentially worried cyclists who are using your app? Because they really want to have something to hold their hand when they’re starting out. Do you have any inkling of of that kind of granular knowledge of your your customer base? Yes.

Bruna de Guimaraes 29:29
So this is something that we’ve been trying to learn more and more also ever since I started like them. So really try to understand our users and talk to them. So the majority of them are actually 40 year old white, retired male, and they are doing it for fun. They enjoy this and they enjoy this route and they need this care and they need this trust from the system and I think this is where really ties together. But we have more and more younger people using the app, as I mentioned, and using it as well for community for commuting. And we’re trying to combine that now. Because we have these people that are using and they’re riding our streets every single day. And we want them as well to populate data in the app. Also, for the people that are going on these rides on the weekend, like our main user base, that is the male for the year 40. Plus, and retired.

Carlton Reid 30:36
Hmm. Because I’m gonna, I’m after if you’ve been sent the I did do an app like this many, many years ago, the bike hub app. The reason the reason for doing that? It was by the Bicycle Association of the UK, and it was in effect, it definitely wasn’t in that demographic. That’s the bulk of your customers. It was the brand new, the worried cyclists, the people who don’t know how to get from A to B, and think, Well, I really can’t do that because I’m surrounded by major roads. So it was very much to get brand new people to be comfortable at finding routes that would take them in safety. So as many bike you know cycleways as possible, all that kind of stuff. It was very much aimed at newbies, rather than it at at keen cyclists. Do you think that was wrong, you should should have been, you know, we should have you should have really targeted at the keen cyclists because they’re the ones that are going to, you know, power the app forward.

Bruna de Guimaraes 31:39
I think knowing your ICPs key, sorry, your ideal customer profile is, is key. If that was for you, then that’s your the problem you’re trying to solve. And the solution you’re trying to give. And for us is really the people that are not adventurous, they’re not athletes, but they’re comfortable riding, they want a safe route, but they are not doing it for the first time. They don’t want to go into dangerous places, but they are also not wanting to be handhold it all the time.

Carlton Reid 32:18
Do you white label for any?

Bruna de Guimaraes 32:20
No, we don’t. That’s all of us. And we have a very straightforward B to C model.

Carlton Reid 32:29
But the only reason I’m asking that is because an enormous amount of cyclists actually using the roads right now in lots of cities are actually food delivery cyclists who their apps, you know from Deliveroo from whatever system they are being routed all the time. By ineffective very, you know, algorithm similar to yours. And I’m just wondering if you provided any of your, your know how to these companies keep those the delivery cyclist safe if they’ve got something that you know, benefits, more things that you’ve got

Bruna de Guimaraes 33:10
100% and partnerships is something that we’re definitely focusing on, since this summer, not only with food deliveries, but also hotels tourism. And this is really a market that is really open for us. But white labelling, it’s not something we’re considering at the moment because it takes away the focus of the product and building the product for the users that we actually want to keep improving. And, but partnerships and actually finding a way to work together without white labelling is something that it’s growing a lot in the summer.

Carlton Reid 33:47
How do you describe how you’re doing this partnership so the tourism partnerships that you like offering like one week subscriptions to a hotel guest or something? What are you

Bruna de Guimaraes 33:56
exactly so then we can have a specific amount of like the hotels would pay us X amount of money every month and then they get this code that they all have their guests can get can use the app for free as a premium version for one month for example. And then we hope that we actually convert them afterwards and for the hotel is actually very good because they get an app and that they can offer tour their their clients and also with routes that are populated by the people that have been there.

Carlton Reid 34:28
Is that the end of the show, and then a second I’ll get Bruna to give us an elevator pitch for Bikemap. But here’s David with a short commercial interlude.

David Bernstein 34:38
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Carlton Reid 35:38
Now, we should have done this right at the beginning. But I just wanted to start talking rather than put you on the spot here. Give me the elevator pitch, even though we’ve talked about all the benefits, and we will probably have done it just give me your very short elevator pitch of what you say if you if you had to go to an investor and you had to describe this product to somebody who knows nothing about why people would use this give it give us that pitch that you would need in order to a dragon dens you know, a shark tank type environment?

Bruna de Guimaraes 36:14
Yeah. So Bikemap is the market leader for this community generated cycling maps and routing. So besides the maps and routing, from 8.6 million users that we have out there and 13 million unique routes that we have there, worldwide, we’re also how helping you find the best route for yourself. So really understanding you as a user and giving you real time information of your routes. Okay,

Carlton Reid 36:46
I’m an investor. And I’m going to come up with a tough question here. Of those 8.6 million users, how many have you converted to paying customers?

Bruna de Guimaraes 36:57
Oh, that’s a question that we need an NDA for. But as I mentioned, we are a platform and we are really a community generated company that our vision is to be the world’s number one platform for a safer and community powered cycling world of tomorrow. So really having this in mind that it doesn’t matter if you’re free. It doesn’t matter if you’re a premium, as long as you’re keeping us to build this community and that you’re populating the app to help people out there and to help the the fellow cyclists out there. That is our goal.

Carlton Reid 37:34
Excellent, even within the NDA, and I didn’t get the answer to that I kind of assumed I wouldn’t. So So tell us now we’ll end we’ll end up now on where do people get information from? And where could they perhaps contact you or see you on social media? So two things, where did they get the app? And how do they find out about you?

Bruna de Guimaraes 37:59
That’s a great question. You can find us at bike on websites, on Instagram at bike map. And of course, you can find this bike map in any app store and Google Play Store that you have.

Carlton Reid 38:14
Okay, and you?

Bruna de Guimaraes 38:16
You can find me on LinkedIn and my name is Bruna de Guimaraes and you will find me attached to bike map

Carlton Reid 38:27
Thanks to Bruna de Guimaraes there and thanks to you for listening to Episode 338 of the Spokesmen podcast brought to you in association with Tern bicycles. Show notes, and more can be found at The next episode will be available later in September. But meanwhile, get out there and ride …

September 5, 2023 / / Blog

5th September 2023

The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

EPISODE 337: Cycle.Travel: In Conversation with Richard Fairhurst

SPONSOR: Tern Bicycles

HOST: Carlton Reid

GUEST: Richard Fairhurst

TOPICS: Interview with routing website founder Richard Fairhurst.


Carlton Reid 0:13
Welcome to Episode 337 of the Spokesmen cycling podcast. This show was engineered on Tuesday 5th of September 2023.

David Bernstein 0:28
The Spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast is brought to you by Tern bicycles. The good people at Tern are committed to building bikes that are useful enough to ride every day and dependable enough to carry the people you love. In other words, they make the kind of bikes that they want to ride. Tern has e-bikes for every type of rider. Whether you’re commuting, taking your kids to school or even carrying another adult, visit That’s t e r n to learn more.

Carlton Reid 1:04
I’m Carlton Reid. And over the next two episodes, uploaded at once, I talked to the folks in charge of cycle routing apps bikemap of Austria and of Oxfordshire. Episode 338 is with Bikemap’s Chief Operations Officer Bruna de Guimaraes , but this episode is a chat with’s. Richard Fairhurst. Both interviews were done remotely with me firing up the desktop versions and playing with the smartphone apps. So here’s Richard …

Richard Fairhurst 1:44
Yeah, so I live in this place called charlbury which is about 20 miles outside Oxford, just on the edge of the Cotswolds. And it’s lovely this was held on the National Cycle network, which is always good also has a train station, which is good for somewhere this size. I think Mr. Beeching must have overlooked us somehow. But yeah, lovely place and very cycling friendly,

Carlton Reid 2:06
Which is like kind of helps what you do then.

Richard Fairhurst 2:08
Yeah, totally, totally. And it’s, it’s always been. I mean, obviously, Oxford and Oxfordshire is a bit of a hotbed of cycling in a lot of ways. But yes, as I say, we have a National Cycle network routes going pretty much past my house. And that was actually something that I was involved in setting up. I’m a sauce trans volunteer, in this part of the world and helped design the route. And one of the things I’ve always tried to do with cycle travel is have it so that it will find you a route which is good, as good as a human designer, that if you want to go from I don’t know, Oxford to let’s say Coventry or something like that. And no one has set out a route that goes that way, then within the confines of the infrastructure, it should find you the best route possible. At least that’s the plan.

Carlton Reid 3:01
So in another hotbed of cycling, Cambridgeshire, you have Cyclestreets, and Cyclestreets that I know, cuz I used them for my the bike hub app many, many years ago. Now that that cleverness comes from the way that it routes. So it’s the routing engine is the real powerhouse there. And lots of sites and lots of maps have used that routing engine for their own apps, but you’ve clearly using OpenStreetMap. We’ll get into that in a second. But so how are you physically generating the route? So when you said that it’s like a human? How do you make your routing engine like a human?

Richard Fairhurst 3:44
OK, so this is an interesting one. So I think cyclestreets, I have huge amounts of time for. I know, Martin quite well. And we’ve worked on a couple of projects together. There, their angle is more towards commuting, and practical, everyday cycling, cycle travel, you can use it for commuting, and people do. But it also has really quite a strong tilt towards leisure cycling, and touring and longer rides like that. So if you are going from landscapes join groups, then cycle travel will find your good route. If you go from New York to San Francisco, it will hopefully find you a good route. But as you say, it’s all about the routing engine. The routing engine effectively with any route planner is a set of opinions. It’s a set of opinions about which road is good to cycle on and which one isn’t. cycled travels, opinions are obviously very much aligned to mine. But also, I’ve been involved in OpenStreetMap for 19 years now, pretty much since the first few months of the project, and know how the data works there quite well. So there’s a lot of sort of little things there. I think you know, if we’re going along a track in France, and it’s rated as a grade two track, well, actually the French mappers are a bit more, a bit more optimistic about the state of the unpaved tracks and the British mappers. So let’s mark it down a little bit, because yeah, that’s how they map things in France. So it’s the sort of the accumulation of all of that sort of knowledge. Pretty much gives cycled travel. It’s its personality, but also its opinions on what sort of route to follow.

Carlton Reid 5:28
So clearly, cyclestreets, the streets part is the clue there. And the dot travel is the clue there. So that’s, that’s, that’s how you’re differentiating is just your more long distance in effect?

Richard Fairhurst 5:40
Yeah, absolutely. Yes, it’s very much just says on the tin. And I remember the first time in sort of first couple of years at the site that someone emailed me and said, I’ve just used it to plan a route from Shropshire to Rome, was absolutely great. It took me down to farm track in France, which I would rather not have cycled longer apart from that it was spot on. And I thought, yeah, okay, this is what it’s meant to be about. This is the idea.

Carlton Reid 6:04
And if you’ve spent nearly 19 years on OpenStreetMap, you’re nearly on 10 years for So 2014 is one of the first references I can find online. Maybe you were doing before then. So is that 2014 When you started or was it bit before it was end of 2013.

Richard Fairhurst 6:22
So a little bit of background. This is kind of it’s a bit of a change of career for me. Before this, I was a magazine editor used to editor magazine called Waterways World, which if you know anything about canals, boats, rivers, that sort of thing you may have stumbled across. And boating waterways is always something I’ve done. And for one of the magazines I’d worked for, I’d got into the habit of drawing the maps for it, because we needed a map to show where the canals went. And I sort of fell into cartography that way. And from there, it was a reasonably obvious thing, because I love cycling, I always love cycling, to start to draw cycle maps. And as I went along with a, it may be I can make a bit more of a career out of this. But also, I see these routing sites out there, I see that you can ask Google or whatever it might be for a route from Oxford to Woucester, and it’s not the route that I would want to cycle along. I do not feel happy with choosing the routes that it’s selected. So I’m going to have go to my own. And it’s absolutely taken off from there. And I’d be delighted with how much people enjoy it.

Carlton Reid 7:31
Hmm. And there’s also Heritage magazine. You had a So describe that directory waterways World Heritage magazine. It did you train in that did your How did you get into that didn’t get in to begin with?

Richard Fairhurst 7:47
Okay, so age 14, or 15 or so I was your archetypal 1980s, computer geek. And I had a Amstrad home computer, you might remember those, not that dissimilar to spectrums, and things like that. And I had to play around with it as teenagers tend to and got reasonably okay programming things on it. And for three, one thing or another, I ended up being the freelance technical writer for a magazine called Amstrad Action. And Amstrad Action has a bit of cycling connection in this it was the first magazine ever published by Future publishing, itt started the entire company off. And obviously, they went on to do Cycling Plus, mountain bike magazines, and cyclingnews and things like that. So that’s all I’m selections fault. Ultimately, I then went off to university, but I got started in, in journalism after this. So it came as a reasonably obvious thing to do, after university to go for jobs on magazines. I already had this on my CV. And because I enjoyed boating, I went to the canal magazines. First of all, I then spent a while, as you say, editing heritage magazine, which was a sister magazine to the canal magazine that worked out at the time. And that was an interesting experience. Because you think, okay, heritage magazine, it’s all about going around the countryside and country houses and that sort of thing. It must be quite a nice fluffy thing to work on. And it is. But on the other hand, actually, 90% of the readership were Americans, and they knew a huge amount about country houses and about Shakespeare and all of that, you know, this was their identity. They loved the old country, as it were. And I’ve never been that great on Shakespeare, to be honest. So I spent a few months there and it was good fun. But I said after that, I’m going going back to the canal, some controversy about canals, because I know about that.

Carlton Reid 9:41
On your on your site, you describe yourself as an Open Street Map. OpenStreetMap. Activist, so that’s not just a contributor. You’re a bit more than just a contributor on open streets. I was trying to find out the segway from Heritage Magazine. Then waterways world into how you got into being quite active on the OpenStreetMap. Community. Yeah.

Richard Fairhurst 10:07
So as you say, I have spent all this time with cycling magazines and waterway magazines and then got into drawing the maps for them. And there’s always been a problem with any map that you’ve got to get the source data from somewhere unless you literally go out and survey absolutely everything yourself, which gets impractical when you’re doing a whole new canal every month, then you’ve got to get the data from somewhere. And in historically, in Britain, you would get it from the Ordnance Survey. And at the time, Ordnance Survey would basically charge you through the nose through any data that they might daintily have. They’re so much better now. But that was the case back then. And I kind of worked out that, well, the thing about canals is they haven’t moved much. Most of them were built before 1850, I can find some old maps out of copyright. And I can just trace the canals off there. And we’re fine, we bought them suddenly got all sorts of data. So this became, this became a little bit of a project. And I ended up collecting the entirety of the Ordnance Survey one inch maps of England and Wales for the 1930s and 1940s, which was at the time, the last set that were out of copyright. So I found a place that would scan stuff in bulk for you, and said, you know, will you be prepared to scan this? And they said, Yep, two quid a map, we’ll do it. So I gave them 150 maps, they gave me a DVD with scans of the board on which was quite something. And then this guy called Steve Coast started OpenStreetMap. And all of a sudden, I think well hang on. This is a it’s a really interesting project for what he’s doing. But also, I’ve got all these old maps. And it’s not just canals that haven’t moved. Most of the railways, lots of country roads, lots of rivers, obviously, maybe this would be an interesting angle to work together on this. So this was about four months after OpenStreetMap had started. I said, Okay, I’m interested in maps, I’ve got this sort of stuff going on. I’d like to be part of this. And so I’ve been asked that as part of OpenStreetMap from its very early days. And in the first year, we literally had about six or seven or eight paths and roads in Regent’s Park. And that was the sum total of the world map. And now it’s everything is everything everywhere. It’s astonishing how it’s, and I think he did my great surprise for how the project was taking off was, I don’t know, maybe sort of seven or eight years into the project, I went on holiday to China. And it was one of these sort of things where, obviously, you’ve got fairly limited freedom of movement there. But we it mean that we had good guests, good guides, and a good itinerary planned out and all of that. And we were walking on some fairly obscure paths in a rice farming area. And the Chinese government is very anxious about people surveying their country, they don’t like it too, you know, you’ve got to have all of these permits to allow you to do this, and they don’t get permits to OpenStreetMap volunteers. And so this, this is a bit of a problem. But as a good OpenStreetMap activist, I can’t not survey where I’ve gotten here. And this is unthinkable. So I had little Garmin GPS recording a track tucked into my side pocket hoping that no one was going to notice it. And okay, fine, I do that I get a bunch of railways as well, because we travelled around by train, get all of this stuff, go back home ready to upload this into OpenStreetMap ready to map it. And I find out this already been done. It’s already been done by a bunch of Germans who’ve been to China on holiday and have done all of this six months a year before me at that point, I thought well, you know, okay, this is taking off. If even these remote places in China, where you go to are being mapped by volunteers, then this is really gonna go somewhere. And it has you know, now, now Facebook now Microsoft Now Amazon, all of these big companies use OpenStreetMap and that’s the thing we started building 19 years ago.

Carlton Reid 14:09
And then you’re talking about the effect. We’re a bit of a word a bunch of geeks basically. You know, taking GPS tracks and then uploading and then digitising etc, etc. So they tend to be geeks. I think I can’t be too but doing all effort as a volunteer you know, that’s very that takes a lot of time. Obviously a lot of expertise. But then you’re translating that into into a business. So with with your with cycle dot travel. And why did you charge so why why is cycled not travel, not charging and other other navigation sites, websites and apps that are bike friendly? bike friendly routing,

Richard Fairhurst 15:01
they do charge. So why don’t you charge, I could talk for hours about cycle navigation apps, business models is a fascinating subject, or at least its history. So if you look at the really big guys, then you look at people like Strava, or commute or whoever it might be their, you know, their business model, as you say, it’s very much based on charging, the standard thing for this sort of site is that this sort of app in particular, is that you pay five pounds a month, and get turn by turn routing, and you get offline maps and things like that. Now, the thing about Stryver and commute is they have got a staff of 1000s of think commuter employ about 120 people, they have got marketing budgets, commensurate with that, these are the big guys, I am me sitting in a little converted barn in the back of my house in Charlbury, I can’t compete on that level. So I’m not going to fight that game. Instead, what I try and do is say, Okay, I’m going to put this up there, I really hope that it finds good roots for people, I find, I hope that someone who was going to use it to go from Shropshire to Rome, or just had someone going across America with it, we have people doing routes across France across Britain all the time, I hope that people will do that, find a good route and be so happy with the site that they choose to donate. So what you can do with cycling travel as you can become a supporter, you can give two pounds a month or five pounds a month, whatever you see fit. And you know, you didn’t get a few extra baubles for that you get a few maps, which I have to pay for. So Ordnance Survey maps, IGN in France, that sort of thing. But by and large, it’s largely the same. But I hope that people will be sufficiently happy with the site and with the routes that it finds support them, that they will choose to support it. And they do. You know, others now, hundreds of people have signed up to become supporters of cycle travel, it pays its own way in terms of service costs. And all of that is getting towards paying its own way. In terms of my time on it, I think I’m not that far off. And that that’s brilliant, because it means I can spend more time doing what I love. And it means that people get great holidays, great bike routes. So that’s absolutely what I’m in it for.

Carlton Reid 17:24
So, as you said, there are quite a few other sites and apps out there. What are they doing? Well, and what are they not doing? Well? Can you can you be rude in that way?

Richard Fairhurst 17:38
Okay, so Well, I’ll tell you the easy one, which is the site that I have absolutely the most respectful and that’s Ride With GPS, I think they are brilliant. They really know their audience. Their proposition is quite different from what I do. Their proposition is more about organising routes, saving routes, saving rides. They’ve got an absolute suite of editing tools for your groups, all sorts of things that, you know, I would never dream of doing a month of Sundays. I think, you know, obviously, I am biassed, I think their core A to B routine is not as strong cycle travels, it will put you on a busy road more often than I do. But I think you know, for their audience, what they do is absolutely fantastic. They’re bootstrapped. They haven’t taken external funding. They’ve got a small team of about I think 15 to 20 people working in Portland in Oregon, now the great cycling city, and what they do is brilliant. So yeah. What I was gonna say, which is nice about other people, I mean, you know, both both Strava and commuter ecosystems, really Strava for a lot of people is cycling commute has all of this stuff where it gets you into their apps, and all of the safe, your highlights and all of that sort of thing. But which is the sort of thing you’ve got, you’ve got 120 people to do, and they pay influencers to go out and have great rides and say, does this with Caboose and that sort of thing. It’s a different level of doing things. And you know, I have plenty of time for them. As I say up cycled travels, strength, I think is the is the routing and the actual routes that it will find for you. But yeah, a lot of a lot of time for that. And of course, as you mentioned earlier, cyclestreets cyclestreets have been doing this for a long time longer than I have. They have absolutely got the city routing down to a tee. If you are going across London or Cambridge, then cyclestreets will find you a terrific route and always has done so. Yeah. And another obviously another great thing that cyclestreets does, is that they do a lot of advocacy, advocacy type work. They work with Robin lovely cert active travel England now they do stuff with local authorities. And in fact, the other year, I was involved in a project with them and TfL because TfL TfL a few years ago, spent, I think 2 million pounds on producing this cycle infrastructure database, which is this massive collection of data on every single bit of cycle infrastructure in London, it’s quite an endeavour. And this was fine. And they used it for their own purposes. And it was just sitting there and they thought, well hang on. If we get this data into OpenStreetMap, then we can actually get it out there and used by people. So you get it into OpenStreetMap, it then feeds into all the different mapping apps. And then people will start to be able to use this knowledge that TfL have gathered about where all the good infrastructure is. And so we spent a few months working on that it has started to filter through. And you will find now that most of the mapping apps, not just me, not just cyclestreets will now make better decisions in London as a result of this. And nice to follow up about this is that TfL, then, last year had a cycle routing Summit. And they invited me for cycle travel, Martin from cycle streets, and a bunch of other people from the big guys. So from Apple from Google, and such, like, and basically they put Martin and me up on stage and said, Okay, so this is cycle travel, this is cycle streets, they are finding good routes across London. And we would like you from Apple and you from Google to talk to these guys and find out how they’re doing it. Because they’re finding better routes. And we if we’re going to spend 2 billion pounds on building cycle super highways across London, we sure as heck want your apps to direct people to use them. And at that point, they weren’t doing it. I think Apple are doing quite interesting things with cycle boosting in cities. And they’re starting to do that. Google, I mean, Google have a product for cycle routing, but it’s it’s tuned to San Francisco, and it doesn’t necessarily work that well in the rest of world some places it does. So

Carlton Reid 21:45
you’re right. I mean, Apple, Apple is doing some very interesting things, obviously have got very deep pockets. And and can do interesting things. Do you think even with the deepest pocket in the world, you’re never really going to catch up with OpenStreetMap? Or do you think something like Apple could, you know, the way that they’re mapping everything that satellites, you know, they’re sending cars round, they’re sending bikes round and pedestrians round a bit like Google Streetview are doing? And then everything is, you know, obviously read so you know, you’re getting the speed limit is read from the round holes that the cameras are that AI is spotting, or do you think there’ll always be something about the crowdsource nature of OpenStreetMap that will always be done that how much money you pump into a map? Absolutely, yes.

Richard Fairhurst 22:36
OpenStreetMaps great strength is that it is an agglomeration of local knowledge. Basically, every single contributor brings their local knowledge to the map. So if you know about a little cut through, then you put that into OpenStreetMap, it might only be 1050 metres between two streets, but it could save two miles off a bike route. And that goes in that instantly makes everyone’s ride better. It’s very, very difficult for even the best street view cameras and AI processing to pick up that level of detail. And so I think OpenStreetMap has always got that knowledge, but also OpenStreetMap is, to large extent built by cyclists. Certainly in Britain, we found that a lot of the earliest OSM contributors were cyclists who wanted a decent map for cycling, and couldn’t get on anywhere else. It’s really notable that one of the earliest breakthroughs of the project was when that smart smart guy figured out how to reverse engineer the mapping format for Garmin GPS. So within a few months of this, people had got OpenStreetMap on their Garmins as the base map all of a sudden, and it had all of these cut throughs in and it had the MCN. And they had all of this sort of thing. And that obviously that then made people’s bike routing experience the cycling experience so much better. And I think it’d be very, very hard for Apple or Google with all the AI in the world to catch up with that they will be able to give you the best freeway routing experience in San Francisco, because they’ve got, you know, surveying cars going along with caught with cameras on every single angle. But they didn’t put that sort of effort into cycling. And last week, I think it was actually on one of the Silicon Valley Tech forums, there was an anonymous poster from someone who used to work for Google Maps, saying, Yeah, I used to work there. And I tried to put a bit more effort into the cycle routing, and he got stomped on from on high for privacy reasons. They said, No, we can’t really do this. And they don’t work there anymore. And they said, you know, cycling isn’t really a priority for Google to be honest. It doesn’t make them a lot of money. They are ultimately a self driving car company these days. OpenStreetMap is to a large extent Made by cyclists, it’s in our interest to make the routine better.

Carlton Reid 25:02
Hmm. So, with your Heritage magazine background, I don’t know how much you know about cycling history. But of course, cyclists have always been really keen on mapping. You know, the the Bartholomew maps, the cyclists are very interested in the, you know, the, the route books that cyclists created in the 1870s 1880s, that incredibly interested in, in road surfaces. And I’ve written whole books about this. Very interested, but it just in mapping in general, so like the CTC work, such as Touring Club, as was very, very involved with the mapping companies. One of the maps I used in my book was a, which were the CTC was heavily involved with for a long time. And was you basically using crowdsourcing to do this an early version of Open Street Map, where they were where they were mapping road surfaces. So there was a there was a batholomew map where every single street surface was mapped. And if you look at the bottom, we oh, how was this mapped? It was done by cyclists who were then contributing, you know, their information to the local council. He was then putting it or she was probably he was putting it through to Bartholomew. And then they produce these incredibly detailed maps of you know, here’s where the tarmac was, here’s where the asphalt or here’s where the macadam was, here’s where the wooden streets were. And it’s these incredibly dense, almost Open Street Map dense maps of London and done by cyclists in the 18 1890s. So you are in a rich tradition there, Richard?

Richard Fairhurst 26:47
Absolutely. And that’s, that’s terrific. Because, again, it’s looking at cycling has never had the money that’s behind the auto industry. If you are Apple or Google, then it’s in your financial interest to plough huge amounts of money into into car routing, because that’s where the money is. Cyclists, as you say, do it for themselves and always have done and I think OpenStreetMap is a great example of that. We found in the early days in Britain, that actually cyclists were keen on it the walkers because walkers have always had fabulous maps in Britain, they have the Ordnance Survey, and we’ve always had a bit of resistance there you see, say to people come and contribute to OpenStreetMap. You can put all your favourite hiking paths on it and say, Well, why would I want to do that? I’ve got an OS map, where a cyclist got it from day one. They knew that there was nothing out there at the time. That was giving them a decent map. And so yeah, right, I can get this I’m going there to put all my favourite roads in it.

Carlton Reid 27:46
I’m going to I’m going to go across to my colleague in America right now for a brief interlude, a commercial interlude. However, when we come back, I would like to you basically you talk me through how to use the online version and the the one that I’ve got on my, my my smartphone, my iPhone. So take it away, David.

David Bernstein 28:10
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Carlton Reid 29:09
Thanks, David. And we are back with Richard Fairhurst. And before David’s ad break bear or David’s not his ad break but Tern’s ad break narrated by David thanks so much, David. I was asking Richard if he would guide me. So give me so on the on the on the website. And on the the app. There is a section which actually says how to use the app and you can drill down but can you and this is like the end of the world of radio here. So it’s difficult it’s not visual but just if you can basically take what what do I start with? What what are the things that as an absolute beginner when I’m opening up either on the desktop or on the smartphone? What should I be looking for and give me some tips on being a power user give me straight into being a power user. That how you would use this app when say you reach your either plan, give me two versions, where you are planning say a holiday somewhere you’ve never been to before. And when you physically there on the ground with your smartphone, so give me the power user tips give me give me the the startup guide, even though this is purely audio and not visual.

Richard Fairhurst 30:27
Okay, so cycle travel, the URL that you type into your web browser is simply that it’s just cycle dot travel, or you can google it of course, and you go straight there to the homepage, and it will give you two boxes where you type in where you’re going from and where you’re going to. So I am sitting here with a site now I shall type in classic test that I’m going to go from Land’s End it autocompletes it so that’s fine says it lands in Cornwall, UK, UK name John O’Groats and actually second walked out on the group’s Caithness Scotland. That’s what we Yeah, so I do that it has found me a route. And you will see that the route opens up on the map, you have got the lines there with mile markers every 100 miles. It says it’s 992 miles, which sounds about right, you’ve got a bunch of little tools that you can use to play around with the route on the left, but the core of it is on the right. And that’s it’s broken it down into the various different types. So it says your 71% on paved road 14% on paved path, you’ll notice that only 8% on busy roads. And this really tells you about the sort of routine that cycle travelled likes doing, people will cycle from lands and xiana groups and spend 100 Miles going up the marches on day 49, non intimate, that sort of thing. It’s all about quiet roads, things like old railway paths, decent quality tow paths, that sort of thing. So it has found this route. The power user tip, and you can go absolutely wild with this is that you can then drag it. So you get your mouse you hold the mouse down on a bit, and then you drag it to where you want to go. So let’s say I want it to go through Oxford, I have just done that. And it has now found me the best route it can from Land’s End to John O’Groats via Oxford, and either via point has little one on it. So that is the first via point. Let’s put another one in, we’re going to go through Lincoln. Number two, you can put up to 200 in there. And people do I have seen the most amazing intricate routes that people will plot with that. And that’s that, okay. So what we can then do is let’s have a look at this. It’s 1074 miles. Now, you’re not going to cycle that in a day, I realised that we’re recording this a few days after Paris-Best-Paris, and there are people listening who probably do this sort of thing in a few days. But I’m not going to do this in a day, certainly. So you will see on the left this it says under route summary total length of 1000s centrical miles suggest overnight stops. So to click that. And it suggests that if we’re taking an average distance per day of 60 miles, then we can do it in 18 days, and there’s a little button on either side of 18 days, we can make that a bit shorter or longer. So let’s take it down to 14 days, because that’s kind of common way of doing lands and junk routes. And okay, that’s taken us up 77 miles a day. Let’s say we’ve got to get the train to pens amps on the first day. So that’s going to reduce our cycling time there. So we take a short first day, that’s fine, take split. And you will see that it’s put these points along the way, each of which has got a little moon symbol on there overnight stops, and five points as well. So you can drag those around. And you’ll see. So it’s suggesting places we might want to stop one of those, let’s say let’s have a look in it’s found walnut, which is between Bridgewater and Glastonbury, which sounds like a nice part of the world. So what I’m going to do, I’m going to click that on the map, and you’ll see a little bubble pops up. And it says, Okay, this is a via point. It’s on a minor road, we know all that sort of stuff. And you’ll see a bunch of links for stuff you can do there. One of those links is nearby accommodation. So I’m going to click that. And you see there are a bunch of icons show up and those are for campsites and for Bnbs and for hotels that are near the plates we’ve selected. You can turn different types of those off. So I’m going to say I’m I don’t want I don’t want chain hotels. I want individual ones. That’s good. So here we go. We have found Sunnyside Bed and Breakfast. That sounds nice. So I click that. It brings up this window about it. I can check availability and book, click through on that. And that takes me straight to to and that will give me a chance to book that for whatever days I’m interested in. So I can clear that out the way something that people are always He’s interested in is elevation, how much climbing you’ve got to do. And cycle travel, of course has an elevation graph. That’s one of the icons on the left. So I’m going to click that Show elevation. And it comes up with the elevation graph. What is important here is that it is broken it down into every individual day. So I can see that, for example, on the second day, because we’re going through Cornwall and corners like that. We’ve got 1700 metres of elevation. So that’s going to be a tough one. Take your mouse along there, click on an individual point. And it will take you to that particular point on the back, I recognise that I’ve written that several times. That’s the place just above camelford, where it’s sort of an old air base, and you’ve got this dead pancake pancake straight road at the top of a hill. And there was always a headwind, seriously, it must have written that three or four times and there was always a headwind. So you can find your way through the route like that. You’ll also see if you click anywhere on the route doesn’t have to be via point, you can just click anywhere on the blue line. Then, when the window comes up, within two pop up window, you’ve got two things at the bottom one says find photos. And the other says Street View, Street View is fairly self explanatory, that will open Google Street View at that particular place. So if you’re not sure about what the route is going to be like, you can eyeball it before you set off. Obviously, the disadvantage of Street View is that Google sends its Street View cars along roads, it doesn’t send the belong tracks or cycleway that often. So there’s also see photos, click that and you’ll hopefully find a bunch of photos crop up especially on right aways, railway paths, that sort of thing. And so you can have a bit of a look at what the surface is going to be there. And that comes from an absolutely fantastic project called geo graph, which is another crowd sourced based collection of photos from people who have been taking pictures of every single part of the British Isles for, again, 20 years now. So that’s where that comes from. I said blue line earlier, it’s not always a blue line, sometimes it’s a green line. And when it’s a green line, that’s because it’s an off road section. an unpaved section, I should say. So you might find occasionally that will take you along a Canal Towpath, it will try and keep you on two paths and railway paths that are a reasonably good cyclable surface. You know, I absolutely cringed when I think Google Maps first brought out cycle routing, they spoken to the canal and river trust and got their towpath data. And so it sent you a long tow patter every single opportunity including the shops union Canal, which is anyone who cycled it will know is basically a reenactment of the Somme it’s just a quagmire for miles on end. And so you know, toe pattern if it was the same cycle travelled twice to send you along the good ones and not the bad ones. But all of this to say it’s a fairly balanced type of route choice. It likes quiet roads in like scenic roads, it likes good quality tracks, you can also choose a couple of other route profiles as it were the one which is gravel cycling, and that will accentuate the off road again, you know, it will try not to send you on absolute quagmires.

This depends how much data there is an Open Street Map about surface quality, but where it knows these things, it will try and do that. There’s also a paved option that you can choose. And that will try and keep you on paved roads, or paved psychopaths whenever it can, for a bit of in subsidy routing, as well. There’s also a nighttime option. And this is fairly new and experimental. But what that will do is try and keep you on roads and paths that are going to be well lit. And so I think this came actually from an idea I think it was Ruth Hannah McQueen had on Twitter, she said, You know, I want to go cycled back from places in London in the winter. And I don’t particularly want to cycle along the Regent’s canal or across various parks in in winter. And I totally get that you know, it’s cycling supposed to be enjoyable and and part of being enjoyable is safe. So the nighttime option will try and keep you off that sort of thing. But you’ve got those those four options. If you’re using it in different parts of the world, you might not have all of the options. So I don’t do gravel routing in the state as yet, but it’s there across Britain and Europe. What else can I tell you, I think the other the other thing, let’s clear our vans into junk routes route out the way. The other thing that I would highlight is that it’s not just about a to b routing. You can also do a to b and back to A so that’s a round trip. And so let’s say I’m going to go from childfree to Banbury for an afternoon ride. So I click the two places on the map or type them in in the search boxes. And that has found the a 90 mile route. That’s fine. I now have to get home again. I would like to get home a different way. So I click the round trip button and it has found me in a slightly different way, on the way back, it’s cleaving slightly less closely to the nCn. At this place, at this case, few different countries, it’s still the same sort of route, but get so you’ve got a different experience on the way in and out. What you could also do is just click once or type of place wants to set your start point, and the little green point will show up, that’s your start, and then click suggest a ride. And if I do that, then it’s got three circular routes that have come out, come up, or from childfree, or around 25 Miles 1921 27, in this case, and they are round trip routes, which will again try and stick to country lanes and quiet roads. If I want to go for something a bit longer than there’s a slider, I can drag a drag it up to 75 miles. And it’s now sending me off into the Northampton countryside or off into the high Cotswolds and that sort of thing. And it’s found me a nice circular route for that. And that this was quite fun because I used to do this and I think it had a maximum of 75 miles. And I mentioned this to Jack first. And then he said, Oh, no, no, no, you’ve got to take it up to 200. So we can do the audax thing. So you can now take it up to 250 miles, and it will do your reading my readymade or tax that is for people who are harder than me, but it will do that if you want to. So there you go. That’s the that’s the whistlestop tour of the desktop website. If you set up an account, obviously, or free, if you set up an account on the website, then you can save your routes, you can put them in folders, all of that sort of thing. And the reason I mentioned that you can save your routes is that this then becomes useful if you have the mobile app. Now the mobile app, as you say, there is an app for the iPhone, there is one which is literally now in the last days of testing for Android. So this should be ready in the next few days, it may even be ready by the time podcast is edited, which you’ll see. And I’ve had supporters testing that for the last few months. And effectively, you can use the app either as simple ATB routing tool, so you can fire it up and say, I want to go from my current location to somewhere else. And so I’m gonna be here, Banbury, again, type that autocompletes in the app and navigate to bhambri. And it has found me a route from here to battery, that’s fine. But what you can also do is you can use it to navigate along the routes that you have saved from the website. So if I click the little routes icon in the app, then I’ve got all my folders here, let’s say what I’m gonna do, I plotted a nice circuit around Oxfordshire a few weeks back, I’m gonna click that. And that all appears on here. And it gives you turn by turn directions. So you can just put it on the handlebars, and it will say, okay, in how many metres you’ve got a turn coming up. So it says, Turn right here. And do that just the map follows you along. All of that, and, and nicely to fun detail about this on the iPhone app is that I I’ve got the app done. And I was pleased with it. I thought you know, okay, this is this is good. I can, I can have my cycling quality with this. So a couple of months after I finished the app, I went off for a holiday and I went and cycled the New River Seine recycled route from Paris to the coast. And it was brilliant. And literally the first time I used it in a French town, it started seeing turn left along Casey de la Republique way. And I thought, okay, I mean, I know my French is not brilliant, but that is the worst French pronunciation I’ve ever heard. And it’s because the phone has its own native language. And it reads everything out in that. So I spent a whole bunch of time trying to coax the phone, to work out what the native language was for the street name, and to get it to read things out in that. So now if you take the cycle travel app, and you go to France, and it will tell you turn left on then it switches into a French voice plus de la Republique, and so on. So it’s got all of these little tweaks that are meant to give you a more enjoyable cycling experience. A lot of the stuff from the website is also in the app so you can find accommodation, you can switch between the different route types as well. What you can also do in both the app and the website is that you can switch between between different base maps. So cycle travel has its own base map. As I say, I’ve got a bit of a sort of self taught cartography background so I designed something which I thought was appropriate for cycling so it brings in minor roads when you’re zoomed out a lot because that’s the important thing. You can’t see motorways,

Carlton Reid 44:35
so I’m not I’m basically looking at the map here. It’s like all weather motorways. Yes, I can if I if I click it and I can just about see them but they’re not they’re not prominent. Know Exactly,

Richard Fairhurst 44:45
exactly. It’s it’s trying to show you the stuff this is important. A cyclist but you can also choose a bunch of different base maps. So you get a few standard so there’s things like sort of obviously open street Heat Maps standard style, and a few others. But quite quite a lot of these are things that you get as a nice little bonus, nice little bobble, if you’re recycled travel support. So you get Ordnance Survey maps, because everyone loves Ordnance Survey maps, you get the equivalent in other countries. So you get IGN in France, you get things like open cycle map, a bit of satellite mapping all of that. And I find that particularly useful for the Ordnance Survey maps, because if I’m planning off road routes, then OSM doesn’t as yet have completely full coverage of vital ways. And by waste and things like that. It’s getting there, it’s getting much better. But for absolute completeness, you need Ordnance Survey. So I was the other day trying to trace out to the new cycling UK Snowdonia route. And there were a few tracks in that that hadn’t made its way into OpenStreetMap yet, so we’re gonna have a look at Oh, s Oh, yeah, go around the site of this mountain. And through that beautiful restrict an Ordnance Survey

Carlton Reid 45:55
that one of the benefits for tourists, to me as a Roman road geek would be, it tells you all the Roman road stuff. And it tells you this is a church and this is whereas OpenStreetMap, you know, doesn’t doesn’t have bound from it unless there’s a layer. I mean, you can certainly put layers on, but not like something that is there as a default, whereas Ordnance Survey has that benefit. And so but that’s basically what you’re saying is you’ve got it there. Yeah. If you become a supporter, you’ve got it there. And the benefit of the Ordnance Survey is there should you choose to go and get it?

Richard Fairhurst 46:32
Absolutely. And you know, lots of us have grown up with Ordnance Survey maps, they are evocative you, if you’ve spent, you know, your life reading our West maps, you don’t have to read them. They they kind of define the countryside in a lot of ways. And you’re just over to a part of Herefordshire and you look at this, and you can just see the image in your mind. And here we go. We’ve got Wellington marsh and answer bank and 118 foot spot height, metre spot height, that sort of thing. I think yeah, this is the definitive countryside map. And so I like being able to combine cycle travels routing

Carlton Reid 47:03
with so it’s already you’ve sold me, you’ve sold me on your project, how much do I pay

Richard Fairhurst 47:10
as much as you like?

Carlton Reid 47:10
I mean, I think the

Richard Fairhurst 47:12
standard thing that I say here is that you can support it as coffee or cake or beer, which are, you know, three classic cycling foods. And so the equivalent of buying me a coffee every month is two pounds, the equivalent of buying me a slice of cake every month is four pound 50 The equivalent of buying a pint of beer each month, well, you know, I live near Oxford, so it’s very, it’s that sort of thing. And I am, I am 100% comfortable with whatever feels good for you. If you want, if you want to support it for two pounds a month, that is absolutely brilliant. If you’ve had a terrific holiday with cycle travel, and maybe you want to give a bit more for a month or two, that’s fine. But you know, I’m I am honestly honoured by the by what people say about the site and how it has found them to have found good compensates for people. So whatever you feel comfortable with.

Carlton Reid 48:05
So you’re talking about people there. So you have a community on the site. So But basically, it’s not just you contributing advice, information, maybe even brickbat. So tell me about the community aspect of upcycle travel.

Richard Fairhurst 48:24
So I have, for example, a forum on cycle travel, just a substantive web forum where people can give feedback and suggestions. There’s also a place where you can post travelogue so if you’ve been for a ride, and you want to say a bit about it, upload a few photos, then there’s a place for you to do that. And I’m going to be building more on that in the next year. But what I also try and do is engage and support in other forums, other locations. So for example, on the cycling UK forum, there is now I think, 100 Page thread, which is all about cycle travel. And it started off with someone saying, Hey, I’ve just discovered this, and it found me a good route. And then as people have got into it, they have said, okay, yeah, it’s done this, or why did it send me that way? Or Could I could I maybe have this extra feature? So I’ve tried to, you know, interact with the community, wherever they may be, and have it have the app and the site evolve along with that. And to a certain extent now I think, you know, cycle travel is kind of the pet rooting app of the cycling UK forum, for example, because so many people there have said, Oh, this is great, but wouldn’t it be good if he could just do this? I think yeah, okay. I can make it do that. And it is very much meant to be that it’s meant to be something that reflects the way that this sort of this sort of cyclist enjoys riding. I’m not going to start developing stuff for the Strava crowd because it’s not meant to do that. It’s not meant to be about performance or athleticism. I think the Strava for that they do it much better than I ever would. But for tourists and for leisure riders and for people who like quiet routes to cities, all of that, then you know, I try to engage with people get their ideas, because I don’t have a monopoly on good ideas. There’s so much more that you get if you going out talking to people

Carlton Reid 50:17
where you’ve got a new supporter. So how quickly can how easy was that? And while you’re chatting there, the iPhone has done it because all like linked, and I’ve had to go across my bank, and okay, it, but you now have a new monthly supporter, you’ve sold a nice, terrific, thank you. So I will be using it, obviously, I think what you know where it sold me was the Ordnance Survey part. That’s the first example Hang on. You mean I can mean I pay for Ordnance Survey. So I’ve got it on ViewRanger. And so I can do some of what you’re you’re you’re you’re doing that. But it’s got to prove myself. I mean, a lot of the time, I will probably do this myself. So I will just sit there plotting between, you know, the point, I want to go and see it, then I’ll spew that out. And I’ll put it into probably into a into a garden or something. Or in fact to be a beeline, I’ll probably hook it up with a beeline and just send the GPS and then it just sends me that. But then at other times, it’s like, well, I don’t know really where I go. I want somebody to come like hold my hand and show me where to go. So the fact that I can put our lesson as the map that sold me, brilliant. Obviously, I like OpenStreetMap. I love it. But you’re right in what you were saying in that it’s almost that the countryside in a Brit mind is probably a nonland server, it’s certainly a Brit of a certain age is probably ordinances surveys is how you visualise it’s almost when you go abroad as well. Why can’t I have Ordnance Survey everywhere?

Richard Fairhurst 51:56
Oh, I know, I know. And one of the things that I would love to be able to do, and this is sort of, we all have our ambitions, but I would love to be able to make cycle travels own mapping that good for the rest of the world. So that if you are going siting in, particularly the state, the state of mapping in the States is quite, quite something. And you know, I have spent a lot of time trying to fine tune cycle travels, routing in the US because it is a really difficult problem to solve. But yeah, you know, everyone deserves good maps.

Carlton Reid 52:30
Well, there you go, I’ve now I’ve plotted a route where it’s just basically it’s just gone to obviously my home location. And I just switch the map across dead easy. And there is oh, look, there it is, in that that’s that my mind map is literally my mind map is probably a non survey. But you know, if I would then switch across to another map, because you’re not going to use one map, you know, we are we are now we’ve got richness of maps. So you will probably then go that or visualise that as but you wouldn’t use that as turned by turn, whereas OpenStreetMap is better for turn by turn. Yeah, then because it works to a certain scale. And then it gets to a you know, unless you’re you know, you’re getting the the building, you know, version of Ordnance Survey, which you’re not got, you’ve got down to 25,000 They’re having a rather, you don’t go any further than 25,000 That makes no right. You know, you’re 25,000 So you kind of that’s something that is is perfect for a certain visualisation and then I’ll probably switch across. Yeah, absolutely. Um, factual writing, I wouldn’t use it.

Richard Fairhurst 53:33
No, I agree. It’s it’s good as as planning map and then the inspiration map. And it was also it was one of these things is actually getting Ordnance Survey mapping into the iPhone app was stratospherically difficult, because I won’t go too much into the technical aspects of these things. But as you know, Ordnance Survey uses eastings and northings. That’s how a grid reference works. It has this lovely kilometre square grid, pretty much every other map in the rest of the world. I’m simplifying hugely here. But pretty much every other map in the rest of the world uses latitude and longitude. And that means that the mapping software is written to think latitude and longitude. So when you’re trying to shoehorn Ordnance Survey maps into something that was made for OpenStreetMap but style mapping, the amount of maths you have to do to get that to work is colossal. And recycled travel has got you know, probably about 200 lines of code, which is all about doing the conversion to an easting and northing and latitude and longitude. I had to sit down after doing all of that and give myself a bit of a break because it was pretty intense, but it was worth it. Mm hmm.

Carlton Reid 54:44
Well, you now have a new supporter. And I shall be using that

Richard Fairhurst 54:51
pop up on the forum and on cycling UK federal or drop me a line on Twitter and say okay, I’ve started using it. I would like it to do that. is or why doesn’t it do this? Because that’s the feedback that makes it better and I’d love to hear that. Okay, I shall do and in the meantime though,

Carlton Reid 55:07
I’ve been fascinated by your enthusiasm this is absolutely shone through people listening to this world will obviously will understand why they should become a supporter because you clearly incredibly enthusiastic about this. And thank you for talking me through how to use it because that was also eye opening that’s that that was going when I when when you were talking, I then flicked it between when it was on the London to John O’Groats, and then flicked it through to nighttime gravel is like, Oh, well, that’s, that’s quite key. I definitely like the nighttime version. That’s like that’s, that’s really, really sensible. bit of advice, you got there to improve that. But, um, cycle dot travel is obviously where you get the, the website, and then you can go and get the app, etc, including, very soon, as you said, an Android app. How about you, Richard? So where can people find you on social media? And we’ll wrap up with, with with where we can find you on social media.

Richard Fairhurst 56:12
Okay, so on Twitter, I am Richard F. Or there’s also a cycle traveller account, which is cycle underscore travel. There’s cycle travel on Facebook as well. You can search for that. And as I say, I’m I pop up on the various forums, so cycling UK, Reddit, that sort of thing, cycle chat. So you can usually flag me down there and say, hey, get your site to do this. And this is an international podcast. So you have talked about this just a wee bit. But cycletrack This is not a British site, you can do stuff if you are a world traveller. Absolutely. So at the moment it does. Britain and Europe. It does the Northern America. So that’s the US, Canada and Mexico. And it does Australia and New Zealand, I very much adaptive routing to each individual country, that our roads are different the world over. Paths, cycling infrastructure is different the world over. So there are subtly different things in for example, the US routing or the French routing from the British routing. And you can use it to find a route from DAPP to the tip of the boot initially, you can use it to find a route from New York to San Francisco, and people do so have a play around.

Carlton Reid 57:32
Thanks to Richard Fairhurst there. And thanks to you for listening to Episode 337 of the spokesmen podcast brought to you in association with Tern bicycles, show notes at and more can be found at Episode 338 is a chat with the Chief Operations Officer at bikemap, and it’s available for your downloading pleasure right now. But meanwhile, get out there and ride …

August 10, 2023 / / Blog

10th August 2023

The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

EPISODE 336: ‘We’re crazy about human bikes’: Mike Sinyard on e-bikes, the new Tarmac SL8 and more

SPONSOR: Tern Bicycles

HOST: Carlton Reid

GUESTS: Mike Sinyard and Ben Edwards

TOPICS: Interview with Specialized founder and chairman Mike Sinyard at the UCI World Cycling Championships, Glasgow.

Video snippet of this interview on YouTube


Carlton Reid 0:13
Welcome to Episode 336 of the spokesmen cycling podcast. This show was engineered Thursday 10th August 2023.

David Bernstein 0:28
The spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast is brought to you by Tern bicycles. The good people at Tern are committed to building bikes that are useful enough to ride every day and dependable enough to carry the people you love. In other words, they make the kind of bikes that they want to ride. Tern has e bikes for every type of rider. Whether you’re commuting, taking your kids to school or even carrying another adult, visit www. That’s t e r n to learn more.

Carlton Reid 1:04
I recorded today’s show in Glasgow at the UCI world cycling championships. I’m Carlton Reid, and as well as a 50 kilometre hilly bike ride on the all new S-Works Tarmac SL8 road bike, I got a chance to talk with Specialized founder and today’s chairman, Mike Sinyard and the company’s global marketing lead Ben Edwards. You have a very very nice bike. Yeah, here. Yeah, you’re not here just to launch the bike. There’s a kind of a nice event happen. Event. Many, many events just happening outside here. So you’ve been to quite a few of the world championship events?

Mike Sinyard 1:48
Yeah. Through the through the years there this year coming on 50 years for specialized. Wow, it’s a long time. Yeah. No, but this is quite beautiful to have the super worlds, you know, and everything. Yeah, the events here at one time is is quite special. Yeah.

Carlton Reid 2:06
Yeah. That’s cool. We’ve been to Glasgow before. No, no, no. Scotland has been to Scotland before. For various championships down the years and stuff.

Mike Sinyard 2:16
No, I haven’t really known for different championships. No.

Carlton Reid 2:20
So the bike that you’ve you’ve you’ve launching? Yes. Here. The people writing it in these events? Or why why launch it just because tonnes of bike media, tonnes of bike people out? Why are you? Why here? Well.

Mike Sinyard 2:37
So we’ve been working on this bike, we say this is everything we know for 50 years. And although it doesn’t look that exotic it is, it really is. The sum of everything that we’ve done with this bike is very, very special.

Carlton Reid 2:55
So that that that I know you were going to call the snot rocket at some at one point. It’s good not to be that it’s not rocket. But that is quite a bulbous nose. You’ve got there, Mike,

Mike Sinyard 3:07
we call that. The nose. Speed. Speed sniffer?

Mike Sinyard 3:13
Yeah, yeah, we

Mike Sinyard 3:14
thought that was good,

Carlton Reid 3:15
better. That’s not rocket I definitely agree. So is that is that because I also read that almost 50% of the arrow savings are coming from the handlebars. So it’s what’s what’s happening here is the handle, right?

Mike Sinyard 3:28
Ben knows more of the detail than I do.

Ben Edwards 3:30
Right? When it comes down to is after, you know, like Mike said, you know, decades of development. And you know, now we’ve been in a wind tunnel for a decade, the aero understanding of the team is, is incredible. And they’ve really identified that look, we need to attack the leading edge of this bike in a brand new way. That’s at the leading edge in a way we haven’t seen before. And attacking the leading edge like that, whether it’s the bars, the head to the fork blades, gave them incredible opportunity in the rear of the bike, to work on lightweight ride quality, to bring all of those features together in a way that has never been done before. So really, when you look at the aero of the bike, it’s really about attacking the aero where it truly matters. And then everywhere else, we’ll work on that ride quality, that lightweight. And that’s how that combination comes together.

Carlton Reid 4:15
That’s Specialized global marketing lead Ben Edwards there. And you can see him Mike and me in a video of part of this interview that I’ve embedded on the show notes page on But now back to Glasgow, and then you’ve had your gender neutral stance for two years, more than two years. But beyond gender. Yeah, much more than two years, more than two years. Yeah. So this is a bike that this is not going to be shrink it and pink is a different version. This is gonna be the same for women.

Mike Sinyard 4:48
And we discovered I think it was like, five years or six years. Oh, sorry. Yeah. And, in fact, when we you know, we have all the retrieval data and we had all this data from the different writers And we’ve and we really found that there was, sometimes there was more difference between two men, in some cases than a man and a woman. And the same thing out, we’re taking that analysis also on the shoes, so it was like, but in areas that really make a difference under saddles and other areas, then we really go deep. But we didn’t want to try to create a difference where there wasn’t a difference.

Carlton Reid 5:27
That kind of makes sense. But yeah, and it has less SKUs as well.

Mike Sinyard 5:30
You kind of like, well, yeah, and it was just more logical a lot of times that when we’re saying, hey, I want to ride the regular, the regular tarmac instead of the So, so it was kind of like one of those aha moments.

Carlton Reid 5:44
So that’s an exotic beast. And is that the one I’m riding tomorrow? Or is it what are we riding tomorrow? So what are we riding that tomorrow? So that’s an exotic English money. That’s 12,000 pounds. So it’s an expensive beast?

Ben Edwards 5:57
That’s one’s Remco’s. So you’re not riding that one.

Carlton Reid 5:59
Not that particular one. No.

Mike Sinyard 6:01
But yet, what is cool is like, you know, the one that we sell is the same one. Yes, yes. That you buy, right. It’s very, very special.

Carlton Reid 6:11
And the bikes, we’re gonna be riding tomorrow and the course we’re on. Fantastic that we are riding such exotic, beautiful 12,000 pound machines. But anybody out there who hasn’t got 12,000 pounds to spend the technology on here is on the other layers of bike as well, the other iterations but not the handlebars. Is that right? Is that handlebars is on the top.

Ben Edwards 6:36
You can get the handlebars on the top two levels of bike. Right? So yeah, we do bring the handlebars down. But when you look at the frame set itself, that same technology, so if you buy an expert level mic, you’re gonna have the exact same type of ride quality type of field stiffness, the arrow Evander the frames that you get out of that $4,000 is worse. It is a different carbon.

Mike Sinyard 6:57
Yeah, the layup the material of the carbon and the layup is a lower level.

Ben Edwards 7:02
I think what’s what’s so impressive about it, though, is this bikes frame was 685 grammes, right, which makes it the lightest frame on the World Tour. You look at the fact that 10R carbon, which is that next level down that lower level bike, that weighs only 100 grammes more, which still makes it potentially the second or third lightest bike.

Carlton Reid 7:22
And Ben much is that?

Ben Edwards 7:24
So we can get you all the presses and sell sheets? Everything. So you have all those details? really accurate based on the latest news?

Carlton Reid 7:33
Okay, it’s frightening the way that you said that it’s dollar dollar pound parody. That’s quite frightening. But normally we’d like almost half, you know, when you say don’t use could be, it used to be anyway, that’s, that’s our economic problems, not yours. So when when I was with you in Morgan Hill in 2015, one of the questions I know I asked was about how much of your company will become an electric bike company? And I probably said in 510 years. And I’d have to go back and actually see with my notes and see what you said there. But has that accelerated faster than you thought? Or you think it’s the same? The kind of the trajectory is what you maybe thought in 2015? Where we’d have a as a global bike industry where we’d have a bikes today?

Mike Sinyard 8:23
Yeah, good point, I would say it’s definitely accelerated. It’s accelerated more than we thought. And I would say, because the acceptance on two fronts on a one day enthusiast Bronto going, that’s really cool. And it’s not pedestrian or this not because I’m a weak writer, it’s even cooler. Right, on that side. And then I think, on the other side, a lot of people that maybe weren’t writers who are hadn’t written for a long time, come in. And so it’s kind of made made it easier for cycling, to really be social. You know, I mean, it’s a pretty tough sport, right? It’s all about, you know, dropping people and things like that. But it’s like, with, with the electric, hey, everybody can have fun, and you can determine how much you want to work. Right. And so I think it was just made, like years ago, when the mountain bike came out, I, I would say the beautiful thing about the mountain bike is everybody was invited in young kids, middle aged kids, or kids, you know, whatever. And it was like, it wasn’t who was the fastest it was who had the most fun. So it really made the activity of cycling much greater. Whereas the road thing historically was a little bit too narrow. So so for that reason, and I think just the fun of it, and people realise As in, hey, I can get around quickly on the bike. And I can still get a lot of workout. I mean, there’s so many people I know they’ve got one of our limos or one of those other bikes, and they go, she’s you know, I’ve lost 1010 kilos, you know, just from riding this bike, and I feel great. So now beautiful

Carlton Reid 10:20
bikes. I’ve had one on test. Thank you.

Mike Sinyard 10:22
So it’s, it’s great. I think from that standpoint, I would say it’s gonna continue to go.

Carlton Reid 10:28
So you’re known for these bikes here. Of course, the alternative to E bikes. So how, what’s the proportion between specialized e bikes and specialized road? Or just any other bike? That isn’t electric?

Mike Sinyard 10:40
Yeah. You mean as far as the business? Yeah, I would say it’s, it’s getting to be about a little less than half the electric. Okay. Yeah. In the business.

Carlton Reid 10:53
So other companies are definitely almost 60% 70% Yeah, they are going bad. Do you? Do you see, specialized Yeah,

Mike Sinyard 11:00
I see is going there. And, and but I would say this part. We call it the, the muscular bikes. This one guy in Latin America, he calls it the human likes to laugh. Sometimes we joke in the US that these are the Amish bikes. But I would say they were always known for this. Right. And the mountain bikes as well. So we, we keep going with that. So

Carlton Reid 11:29
to 50 is pretty good. I must go back to my notes from I should have done this before I can just as find out what you said back then.

Mike Sinyard 11:36
I don’t put much No, you probably

Carlton Reid 11:38
thought it might last

Mike Sinyard 11:39
No. adoption has been really good. And and I would say the people that came in with the electric, I would say we brought new people into the activity, for sure.

Carlton Reid 11:53
Because I’m a historian. So I’m a historian of cycling in the 1890s, early 1900s When all of those bike companies actually morphed into either motorbike companies, or an awful lot of them, like dodge or Chrysler, they all became car companies. So the bike became a car. And it’s very, you can you can imagine the Segway of a bike becoming a motorbike quite easily. But oh, yeah.

Mike Sinyard 12:19
Well, Honda is a car. Example. Yeah, Euro Honda, right? Yeah.

Carlton Reid 12:25
So my question would have been then, would have been probably the same would have been? Can you ever imagine a time where specialised is almost like Harley Davidson? In that it only motorised bicycles? Do you think there’s always going to be a space for the human bicycle in specialised? Because there are all those bike companies that were bike companies 100% within 2030 years, you know, we’re, we’re motorbike companies, right? Could the same happen to specialised?

Mike Sinyard 12:58
No, one no. Because we’re too crazy about this part of it. And, and, in fact, you know, it’s funny when you’re a peddler like you are. And then you get on, like, a vivo or a creo. You appreciate it even more. Right? Because, you know, you know, it’s kind of like, that’s why we say it’s you only faster, right? So the appreciation is you and then the extra. So I would say for us. No, no, we’re always going to be with with the human bikes.

Carlton Reid 13:37
Yeah, but it is gonna get smaller.

Mike Sinyard 13:41
Yeah, yeah, I think so I think certain of the segment like the road bike and the mountain bike, and there’s this, as you know, there’s a certain purity to that this really enjoyable, right?

Carlton Reid 13:55
I’m gonna cut in there for a quick commercial break. And I’m gonna take you across to my colleague, David.

David Bernstein 14:01
Hello, everyone. This is David from the Fredcast and of course, the spokesmen. And I’m here once again to tell you that this podcast is brought to you by Tern bicycles. The good people at Tern build bikes that make it easier for you to replace car trips with bike trips. Part of that is being committed to designing useful bikes that are also fun to ride. But an even greater priority for Tern is to make sure that your ride is safe and worryfree and that’s why Tern works with industry leading third party testing labs like E FB, E, and builds it bikes around Bosch ebike systems which are UL certified for both electric and fire safety. So before you even zip off on your Tern, fully loaded, and perhaps with a loved one behind, you can be sure that the bike has been tested to handle the extra stresses on the frame and the rigours of the road. For more information, visit to learn more. And now, back to the spokesmen.

Carlton Reid 15:10
Thanks, David. And we are back in Glasgow, with Mike Sinyard and a little bit of Ben Edwards. And we had a the industry had a good COVID in that we sold a whole tonne of bikes, kind of it was pretty well expected that it probably wouldn’t last and we would have this major falling off a cliff, which we did. Where are we now? Are we are we climbing back up that cliff? And we have we suffered so much from that glut of inventory? Van? It’s it’s even a take a few years from now. Where do you see the industry as a whole? Not just specialized? Yeah. Where do you see the industry right now?

Mike Sinyard 15:47
Well, I would say, yeah, it was like, You know what I loved about, I guess you’d say the good thing about the COVID, right. In some ways, it brought people back to the regular to their values of the family, in the home. And whenever there’s a lot of stress in the world, a lot of time people returned to the bicycle. And even sometime when there’s like, in different parts of the worlds, there’s a lot of layoffs like a Silicon Valley, everybody laid off. Well guess what? Bikes, people riding their bikes like crazy. And I think we saw that during COVID. And so I think there’s a lot more cyclists out there. Now, I would say, okay, it went up a little bit, it went up a lot, and nobody can keep up. But I would say, Did it come, it hasn’t come back to the lower level that it did before, is still higher.

Carlton Reid 16:46
Right? Because you founded your company. When the bike boom was based that the 70s Bike boom was pretty much finished. It was it was in the death throes when you wrote when you found your company. So you’ve been through an enormous amount

Mike Sinyard 17:00
of everything seemed like an improvement.

Carlton Reid 17:03
We think there’s enough people kind of came along like Cannondale was at the same time track obviously was rough at the same time. So those companies came about an angular eight Schwinn’s breakfast eventually. But they came about because of the boom, and then stuck around, do you think the similar is going to happen in that the industry will kind of catch up and stay at a higher level than pre COVID?

Mike Sinyard 17:29
Yes, I think it is, I think it is already to a higher level, it definitely is for us at that higher level. And I think it’ll maintain there. And but probably not for all, as you read, there’s been a lot of people leaving, you know, because of this because of the crunch. But I think long term, or even this year, and next year,

Carlton Reid 17:56
is better given there are too many brands, do you think there are too many brands?

Mike Sinyard 18:01
Well, that’s for the consumer to design? Yeah, it seems like seemed like a lot. But you know, there’s all kinds of flavour for different people and and I think cycling, you think about all the forces coming together, right? environmental things. And for sure, the the thing of people wanting to express themselves and, and feel free riding the bike. And then people, I think we’re ended up with so many lifetimes, cyclists now. Really believe that, and the ebike is adding to that the momentum continues that way. And

Carlton Reid 18:48
as you mentioned, environmental there. So that was one of my questions now would have been, where do you see the bicycle in a climate change? In a world of climate change? Do you see that as a growth area? Or do you still see it’s going to be health? Where’s where’s the future growth going to come from? Do you think there’ll be any boost from the growing awareness of climate change? And maybe how we should be getting around in by different means?

Mike Sinyard 19:14
Well, I think we already see it. And I think there will be even more in the future. And for people living in the city, whether they’re doing it for climate benefit, as just practical, you can get around, whereas in the car, you’re stuck, you know, maybe take you hour and on the bike and take you 15 minutes and you feel better. And I believe that more you know, we have the outride that we’ve been working on and and started 11 years ago with Harvard Medical and now working with Stanford and all these students we have 50,000 kids go through. So I would say we have proved that. The kid And, and the research has proven as a fact, not a hypothesis, but a fact that how cycling lights up your brain, we even have that device, right? The device, the helmet device, and you can see like a person, you know, before and after enduring. And it’s a fact, right. And it’s just opening it up. And so you know, as we say pedals, pedals, not pills, sometimes these characters need to get out and ride and in light up their brains. And so we prove that that works. That is a fact. And I’m proud of that. And it’s not about specialising in the bike industry is a much bigger thing. But that was the thing I wanted to happen is just to prove it, to where at some point, even your next door neighbour will know that that is a fact.

Carlton Reid 21:02
And where does gravel fit in for you?

Mike Sinyard 21:05
Yeah, gravel? Well, I think it’s it’s a wonderful thing. Being able to hear you think about gravel and it’s like, I think the road bikes even all the road bikes are gravitating. One thing I wanted to mention about the outright. It here’s another thing is in the world, you know, the thing for Ageing adults with dementia, that one of the things we believe, and we believe that we can improve that even more impact for Ageing adults, in staving keeping off their dementia, from lighting up the brain, where we’re sure that in some of the early research shows that right? Because it is a circulatory issue. But you know, and then you talk about gravel? Well, I think the idea of the of the bigger tire, like the writing your son is doing or whatever. It just makes sense, right? Going into gravel, you know, you hear a car behind you, you pull over keep riding on the dirt. I think it’s just it’s the way to go. Right?

Carlton Reid 22:18
I’m assuming that you’re still doing your lunchtime rides, you’re still going out? Are you going on a gravel bike? Are you going on a road bike? Do you mix it up?

Mike Sinyard 22:27
Well, where we live is more on the on the road bike. But most of the riding I do now is off road, on the mountain bike or like on or diverge or something like that a lot?

Carlton Reid 22:40
And then have you? Are you part of the design process? Do you do you put input in or you like,

Mike Sinyard 22:46
I like I like to taste it? On some things? I’m not to the level to communicate about this, but I definitely I can feel the difference of things. Yeah, so yeah.

Carlton Reid 23:07
What do you ride? Do you kind of get a brand new bike all the time, I’m gonna do something new.

Mike Sinyard 23:14
I always like riding with different people. So so. So I’ll ride the epic go off in the, in the woods, right in epic, or some time we have a bigger group from this one house that I have. So we’ll all go out on Levos so everybody’s equal. I love riding Diverge.

Carlton Reid 23:34
It’s happening. I got a favourite bike from the 1990s or something that fits you and it’s just you know, what bike? Would you always go out on the latest iteration the latest model that you’ve got? Or would you

Carlton Reid 23:49
go to ride the new one.

Mike Sinyard 23:52
And then, and then I realise you then I can feel the difference of the new one. And then I still liked the old one. So I ended up keeping it. But the difference is a lot. And then you look at the old bicycle. That’s good. And then you ride it and go

Carlton Reid 24:09
oh, obviously, bike industry people or any product people in any sphere, say the latest bike, the latest tin of beans or whatever. That’s the that’s the greatest. But you’re saying here because well, I’m now going to bring us all way back to this bike. So you’re saying that is the one bike and that fits on all the technologies which you’ve been you’ve been premiering over the last 50 years, that it’s all in that one bike. And that’s now what you would say is the ideal bike which then makes begs the question, well, what you’re doing next year and the year after.

Mike Sinyard 24:47
Sometime, that’s when the team does something I go. Now what are we going to do next time to make it that much better? And what I like About this bike is like, also, this could be the race bike. This is the race bike for the top top riders. But also, we just want a great bike. This is the bike. And it’s also because the compliance of the bike, I always like a bike with a lot of compliance, because I like going for the long rides. And I like the feel of the bike, you know, to be like, I like bigger tires and that feeling. I don’t like it like too sharp like that. I like the feel. And like, that’s why I like riding the crux a lot. And writing in that in the dirt. I almost feel like it has a certain suspension with the with the frame. Yeah,

Carlton Reid 25:48
just based on my question that on like, almost on the iPhone, like the the new iPhone is coming out next month. But you know, for a fact that the engineers, you know, in two years time have got this even better. iPhone, so they come on the stage. This is remember had,

Mike Sinyard 26:04
Is 15th? That’s going out?

Carlton Reid 26:06
Yeah, and they’ve got to say, well, actually, in their heads, they must know if we’ve got even better, you know, iPhone coming out next year. And how do you sell that? Yeah. What is like, the progression can you make in the bike?

Mike Sinyard 26:19
Well, you know, what, is always the question, right? And as soon as you get it, you get that down, you’re thinking? Well, you know, there’s always material advancements, and other things and other ways of testing. And it’s like, you kind of make it a bike like that is like Formula One, if you ever read about that, you know, like we work with McLaren before, and just like, every little thing, everything, every little, tiniest thing, and all those little things added up makes a big difference, right? You know, sometimes, like the team will do something new on the tire with the compound, or the or the other things and you go, Oh my gosh, is you can what I love is when you can be right it and you can feel it. And you go God, how’d you do that? Well, it wasn’t one thing. It was maybe a couple of 100 things that adds up together as a tanky. Right. I always liked that like Formula One. I’m not really a fan, but I liked the process of like a car crashes and they bring all those parts back and they look at this and every you know, like McLaren when Dennison was there doing that it was like that’s a it’s a way of thinking. Right? That that we apply into something like this.

Carlton Reid 27:44
Thanks to Mike Sinyard there and a little bit of Ben Edwards too. And thanks to you for listening to Episode 336 of the spokesmen podcast brought to you in association with Tern bicycles. Show notes, and more can be found at The next episode will be a traffic counting special out later this month. But meanwhile, get out there and ride …

July 17, 2023 / / Blog

17th July 2023

The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

EPISODE 335: The Potential for Cargo Bikes

SPONSOR: Tern Bicycles

HOST: Carlton Reid

GUESTS: Patrick Rérat and Virginie Lurkin, HEC Lausanne, at the University of Lausanne

TOPIC: The Potential for Cargo Bikes report


Carlton Reid 0:13
Welcome to Episode 335 of the Spokesmen cycling podcast. This show was engineered on Monday 17th of July 2023.

David Bernstein 0:28
The Spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast is brought to you by Tern bicycles. The good people at Tern are committed to building bikes that are useful enough to ride every day and dependable enough to carry the people you love. In other words, they make the kind of bikes that they want to ride. Tern has e-bikes for every type of rider: whether you’re commuting, taking your kids to school or even carrying another adult, visit That’s t e r n to learn more.

Carlton Reid 1:02
On today’s show, I’m discussing cargo bikes with a couple of Swiss academics revealing findings from their new study. I’m Carlton Reid and I’m joined by Patrick Rérat and Virginie Lurkin from HEC Lausanne at the University of Lausanne. They are two of the three researchers behind the Potential for Cargo Bikes report. While it’s a Swiss study, it has relevance for other countries. Virginie and Patrick, maybe Virginie first, could you just describe what you do at the University of Lausanne?

Virginie Lurkin 1:41
Yes, sure. So I’m a professor of mainly mobility and logistics. So within the HEC, the Business School of University of Lausanne, and I’m working within the operation department, mainly using quantitative methods to do so.

Carlton Reid 1:58
And and Patrick. So what do you do also at the University of Lausanne,

Patrick Rérat 2:02
So I’m a professor of geography of mobilities and a co director of the OUVEMA (Observatory for Cycling and Active Mobilities) which is the academic observatory for cycling and active mobilities.

Carlton Reid 2:14
And I’ve looked on on either his website and scientific committee of 18, professors geography, history, law, medicine, operation management, political science, psychology, public health, sociology, tourism, and, and even more, because then, etc, there. So that’s an incredible spread of specialities.

Patrick Rérat 2:34
Yeah, we founded the OUVEMA, two, three years ago, and a lot of colleagues were interested in the project. So we aim to foster interdisciplinarity research, and to work together to make all these people work together. And maybe if I can say a few words about the Obama, we are not only a research centre, but we want to be close links with the civil society. We organise webinars, we communicate around our research, we try to co design research project with advocates, for example. Okay,

Carlton Reid 3:10
and it’s would I be right in thinking an awful lot of it is behaviour change. So getting people to actually start to increase their walking and cycling and other active modes?

Patrick Rérat 3:23
Yeah, that has been the main focus. We have other subjects, like policies planning and health, but behaviour change has been the major focus lately, this project on target bikes,

Carlton Reid 3:37
and how much and because walking often gets to be the poor relation in mobility research. So all in just in political discourse, in general, and it’s cycling takes the lion’s share. So how big is walking it compared to cycling in Obama?

Patrick Rérat 4:02
When OUVEMA is a bottom up approach, so it depends also on the people who are part of it. And it depends also on on funding. So now, I would say that the majority of research, address cycling, but we have, for example, a PhD student working on public space and the diversity on public space.

Carlton Reid 4:22
Okay. And I’d like to ask both before we get into the paper you’ve got which is the potential of cargo bikes before we get into that. I would like to ask both of you, I’ll start with Virginie on this one. And that is academics who are involved in something like this, which is almost advocacy you’re almost promoting something and that’s not You’re not being like I’m trying to be very delicate here. So you’re not trying to be a like a dispassionate academic here, even though you’re I’m sure your academic work is, but you’re also partially an advocate. So how do you square that circle of being a researcher? But at the same time, if you’re if you’re trying to affect behaviour change that is advocating for something. How do you how do you meet those two?

Virginie Lurkin 5:15
Interesting question. I think it’s a challenge, right? Because as a researcher, I don’t think the first let’s say mission is to advocate but more to get to model more knowledge, and more insights and solutions to current problems. Being professor and so we third true in transportation, of course, it’s directly related to also society, right. I mean, we, we do research on transportation, and then of course, on how to make it more sustainable given the current challenges that the world is facing. So personally, I think it’s, it’s it if you do good research, and you communicate about it in a way that also it reaches society, then of course, you advocate for it, right. So then there is also I do believe in the power of whole model. So I’m trying as much as possible to, to adopt myself what, what I think helps. But it’s, of course, not always easy. But so I would say this right, by, by talking about it, also trying to have impact in research, and not only academic publications, but also communicate about the topic in the news and so on, I think it helps to advocate.

Carlton Reid 6:39
And Patrick, how do you square that circle?

Patrick Rérat 6:44
Well, I don’t consider myself as an advocate, or as an activist, then, of course, a researcher is not neutral. I mean, if I’m interested in cargo bikes, it’s also because for me, I want you to know, if it’s a it has a nice potential to replace cars, for example. But I think that my role as a researcher is to be rigorous, to be transparent on methods on interpretation, and to make my research available. So that’s how I see the my role and the one of the of the Obama

Carlton Reid 7:27
and those people who are maybe opposed to active mobility, people who maybe want to carry on motoring generally, who then say, activist, academics are not independent. What do you say to them?

Virginie Lurkin 7:47
I mean, for me, I agree with Patrick, right, I don’t think we are supposed to be activist. And if we are, it’s more on a personal choice rather than academics, then I think it’s important to do research on the motivation of people, right? Because it’s only by understanding the motivations, for instance, why some people are not willing to use active active modes, then you can better understand the motivation, and then you can better find solutions even for those people with like appropriate policies, or I mean, I don’t believe that there are people against active mobility, I do believe that there are reasons for some people to prefer, like other modes of transport, and so we need to work on making the right alternatives so that they, they go for like active mobility, but I don’t think it’s like, position as such.

Carlton Reid 8:50
Okay, so your paper here. So the potential cargo bikes, first of all, and it is Switzerland, where that you’ve done this survey of 2000, cargo bike owners and users. But is it applicable elsewhere? Do you think that even though it’s a Swiss study, this would be transferable, some of the findings to other global cities?

Patrick Rérat 9:22
When I think it is because it’s not a high second country like the Netherlands, or Denmark. In Dutch cities and Danish cities, we know that cargo bags have been very popular for a long time. In Switzerland, that’s something new. And we have also very big differences between cities and regions in Switzerland, the French speaking part cycle much less than the German speaking one. So I think that we have an intermediate country for cycling, and which makes this case study Interesting. And maybe another interesting point for Switzerland is that we have cargo bikes owners. But we have also a lot of sharers, with a programme at the national scale, tend to compare both public or users. That’s quite interesting.

Carlton Reid 10:19
So you, in the paper, you talk about how safety is one of the determinants, and one of the things that get more people on bikes and cargo bikes is that the safer it is, the more infrastructure is there more likelihood, people will be on bikes of whatever flavour but going slightly backwards, and what you’ve just said there in that, that the French speaking population uses bikes, less than the German speaking population is that in places where there is the same kind of infrastructure, so it literally is a cultural difference, not a concrete tracks difference.

Patrick Rérat 11:03
It really refers to the, to the condition of the cycling condition, and to safety. We did other research projects, and we could show very big differences in terms of perceived safety between the French speaking part and the German speaking part. And why is it so it’s because in the German part, they have taken measures to come down traffic, like 20 kilometres or 30 kilometres zone much earlier than in the French speaking part. And the same for cycling infrastructure. It’s not the same two cycle in the German part than in the French speaking part. But the French speaking part is trying to catch up. And

Carlton Reid 11:53
in your study, you’ve been basically you’ve interviewed 2000 people, how did you get those 2000 people

Virginie Lurkin 12:01
for the first part on their understanding motivation, profile berries, card bye bike owners and sharers, we have a bit less than 1000. And more than 2000 is for the studies on commercial use, but we got them through different division lists. So some like local biking cycling Association, then our own network also, of course,

Carlton Reid 12:32
did you differentiate between electric cargo bikes and old school non electric cargo bikes? So is there anything in the study that that drill down into that?

Virginie Lurkin 12:43
So we asked them if they had the ebike or normal bike, and it appears that almost 90 percent way like were e-cargo bikes? And I think it is, it is it is an important reason why we see this increase in cargo bikes. It’s also because of their electric assistance.

Carlton Reid 13:06
That’s that’s that’s quite a significant statistic. So basically electrifying, but adding assistance, not not not pure. You know, it’s not a motorbike, but adding some assistance clearly has boosted absolutely boosted the take up of cargo bikes. Yes. Yes,

Virginie Lurkin 13:25
definitely. But especially I think in, in cities, like we have in Switzerland, that you have quite some steep streets, right, this is a quite Montaigne landscape. So. So without electrical assistance, I think there would be some street that you cannot see biking cargo bike with, like children or groceries on it. But I think it’s true. It’s true. Also, for like countries like Netherlands that are more flat countries that definitely the boom can also be explained by the development in electrical assistance.

Carlton Reid 14:04
And then cargo bikes can be and one of the first photographs in your study, in fact, is basically the box bikes, which would carry children and then you have cargo bikes that carry cargo and literally carry goods. So are you differentiating between those two things? Because they’re, you know, they’re very, it’s like a car carrying a children and a van carrying goods. They’re two very, very different things. So how did you differentiate those things?

Patrick Rérat 14:37
Well, for ownership of cargo bike, we have mainly families. So we could say that it’s, it’s a family bike. Almost 80% of the respondent, our families and to carry children is an important motivation for them. To carry children to the kindergarten to the nursery. to go shopping or to go for rides, it’s not only motivations, it’s also actual uses. So, when we speak about owning a cargo bike, it’s really mainly referring to some having a family bike. Then when we have cargo bike sharing, it might be between friends or neighbours, or with a specific programme national programme, or in, in, in a company, it’s more or less frequent use, and more related to carrying bulky items. So it’s true that cargo bags it’s quite, it’s not a normal generous practice, we have a private or company practice, you have own ownership or sharing. Hmm.

Carlton Reid 15:57
And then that clearly strong part of your report and something that is often talked about is how owning a cargo bike or sharing a cargo bike reduces car trips. So you think you’ve measured this and you can you can put a finger on on this as long as the environment is okay.

Virginie Lurkin 16:18
I think it’s important to, to say that, I like that you use the word trips, right? I do think the, the idea is to reduce maybe car trips. So let’s say you have a substitution. But what we have seen, I think, for me, one of the main learning is that the substitution is like to own a second car, for instance. So we have quite some respondents who said that by buying a cargo bag, the ring renounced to the idea of buying a second car or even a first car. So that’s quite interesting. So you, of course, also have substitution effects with the other transport modes, but it has indeed potential to reduce either the ownership of a second car or like buying a new car, or like trips that were made by cars.

Patrick Rérat 17:14
And what is difficult to measure actually, is you have trip substitution. But half of the people, half of the households we interviewed are cash free. So they don’t, they don’t own a car. Maybe some of these households decided to sell their car, some decided not to buy one, and some others could go on living without a car, tend to the cargo bag. So the question is whether easy, but the impact of cargo bag, but the answer is quite complex. What we can say as well is that in our sample, half of the households don’t have a car. And if we have a look at Switzerland, it’s only 21%. And if we have a look at families in Switzerland, it’s only 7% or carefree. So we have hints, but not a quantified answer to that.

Carlton Reid 18:18
And have you drilled into the socio economic backgrounds of cargo bike owners and users because I’m not too sure what it’ll be like in Switzerland, but certainly in the UK and in the big cities in Berlin in the US as well. You know, there’s a perception it might not be reality, but there’s only a perception that somebody certainly carrying children on one of these relatively expensive cargo bikes are going to be relatively rich, probably middle class. And yes, we’ll probably have more than one car sitting back at home. So is Have you done any research on who these people are in socio economic terms?

Virginie Lurkin 19:00
Yes, and it’s true, right? So it’s still mainly young adults age between 30 and 50 Mostly family families and high socio economic status. So I think we got like 80 university graduates which is of course not representative of the entire country, and also more people living in your urban suburban area. So I think this is also the case. But so I agree with the first part of your statement right quite privileged people. But but not for the cars. I it doesn’t seem that it’s like household in which day there was a lot of cars.

Carlton Reid 19:50
So that when when, when a poor family will often own a car. It might take a huge part of their budget, but they will own a car for aspirational More reasons, and they tend not to have a cargo bike, perhaps even for the same reasons in that, you know, they they want the car they don’t want a cargo bike because a cargo bike is seen as a bit. Maybe not, you know something that a working class person would use. But do you need to have, this is not so much in this research here, but just in the future do you need the use of cargo bikes are going to have to broaden out to more social classes, because you can’t just have it, you know, small section of the privileged dotting around on cargo bikes, you want to have lots of people, if we’re going to get rid of if we’re going to reduce car use.

Patrick Rérat 20:41
Yes, but it’s still a new phenomenon. And we launched the survey one year ago, and in one year, a lot of things have changed. For example, the rise of of longtail, I don’t know if it’s popular in other countries, but it’s becoming a big thing here in Switzerland. That’s bi x with a new extended rear rack, and you can have like one or two children on it. And it’s two or three years ago, you couldn’t see a single one on the streets. And now it’s quite popular. So it’s still it’s changing quite quickly. And that’s a challenge. Now we have the pioneers, and we have the early adopters of this innovation, the E cargo bag, and how could we extend this practice to other social groups. And I think that there are several measures, it was interesting to see that 15% of the of the households bought a secondhand cargo bag. So if there is a secondhand market, maybe the price will go down, then we still have a niche product. But if it’s if the market is growing, you will have more shops, maybe you could have also a decrease in prices. cities or municipalities could give subsidy, for example, or sharing can be an option. It’s still quite rare, but you have housing cooperatives, for example. And they have one or two cargo bikes for all their members. And that to me, that may be also an ID to follow. And many

Carlton Reid 22:29
cities have Bike Share cargo bikes now where you can just pick them up off the street, like you can get like a, you know, a normal Velib style bicycle yet I believe but with a cargo rack.

Patrick Rérat 22:44
Just there is such a system in Switzerland, it’s not exactly like Velib. It’s more like rental cars you need to go to, to a shop or to a post office to get the keys or the code. So you can’t have it in the night or in the evening, for example. But this system is quite important because it’s it’s complimentary to cargo bike ownership. It’s not really competition, it’s complimentary. Because you have people, we all need less a cargo bag, or have a more punctual or less frequent use. It’s also a way for some people who are reluctant to buy a cargo bag, which is like more expensive than the usual bag that can give a try. And maybe more symbolically, it’s important also to normalise cargo back. And when you see cargo bags on the street or next to the shop, you go shopping, that’s also important. It’s it gives an idea of a normal thing.

Virginie Lurkin 23:51
But they also agree that it’s like for now it’s still something that not every household can afford, right? I mean, it’s still quite an expensive product. So indeed, if you need to right now choose between the car and a cargo bike, right? You may say, Okay, I really need the car because some of the trips are too far. Why don’t we save currently in terms of infrastructure to have a cargo bike? So I think a lot of efforts will need to be done on making this also a more attractive alternative in terms of infrastructure price. And then I agree with Patrick right then the more of course we will see them the more it will become attracted but there are still things to be done in terms of making this attractive.

Carlton Reid 24:37
Now I recognise that they are expensive, and I recognise the perception is they’re expensive. But when you look at the price of a car, and certainly the how much you spend, even if it’s very cheap car, how much you spend on that car over the air. They are still a fraction of that. So yes, they’re expensive, but they’re nowhere near as expensive as a car. So as a social You know, economic thing, you could, you could certainly save an awful lot of money as a family. If you actually had one of these experiment doing inverted commas here expensive cargo bikes.

Patrick Rérat 25:13
We have the same debate about Ebates. And actually, I think that maybe it’s because we are not a high cycling country. So we still compare ebikes and cargo bags, with usual back. And maybe we should compare it with where the season ticket for buses or trends that we save or that someone save, or what a car or a second car costs. And of course, if you count everything, like not only the price of the car in itself, but also car parking, and all the maintenance and repair, it can go up quite quickly.

Carlton Reid 25:58
Hmm. Now at this point, I’d like to go across to my colleague in the US. Take it away, David.

David Bernstein 26:04
Hello, everyone. This is David from the Fredcast. And of course, the Spokesmen. And I’m here once again to tell you that this podcast is brought to you by Tern bicycles, the good people that Tern build bikes that make it easier for you to replace car trips with bike trips. Part of that is being committed to designing useful bikes that are also fun to ride. But an even greater priority for Tern, is to make sure that your ride is safe, and worryfree. And that’s why Tern works with industry leading third party testing labs like E FB, E, and builds it bikes around Bosch ebike systems, which are UL certified for both electric and fire safety. So before you even zip off on your Tern, fully loaded, and perhaps with the loved one behind, you can be sure that the bike has been tested to handle the extra stresses on the frame, and the rigours of the road. For more information, visit to learn more. And now, back to the spokesmen.

Carlton Reid 27:13
Thanks, David. And we are back with Patrick and Virginie of the University of Lausanne. And I’d like to ask you both who wants to take this? This is a survey, is this something that you’re going to be doing annually every two years, three years? Is this something you’re going to be continuing. So this is something that will develop over time.

Patrick Rérat 27:34
We don’t have a precise project, but but it would be great to do it like in five years time to see how things have changed. And I’m sure that in five years, a lot of it will increase. And it will be very important, interesting to compare.

Carlton Reid 27:51
And was there a baseline? Was there a previous study that you could say, Well, this has now increased by this much are you the is the first such study that’s been done.

Virginie Lurkin 28:02
Now, it’s actually the first national one here in Switzerland. And in general, this is this is also what what was exciting is that there are very few existing studies on the topic. And it’s still quite some empirical ones, and so on. So I think those are learnings that we got it’s the first one it’s of course an imperfect ones. But I agree with Patrick, it would be really nice to see a bit in five years how things have evolved. And if we see differences,

Patrick Rérat 28:36
the only data we have on cargo bags in Switzerland, that the shapes of E cargo bikes, and it was not even 400 in 2017. And last year, it was more than 4000. So it means that something that was really unusual sides five years ago. Now it’s not usual, I wouldn’t say that, but it’s you don’t turn around your head anymore. If you see a long tail or cargo bag. something exceptional still right but not exceptional. Hmm.

Carlton Reid 29:14
And just putting your your maybe your non scientific hat on here, because I’m gonna be asking you about what you think is gonna happen in the future. But do you think that trajectory that that very steep growth trajectory, do you think that’s going to continue? Or do you think we are bottoming out and it’ll it’ll become less steep in the next five years? So I imagine you’re steady in five years time. If you’ve got one, where do you think you will be?

Virginie Lurkin 29:40
I personally, I hope that it will become way more accessible for many people to have cargo bikes and that we we did well in the substitution effect, right. So but of course, it depends on policymakers on the changes in terms of infrastructure. But I think the weakness is there. Now we need to. Yeah.

Carlton Reid 30:07
So let’s, let’s circle back on that because in the preamble on your report, it does say that the remote the practice remains fragile due to the cycling environment. And you can imagine if you’ve got, you know, two three children in a, you know, Copenhagen box bike, Christiana box bike type thing, you are going to be hyper hyper aware of your surroundings, you know, with with the danger, even perhaps more so than you would as an individual on a bicycle. So clearly, if you’re taking very precious cargo, on the streets, you’re going to be advocating for safer streets. So cargo bikes, actually, and the people who are on them now if they are the privileged class, could that lead to safer streets in the future?

Virginie Lurkin 31:00
Hopefully, I think the safety and infrastructure I mean, we have seen it in the study. But this is something that is already true for a bike or standard bike ride that if you want, if you want to favour the use of bikes, cargo bike ebike, then you need to also make sure that people feel safe. And if you want to see the substitution effect, I also think that it means you need to rethink a bit. How to share the available space right workspace right now is still that there are many streets that are still fully dedicated to two cars while we are trying to reduce. So I think there is a bit of a nonsense there

Patrick Rérat 31:49
is even more an issue when you carry children. I mean, more than 60% of our interviewees said they, they adapt the route when they carry children. And that’s quite a lot. So it shows that everything is far from being perfect. So that’s a limiting factor. At least in now in Switzerland. But it also raises not only the question of, of infrastructure, but of course important. But with cargo bikes, you need also wider infrastructure. Because these cargo bikes will go with regular bags, e bikes, different speed, different size. And there is also something that is less spoken about in the political debate that parking spaces. In many dense or historical neighbourhoods, you don’t really have the space to store your cargo van. And you you hesitate before leaving it’s by at night on the street. So I think that parking spaces is also an important issue.

Carlton Reid 33:12
So bike hangers, you know that you think municipality should be installing secure compounds?

Patrick Rérat 33:19
Yes, something maybe

Carlton Reid 33:21
where car parking spaces were before you can have we’re in the UK, they called bike hangers. And you get

Patrick Rérat 33:29
so that when I was in London a few months ago and tightening that something that is missing in Switzerland, and when you have a cargo bag, you it’s the same also for ebike it has to be easily accessible, but you have also to protect it from theft or weather conditions.

Carlton Reid 33:51
And that the width because the obviously there are very different kinds of cargo bikes out there. So the ones we’ve been talking about so far, like the Christianna. But yeah, as you said they’re wide. But then the long tails are very thin. So they’re they’re each going to have their own a niches and, and and be requirements on the streets, aren’t they?

Patrick Rérat 34:14
Yes, they are different, but they have also some common requirements, like safety, wide cycle lanes. So all these are additional reasons to consider cycling the way when we design streets, for example.

Carlton Reid 34:34
And then the motivations of somebody who are taking children to school or to kindergarten is one thing but then you’ve got the other huge part of cargo bike riding, of course, is the last mile delivery and getting white van man off the streets and so it’s a cargo bike instead of a white van. So what have you discovered on the efficiencies of cargo ebikes compared to say, a big truck, or a van,

Virginie Lurkin 35:06
I mean, urban logistics, you’ll see this more and more right in the discussion that you would replace trucks by other bags because you can access streets that congested and also in terms of cost of emissions and so on. And so the study we did we did was to try to understand the bit, what would be the willingness of young students around here to to pay or to walk to a pickup collection or to pay extra money to be delivered by cargo bikes? And it seems they would be willing to do so. But then, in terms of urban logistics, yeah, I think it’s very interesting debate, because in Switzerland, we still don’t see them very much for urban deliveries, while if you take Paris for instance. They are quite used for deliveries. And so the question becomes also the infrastructure, the landscape. But yeah, the potential for urban Logistics is also of course, quite important. Well, thank

Carlton Reid 36:11
you both very much for talking about your study. Where can people find this study? On online? Where can where can people actually access it?

Patrick Rérat 36:21
It’s on a website of the University of Lausanne. If you Google the potential of cargo bikes, University of Lausanne, you will find it.

Carlton Reid 36:30
Okay, and can you give us your contact details? So anybody who’s listening to this, who wants to either talk to Patrick or individually and they want to contact you either social media or email how do people get in touch with you?

Virginie Lurkin 36:46
Yes, social LinkedIn of course, because when you look on LinkedIn or its viewers, you need that look at you need that ch for the email address.

Carlton Reid 36:56
And Patrick,

Patrick Rérat 36:58
Patrick Rerat. I’m on LinkedIn and Twitter as well and I would happy to connect with other people interested in cargo bikes.

Carlton Reid 37:10
Thanks to Patrick, reread, and Virginie lurking there. And thanks to you for listening to Episode 335 of the spokesman podcast brought to you in association with bicycles, show notes and more can be found at the hyphen Next episode will be out in August. But meanwhile, get out there and ride

July 12, 2023 / / Blog

12th July 2023

The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

EPISODE 334: From Bam-bu to Dott via Sustrans, Fettle, Flitbike and the Diagram Club

SPONSOR: Tern Bicycles

HOST: Carlton Reid

GUESTS: Dave Walker, Joana Saavedra, Ilma Barbaroviciute, Andy Lu, Alex Murray, Xavier Brice, Henri Moissinac

TOPICS: This is the third and final episode recorded from the Move mobility conference in London last month. Hear from cycling cartoonist Dave Walker, Joana Saavedra from the Bam-bu bicycle company from Portugal, two bike mechanic folks from Fettle, Alex Murray from Flitbike and Xavier Brice, the CEO of Sustrans. Plus, after the ad break, there’s a fireside chat with tech entrepreneur Henri Moissinac cofounder of the city share scooter and e-bike company Dott.


Carlton Reid 0:12
Welcome to Episode 334 of the Spokesmen cycling podcast. This show was engineered on Wednesday 12th of June 2023.

David Bernstein 0:28
The spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast is brought to you by Tern bicycles. The good people at Tern are committed to building bikes that are useful enough to ride every day, and dependable enough to carry the people you love. In other words, they make the kind of bikes that they want to ride. Tern has e bikes for every type of rider. Whether you’re commuting, taking your kids to school or even carrying another adult, visit That’s t e r n to learn more.

Carlton Reid 1:04
This is the third and final episode recorded from the Move mobility conference in London last month. I’m Carlton Reid and, if you listened to the first episode — with Councillor Emily Kerr — and the second one with a bunch of bike infrastructure folks you might have noticed a difference in the audio. With the magic of AI I removed all of the background hubbub from the interview with Emily, but left some in for the second one. Due to popular demand — well, a Twitter poll — I reduced the distracting show chatter by a few decibels but left enough so you could tell that I was recording in an expo hall, not a studio. And I’ve done the same for this episode’s interviews. You’ll hear from cycling cartoonist Dave Walker, Joana Saavedra from the bamboo bicycle company from Portugal, two bike mechanic folks from Fettle, Alex Murray from Flit bike and Xavier Brice, the CEO of Sustrans. After the ad break there are some extracts from a chat I had with tech entrepreneur Henri Moissinac cofounder of the city share scooter and Ebike company Dott. The background audio for that sounds different again because I was interviewing Henri in front of an audience from the show’s main stage. Anyway, kicking us off his Dave Walker. Well, fancy bumping into you here we haven’t met before day.

Dave Walker 2:45
So it’s good to be here.

Carlton Reid 2:48
Yeah. What the hell is is a world famous cycling cartoonist doing at this conference?

Dave Walker 2:58
Well, I’m here to learn, I guess really, in that. I, I normally spend my time shut away in my cartooning lair.

Carlton Reid 3:11
Away from the world. More you meet in real people now. Yes,

Dave Walker 3:15
yes. So it’s nice to be out of the house. So yes, I’m here to essentially I suppose I’m focusing on the micro mobility side of the, of the show. We call it a show, by the way.

Carlton Reid 3:31
Yeah, so it’s talking heads, and then a bunch of like, booths and stands on the outside. So ya know, it’s a show.

Dave Walker 3:40
So I’m here to go to some of the talks and maybe hear a few different perspectives. Because although I focus largely on cycling, I’m interested in sustainable transport generally. And so I’ve got one or two ideas bubbling up things I’ve heard already. And

Carlton Reid 4:01
because when we started talking before, you made a good point, and it is pretty obvious when you start going around even the bicycle elements of this show. It’s basically e elements, everything has got an electric element to it. And the industry is just clearly everything is got a battery now, and it hasn’t got a battery. It’s not innovative, and it’s not Yeah, it’s not going to be an individual conference like that. Is that a worry? Are we old in the tooth? Here we are.

Dave Walker 4:31
We are. But I suppose I can see the if you’re developing something new, then I suppose this is the kind of place you would you come to show off your new direction. And so maybe people who are doing things that are more conventional. This isn’t where you choose to come. But yes, it does seem to be the way things are going because of it that bikes tend to be moving towards having Moto as the standard,

Carlton Reid 5:03
yeah, so the reason I brought you to this particular part of the Startup Village, and the guy’s not here, because he’s Spanish, and he’s gone for a six hour lunch or whatever. But he’s Lane Patrol it so this is basically you’ll get a kick out of this, because he’s doing infrastructure. So it’s a cycling infrastructure. And so it’s of interest to you. And the reason the reason I brought you here is because it was so cute when I was talking to him, and he’s showing me his, his product on his laptop, up popped one of your cartoons, and it’s like, this is somebody in Spain. Yeah, opening up, he’s you. So you’re world famous. And I actually told him, I said, Dave is actually coming, I’m gonna bring him across to see how do you feel? Exactly. ,

Dave Walker 5:56
It’s unexpected that in a very small niche, at least, my work is, is known by people involved in the world of cycling and cycling infrastructure. In other countries, it’s yeah, it’s,

Carlton Reid 6:15
it’s, it doesn’t put, you know, Kit Kats on the table. There’s really no not necessarily. It’s building a profile to making money. Yes.

Dave Walker 6:28
And so you know, there’s a possibility that more people might buy a book, or might join my currently my diagram club is my way that I’m hoping to make a bit of a living from from what I do. So yeah, so it’s good that the works out there and let it’s being seen and enjoyed.

Carlton Reid 6:52
Hopefully he’ll come back and you can get to chat to him and you can probably invoice him. Literally, what’s his screensaver was one of your cartoons, which was which was a new you were coming into the show. So yeah, that was great. I’m, I freely admit that I will rip off cartoons, probably with a cycling element and private eye. And and put that on social media. And I, I probably wouldn’t do that with a photograph. But I saw I have no compunction to do that with a cartoon. Is that something that? Does that annoy you? Or is that just something that I know? It’s part and parcel of what you do as a cartoonist? And other cartoonists go through exactly the same thing? Yeah,

Dave Walker 7:29
I suppose. Yes, I suppose on the one hand, I see lives, probably a bit too short to get too annoyed about this, because it is just going to happen, people do enjoy funny images. And once they have a funny image, they will share it and use it themselves. But on the other hand, is somebody trying to make a living from it? You know, I’m always you know, it’s encouraging when somebody’s willing to pay for something. And so I suppose if somebody’s getting professional use, and if something particularly, and it’s helping them tell their story, get their point across, then, you know, I’d prefer to be

Carlton Reid 8:14
you’re cutting through the illustrations, you’re cutting through an awful lot of, of language and putting an illustration and that’s it then becomes much more visual, obviously. Yeah, but it cuts through the argument.

Dave Walker 8:26
Yeah. Well, that’s, that’s yeah, encouraging to hear, because that’s, that’s, that’s what I hope it will do. And, you know, using a little bit of humour, which I think is these days is a good way to make a point and something that we, you know, we we love the world of stand up. So humour is a useful tool. And that combined with having, you know, a little bit of knowledge of the experience of the world of cycling and

Carlton Reid 8:58
well, that shines through, you know, yeah, you absolutely have nailed a lot to it, which is why people share your stuff. So we’ve established that you are a global superstar. Certainly in Spain, you got a fan there in Spain. Where can we find your stuff? And where can we find out about the club where we can get tickets?

Dave Walker 9:18
So my website is So that’s where you’ll find everything that I do I try and link to from there, or I’m very active on Twitter, Instagram, where you can find by searching and but yes, I do. I’ve changed slightly the way I do things. So my cycling stuff originally was in books and the books are still available. One that’s slightly more sports focused and others more about getting just everyday getting from A to B. But as I was saying to you before the last eight Months. So I’ve been running something called diagram Club, which is where people who enjoy my work, pay a small fee and get reused the work in kind of nonprofit ways. Or cycling campaigns or local cycling campaigns will use it

Carlton Reid 10:19
so that they can use it without having the guilt of Oh, yeah, we shouldn’t

Dave Walker 10:24
leave it to people, you know, the, the price for this starts very low. And honestly, if people feel like they’re getting more use from it, then they can, they could pay me more money, which is, you know, obviously welcome. So, so yeah, so that was my way of allowing people who want to support what I do. So I have a way of doing so. And hopefully over time, that will grow and and there’ll be kind of new benefits to those who do join. And yeah, and they’re funding their funding new work, which so even yesterday, I spent the day working on something that wouldn’t really be possible were it not for for that so it’s a way of funding new cycling work that maybe wouldn’t have an immediate commercial backer.

Carlton Reid 11:14
Okay, brilliant. So who are you?

Joana Saavedra 11:16
So I’m Joana the co founder of bamboo bicycles.

Carlton Reid 11:21
What’s your second name?

Joana Saavedra 11:21

Carlton Reid 11:24
Okay, and you have a co founder, Sorry, I interrupted you there. You’re the co founder of

Joana Saavedra 11:28
Bam-bu bicycles. So we are a Portuguese startup that is exploring bamboo as a natural fibre and natural composites and who are designing and building bamboo bike frames?

Carlton Reid 11:39
In Portugal?

Joana Saavedra 11:40
Yeah, so the frame is entirely made of bamboo, hemp fibre, and a BL based epoxy.

Carlton Reid 11:46
So there are very many brands. I mean, even in the 1880s, and 1890s. There were bamboo. And then there were forgotten. Yes. And then, you know, we’ve we’ve, we’ve got some today, and there’s like an African angle. So what’s what’s the angle of because our bicycle is actually it’s bam.bu? You Yeah. So what’s the angle? What what’s differentiating you? Yeah, from the few others not not a huge amount, but the other bamboo bike maker,

Joana Saavedra 12:13
basically, yeah, the first bamboo bikes that happened was in the UK really long time ago. But then the Industrial Revolution came, and then the natural materials just got forgotten, right. We do know that, you know, in the in Asia, in Africa, and even in Latin America, you have a lot of bamboo, you have a few bamboo constructions, even around in product development. But also bamboo is still seen as the poor material, you know, because it’s you have it’s in such abundance. And some of the companies are some of the startups that are doing a few things with Bumble in Europe, they either do workshops, or they sell you a kit. So you can do it at home, you make it yourself perfect, or they just import the frame. So while we want to do is to bring the know how of working with bamboo on a structural like in Europe, because there will be an industry of bamboo coming up soon, the bamboo plantations are coming up as well, in Portugal, in Spain, in France in Greece,

Carlton Reid 13:06
so where are you sourcing the bamboo from?

Joana Saavedra 13:08
Now it’s in in Indonesia, okay, so at this point is still in Indonesia, because the bamboo needs to be kind of in the right timing needs to be dried needs to be created. So you don’t really have that structure now in Europe, but we are now currently where that’s why we also were founders of the Burien bamboo Association. And our goal is to put the first level is to map the bamboo plantations that already exists in Portugal and Spain understand how long are they do they exist? What are the species for what are they used for so that we can explore ways of Okay, can we create an industry around product development or product design or more for construction or for recessed for textile, or something else? So we’re working with the University now in Lisbon, to do this mapping and to do this analysis of the species and we hope to continue that further to understand in which direction can the bamboo industry goes in Europe?

Carlton Reid 14:04
So potentially you could be growing it in Europe? Yes. So how old this bicycle which is now in front of us beautiful, beautiful bamboo bicycle, how old is the bamboo? What’s What are the age is that bamboo?

Joana Saavedra 14:17
So this bamboo will be always used, usually between three to five years old, okay. So after that, they will be good enough to cut to dry it and to then be used for for construction or for product development.

Carlton Reid 14:32
So in Europe, you can have that soon. Yes,

Joana Saavedra 14:36
yeah. So normally you have the rhizome needs to be developed first, right. So that will take two to three years first, and then the rest of the bamboo Yeah, will grow between three to five years. It really depends then on the species as well. And then as as long as you go, you can then just get it and it grows again. After three, five years. You have it again. That’s why bamboo is such a great one. ress because yeah it’s not a three they’d such a great a great a great plants for it because it’s besides that it regenerates the soil it’s really good for the gives nutritions to the to the soil is that after you plant it once it’s done then you can cut it because otherwise it will, it will dry while it’s there, it’s also not good. So you can edit you can use it for so many different things in the utilisations and then it grows again it’s a really beautiful it’s not a monoculture you can plant other things around and it’s a very magical as well forest normally when you plant them but so we really think it’s it’s important to see it as a as a potential for for restore as well. The nature then biodiversity as well then we can have

Carlton Reid 15:47
carbon composites Yeah, that’s basic plastic. Yeah, you’re writing a plastic bicycle? Yes, you can maybe recycle ish. Steel, okay, that’s a bit of a better material, titanium, these are all kind of like, non sustainable product really? Yes, material in many ways. Whereas of course, this is organic as in grow. Yeah. And you can literally replace it. And then if it breaks, you just basically I’m not saying it’s gonna break, but if it breaks you then that’s a product that can be okay, basically put in a cotton ball.

Joana Saavedra 16:23
Okay, yes. So normally a frame would definitely break because of the alignment of the fibres of the of the bamboo tubes, it could possibly crack. But if it cracks, you can fix it. But in the worst scenario, yeah, that if it breaks, you can either apply toilet and I don’t know, do some crafts or you know, out of it, or you can probably then burn it as well and transform it into biomass or something else.

Carlton Reid 16:51
Yep. So is there any lacquer on there? Is there anything on there that’s not eco that you need? Or can you say literally that’s just

Joana Saavedra 16:59
so the the resin that we’re using the epoxy, it’s a br based epoxy, so it’s not 100% Echo, but he has like around 60% echo on the rest and because it’s still you can for this type of structural that you need, you have to get that that part of it. So the epoxy is

Carlton Reid 17:18
just the joints, yes. Just the joints. Okay, so the rest is okay. Yes.

Joana Saavedra 17:23
And the joints are hemp fibre and epoxy, that is B of a step.

Carlton Reid 17:28
Right. Okay. And are you direct consumer? Do you think? Or will it be any bike shop?

Joana Saavedra 17:35
Okay, so up to now, and one of the reasons also why we’re here is we’re looking really to distributors or wholesalers in the UK. So we can have a representative here, our strategy in Portugal and also what we are looking is also to focus with in tourism and corporate for two reasons. One, to really promote sustainable tourism cycle tourism with a completely different bicycle riding and even inspire those persons that are not really used to cycle but they will be attracted to the bike because it’s a beautiful piece of design, and at the same time corporate so that you can really have corporate fleets for for staff. And we see those two reasons The best way as well to get to the b2c clients because people are still not really used to bamboo bicycles. So they will be you know, not very comfortable, probably not trust the material, you think about a cane, and you think is going to break. So we think that the best way to get to the final user and to gain their trust is through either tourism or corporate so that they could try the bicycle and really get comfortable and confident around the camera. How

Carlton Reid 18:44
much does this cost? How much the as the spec is here? Yeah. Yeah,

Joana Saavedra 18:52
we try as much as possible to use as well. Portuguese suppliers and industry. Yeah, this is Brooks. Then we also have here it’s TBird. We have Miranda on the crank set and we have Vaude so we try as well

Carlton Reid 19:05
to some noise kit, which is not gonna set me back. What’s that gonna cost?

Joana Saavedra 19:08
It starts in 2500 euros. Yep.

Carlton Reid 19:12
So that’s expensive.

Joana Saavedra 19:13
Yeah. For a made in Europe bicycle. Yes.

Carlton Reid 19:17
And because Portugal is actually coming up as a manufacturing nation of bicycles. Yes. So you aren’t you’re not like some strange? Yes, your niche Yeah. But Portugal is now becoming known. Yes. In the EU for making bikes. Yeah.

Joana Saavedra 19:33
So Portugal has this really old history as well or really known by bike brands right that were really built from scratch there. Then we started to to this level of we were really maybe one of the biggest assemble it so we really assemble a lot of the bicycles in in Portugal. So we probably designed but then we import the frames and all the components from Asia and we are assembling and now we are starting To see a bit of a shift, but until now, even a lot in terms of product development and prototyping is really not in Portugal. So it’s a little bit more outside. But now you’re starting to see and you do have one of the biggest some of the biggest as well, factories that are now starting to

Carlton Reid 20:20
visit. Yes, that’s all I know, it’s

Joana Saavedra 20:24
probably been to carbon, the carbon team and triangles, and some of them Yeah, so they are starting as well. And they’re, they’re building some of the frames. So we’re really want to shift to give the shift in terms of working with different materials, because we know that the industry is starting to talk about it now, like looking for natural fibres, how can we replace or at least combine some of the components will with some more of like natural fibres. So that’s a little bit our our goal here to just step up, we know that because we’re doing small production, because it’s still a different material, you cannot really just scale up or I cannot just go and subcontract to someone else to build it up. So of course, that makes that the product has a different level. Also, the choice of our components and brands made the bike as it is because we wanted something a little bit high end with really high quality, low maintenance so that you can have really a bicycle to be durable, as much as possible. Yeah,

Carlton Reid 21:25
sure. And what’s your background? So why are you

Joana Saavedra 21:30
okay, so I’ve studied economics, but I’ve been living abroad, I lived abroad for more than 11 years between Spain, Mexico, Holland, and China. So and that’s why six years in China got me closer and got me passionate about bamboo. And I found out bamboo I started like really researching about it, travelling around Asia as well to into some of the events around bamboo to get to know more about it. And my brother that is my co founder is an industrial designer, he had previously working with arbeta, that it was one of the big brands as well before in the bank industry in Portugal. So we just challenge ourselves. And we saw that no one in Portugal was working with them boom. In Europe, a very few persons were really working with bamboo in a structural way, or building their own brand or really trying to build their own friends here. So we really saw that there was really a space to evolve. And our dream is really to be a bit of the hub of innovation of bamboo in Europe, so that people can also come to us and try to understand how can we progress and collaborate with big brands in order to move in into the right direction? And so would

Carlton Reid 22:39
you say your your you were more bamboo? Bicycle? Yes. Yeah. But you’ve kind of educated yourself on the bicycle side because you’ve you’ve you’ve zeroed in Yeah, on the bicycle as something that can do something with bamboo as well. But bamboo first and bicycle second. Yes,

Joana Saavedra 22:56
bamboo first and then bicycle second. And then with a background of of the our industrial designer of Tiago that he was on the bike industry as well and are passionate of bikes. We really saw that there was really a match there.

Carlton Reid 23:13
And how long have you been going? So how new is this company?

Joana Saavedra 23:15
So we we’ve been going up like three years ago, I decided to move back from China to Portugal. And we launched this this models last year. So yeah, it’s been a baby with more or less two years.

Carlton Reid 23:28
And how is it going?

Joana Saavedra 23:30
It’s going good. It’s been the first time outside of Portugal really to present the brand and the project? I think, definitely the feedback here. It’s way more exponential than anymore. It’s you Well, I think the you know, in in Portugal, the markets in the mindset is completely different. For you know, urban cycling, we don’t really have that culture as well still. So here it’s been really, really interesting. And we’ve been approached for some big brands that are interested to collaborate so we’re really keen on seeing

Carlton Reid 24:01
big brands as in corporates rather than from bikes Yeah, because right now you have a referee now is Eurobike is happening yeah, that’s why we’re also there are you also you could have been there but yeah.

Joana Saavedra 24:14
Nobody the standard but we are that was a you you are industrial designers there Yeah, exactly. Right. That’s the goal. But we were

Carlton Reid 24:21
you could have exhibited there. Yeah, but you’ve come here instead. So that’s interesting.

Joana Saavedra 24:25
Yeah, but here was well it’s it’s in terms of like investment at this point. Right the standard it gets a bit of a in here we got invited to so we got the chance to have like split the team and be here as well to understand a bit the market and our goal was really to look for some partnerships on on the corporate world as well and to look for potential distributors or wholesalers so working to then tomorrow as well. We have a few meetings so that we can explore that way.

Carlton Reid 24:53
What do I know I wish you all the best with with getting more corporates to get on bamboo bicycles. Tell us how we can Get in touch so put it on tape your website or your socials how do we get in touch with you okay,

Joana Saavedra 25:05
so you can follow us on Instagram on bam-bu bicycles and so be I am bu Yes, exactly. And you can also check our website that is bam-bu how do you ash this yeah and follow as well subscribe our newsletter we always like get some either promotions or new product developments or we will let you know the next events are going to be in

Carlton Reid 25:36
Ilma, How do you pronounce that second name?

Ilma Barbaroviciute 25:39
It’s Barbaroviciute. Difficult.

Carlton Reid 25:44
Yeah. I’m glad you said that. They’re not me. A lot. What is this Fettle? Yes, is a bike because it Fettle isn’t like a northern English word. Yeah. For when I do an American podcast. And whenever I say the word Fettle Americans go northern English. It’s like, yeah, yeah. So I know what Fettle means. It means like, you know, repair something, but you tell me what it means in your context.

Ilma Barbaroviciute 26:13
Yeah, so Fettle is a fastest growing bike repair network in the UK. So at the moment, we have four workshops in London. And we recently opened the one in Bristol, we actually partnered up with quickfit, not long time ago. So two of our workshops are in quickfit locations. And we’re actually about to open the sixth one. And it’s going to be the third one, which in partnership with clixsense, basically. So yeah, so we do everything. Everything to do with bike repair, basically. So we don’t sell bikes, because we believe every single bike can be repaired. So you can bring your bike into our workshop, and we’re gonna fix it. And we also do a lot of fleet maintenance, We do manufacture partnerships, an important part of our business is making sure at the moment, it’s only affected in London, but making sure that people who commute to work, they do it on the same bike. So we a lot of our businesses, like b2b. So let’s say we go to the corporate and we maintain employees, bikes, and we also do workshops, or we people teach people how to maintain their own bikes, and all this sort of jazz. We have a lot of community rides, events as well. So it’s, it’s yeah, it’s a really white business.

Carlton Reid 27:33
So do mechanics. Are they all like Cytech? accredited? What? What is the accreditation that you’re using? Yeah, so

Ilma Barbaroviciute 27:39
all of our mechanics like in the workshops, obviously, we have mechanics and people who go and like teach people, they’re also mechanics. Yeah.

Carlton Reid 27:47
For that. Cytech. That’s, that’s what accreditation using? Yes. Yeah.

Ilma Barbaroviciute 27:51
I mean, I assume Cytech.

Andy Lu 27:54
Separately, Cytech. But there are other accreditation schemes out there such as Evans ran one on their own at some point. Yeah. And will will take into account, not just accreditation, but more importantly, experience. So certainly, you know, accreditation can only speak to a certain degree, if you don’t see the experience of the computer by versus, you know, the high end kind of an electronic race bikes. There’s certainly kind of gaps in between their accreditation doesn’t always,

Carlton Reid 28:26
I’ll tell you Cytech came from so Cytech was founded about 35 years ago, by a bike shop owner, it was it was basically the Association of Cycle Traders. Tell me stop me if if you know this history, and they went into this particular bike shop, went into a court case, yes. Where a bike had been fettled, of course, and the judge said, yes, very well. Shuttleworth was the guy Albert Shuttleworth. Sorry, I’ll dive in here. Quick fact check. It was actually Albert Shucksmith. And he died in 2001, a few years after the setting up of Cytech. Okay, back to myself getting a lecture at the Move conference. Very well. What’s your accreditation? Oh, we haven’t got one. Well, this case is now closed. If you haven’t got an accreditation, you’re an official trade body. Doesn’t matter how well experienced you are. Yes, I beat because the guy who said I’ve been doing bike mechanics for 30 years and the judge said, I don’t care. I want to see your accreditation. And he then went back to the association recycled traders and said look, yes, if we do not have accreditation, so they founded their own accreditation way ahead of the American industry, which is got all sorts of different weird ones. So accreditation is incredibly important to have. So that’s that’s where the question was coming from like, Yo, do you actually do If a customer comes in and gives you a very expensive buy, how do they know that? A it’s been handled by somebody who knows what they’re doing? And be they’re insured. They know that this bike has been battled correctly. Of course, you’re sorry. It’s your Andy. Okay, so Andy, I’m going to try and lean in my microphone as well. So are you partners in the business? What’s what is the what’s the how is the business formulated?

Andy Lu 30:29
What is the partnerships manager? And I’m the stock so I’m buying and purchasing manager in terms of what was your question? Sorry, the in terms of I was,

Carlton Reid 30:42
how big is the company? Has it formulated as a limited company? Is it all that kind of?

Andy Lu 30:47
Okay, so we are a limited company. We operate five workshops at the moment, three, sorry, for which are in London. We’ve recently opened a new workshop in Bristol. That’s our first workshop outside of London. And we are looking to expand very quickly with with the assistance of with partnership with Kwik Fit through their centre network. Through that through that can be

Carlton Reid 31:12
quite rapid. Yes, yeah. It could be like boom, boom, boom, on the on a sudden, you’ve got how many? How many stores do they have?

Andy Lu 31:17
So they’ve got around 650 or 600? Plus, I’ll say, and we started the partnership. Operationally, in April, I believe, we’ve already opened our first workshop in Bristol with the assistance and establish workshop is in our centre, we open that last night.

Carlton Reid 31:40
So they know or maybe you’re telling them this is a high cycling area. You should open it here whereas you could like some of them and outskirts of a city on the mainland where there’s no you don’t bother opening one there. Is that? Is that how you’re handling it? We would

Andy Lu 31:55
like we would prefer to say it’s more about priorities. So we will aim for the high traffic. I guess conurbation is first and then we’ll work towards I guess, belong outside of as as a trickle down to the tree

Carlton Reid 32:13
and talk about trickling down. Mechanics traditionally never used to get paid a huge amount bike mechanics I mean, scientific actually helped that because you get that you know, you have your level whatever money do you think federal could raise their game could raise it makes it a more of a career opportunity for somebody? Because there’s a career path you’re going through? Is that Is that something that you’ve considered? And they’re like, Yeah, we want to pay more money.

Andy Lu 32:43
That certainly was a, I believe a one of our vision part of our vision in the beginning. As we started, we started four years ago, I guess, just as the industry was starting to tail off before the pandemic, and then everything else happened. Part of our commitment to that was that we had sought a new way of participating in the London living wage. So our mechanics certainly were paid, what our paid above market rate at the time, and we are now starting to see that market rate is starting to catch up to us, which is great news for everyone, particularly the industry. And yeah, we certainly see that as we already are starting to see the arm mechanics as they kind of go on to other opportunities is that they are they are viewed as being of, shall we say higher quality because of their association with this.

Carlton Reid 33:37
Okay, brilliant. And what’s your second name?

Andy Lu 33:40
Lu. I’ll give you I’ll give you a card.

Carlton Reid 33:43
Because we got your name on tape and I won’t say it again. But we didn’t get your name. Thank you. Yeah, great stuff. Brilliant. Thank you. In fact, I’ve got your business card here so I actually put this on tape of people get in touch with you anybody who wants a job or wants to expand your empire happy Kwik Fit could be

Andy Lu 34:06
well at the moment it’s it’s an exclusive wellness exclusive partnership our network is our own we we own and operate our work our network so it’s not a kind of like a franchisee model we already doing it with Quick Fit as a as a partner.

Ilma Barbaroviciute 34:24
Yeah, that’s awesome. Yeah, and you can also follow us on social media. It’s at fettlebike everywhere. And we upload all the news about your workshops about community rights, community events, so people can join us, even if they’re beginners or even if they’re like advanced in their cycling journey. Everyone’s welcome.

Carlton Reid 34:43
Next up here is Alex Murray, of the folding ebike brand Flitbike. Right Alex? This is where we’re basically taking our lives into our hands here. We’re in the middle of the test track. Basically, people are going around on scooters at Move at Excel, but you in the middle are also allowing people to have a go. And this is this is version two iteration two of the Flitbike Yes, yes. So what’s different to this compared to previous version?

Alex Murray 35:14
so at flitbike we specialise in making lightweight folding electric bikes mainly for urban commuters so think of anyone who needs to take a train into a major city as part of their commute. A few years ago, we developed our first bike it was called the Flint 16. We manufactured hundreds of those sold them to people all across the UK and Europe. But then, as a common with a lot of companies in the bike industry, the supply crunch happened that lead time on welding factories went from two months up to about 18 months in some cases. And once you include getting all the components and shipping bikes over from Taiwan, and so on, lead times could go up to nearly two years. So we decided to go back to the drawing board got a grant from Innovate UK. And we use that to develop a whole new manufacturing method. So the bike you can see here has no welding on it whatsoever. It’s a non world bike, it uses the same adhesives that are used in the aerospace and automotive industries. So the bike is mechanically fixed together. And then we use industrial strength adhesives to put it together. Now, that’s not actually that new those techniques have been used since the 1980s. However, where it doesn’t necessarily make sense for a full size bike for a folding bike, it makes a lot of sense. Because if you’re working in aluminium, when you weld the frame, and then you do something called heat treatment to to refrain from the frame afterwards, you introduce distortions every time you do that. And by by not using welding, we don’t have any of those distortions. So it means we can be very accurate with how the parts fall together. That’s allowed us to get more compact. So this bike is about 20% more compact than our original version. And it’s also lighter, it’s about a kilo and a half later.

Carlton Reid 36:54
So the Brompton and many other bike having like a removable battery pack on the front or wherever. So Where’s where’s the battery on this? Where’s everything hidden? And how do you recharge it?

Alex Murray 37:05
Sure thing? Yeah, so the Brompton fantastic bikes, when they came to making an electric folding bike, they didn’t want to change the design too much. So they essentially sort of retrofits, a lot of the components onto the bike motor goes in the front wheel, the battery clips on to the front, as you say, we started from a blank piece of paper, which meant we could put things where we wanted. So the battery frost lives in the top tube here. And it’s got the charging port there on the side. So it can all be charged. The battery is removable as well. So if I just take the seat posts out, appreciate your listeners won’t be able to see this, but the battery slides out there. Right. And that’s a custom a battery that lives in the top tube with an integrated real I

Carlton Reid 37:44
was gonna say there’s a there’s an LED at the back there as well. And there’s there’s something at the front as well. Yes. So we have on the front, though. Yeah. You mean speaking of mono blade as well. So there’s like no, Mike Burrows influence? Yes. Rip, Mike.

Alex Murray 38:00
It’s been sorted by us. So we’ve just had our patent fully granted across the European Union, which is I mean, main market, the UK and European Union, I should say. So that patents have been granted, it’s a unique fold that. Okay, so folding bikes have been around for a very long time, 100 years at least. So there’s very little new under the sun. However, not many people have been designing folding bikes with lithium ion batteries integrated into them that’s quite new. So the way this bike folds, you would only do it if you get a battery that was small and light enough from the lithium ion technology to fit inside the bike. So uses a unique fold that uses an offset headset and an angled fork hinge to bring the front wheel to the side. So you mentioned Brompton earlier. So I’ll just use them as a reference point, Brompton achieved something similar, but they use a hinge on the top tube. It’s a great design. But if you want to put a battery in the top tube, it’s not going to work. So this is a this fold is patented, and has been through the examination process and everything

Carlton Reid 39:02
is going to set me back if I’m going into a shop or if I’m buying direct, I’m gonna tell me the two parts that question and where do you buy it? And how much does it cost?

Alex 39:09
Sure, sure. So at the minute, we’re direct consumer only, so you can buy them from us. We have partnerships lined up with shops in the UK, but we’re going to be launching that in a in a later phase. So at the minute, it’s just from us, the full retail price of the bike is two and a half 1000 pounds, which is alright, which is okay for folding, folding ebike, particularly in the premium category. But because we’re doing pre orders at the minutes, people are ordering them in advance, it’s actually 2000 pounds. When you add on top of that, that most people are buying through cycle to work, the price can drop another 40% or so. So we think we’re pretty well priced.

Carlton Reid 39:44
And Alex tell me where we can learn more about Flitbike, your website and your socials.

Alex Murray 39:51
Sure thing so we’re we’re to be found online at and then to find this bike in particular, it’s, and on social sites, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, we’re at flitbike

Carlton Reid 40:06
So, Xavier it’s just tech, tech, tech at the Move conference. It’s e scooters, its autonomous vehicles, lorries that emit only water, not spewing out. awful stuff back there. So the thing that’s missing is shanks’ pony, is pavements, because you’ve been given a talk here. And you were talking about how we move. Yeah, and how we show some slides of dystopias and other words, those kind of motor centric cities of the future where almost walking isn’t in Wheeling and wheelchairs, can I just almost not there or you know, why really separate? See, you are the opposite to everything that’s here. Are you here as some sort of agent provocateur?

Xavier Brice 41:05
Well, to a certain extent, I mean, that’s just this conference is called Move. So it’s about movement. And my argument was, movement is one of the fundamental things that makes us human, that shape. And therefore how we move is a fundamental question about how we want to live together. And I don’t think that, that were the kind of opposite of all of this. I mean, there’s some practical stuff isn’t there isn’t much money to be made from walking and pavements. And this is a conference with exhibitors. And as you know, there’s a commercial side to it, which needs to be recognised. And I think that’s just commercial reality. Not that there’s not much money in active travel. So and so I think that that impart shapes what you’re seeing here. And the other thing to say is that transport technology, transport innovation, a lot of what you see here, there is nothing wrong with it, per se, there is nothing wrong, per se with the car, it’s often the unintended consequences. And so I think that highlighting the unintended consequences, talking about those and reminding people that ultimately just as transporter derived demand, transport technology is is serving a purpose, which is to connect us to move us. And actually, we need to go back to the question of, of not only how do we want to get from A to be as quickly as possible, but how do we want to live? How do we want to be together? How do we want to move together? And given that movement as an opportunity for human connection? How can we maximise that, while still enabling people to have convenient, comfortable journeys, that in a way that helps bring us together helps us be the society we want to be, rather than pushing us apart.

Carlton Reid 42:52
So you’re talking about connected connections you have when you when you walk into, potentially, when you when you start community, you can’t just stop on a dime, and talk to somebody which you tend not to be able to do in a car. And you showed one slide, which is the famous study of Sheffield, where a great grandfather, you know, as an eight year old, had eight mile radius, coming right down to the modern generation of that family 300 yards away from a house. And you mentioned that your total right now that’s probably even less than that. And the other study, you could have mentioned, you will be familiar with the Appleyard study, which is the amount of connections you’ve got across the street, across, you know, we’ve got cars coming here, then where’s people you can get people go at different angles on there’s no cars, basically. And that’s also something to do with with a human connection? Absolutely. So that’s something that we’re losing. And you’re what you said in your talk is what we travel in teleporters when travelling to get places as fast as possible, whereas that for our mental health? And for many other reasons, that’s probably not the most optimum thing to do.

Xavier Brice 44:08
No, indeed. And so it’s always the danger, isn’t it? When you optimise for one thing, you optimise for that one thing, and therefore you will have unintended consequences. And so to go back to that notion of human connections, the point I was making there was so when I used to want my daughters to school because the school was close enough to the house to do that. And during that walk, I would always see somebody I knew. And I knew them probably through I might have met them on the walk to school Bachalo and got chatting and and that’s making a human bond. And it’s non trivial. There’s lots of evidence don’t trust is built over time, not in single big acts. So So community trust is built through those social bonds. I talked about you know, when you drive I do drive, and I now drive my children to the station on a fairly regular basis has been safe enough to cycle sample Okay. When I when you do that, literally anyone you come across That’s like going the other way. See, anyone else you come across from the road is in your way somebody crossing is slowing you down the car in front of you, it wasn’t there. You could go faster if they’re not speeding,

Carlton Reid 45:16
or you try to sorry, you’re trying to stop yourself from thinking that or you are thinking that when you’re driving, you know, this is the impulse is

Xavier Brice 45:23
the impulse, isn’t it? Because because when you get enough factors as people are in your way, so I was at an event that we already see foundation about the future of the car. And Richard Hammond was one of the talkers who was being provocative on you, standardly. And he was talking about him, the goal is to get somewhere and ideally get somewhere quicker than someone else was his words. No, that’s an exaggeration of it. But there is something about it’s that notion, is that famous thing of people complaining about the traffic, not recognising that part of the traffic. We all do it. Yeah. It’s the nature of being enclosed in your own personal mobility device, your own teleport. And I think that and beyond that, go back to what you were saying about. That’s the Appleyard study. So So increasingly, car travel is about door to door. So one of the things I talked about was the scourge of pavement parking, a huge impact that has on disabled people in particular. And it seems again, like a minor thing. But it’s huge, actually. And, and one of the reasons I think this come about is more than one reason. One is certainly the increase in private car ownership I saw you on Twitter tweeting about recently, so that there are simply more cars and less space. But one of the things that I regularly see, matching UDT is actually where there are perfectly sensible places to park, people are not parking there, because it’s not directly outside where they want to go. And what seems to have happened is, there’s a sort of a view that it’s not my right to park outside my destination. So this notion of the car is sort of pseudo teleporter is becoming more and more the case, if you think about from autonomous vehicles, especially when you summon up on your phone, you are getting close to teleportation, you are getting close to this ideal of, you know, I tap on my phone, my pod arrives, I get it, I get to my destination, I have no contact with anyone on the outside world bank on that amazingly convenient. And living in suburban Surrey with children who do after school activities, but very limited safe cycling infrastructure, and an adequate bus service. You know, I know how much time gets spent preparing children about oh, my goodness, the thought of being able to put them in an autonomous pod. You know, let’s face it, that is a that is that would that would improve quality of life, but at what cost? At what cost of their own sense. And and and it’s not one cost of the society we’re building. And if you think about some of the images I showed, and poked fun at which were these kind of tech visions of a tech enabled transport future, you just want to step back from and say, well actually focus on looks amazingly convenient. But where did it take us? Does it take us somewhere that we actually want to live, that we actually want to build communities in that we want to know where chip where our children will be able to play where our children will learn their independence. And those things are really important, especially in an increasingly polarised world. And especially with the public health crisis that we have, and we’re storing up for the future, where actually, movement is good for us encountering people who are different than us, is good for us building community partners. And actually, a lot of the way we do that, it’s not at a destination. It’s getting an axe on the way there, it’s leaving our door and walking to the bus stop. It’s it’s those so on the way here today, actually the railway station, I bumped into somebody you I haven’t spoken to for years, and we caught up. And it helps it made me happy actually, then it helps increase our social capital. And these are not trivial things.

Carlton Reid 48:57
You mentioned, not trivial things you mentioned. polarised world. Yeah. And in your talk, you mentioned that there are some LTNs that are brought in at breakneck speed potentially, that’s where some of the friction has come from. But then you predicted that the going forward. Some of the conspiracy theories around LTNs, around 15 minute cities is not going to go away could potentially even increase. Is that Is that a fair reflection of where you’re going with that?

Xavier Brice 49:37
I think it’s not comforting thought as a but I think I think when you when you look at the challenges around climate change, to rail on what those elite into and if you look, you know, the US is often ahead of the UK on many things. It’s a predictor of what’s to come. And there’s I Let us for several years in the early 2000s. And I think if I was to go back, it would feel very different. Certainly talking to people who live in the States, you know, and clearly and and, and you look across mainland Europe that’s on the rise advisor far right parties as well as far left. So I think I think it’s difficult to say that on one side lightsaber, we’re not going to polarisation is going to go away, the conspiracy theories are going to go away evidence or evidence of that. And in things that get taken into the orbit of different conspiracy theories, right, going back to what I talked about movement movements are fundamental human part fundamentally being human. And it’s where conflict occurs, because it’s where we come together. And movement and transport is often it’s one of those social dilemmas that isn’t, you know, it’s by maximising what we own personal gain my own personal mobility, my own personal convenience, can act against the greater good as good of a hole, which ultimately will come back and bite me traffic. And so I think it’s no surprise that transport finds itself in the crosshairs. Especially when, where people will live. And it also is, again, deliberately pulled in in some areas. So So I think it’s not going to go away. And and it’s not just climate change, because because a lot of what some of what we’re talking about, you know, you replace cars with electric cars, or Can’t you imagine, if you were able to snap your fingers and replace all cars and electric cars tomorrow, choice is impossible. You would still have challenges around LTNs, you will still have issues around traffic, traffic, destruction, people, all the stuff. We haven’t even talked about emissions yet. So I don’t think that the electrification we see around us here today and what’s going on is really needed is a good thing. That’s not going to solve some of the fundament fundamental dilemmas and transport which actually is what makes it so fascinating, so interesting. And so worth influencing living has changed for the better.

Carlton Reid 51:55
Thanks to Sustrans’ CEO Xavier Brice. Next up is Henri Moissinac, co founder of Dott. But first let’s go across to my colleague, David for a short ad break.

David Bernstein 52:05
Hello, everyone. This is David from the Fredcast. And of course, the spokesmen. And I’m here once again to tell you that this podcast is brought to you by Tern bicycles, the good people at Tern build bikes that make it easier for you to replace car trips with bike trips. Part of that is being committed to designing useful bikes that are also fun to ride. But an even greater priority for Tern, is to make sure that your ride is safe, and worryfree. And that’s why Tern works with industry leading third party testing labs like E FB, E, and builds its bikes around Bosch ebike systems which are UL certified for both electric and fire safety. So before you even zip off on your Tern, fully loaded, and perhaps with a loved one behind, you can be sure that the bike has been tested to handle the extra stresses on the frame, and the rigours of the road. For more information, visit to learn more. And now, back to the Spokesmen.

Carlton Reid 53:15
Thanks, David. And we are back with audio from the Move mobility conference. I was one of the interviewers on the shows main stage and I snuck on my microphones so I could record my fireside chat with Henri Moissinac of the city share scooter and ebike company Dott

Move announcer 53:33
Up on stage for our next session Carlton Reid and Henri Moissinac.

Carlton Reid 53:41
Good morning, we are miked up, and we are ready to go. So I am here this morning with Henri Moissinac. You live in London, Henri. So we’re gonna be talking in a minute, about 15 minutes cities. And if you’re aware of all the conspiracy theories, around 15 minute minute cities, we’re going to not try and go down into that particular rabbit hole, we are going to try and keep it all positive. Neither of us are in the pay of the World Economic Forum. Let’s just put that out there at the moment. But first of all, before we get into the the absolute gubbins of what we’re gonna be doing here this morning, Henri. Let’s find a little bit about you. Because you’re with Dott, we’ll get into the biography of Dott in a moment, but let’s get a biography of you. So tell us about your background because he started in E commerce. And even in social networking, both of these things before they became big. So give us your your biography, and then we’ll get into Dott.

Henri Moissinac 54:54
is great question. So yeah, actually, I started in E commerce. It makes me think about mobile because when I started in E commerce CES was like, three, four years before it started become becoming popular. And I remember vividly people were telling me is just never going to work, you know, people are never going to put their credit card on the internet. And some of the things we did, and some of the companies that work for became massive, massive successes, and there were hundreds and hundreds of millions of users. I was just saying, when I started in social networking, so I was an early employee at Facebook, we have 300 employees. And when I joined Facebook, people were telling me, it’s never going to work, you know, people, you’re only going to see photos of cats and dogs on the internet. Look how many users now. And I, to me, mobility was made the same way I started getting interested in shared mobility. And people were telling me you’re never going to work here. I think what we see here with the move, you know, if you look how much progress from the first one in 2019, to today, look how vibrant this industry is becoming. So I think it’s going to be the same, like E commerce like social networking. Some of the other things you’ve seen massive changes, I think shared mobility or micro mobility, these type of things that you see behind is going to be become very popular. And the one who’s going to disappear as the personal income within cities. Yes.

Carlton Reid 56:12
Now let’s go into Dott. How did you get into dott and describe how dott has not just shade scooters, it also has a n ebike. So described the trajectory of Dott. started in France? Yes, in Paris.

Henri Moissinac 56:29
Yeah. So maybe just a few words about that. And how do we stop this so that we operate in at 60,000 vehicles, about 1/3 of this is E bikes, and the other the rest of it is e scooters. We are in 35 cities in Europe, and most of the main cities in West Europe. So London, Paris, Brussels, Milan, Rome, Walsall Madrid, we also in Tel Aviv and surroundings. And then we operate plenty of smaller cities in in Belgium, France, Italy, bit of UK a bit of Spain. When I started when I was actually on a refreshing trip in China, I wanted to take a personal break and go through the bucket list. So I went to China because I wanted to see how vibrant and how China was not not the tourist year aspect of it, but you’re spending time with entrepreneurs and so on. And so this wave of shared bags, mobile microphone, you may have heard of these companies. And then we also heard about the stories about bird coming up with a new form factor. And so Maxine microfauna. And I, we took a piece of paper and we say, okay, what are all the things we like, of the of the things we’re going to copy? What are all the things we don’t like? And we are going to do none of that. So for example, the gig economy of birth, we said none of that for us. And then the last question was, what are all the things neither Chinese or American will understand? And that’s typically the relationship with the cities and the stakeholders. And so we thought, okay, well, if we do very well, what they’re good at if we avoid all the things we don’t like, and if we do think that neither the Chinese or the Americans can understand, we have a chance to win. So that started, we were probably the last company to start, I mean, among the big players, everybody thought we would have zero chance against realignment and burnin look where we are today. And we are very healthy, we are going very fast. We feel very safe about the future of this industry. So yeah, it was That’s how it’s happened.

Carlton Reid 58:30
So we are gonna get on to 15 minute cities. But let’s dig a little bit more down into into Dott. You the bikes came on after that the scooters. So I’d be interested and I’d be interested for you to tell the audience about the share between bikes now and scooters. And does that change compared to the way the city is and what they’re on the ground would have seen for instance, bike lanes now.

Henri Moissinac 58:57
So first, let’s step back and understand what’s the vision and strategy and then how they compare to each other today. So the vision is we want to go after every trip that is not walking in public transit. But when we are younger and we only have a piece of paper and a few doors, you got to be a bit naive and optimistic and you got to start simple and be very focused. So we thought that scooters would be the form factor to start with. We know all the data proves it today scooters are a bit edgy gives you more freedom for you feel younger, it’s you know typically a bit more male and female a bit younger than the typical average citizen of a city. So we thought okay, let’s just scooters when we got it right in many cities, we stopped bikes. And also we wanted to wait a bit to see what type of share bikes we could come up with because we felt the early pieces of hardware weren’t going to be sustainable enough. So now in most capital cities, London we operate in London for example, we are both in Paris processes on the bikes. They are typically older and more female They are they go a bit faster. So to be key commuters, they tend to like it a bit more. When it’s cold people prefer to do bikes. But when it rains, people prefer to do scooters. And typically we have three types of users. We have people who are heavily on scooters, and they love it. And it’s just a lifestyle for them. And they don’t want to touch a bike. We have people are more pragmatic like me, that will just switch depending on availability, the weather where they going, if they know traffic or not. And then we have people that just don’t want to touch the scooter and they will never get on one and the only comfortable on bikes. So that’s why you need to get to both.

Carlton Reid 1:00:35
And the bikes that the bikes so they’re limited in their speed. But on downhill sections for instance, you’re not limited you can go as fast as you like on on. The scooter, of course, is limited. So why why do cities? Why does the industry that the sector limit one mode doesn’t mean the other mode because of course motorists are not limited.

Henri Moissinac 1:00:59
Yeah. So for remediation facts first, answer your question. So typically in cities the bikes I’ve sold our bikes are kept in speeder same for scooters. And in some cities, most cities, the bikes have a slight senior higher speed cat again, then in scooters. But then there are sometimes bigger differences. For example, in London with a bike on that you can go through a park, but you can’t do it on the scooter. Either backing walls also can change. So in take, for example, in Paris, when the gap is the most important. So these like 10,000 parking spots for bikes, and only 2500 parking spots for for scooters. So it doesn’t really give it exactly the same experience. I think it is. The reason for that is because scooters is new and bikes is not enough stakeholders have decided to limit the speed, I think actually the speed of a scooter is is quite good. I mean, it really goes well. It’s not too fast. It’s not too slow. And London is the only city where it’s slightly lower than the other cities. And then the bikes they are they can go faster, but they don’t go at the speed of a personal bike. Most of the personal bikes, too, as we share bikes, the speed of our bikes is designed so that if you ride in a bike lane with Santa the bikes, for example, you’re going to be in the flow, you’re not really you can pass but you’re not going to disturb everybody. So not too, not too slow, and not too fast.

Carlton Reid 1:02:26
15 minute cities, which is the conspiratorial thing of the moment. But it’s a very, very nice concept you would think, to live close to education, to shops, to nice restaurants. Why on earth would that be subject to a conspiracy theory? It’s quite strange. However, Carlos Moreno, who is the guy who came up with concept in Paris called Paris. He describes it as something there, the proximity to all of these amenities is mainly by foot. So a bicycle or share bike or by standard bicycle or a scooter actually extends that to not being a 15 minute stick, because you can get quite a long way on a scooter on a bike compared to the walking 15 minutes city. So do we still talk about a 15 minute city when we’ve got a bicycle or a scooter involved?

Henri Moissinac 1:03:27
So the concept of 15 minute cities is it’s really a vision I I follow and I believe a lot when these type of messages came from not just parents actually your loved cities, I think you at least London is the perfect example of this vibrant neighbourhoods, young there. But yeah, you’re right, your job, your university, maybe your next job interview or your friends, they’re not going to be 15 minutes walking away, but would be great if they could be 15 minutes with public transit or your personal bike or a shared bike and you can do quite a long distance and 15 minutes on the dots whether it’s a scooter or bike, so it just widens the possible network. So I don’t know why they didn’t just take an example. If you in Piccadilly Circus, you know centre of London, it takes to go to the other side of Hyde Park, it’s about 18 minutes with with Russia bike, it will take a lot longer in public transit. And yeah, so if you have your personal bank, if it hasn’t been stolen, you can go even faster. So I do believe that micro Rutaceae scooters, share bikes private bikes, they help you live within 15 minutes but just increases dramatically the rich the distance you can get them. The average distance in Paris for example, I’m just French so use that example. The average distance in Paris about three kilometre for us and it So completely when we talk to people the price in terms people are not in the industry doesn’t matter. They, it’s very hard for them to realise exactly what tricky matter because that’s not how they think. So you tell them when it’s about 2500, for now, in metro or in Cuba, by the time you get there maybe and if the connections 45 minutes. And so that’s how people think. And if you’re telling them 45 minute trip with one connection, now you can do in 20 minutes on a shared service. I mean, I’m going to see my friends, I may take a job that is further, I may have this other business meeting and business relationship face to face that wasn’t able to do so. So I really believe we are bringing good here

Carlton Reid 1:05:41
I got here from Kings Cross on a folding bike. And most of the way it’s on CS3, which is the cycle, superhighway three, which is great. But then there’s one little bit. The last, basically, last mile, in fact, is not on bike paths, and you’re on a road. But there was no cars on that road. And all of a sudden, what would have been quite an awful journey. If there are 1000s of cars on that particular busy, what would normally be think a busy stretch of road suddenly became this is great, because there are no cars or no trucks. And so I can now go on what in effect was like a dual carriageway motorway quite happily. So is that the future for cities because cities like London, you know, private motor cars are disappearing. Paris and Hidalgo with all her content, are also trying to get rid of parking spaces trying to get rid of cars. So is the future for cities going to be? It’s not the bike lanes, it’s going to be there are no cars around. And it’ll be the scooters, the bikes, the private banks, the private scooters, that’s going to take over and you’re not going to have to build bike paths. You’ve got the existing infrastructure or these beautiful roads. It’s

Henri Moissinac 1:07:02
probably the hardest question for the stakeholders and cities because they have all these conflicting messages and so on. But the reality is that a city needs infrastructure, it needs logistics, it means delivery trucks, your restaurants will be able to serve you pizza in the evening, if there is not a delivery truck in the morning, so you’re still going to have motor vehicles. And some of them are quite big to, to, for example, the delivery people. And how do you combine all these modes, the one thing I think most cities are clear on is the private ownership of cars to do small trips within cities. That doesn’t make sense. And we’ve been living for 30 years. And that’s the transition were doing it reminds them you’re talking about ecommerce is the same transition of I go to someplace to do some shopping, because I don’t I can’t just have it delivered. Or if you take, for example, email, I had to send faxes in the past and I can read over that transition takes time. But I think this transition, how they’re going to rethink the centre of cities, it’s moving really fast. I’ve been in London for 10 years, if you look at embankment used to be a kind of highway, and now look how much better so that was for sure is that to really get mobility to change, you need to have safe paths for for for people to be comfortable on their private bike or shared services. That’s really important. And so that’s why most of the time, the primary better is to get safe space. And just specifically the intersections are healthier for pedestrians and for shared services. I agree with

Carlton Reid 1:08:39
the safe space. But kind of circling back on that question. Just if you get rid of the colours, you have got that safe space. So that’s not an easy win for a legislator, get rid of the cars. Why can’t cities just get rid of the cartels?

Henri Moissinac 1:08:57
It’s really interesting to see the conflict between the stakeholders within one city so I do have a lot of respect. Take Take London for example. The people in London that built the bike lanes, they’re really Crusaders, you know, they are really trying and good for the city. But every time there is a project for a bank lien is plenty of opposition’s takes forever to convince the local residents that removing parking spots. Because if you if you remove the parking lane, you know, like it is like 50 cows that are sitting there forever moving maybe once a day, at best at best. Just move that to a bank then think about all the people that could benefit from the space. So it sounds obvious, but it seems to be extremely difficult to do. And I think it’s really important to have statistic owners are thinking about the long term and not the short and the long term is having a personal car parked in the street, not movie when you can remove dance and do a bank pain or delivery spot inside the parking spot for deliveries. So obviously they just do it.

Carlton Reid 1:10:00
Why don’t you talk before about shopping in with a scooter or with a bank, you can’t carry a sofa, you can carry lots of heavy shopping, for instance, if you do a weekly shop, so the private car still as van, that perfection, you can carry lots of stuff. So, you know, do you argue that we should get rid of cars? Because cars are actually quite useful? Maybe only sometimes, but they’re still useful. So can you argue them? So I’m basically I’m being a devil’s advocate here. So can we argue for getting rid of cars when they’re actually incredibly useful?

Henri Moissinac 1:10:41
People will adapt their usages there will always be a need for cars, for example, if you have kids, or if your luggage if you’re going very far away, I’m not saying the opposite. Yeah. And I’m thinking a lot of the things can be adapted. And the the average consumer does change their habits. You were talking about shopping on the bike and scooter, it works very well. And I mean, the best training course is EasyJet, you know, think of all the people that used to have luggage, big luggage and so on. Amanda just had a backpack. Thank you EasyJet, for training us to have a small backpack, you have your pay for luggage, the same if I spent a lot of time in the streets with users and so on. A lot of them start to carry the backpack, love them. You go to dinner or sample class, you see them they come out of the train and the hub they go off on the shuttle service, but he can’t zone the zone carrier tray anymore. They have a backpack? So yes, he I mean, life is full of possibilities. And people want to enjoy it as much as possible. You give them mobility, they do more things. And yes, if they need to carry a say I will say the bigger backpack because they want to do that. And I’m not worried. We are about creating opportunities for people.

Carlton Reid 1:11:52
Henri, thank you very much if we could give Henri Moissinac round of applause. Thank you.

Thank you and thanks to all my guests today. And thanks to you for listening to Episode 334 of the spokesmen podcast brought to you in association with Tern bicycles. Shownotes and more can be found at The next episode will feature two Swiss academics talking about a new report on the growth of cargo bikes. That’ll be out next week. Meanwhile, get out there and ride…

July 10, 2023 / / Blog

10th July 2023

The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

EPISODE 333: Playing God: Bike Infrastructure Folks at Move Conference

SPONSOR: Tern Bicycles

HOST: Carlton Reid

GUESTS: Philip McAleese, Jon Little, Kris Vanherle, José Manuel Gutiérrez

TOPICS: Bike infrastructure folks recorded at the Move mobility conference in London in June.


Carlton Reid 0:13
Welcome to Episode 333 of the Spokesmen cycling podcast. This show is engineered on Monday 10th of July 2023.

David Bernstein 0:28
The Spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast is brought to you by Tern bicycles. The good people at Tern are committed to building bikes that are useful enough to ride every day and dependable enough to carry the people you love. In other words, they make the kind of bikes that they want to ride. Tern has e bikes for every type of rider; whether you’re commuting, taking your kids to school or even carrying another adult, visit That’s t e r n t learn more.

Carlton Reid 1:04
I’m Carlton Reid. And today’s show is a bunch of interviews with bike infrastructure folks who I met at the move mobility conference in London last month. You’ll hear from Philip McAleese of Northern Ireland, cofounder of SeeSense the bike lights and data company. I talk digital trees and more with London’s Jon Little, cofounder of drag and drop cityscape imaginator Betastreets, I also got to meet Telraam’s Kris Van Herle— Telraam is a citizen traffic counting system based out of Belgium and which featured on this podcast a few episodes back. And last but not least there’s José Manuel Gutiérrez of Barcelona who was in London to talk about Lane Control, a tool from the Keita Mobility Factory that assesses the safety and attractiveness of cycling infrastructure.

Have you been here before you interviewed before we came

Philip McAleese 2:10
here last year as well. And so

Carlton Reid 2:11
So you’ve returned? That’s good. Yeah. But Well, shouldn’t you be on a bigger booth now? Because you are you’re not you’re not a startup? It’s a Startup Village. How can we all are you do you want to be in with like the innovators is that

Philip McAleese 2:24
I think we still consider ourselves a startup because there’s still a lot of things that we’re doing, which are very explorative. And you and so you know, we are we are looking to scale. We have a lot of really cool technology. And one of the things that we enjoy doing, but there’s a lot of it is a voyage of discovery. So it’s understanding how people can use our data and insights to really get better understandings make better data, live decisions, to really look at, you know, with the climate of urgency, how do we get more people on sustainable transportation? How do we encourage people and hyper localise nudge behaviour, so it is personal to the individual, so that it means something to them, or will encourage them to keep doing it? Because as I’m sure you know, it takes a few goes that getting people to do something before it can stick in form habits. So how do we break things? First?

Carlton Reid 3:11
Are you data data? I mean data? Are you a data company here? Are you a light company? What What What’s your elec, give me your elevator pitch as though I know nothing about your company fillers.

Philip McAleese 3:23
So we are really a sensor of data company. We specialise in giving insights into micro mobility, helping to understand not only where people are going and how they’re using it, but actually what their experiences where it’s working well. Particular where, what their interaction is like with other road users with the infrastructure, understanding where that’s all working? Well, I’m understanding where it can be improved.

Carlton Reid 3:47
So obviously, you you bicycle lights is where you came from. I’m looking at poster here. And of course, it’s Micromobility. Yes, so you’ve got a bicycle there, but you’ve also got a scooter. So your product, yes. is now going on scooters. Is that in scooters? Or is that still a light that you put attached to the scooter? So what’s what’s the tech?

Philip McAleese 4:06
Yeah, no. So we’ve got two product offerings. One is the consumer lighting. And then obviously, Paris with a mobile phone app to allow people to optionally collect data. The other one is a fleet telematics solution, which uses the same patented sensor technology, but integrated with auto lighting products, so that we can track fleet vehicles. So we’re tracking, obviously, e bikes, regular bikes as well, and E scooters as well. So we’re getting all of the different viewpoints from those different users. One of the projects we’re really brought off at the moment is as its pedal bar, where we’ve got an area of pretty significant deprivation, where we’re helping people to access better opportunities to use bicycles, which are being given to them to access, utility cycling, to get to the shops and so on to access train stations and employments and that’s still in the relatively early phases, but it’s scaling up it’s a really it’s During project, we’re starting to see some infrastructure changes go in for additional bicycle parking drop curbs to allow them to, to access the places they

Carlton Reid 5:08
want to go. And that’s because data showed them.

Philip McAleese 5:11
Yes, exactly that. So we were able to see that, you know, Tuesday evening down the pier was the social place to be, but the some of the local shops that were being used, and people were using them and going places that weren’t expected. So being able to uncover that and understand the sorts of journeys that the bicycles are being used for, has really helped in that design of knowing where to put the infrastructure to improve and continue that good, like behaviour.

Carlton Reid 5:36
So what cities you’re working with.

Philip McAleese 5:38
So we’ve got projects going on at the moment in a number of cities, obviously, our six is the big one. Another one that we’re really proud of is Victoria in sorry, Melbourne and Victoria in Australia. And there we’ve just finished the first phase of a 1000. bicycle lights trial. The that’s what the transport Accident Commission here a government organisation tasked with well, accident condition, transport Accident Commission, that car

Carlton Reid 6:04
accident, yes, in the title. That’s awful. Anyway,

Philip McAleese 6:08
it’s historic. Yeah, okay. But they

Carlton Reid 6:12
Crash not accident. So they should change their name,

Philip McAleese 6:14
yes, but the attack. So they are actually they’ve just paid for an extension to the project. So allow us to engage with the local government authorities, I was selected three or four within that region, to see How could our data help to help them to better understand some of the infrastructure changes they’ve made around how effective they’ve been to look at future infrastructure change? And indeed, is what they’re planning aligned with what the data is actually showing.

Carlton Reid 6:41
Cool? And who are you hoping to talk to hear how you like our meetings planned? Are you just completely random that whoever comes on? What have you set up?

Philip McAleese 6:51
This a little bit of everything. So we’re obviously very, very much interested in here to learn. So there are a number of incredibly fascinating talks and presentations, and so on that we want to go and see. There are a lot of contacts of projects, I think we’ve been quite conscious of our carbon footprint, where, you know, we like having some meetings with people. We haven’t travelled backwards and forwards in Belfast to the UK as much as we would have done historically. And so it’s actually wonderful to come here and meet a lot of our customers and clients and people that we know, and see them face to face, but in a very effective and carbon, low carbon way. So partly for presentations, partly to meet people, and of course, for networking to see are there other opportunities for us to sell our technology and to help people have better insights.

Carlton Reid 7:34
Philip McAleese has been on the show before, and so has the next person that I interviewed at move, and that is Jon Little. And Jon is kind of a tree fan, you’ll kind of find out why in a second. But he was extolling the virtues of trees on this show, way back in 2018. So that was episode 195, in which I entitled “cycle advocates should ask for trees, not just cycleways.” So here’s the up to date, Jon, at the Move conference. And of course, we did start by talking about trees.

Isn’t this as though

Jon Little 8:11
there are lots of trees in it? Yeah, absolutely. I mean, the plants and stuff are actually my favourite part of it. To be perfectly honest, we’re but

Carlton Reid 8:17
so first of all, tell us who you are for the tape yet. Jon, who are you, Jon? So

Jon Little 8:21
my name is Jon Little. I’m a transport consultant. I work in street design, generally, but particularly kind of interested in getting people involved in the code design process, realise how important that is. And basically how a picture is worth 1000 words. It’s never truer than kind of what we’re up to at the moment in trying to show people that change is possible and actually that the world won’t stop spinning.

Carlton Reid 8:43
So this is betta. So drinking seats. Yeah. So it’s kind of like a riff on better and better and betta.

Jon Little 8:49
Absolutely. Yeah. So it’s a street design visualisation tool we built from the ground up during lockdown. Primarily because I do my day job has been asked by so many local authorities. Can we do this down here? What would that look like if I kept thinking self if only we had a tool where we could just take a photo and drag and drop stuff in and create this vision of mainly a meme got me more useful. So of course, how it could look in the end with a full blown visualisation, which I think is fair to say lots of people unfortunately, when they saw trees in pots couldn’t necessarily see what the end result might look like in a few years time and can’t buy into the halfway house as such. So we built a tool that enables you to create visualisations in a matter of minutes that look the same as a visualisation that would have been made by UK transport consultancy costing 1000s of pounds and taking lots and lots of hours of engineers and people involved in that process.

Carlton Reid 9:37
And it’s using Google Streetview

Jon Little 9:39
now so we we tried to tell people not to street although you can do that’s up to you. We prefer that people don’t use Google imagery at the moment we recommend that you don’t just purely because Google don’t like people drawing on their images but effectively it’s any any photo you take the mobile or or an SLR you import into our browser. And then you set the scale set the horizon And, and that’s about it. And then everything that you drag and drop from the library of things, which is all real things provided by real providers. So kerbs from char con or Felco cycle hangers or whatever that might be. You then drag and drop to stuff of your choice into your image and recreate the vision of how that street or place could look. It’s got every single TSR DD sign and the pro version line markings and everything else, all the standard stuff you need to do highway maintenance, not just beautiful streets, but you can use visualisation or use our tool to help people understand how it look, if you just resurface the road. Of course, you’d never normally do that with visualisation tool because it costs 1000s of pounds. And there just isn’t that money or that inclination to necessarily do that normally. We like to think that we’ve invented something or made something that can change the way that visualisation is used in our industry. And actually the way our industry works with people, be it in in the office or out the office, and particularly around the courts having those conversations about how places might look if change happens, and hopefully it will be a good thing.

Carlton Reid 10:59
And when as you there was like a rolling demo that was going on where you weren’t having to press thing. Yeah, there was the Photoshop. Like regenitive thing. Basically, it took a car out of the picture. Yeah, it was quite cute. So you’re basically not just adding stuff. You’re taking stuff

away. Yeah, you can play god.

Jon Little 11:17
Absolutely. So we’ve we’ve we’ve got an image object removal tool within our within our platform, it enables you to remove pretty much anything from the image. I mean, it’s machine learning, it’s not perfect. It’s akin to like similar to some of the smartphones have gotten now. But yeah, the idea being that if there’s a car in a place where you don’t want it and you want to and that would otherwise mean that you couldn’t do the visual without going to Photoshop or something else. So you can remove it. But as you can see, it can easily as easily remove a line marker off the street.

Carlton Reid 11:43
Yep. Yep. And how much is this going to cost? authority so

Jon Little 11:48
it’s 900 pounds a year. For licence that licence can be floating between the team only one person can use at any one time. So obviously, we like to think that that teams will need more than one licence to be perfectly honest with you because actually, as you can see, you can use visualisation for just seeing what it looked like if you dropped a tree in an empty tree pit and not necessarily doing a full blown visualisation, as we’re kind of accustomed to with big developments and big road projects.

Carlton Reid 12:13
So the demo we’re getting now is of a tree being put in is that what particular kind of tree

Jon Little 12:17
though now you’re testing my knowledge I sorry, man. I’m not education as well. I know that’s a shocker, isn’t it? But um, but this

Carlton Reid 12:25
is your favourite thing you like basically the last time you were on the show many many years ago you were basically saying that the biggest thing that we could improve cities get more people walking, cycling and not driving bizarrely, is those green things with brown bits underneath.

Jon Little 12:43
Yeah, absolutely. And actually in the background of that image is his street art and the like. I mean, people like we know from you know, Lucy Saunders healthy street stuff from from lots of evidence based stuff that we use in our industry, we know that people feel safer, they more likely to walk and cycle and be outside if they feel like it’s a place that they belong for one of a better phrase, and of course, beautify and streets and add implant and and stuff as Andy stone at the moment. Couldn’t be part of that process. Again, we we like to think because we’ve designed so we talk we pay lip service, I think in some times in our industry to we’re going to design this street for eight to 18 year olds, and it’s going to be for everybody and all that stuff. And of course that’s right, but we don’t actually involve all those people in the process, particularly children whereas I mean, my daughter talks about this as being my game so that you can upload your game please. He loves placing trees in the Olympic Park and adding stuff where it should be on our on our route school. We like to think there again on a community centre on a Wednesday night when actually people might be getting frustrated so can’t get as involved in the design process they’d like to this tool brings all those barriers down you don’t need a massive load of experienced software to use this you don’t need a civil engineering degree we think with roughly about half an hour an hour playing around here as a competent

Carlton Reid 13:49
you’re you’re playing God your You’re certainly playing Monty Don there because what he’s been basically planting the street with grasses first as possible soils and obviously, and then you put daisies in and all that. And it’s like already looks really cute. You’ve taken a what’s a pretty boring industrial stroke scene and you’ve instantly made it nice. And that took what about 25 seconds? Probably from start to finish. Yeah. And then can you like do instant LTNs. So you’ve got like planter boxes of you?

Jon Little 14:23
Absolutely. These are all like, plugged in. Yeah.

So you can pick a plant from the library things you can then actually decide what plants go in it so you can put the plant down and then and then plant it yourself. I mean, we’ve got we’ve got curbs we’ve got kind of all your standard highway materials in there, but also cause lots of stuff to make streets look nicer.

Carlton Reid 14:41
So now you’re saying this is for local authorities and one person to do it. But would this not be something maybe you’ve absolutely envisage this and I’m not saying anything that you haven’t already thought of is getting people in and playing on you as a founder of your street. Yep. And people will naturally even though if you went in and say do you want, what do you want? They wouldn’t tell you what they want all the cars riddle, but if they actually physically played with it, so I’d actually quite like some flowers. Yeah, absolutely. And then all of a sudden you say what? You drawn them a Yep. So that’s what is this?

Jon Little 15:15
Absolutely. So we hope that rather than people having a kind of philosophical, do you want this thing? Yes or No, actually, you can have a design competition where everyone’s doing their own versions of the plant and at the end of their street and saying, Oh, I like his idea. I like that tree. I like that bit. And maybe collaboratively, truly collaboratively come up with a solution for whatever it might be. You can also actually, there’s no reason why you can’t put a half created street designing so say for argument’s sake, an engineer does put in the two metre wide footway, the new cycletrack and then get people to colour in the rest of the drawing. So they pick the plant and they pick the optional extras, they decide where the parklets go and all the rest of it to again, hopefully open up that design process. So it truly is CO design.

Carlton Reid 15:53
So you’re making it more beautiful there now with planting and nice things, but just as easily if you’re a motor centric traffic engineer, you could put loads of Yes, city stuff. Absolutely. I mean, this can be used for bad yet as well as

Jon Little 16:08
absolutely, you know, dare I say you can think about putting a road through a park if you say wish as easily as you can, you know, turn in a street into a park,

Carlton Reid 16:15
which reminds me because there’s a an A to Zed of Liverpool, where they’re going to put a road through a park. And it’s not it doesn’t come forward. You don’t think about it too much. Until he said put it on anything. Jesus, they really are putting a road through a park. Yeah. And it’s when you visualise it on a map when it brings it home. Yeah. So these kinds of things can bring these things home.

Jon Little 16:40
Yeah, absolutely.

And we’ve had, you know, we’ve had lots of interest from temporary, sort of music festivals and things and think about can we show people how it will temporarily look, if we put an entrance into this farmer’s field to do the carpark? Well, of course you can. Similarly, you know, parks, we’ve had somebody from the United Nations talk about whether they could use it to plan temporary road to conflict zones, or I mean, fundamentally, you can use anything you can take a photo of, you can upload to our platform and then play away.

Carlton Reid 17:04
So you’re saying it international there. But this isn’t British? Because it’s got all the British roads? Yeah. So have you got an international version?

Jon Little 17:12
on the roadmap? Yes, certainly, we’ve had quite a bit of interests from Ireland, we’ve got a bit of a fan club in Prague, we’ve added some life purpose, paving patents and semicircle. Paving patents are quite widespread in Prague purely because we’ve got quite a few users there of the demo, certainly, we hope that they’re going to start using the pro version. But the idea is absolutely that our next step is more traffic management stuff, more more standard street design stuff into the library, but then also thinking about a, you know, Dutch library of French library and the road signs and the light just as much as you know, Dutch entry curves and the like. But the idea being that there are different versions for different countries to

Carlton Reid 17:46
Yeah. And so what stage you out with with physically selling there

Jon Little 17:49
So we’re basically getting ready for Rio. So

we’ve so we’ve just relaunched our website, is literally at the moment of us switching over to have a fully constrained compatible purchasable website where you can affect the download, like by your own subscription version straight from there, there will always be a free demo, we believe in that. We believe we’ve created something for the power of goods, you said earlier about putting road to carpet and free parks. Of course you can, but we like to think that most people are going to use it for the right thing. And we actually want everyone to always have a version available for nothing too bad to do a bit with it. But then of course, if they want to go big, they need to subscribe and get the wider product like

Carlton Reid 18:24
an electric shock. You know, if you put a road in? Yeah. Oh, yeah. Okay. So 900 pounds for local authority. Yeah. Or you can envisage a member of the public doing this is there like a subscription model.

Jon Little 18:38
So there’s a free version for anybody. And that’s got a very limited library of things, it has to be said compared to the full blown pro version. Local authorities can purchase the version and open it up to residents to have a play around as part of the design process. But primarily, the the end user subscription version is aimed at people who work in the industry be that in consultancies or local authorities or, or even suppliers of stuff. So we’re actually working with a few of our providers to build them versions, they can use a sale tool, because of course, they can stand there with a prospective local authority client and show them how it look if you put a row of their curb defendants down the road or wherever it might be.

Carlton Reid 19:13
Jon, people who are going to be interested in this where can they find out more information?

Jon Little 19:17
so go on to a website You can find that the demo there, you can sign up for the free version. You’ll find details about those subscriptions to the Pro versions. We’re on Twitter at BT streets limited BTA streets limited. And yeah, and that’s that’s kind of our profile at the moment. We’re on Instagram, too. But we’re not as prolific on that. As we said at the moment. There’s too many things for

Carlton Reid 19:39
but you’re very visual.

Jon Little 19:41
Yeah, absolutely. And yeah, so we’ve got, we’ve got for users, we’re building an academy in the background, that’s going to be a place where people can share tips and videos of how to Andy’s gonna have lots of videos him using it showing how to create you know how to pop up the shadows and kind of really finish off your images, but we like to think that’s gonna end up being a peer to peer space where people are going to love from each other and share best practice to, we encourage everyone to when they create beautiful images to share them as best they can with everyone else. That’s gonna go wild on social media. Yeah, we like to think so I mean, the London Cycling campaign at an earlier version of it last year in the lead up to the elections, and that went really well. I mean, they use it’s quite the climate Safe Streets campaign. Of course, the visuals that they created, were really powerful in showing prospective politicians. You know, if you like this, I’ll vote for you. If if you vote for this type thing, which I think you know, by all accounts worked really well. Yeah, we know. I mean, obviously, I said earlier, it’s the power of, you know, an image being worth 1000 words. And yeah, I mean, we hope as I say that people grab it and do beautiful things with it.

Carlton Reid 20:42
Before the next two guests, here’s a quick commercial interlude with my colleague, David.

David Bernstein 20:48
Hello, everyone. This is David from the Fredcast. And of course, the spokesmen. And I’m here once again to tell you that this podcast is brought to you by Tern bicycles, the good people at Tern build bikes that make it easier for you to replace car trips with bike trips. Part of that is being committed to designing useful bikes that are also fun to ride. But an even greater priority for turn, is to make sure that your ride is safe, and worryfree. And that’s why turn works with industry leading third party testing labs like E FB, E, and builds it bikes around Bosch ebike systems which are UL certified for both electric and fire safety. So before you even zip off on your Tern, fully loaded, and perhaps with a loved one behind, you can be sure that the bike has been tested to handle the extra stresses on the frame, and the rigours of the road. For more information visit to learn more. And now back to the spokesmen.

Carlton Reid 21:58
Thanks, David. And we are back with bike infrastructure folks I met at move at Excel in London. I got to the show from Newcastle on LNER on the East Coast Main Line and then rode to Docklands on a folding bike. Kris Vanherle of Telraam also came on the train. How did you get here because this is a mobility conference, you’ve got to use micro mobility you’ve got to use the bicycle. You say anything else and you’re you’re drummed out, move on.

Kris Vanherle 22:32
I’ll explain the whole story. So I live very close at the train station in Leurven. So that’s like five minute walk even less. So I take a train to Brussels Midi station, you’ll start to Kings Cross and I walked across to I don’t know the connecting rail. One stop at Farrington and then Elizabeth line until here and that’s it.

Carlton Reid 22:55
Kings Cross today? That was pretty good. So we’re both travelled long distances. today. Yeah. So we have talked before Yes. Even on the on the podcast. But why are you here? Why is telraam here? And how do you find out about move?

Kris Vanherle 23:11
All right, well, first of all found out but move. And we’ve been stalled a bit by by industry or people or people who knew about trafficking, you should be here, so close about new stuff on mobility. And yeah, obviously we are new. So I think we should have our place here where technology meets the centres for policy or anything which is going to get to traffic so

Carlton Reid 23:36
I can’t explain where we are because we are in the startup it’s the lots of expensive booths out there. I’m not saying that you know inexpensive booths, I’m sure they they charge you and I’m gonna lay however, we are smaller you are like you know, your elevator pitch is basically smaller than an elevator, you’ve got like a small but this is an I was fine that here is the most interesting companies anyway, not nothing against the big companies, but their corporates have been going for a long time. It’s the smaller guys who are the ones you know, innovating, which I like to come and talk about, come and talk to so you think you’re gonna get who here who are you gonna be talking to?

Kris Vanherle 24:13
There’s a few people we know that will stop by so from Oxfordshire, I think for sure. And we known as a couple more languages is joining as well. So it’s good to finally meet them in person. So that’s, that’s interesting. And I don’t know, who knows. I mean, we don’t just don’t only want to work for local authorities, but also any mobility professional who might work with the data or want to be sent to deployment doing counts. So there’s there’s I guess there’s plenty of talks to be had today.

Carlton Reid 24:44
So I’m still waiting to do my Forbes piece. Yeah, I used it very successfully to measure the pedestrians and cyclists and motorists on my my road and I thought it was absolutely brilliant for that and it went viral at times. To You know, people are really fascinated in this. So hopefully people will will now recognise you a bit more when they come to you. But what do you actually physically doing here? So what, what how you enticing them cuz I can see you’ve got something and you are gonna be Have you seen this yet I’ve never used to describe what this is

Kris Vanherle 25:20
okay, so this is a this is a demonstrate how Telraam works in the field. So we’ve got a backboard of a typical cityscape, let’s say, which is then standing up like this, there’s a street in front, like this. And we’ll simulate a window here. Now there’s two devices connected. So one is the dahlia which I’ll connect later on has to be that one. And then there’s a video, which is basically showing you what Telly I’m seeing. So you can see how cars passed by and you can see telecom counter picking up and you can see how telecom is counting done. So with the bounding boxes, so it’s just a technology demonstrator and see how it works in the field, basically. And we work obviously, with all kinds of fun stuff like this. Trucks. Bikes, we have to sort this out, because this is the beautiful, but we’ll we’ll sorted and also a fire truck. So we’ll just be driving by it to to show how thallium device how it works. That’s it,

Carlton Reid 26:29
I guess, when people just kind of know that counting is really, really important. And counting of pedestrians and cyclists is tends to be way down the list

in the priority list, it’s easier to just, you know,

monitor cars with your pneumatic tubes and stuff. So the tech that you’ve got here isn’t pneumatic tubes, and it’s using AI. And it’s counting people. And that’s important for cities and certainly important. And I got a huge shock. On my road. I was new, there’s lots of people using it, active travel, but to actually see it in numbers and to see how much more than motorists was like, incredible. Exactly. And very valuable data. Yep. So you are producing basically very valuable data.

Kris Vanherle 27:14
Yeah, yeah, that’s it. I mean, the I think the capitalism tries to fill us two things. So the non car modes because there’s technology to monitor and uncovers, but it’s either very expensive or very limited. And then on the on the smaller roads, which are often neglected. So there’s there’s plenty of counting on Main artists, which is needed, because you need to mark congestion zone, but it’s always the small residential roads, whichever got running, for example, which never get counted. So you need to have something cheap and which is affordable, no cheap, affordable to do allow for a more dense, ethical thing. Network. That’s what we’re aiming for.

Carlton Reid 27:53
And finally, here’s Jose Gutierrez of Barcelona, talking about Lane Patrol.

Jose Gutierrez 27:59
So I’m Jose Gutierrez, I’m representing Lane Patrol. We are actually in some sort of incubator internal incubator where a mobility company called fracture consulting based in Barcelona, and we’ve been working with this project, we brought up this a software solution, that it’s called Lane patrol that consists of two things, one it like hardware on the other side is software, what we do is to analyse the infrastructure safety of cycle routes, for all we get, we are actually leveraging being trusted suppliers of a IRAP, which is the international road assessment programme. I’m their methodology called Cycra.

Carlton Reid 28:36
And you’re doing this for cameras. What’s What’s this,

Jose Gutierrez 28:38
so what we do is that we have a device or we also have a mobile app where we collect frames of video or images that we then use to evaluate over 40 attributes. To assess the safety of the cycle routes, where these attributes, we get actually the rating based on the methodology of the safety of these damn intersections. And we get the conflicts in the cycle route conflicts of vehicles with other conflicts of bicycles, with the bicycles, bicycles, with objects, bicycles, with pedestrians and bicycles with vehicles

Carlton Reid 29:11
and technology technology that you use or is this anybody can use it and they feed the information to you,

Jose Gutierrez 29:18
or at least actually, anyone can use it, but we need to supervise it because for the methodology, we need to have this we’re a trusted supplier. So actually, we need to understand the methodology we need to do quality review of the work. So it is the solution is either for other consultants or for cities who wants to analyse it and create probably an investment and or a maintenance plan of the cycle routes. So this is this is starting off with let’s say the end user we could what we do is that we collaborate with consultants in other countries, or we go directly to municipalities or decision makers in regions, but actually they want to say okay, you know what, we have a 200 kilometre network we want to analyse, where should we invest first either where we have more bicyclists and these bicyclists are in the red zones of safety. Or you can just want to make sure that all your network gets to a certain level of safety. So this is this is what we did. We are working. We have now a project we’re part of a European funded project called Mollier. We are analysing cycleway that is connecting Barcelona to neighbouring towns. We’re in our bigger project together with people from my rap from cycle rap in which we are in analysing and typology of cycle routes in Madrid and Barcelona. But there’s also their partners working in Bogota, Sao Paulo and Fayetteville in the US. So there’s a big project that we’re currently ongoing.

Carlton Reid 30:38
And I’m presuming it’s on a bicycle.

Jose Gutierrez 30:41
It is on a bicycle.

Carlton Reid 30:42
Do you have pictures?

Describe this or show me pictures? Looks like?

Jose Gutierrez 30:47
Yes. Well? Well, basically, it’s like, I was just opening my computer. Let me see. I don’t have

Carlton Reid 30:55
he’s coming. The guy who draws that he’s coming. How easy he’s coming to Yes. Well, I’m meeting him later on.

Jose Gutierrez 30:59
Oh, I’m gonna look for him. Because I know there’s a new cartoon that I want to say.

Carlton Reid 31:04
I’ll send him

your way.

Jose Gutierrez 31:05
Oh, yeah. Perfect. Perfect. Perfect.

Carlton Reid 31:07
I’ll just jump in here to explain that Jose had an illustration on his laptop drawn by Dave Walker. And I introduced the two later on, because Dave was also at the show, in fact, on on one of my free tickets anyway, Dave is on the next show.

So for now, we have this little device

where I’m going to describe this. So that’s basically a box a big grey box that you attach to the handlebars.

Jose Gutierrez 31:33
Yeah, exactly.

Carlton Reid 31:33
And that’s, that’s more than just a camera. So there’s an accelerometers in there.

Jose Gutierrez 31:38

Carlton Reid 31:39
Is it doing surface roughness?

Jose Gutierrez 31:41

Carlton Reid 31:41
is it doing the vibrations it is

Jose Gutierrez 31:43
It has some he has some, some sensors, we’re actually adding more, or the moment we’re working on this device, we’re improving it. So this is, let’s say version one of the device. And at the same time, we have the mobile app that is doing the same thing for now in the mobile in the mobile phone, on the phone. So our idea is to offer now we have actually, we’ve been working on this a little bit less than a year. So our idea is to use a mobile app now. Then start using the device to avoid having a super extensive AI model to analyse the attributes.

Carlton Reid 32:14
So my next question is we must be AI in here somewhere that’s analysing this afterwards. That’s good. Okay,

Jose Gutierrez 32:20
we’re now we’re doing both AI work and manual work to do this. Imagine like, over 40 attributes, every 10 intersections, so there is a lot of coding to be done. So we are using AI to save the time. So

Carlton Reid 32:30
give me so it’s it’s junctions. It’s number of pedestrian pedestrian interactions. What? Yeah, more of the 41 of the

Jose Gutierrez 32:40
Yeah, yeah. So some of them is the width, the width of the cycling, the roughness of the surface, if there’s curvature, if there’s this low, here, there’s adjacent lanes of vehicles. There’s what type of facility it is, if it’s off road or on the road, yeah, over 40 Art units,

Carlton Reid 32:58
and then the city gets an overall score. Exactly. And then there’s like red spots or hotspots and you must go and fix this bit. That is why the AI says is that it is

Jose Gutierrez 33:10
a little bit project based. So you can either analyse the whole network, as you mentioned, or you can analyse one specific route with this a couple of tunnels, for example. So we want to check, what is the safety or what what attributes can be changed in that in those tunnels, we’ll make sure that we can improve them to we can improve the safety of them. So it is project based, but yeah, the typical will be analysing the whole network and make it a maintenance plan or an investment plan for the cycle routes.

Carlton Reid 33:33
And if you envisage this technology being used by people in one city, or people we’re going to be going, who’s basically doing this, which is one company doing this, are you selling the technology, so lots of people can do this?

Jose Gutierrez 33:52
Yeah. So while we envision is to have partners during this, and using both leveraging our knowledge, and being part of the methodology, and also using the technology to do them themselves. So I guess

Carlton Reid 34:03
the question there was, there’s a long way of saying I’m sorry, what is Yeah,

are you selling the box or the service? The service? Okay, so so that that

was that was difficult.

Jose Gutierrez 34:12
I’m looking for partners, probably in other parts of the world, right? But this can be that’s a good thing. This is an easy and cheap way to analyse the safety of cycle routes. Okay,

Carlton Reid 34:22
so this is gonna be for a podcast. So tell me where people can get more information on lane patrol.

Jose Gutierrez 34:29
Yeah, so you can you can look for us and Keita dot mobi so Keita ke ita dot m o b i You can email me at Jose dot Gutierrez at Gator dot moving on. We’re soon to launch our limpets or website. So we’re about to do that will be Lane dot it’s coming soon.

Carlton Reid 34:56
Thanks to all of my guests today there and thanks to you for listening to episode 333 of the Spokesmen podcast, brought to you in association with Tern Bicycles. Show notes and more can be found at The next episode will be out soon and will be a whole bunch more interviews recorded at the Move conference including cartoonist Dave Walker, a bamboo bike company from Portugal, bike mechanic folks from Fettle, Alex from Flit bike and Xavier, the CEO of Sustrans. There will also be extracts from a chat I had with Henri Moissingiac recorded from Move’s main stage but meanwhile get out there and ride.

June 27, 2023 / / Blog

27th June 2023

The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

EPISODE 332: Emily Kerr

SPONSOR: Tern Bicycles

HOST: Carlton Reid

GUEST: Cllr Emily Kerr

TOPICS: Oxford Green councillor Emily Kerr talks about 15-minute city conspiracy theories, LTNs and cycling to your wedding. Recorded at the Move mobility conference at ExCel, London.


Carlton Reid 0:13
Welcome to Episode 332 of the Spokesmen cycling podcast. This show was engineered on Tuesday 27th of June 2023.

David Bernstein 0:28
The Spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast is brought to you by Tern bicycles. The good people at Tern are committed to building bikes that are useful enough to ride every day and dependable enough to carry the people you love. In other words, they make the kind of bikes that they want to ride. Tern has e bikes for every type of rider. Whether you’re commuting, taking your kids to school or even carrying another adult, visit That’s t e r n To learn more.

Carlton Reid 1:04
I’m Carlton Reid and today’s show is a bonus episode recorded when I was at the move mobility conference at London’s ExCel last week. It was there that I bumped into Oxford green Councillor Emily Kerr. We had earlier bonded on Twitter, over our use of the Telraam citizen traffic counter. And we met on the Telraam stand at Move. We talked about Oxford’s 15 minute city conspiracy theories, low traffic neighbourhoods, of course, and cycling to Emily’s recent wedding.

Emily Kerr 1:43
Yeah, so there’s a decision happening right now about the Cowley low traffic neighbourhoods in Oxford. So we’ve sort of had two sets of low traffic neighbourhoods, one is in Cowley one is in East Oxford, my ward’s in East Oxford, but obviously anything that happens to Cowley has implications for for my ward. So the decision being made right now is whether the existing on lockable fixed bollards should be replaced with ANPR cameras or not. And if they are, who should be allowed through that ANPR. So there was a consultation that proposed that it should just be emergency services. And in fact, you’ve been lorries, you know, other kinds of those kinds of services. But a recommendation that came out is that taxis should also be exempt. So I think there’s a discussion happening as to whether, you know, whether that will, we know that any additional car on the road creates additional road danger, right? And I think there are some situations, for example, that ambulances were the trade off is that, you know, you have quicker ambulance services. And so maybe that’s worth the additional road danger. Whereas the if you start adding more and more and more, it depends how many cars are coming through and how fast they’re going, how much more dangerous those roads will be. Yeah, I think the taxi firms are professional drivers, you know, I’m optimistic that they will stick to the speed limits. But if we suddenly started having a hugely increased flow of cars, it does increase road danger. Those routes are key for kids getting to school. And suddenly you see a situation where people won’t feel safe for their children to walk and cycle or people will only, you know, will revert to driving. And I think that’ll be a real shame when that decision is.

Carlton Reid 3:20
You can imagine it’s a no brainer for emergency vehicles. But the decision is also for taxes. So what is the actual decision?

Emily Kerr 3:28
The decision is whether the ANPR replacement should be should happen at all firstly, right? Because in fact, we’ve seen in Cowley that the ambulances are not very delayed by the existing LTNs structure, they can unlock the bollards and the rerouting system. So in fact, there doesn’t seem to be from the data, much delay to emergency services. So then there’s a question about whether you should replace the bollards at all. And then secondly, the second part of the decision is whether that should just be for emergency vehicles or whether it should also exempt taxis as part of the public transport infrastructure in Oxford.

Carlton Reid 4:00
Here at the show yesterday, Mete from from Hackney. Yes, we’re saying the reason they brought in their LTNs Yes, clean air and stuff, but it’s very much to remove through traffic. And he was saying the according to their stats 40% of motorists going through on the main roads of Hackney, we’re never ever going to stop. They’re using it as a through route only.

But if you have ANPR to let residents, you’ve still got 60% In that case, even in Hackney, which are very low car ownership, you’ve still got 60% of the people in that case, potentially using cars. So ANPR is no solution if you’re going to allow residents in for instance, because that you still got an enormous amount but so you haven’t got that decision and not gonna be residents.

Emily Kerr 4:54
As you’ll be familiar with, like a lot of people are asking for a lot of different things. There’s a lot of different suggestions and and some people have mooted the idea that residents should also be exempted. And I think that’s extremely dangerous. That ends up in a situation like South Fulham, where it’s used as a as a mechanism to control congestion. But actually, it doesn’t promote active travel, because there’s simply too many cars going too fast, people are not switching to cycling, and walking, and they’re kind of scared to walk in cycling, we’ve got a survey in Oxford from Oxford share from a couple of months, a couple years ago, which shows that sort of 70 to 80% of the reason people don’t cycle more is fear of traffic, like and that’s consistent when you look at so. So if you have more traffic, you necessarily have less cycling. And again, at low levels of traffic, we know that every percentage increase in traffic provides a corresponding increase in road danger. So if we’re going to let five times as many vehicles through, for example, you’re making it five times more dangerous. So I suppose I’m, I’m also very keen, you know, you and I’ve talked about tower encounters, right, which are brilliant, because they can measure what’s happening. So regardless of what happens in this decision, I’d really like to see better measurements. So we can see, you know, I’m concerned if taxis are allowed through that we might see some speeding and a lot of increased rate data. But you know, we might also not taxis or professional drivers, maybe everyone will stick to the speed, maybe we’ll find that, you know, and they only use it when they really need to, to to drop off and they take the long way around. And you know, also in Oxford, we are having traffic filters, you know, in the next 18 months. So there’s sort of opportunities to tweak the scheme. You might concerns might be baseless, we may not have any problem. And I think that’s why measuring it is so important.

Carlton Reid 6:31
Yes. And I told Telraam guys, I’m talking about land because I believe that tech is ground changing for people like me and you and any person on the ground trying to get these kind of like counters. Now on the stage this morning. I was talking about 15 minute cities. Yes. And I kept it very positive. I just mentioned about the conspiracy theories. I said, and neither of me and Henri who was from Dott, we neither of us are paid by the W E F. Oh, geez. Oh, okay. So you are pay. Okay, we have my scoop of today. Emily is drinking from a World Economic Forum water bottle.

Emily Kerr 7:11
Yes it was quite amusing present from someone. Yeah, I like this. Yeah. Brilliant.

Carlton Reid 7:14
Yes. Yeah. It’s just to throw it in there. So you’re not a shill. I’m not a shill Henri wasn’t a shill as well. But there is an enormous amount of conspiracy theories. Yeah. So my question really is, how on earth are you getting through this? Because you must be getting bombarded with I’d like to say fringe. It’s almost no longer fringe. It’s almost a sizeable proportion of people. I know that you are absolutely the locus for this in Oxford. Yeah. How on me? How are you coping with the abuse you must be getting?

Emily Kerr 7:56
So I think that, weirdly, it’s not been as bad as it sounds in Oxford, because what’s happened is, it’s been such a big deal, that people have gone away and informed themselves. And so I think it’s actually within Oxford, it remains friends. You know, we had a massive protest, almost all of those people came from outside Oxford. And so that started to make people in Oxford that went and fought, you know, really question what was going on and be like, and in fact, you know, I had a couple of, uh, several people come up to me and say, I don’t agree with the LTNs. But I don’t agree with people coming in to Oxford. And I like Co Op, this debate even more, and actually, now I’ve been reading about them. And you know, maybe there are some advantages to the LTNs. I’m still not sure about them. But like, you know, and so I think it’s not been as bad as it probably looks externally. In Oxford.

Carlton Reid 8:45
But you’re still getting threats?

Emily Kerr 8:46
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. But

I think, you know, I’m a woman on the internet, like, it’s, it shouldn’t be like this, but it is. And I think what you really realise is it comes from a very small group of people. So I was interested in that the Harry and Megan story, right, I think there was some stat that showed that sort of 80% of the abuse came from like, 50 accounts, or something like that. I’m sure he was one of them. But you know, I think it’s the same thing, actually. Right, particularly on Twitter. I blocked people that are personally insulting to me, that’s really the main reason I blocked people. Otherwise, if they make ad hominem remarks, I just block them, I actually now get very little abuse, because it’s a very low number of people that are aggressively attacking pretty much everybody that does anything in active travel. And I think, you know, I’m kind of optimistic about the population and people’s level of education when they decide to understand something and actually, I think you’re not so good. We’ve seen a lot of people decide to understand and get interested in traffic. And you know, you and I talked about this with Telraam, it’s like citizen led reporting, like how can we I think getting people more involved can only be a positive except for the fringe of people who probably are trying to co op the debate for their own purposes. But so yeah, it’s, it’s okay. It’s

Carlton Reid 9:55
very positive and good to hear, especially from an Oxford point of view because I assume You must mean you must be at the centre of the maelstrom there. But as you’re saying it’s people who are outside mainly Yeah. Who are doing this. And if you look at all the people who were the main ones, yeah, these are coming travelling. Yeah,

Emily Kerr 10:11
Exactly. And also, I really did enjoy, and the council’s recently pedestrianised Broad Street, which is the main area in the centre of Oxford, which is obviously where the anti 15 minute city kind of parade gathered in this beautiful place. And it had been pedestrianised just a few months previously, and they would have had no chance of getting in there earlier, because obviously, it was filled with cars, and now it’s no longer carpark. It provides a sort of gathering for people that want to protest. And you know, I’m from the Green Party, I support people’s right to protest peacefully. And even though I don’t agree with it, like, you know, they should be allowed to come and protest

Carlton Reid 10:41
In your pedestrianised area, but beautiful pedestrianised. Yeah, I think I made the point at the time, if you count the number of people who are walking down Broad Street, if you had them in cars, and they were protesting, you’d have basically gridlock for city for hours, hours and hours. Whereas you get one group of you know, okay, there was a hundreds and hundreds of protesters there. But they then walk through and there’s no, no exact nothing is basically happening to the city whatsoever, because they’re just walking through. Yeah. And that was almost an advert for why you should be having 15 minutes cities, it was like, why are they not seeing this?

Emily Kerr 11:17
Exactly? Yeah, you know, we, I had a, particularly when the move was first announced, and it when it first became a kind of, you know, a global conspiracy theory, I had people coming up to me at the school gates and being like, is it true? We’re not going to be allowed to leave our houses bike? You know, I thought, Well, no, it’s not to actually what’s happening is you’re going to have to drive to a bit like, you know, we have had on Oxford in Oxford for more than 20 years, you’re not allowed to drive through the high street in a car between 7am and 7pm. And everyone’s like, Oh, is that it? And I’m like, Well, yeah, I mean, you know, you’re not gonna be able to drive through the city centre. The reason for that is we need to speed up the buses, we need to improve access to people in bands, yeah, et cetera, et cetera. We need to lose private cars from the city make it safer for people to switch. And people are right. Is that it? And so, you know, I think that, as I say, it was obviously very alarming for people when it was first announced because they hadn’t understood it. But I suppose in general, I think people down do now understand that and support the idea. Oh, that’s really good.

Carlton Reid 12:12
Really nice to hear.

Emily Kerr 12:13
Let me caveat this with obviously, people that

Carlton Reid 12:17
Where I’m from Jesmond, also, it’s actually a very posh area. Yeah. It’s a high level of education. Basically, it’s university lecturers, it students, this should not be this level of misunderstanding on this, and I don’t think there is a misunderstanding as they just want to continue driving. Yeah. And it does tend to be I get told off for this if I bring the age thing in. But there ain’t that many young people. The students are not protesting. Yeah, actually, it’s the, again, I’m getting told off of this. But it’s inescapable. It’s the boomers. Yeah. And you see the comments on the petitions. It’s my eight year old mum kinda is like, sorry, it’s basically an age thing of people who have grown up with a motorised society cannot imagine not using cars and also on the petition, you find that people are, they’re not saying they’re trip chaining, they’re not saying, you know, I probably get 20 miles away. And it’s, you know, the last mile has been, they’re saying, I want to drive 500 metres I want to go from, they give their location, I want to go from here. And I can’t any no longer get to these posh shops 500 metres away. And they can. But it’s the older people are just they are so married to their cars. And it’s like, Why are you driving in Jesmond? Even if you’re older? Why are you driving in Jesmond? Are you finding the same isn’t the same demographic.

Emily Kerr 13:36
So there was something that I did find particularly funny, which was a person that was very outraged that they were going to have to take a long but right way round to drive to Merton colleges, real tennis court. I was like, I mean, you know, like real tennis is an Etonian sport that only a very few people play, you know, fundamentally in my ward, 50% of people don’t own cars. And I don’t see why someone that should be able to drive a quicker route to Merton to play real tennis, you know, and do it through doing so impose road danger, bad air quality, you know, on my residence, like, so. So, I think that’s true. I also think, though, that probably what we see in Oxford, where we already have a high cycling share, is that there are quite a lot of people who are much older, you know, in their 80s and 90s, who don’t drive any longer because they don’t feel safe to drive, but they cycle and tricycle. It’s amazing, you know. So in fact, that there are, of course, people whose parents in their 80s will suffer through not being able to, you know, get somewhere as quickly or they’ll have to take them but in front, there’s actually a lot of people that it’s given freedom and the ability to get around on like low car routes. And actually, you know, it’s amazing. My mother is one of them. My mother won’t drive she’s in her late 80s. And when she comes to visit us, she can cycle around, obviously, she can go anywhere. I did an interview with a 94 year old cyclist you haven’t driven for years, but he has the freedom to get around Oxford, you know, on a bike and we see this In the Netherlands, you know, when you look at someone that’s got truly high share of cycling for older people, that people talk about the freedom of it, you know, and in fact, I talked to some refugees, we have this amazing charity in Oxford that does refurbish cycles for refugees. Now, those people cannot afford four grand a year to run a car, because that’s what cost you know, and so they’ve got a cycle and this, you’re talking about cycling, giving them freedom. So they’ve been given this cycle, that’s like 100 quid, reconditioned lights, you know, helmet, lock, all of that kind of stuff. And suddenly, it’s like, oh, I can visit my friends in Oxford, I can visit other people from my community, I can get to church. So I think the narrative of cars is freedom applies to a specific demographic. And actually, for a lot of people, that’s not true. If you’re poor. If you are, you know, unable to afford the space or, or the money to own a car, like actually safe cycling provides freedom. And I find it really kind of motivating and interesting.

Carlton Reid 15:53
And I agree with you, because I’ve interviewed people. Yeah, it’s actually in my local sourdough shop. First worle problems, yeah. But as you cycle then it’s like, it’s actually 15 minutes to get there, literally 15 minutes for me to cycle there. Which is handy. But I was, I was I was talking to her in the queue. And she’s telling me that exam kind of, um, well known, yeah, my area. Yeah, you know, I’m stalked by the opposition, who take post photographs of me on bikes. And so it’s quite, quite creepy. She knew I was, cuz she hangs out on one of these groups. And she was talking to me and she’s saying, Well, I would have normally driven to Jesmond in mind, she’s got a little, you know, little car, which is now because she lives in a like a, like, yours is, you know, one, one district removed. She’s, you know, one step removed from Jesmond. And she says, but now that they’ve got the, the LTN, I’m now cycling that and she is in that demographic, she’s very much in that Boomer demographic. So it’s freed up for her. And that, you know, counteracts the people who say, but it’s made it more difficult for me, and it’s given me there’s not freedom. So there’s probably a huge number of people. Yes, who are saying it’s damaging for me, but then we’re not hearing from the people who’s like, actually, no, I’m not cycling there. So do you think there’s, there’s a knock has to make giving it a silent majority? Or is it just 50/50? What do you think?

Emily Kerr 17:19
So, you know, I’d say I actually do hear from a lot of those kinds of people. Because as a local councillor, a lot of people come up to me and talk to me. So I remember this sort of a sad day, someone came up to me and a lady again, a boomer lady came up to me and was like, Emily, I had to cycle to my a lot. But today, I suppose that makes you happy. And I was like, actually, I think we both lost. And like, I’ve seen her since. And yeah, she switched exactly the same, you know, it’s because they’re a lot much used to drive. And, you know, I really see it at the school gates, because I’ve got young kids. And so now, you know, the shift in my school is astonishing. And we now have 13% of people who drive their children, the national average is 65%. It’s remarkable. And that is driven by the LTNs. What was it before, unfortunately, we do not have the pre and post data. So there’s another school, very nearby larkrise. And we do have the pre and post data there, and it was 35% driven. And now it’s 15% chance, there’s been like a massive shift due to LTNs. Due to other measures. In terms of that people now cycle their kits, they feel safer. But also, it’s easier than humans take the easiest option, right. And so if the easiest option is cycling, people cycle, you know, and we need to make public transport, and cycling and all of these other ways of getting around easy and private cars, because there’s not enough space for private cars. And you know, again, the emissions like in the UK, we have 80% household car ownership worldwide, it’s 15%. Do we really want to add in an extra 5 billion cars to the planet? And whatever the number is? That’s it? Yeah. And, and the associated emissions manufacturing mining is such that we really don’t, you know, we need people to use cars when they need cars, and otherwise have other other ways of getting about.

Carlton Reid 18:59
And what are you doing here at this mobility conference?

Emily Kerr 19:02
I’m here to look at some of the kinds of new and innovative stuff that’s happening. So I was very interested in talking to the Dutch delegation. So as you’ve seen, they’ve got like a whole group of Micromobility and other company, other companies and organisations there, I’m interested in seeing some of the kind of car sharing stuff that’s happening, you know, and the switch to electric. So all of those there and also, I’m here to listen to some of those really great speakers. I’m interested in innovation, how we can learn from other countries because they think UK is lagging to a degree and how we can really shift about improving public health, improving road safety and you know, helping people to get around by bike because I love cycling. It’s great. So you know, that’s probably what I’m here for.

Carlton Reid 19:45
Now. Tell people where they can get more information on on your job, your work in Oxford, and then your Twitter feed so you can use those two websites.

Emily Kerr 19:59
Perfect. And so yeah, so I think in Oxford, we’ve got the Oxfordshire county council, who are the highways authority, and I actually work for the City Council and not the county council. So but you know, I think we work together fairly kind of collaboratively. So I think probably the Oxford county council website, it’s got a lot of press releases and a lot of information about some of the brilliant stuff they’re doing. Obviously, they’ve got a Twitter feed, I’ve got a Facebook etc, etc. I have a Twitter account. So I’m @EmilyKerr36 on Twitter. And I try and share not just what we’re doing but also what sort of everyone’s doing I’m interested in Lambeth we were just talking about Lambeth you know, Lambeth started brilliant curbside strategy. There’s loads of cool stuff. Obviously, Jesmond, you now I’m seeing what you’re you guys doing up there. Wales is doing Brilliant stuff. I think there’s a lot of local authorities, national authorities that are really looking at this in the right kind of way, and we need to be trying to learn from each other.

Carlton Reid 20:50
Thank you. And finally, has there been a decision?

Emily Kerr 20:54
What a great question. Let’s check live.

whether there has been a decision on this the Oxford to be still you haven’t you? haven’t? You haven’t? Yeah, it’s

there’s a lot of people speaking on this that often is

Carlton Reid 21:07
No decision when we were recording, but a few minutes later, Oxford Clarion local democracy Twitter account revealed that councillors voted through the decision to allow some motor vehicles to access the LTN via number plate recognition cameras. Taxi drivers, would now be allowed through for instance, making the LTN roads into well, taxi superhighways. That’ll be an interesting development to keep an eye on. But meanwhile, let’s get over to David for a quick commercial break.

David Bernstein 21:39
Hello, everyone. This is David from the Fredcast. And of course, the Spokesmen. And I’m here once again to tell you that this podcast is brought to you by Tern bicycles, the good people at Tern build bikes that make it easier for you to replace car trips with bike trips. Part of that is being committed to designing useful bikes that are also fun to ride. But an even greater priority for Tern, is to make sure that your ride is safe, and worryfree. And that’s why Tern works with industry leading third party testing labs like E FB, E, and builds it bikes around Bosch ebike systems, which are UL certified for both electric and fire safety. So before you even zip off on your Tern, fully loaded, and perhaps with a loved one behind, you can be sure that the bike has been tested to handle the extra stresses on the frame, and the rigours of the road. For more information, visit To learn more. And now, back to the spokesmen.

Carlton Reid 22:49
Thanks, David. And we’re still with Emily Kerr, because she wanted to tell us about cycling to her recent wedding.

Emily Kerr 22:57
I didn’t want to talk about my writing not just for the sake of talking about wedding, but because I’ve been thinking about relation. Thanks so much. I’ve been thinking a lot about location based events and how we need to try and drive that shift. And you know, I got married in Oxford. And so most people came by train, some people came by bus, my husband and the kids got to the church by bus, and so did most of the wedding party, I arrived on a cargo bike which was taken by our local cargo delivery firm.

Carlton Reid 23:25
You weren’t pedalling you were being

Emily Kerr 23:27
unusually I do pedal, but I wasn’t. And my photographer arrived on a bike, you know, we had and, and some people arrive by car. So you know, we had some people with limited mobility. I had a couple of friends arriving with young kids. You know, I don’t think we should ban cars at all, you know, some people need cars. And that’s really not a problem. And even if, you know, there were some people that didn’t feel like it on the day. But I suppose the point is that we it’s a situation where most people shift to public transport, cycling most people came by by, you know, is is a good system for everybody because it means that people that need to come by car have space on the roads to do so.

Carlton Reid 24:02
Thanks to Emily Kerr there. And thanks to you for listening to Episode 332 of the Spokesmen podcast brought to you in association with Tern Bicycles. Show notes, and more can be found at The next episode will be out in early July and will be a whole bunch more interviews recorded at the Move conference. But meanwhile, get out there and ride

June 19, 2023 / / Blog

19th June 2023

The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

EPISODE 331: Carmageddon — LTNs, Tokyo and the libertarian case against cars

SPONSOR: Tern Bicycles

HOST: Carlton Reid

GUEST: Daniel Knowles

TOPICS: A 1 hour 10 minute chat with Daniel Knowles, mid-west correspondent for The Economist, and author of “Carmageddon,” a new book about reducing car use.


Carlton Reid 0:13
Welcome to Episode 331 of the Spokesmen cycling podcast. This show was engineered on Monday 19th of June 2023.

David Bernstein 0:28
The Spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast is brought to you by Tern bicycles. The good people at Tern are committed to building bikes that are useful enough to ride every day, and dependable enough to carry the people you love. In other words, they make the kind of bikes that they want to ride. Tern has e bikes for every type of rider, whether you’re commuting, taking your kids to school or even carrying another adult, visit That’s t e r n To learn more.

Carlton Reid 1:03
He’s British, but he lives in America. Daniel Knowles is the Midwest correspondent for The Economist. And if you’ve been wondering, who’s writing that publications, war on cars, articles, it’s him. I’m Carlton Reid. And on today’s show, I talk with Daniel about his first book, calm again. We were slightly interrupted by passing trains, and other urban noisiness outside Daniel’s home in Chicago, but we can still hear him loud and clear. Getting rid of cars basically is a is a climate change imperative. But Daniel, first of all, let’s come again, is your book, which that’s what we’re talking about today, we’re talking about Carmageddon. But I’m fascinated by you before we get into your book. So you’ve moved around a bit. But you’ve always you’re always at the economist where we’re at what’s your trajectory in journalism,

Daniel Knowles 2:04
Mostly The economist. Have been the economist about 11 years now. But before that, I did work at The Daily Telegraph for just under two years, that was kind of my first job and a little bit like less than four months with my very first job was at Citi, I am kind of writing financial advice columns at the age of 22. When I had no money

Carlton Reid 2:28
and and then you’ve gone to do you’ve travelled the world with the economist, you. I mean, Nairobi, where my son is travelling to at the moment from a mountain bike or gravel race. You gave me some tips on that. Thank you very much. You’ve also been to other mega cities around the world. So just describe where you’ve travelled and and how that has maybe informed

Daniel Knowles 2:52
parts of the book. So I’ve been very lucky. Yes, you say, I’ve lived all over my first forum posting was in Washington, DC. I was moved to Nairobi, and I lived in in Africa. I lived in Kenya for three years and covered Africa for three years. And then I lived in Mumbai for a bit a bit bit less than a year. And then I worked on the foreign desk in London, and I was kind of able to travel all over the world. A title was international correspondent, which was a great racket, it was just like, I could go anywhere. Before then moving here to Chicago, were more limited, sadly to the Midwest or the great job. So yeah, so kind of roaming around. And I think it was particularly working in Africa and travelling to all these different African capitals and seeing how much even though most people can’t afford cars, they are being built out for cars, nonetheless, and that’s making, you know, these very new, very fast growing cities very dysfunctional. That kind of led me to write the book, it was seeing the same mistakes being made over and over again.

Carlton Reid 3:59
What’s that noise?

Daniel Knowles 4:01
That how much can you hear that? Because that is a train coming. Okay, house. Okay, so I can pause for it.

Carlton Reid 4:08
No, it’s interesting that you live very close to a real Yes. You mentioned that in your book, you say you look five minutes away from a Rails session. And that’s why you don’t really use I think we’ll leave that in. It’s fantastic noise. So so we can get into your car ownership. Well, let’s let’s go into that. Because where you are in Chicago, you’ve taught me a bit of your trajectory through journalism. But in the book you talk about, you’ve actually learned to drive in Washington was at age of 26.

Daniel Knowles 4:39
That’s where I actually learned to drive in London, but because I knew I was moving to Washington and I knew I’d have to be able to drive in the United States. So I hadn’t previously bothered until that point and then I, I was sort of told in no uncertain terms. You know, if you’re going to be covering America, you need to be able to drive. So I learned, I learned mostly at Southeast London And then moved. The first time I rented a car in DC, I drove on the wrong side of the road within roughly 90 seconds of getting in it. And then got very confused by the fact that was an automatic. But yeah, and that that I suppose was when he started driving

Carlton Reid 5:21
because in the book use you just you self described yourself as militant anti car, but we ought to establish that that’s not you as being a non driver, you drive you just you’re anti car for other very, very good reasons.

Daniel Knowles 5:37
Yeah, I mean, the thing is, I’m not even completely anti car in the sense that I think there are things that cars are useful for and should probably even in my ideal world carry on being used for, you know, I still like to rent a car occasionally to go on holiday, you know, I think driving, like in the deep countryside, or the middle of nowhere is, you know, can be quite fun, I go camping trips, that sort of thing, that would be very difficult to do without a car. I think the problem the argument of like, it’s just that most car driving a is up and be just done in a better way that that transport and be it’s more disruptive than, you know, costs to less well, we just don’t do it too much.

Carlton Reid 6:21
So in the way, when I picked up the Milton, anti CARB is because you’re talking about in this acknowledgement, I’m gonna go I’m gonna go flipping backwards and forwards through your book here metaphorically. So this isn’t the acknowledgments where you’re talking about, you know, the editors, at our brands, books that the various people who do help along the way. And then you mentioned your wife, Evelyn, is your wife. Yes. And you said she’s even more militantly anti car than you. So that that helps if you’ve got a partner who is as militantly anti cars. Yeah, that’s going to help you not owning a car.

Daniel Knowles 6:55
I mean, so having an Eevee can not drive. And I think gets even more frustrated at sort of just cars on the road, the general frustration of getting around a city that’s dominated by cars that I do occasionally. So she’s fully on board with this set of manifestos at work, so that is helpful. Even though when we do occasionally need a car, it doesn’t mean that I have to do the driving

Carlton Reid 7:26
manifesto is a good way of describing it because it or a polemic, perhaps so. So Carmageddon kind of suggests that you think cars. Yes, you said that they’re sometimes useful. But by and large, they’re probably not a societal good. So the book is a polemic on why we should very much reduce, not eliminate, but very much reduced the amount of motoring. Yes.

Daniel Knowles 7:52
Yes, exactly. Yeah, I think we could do with much, much less driving than we currently have in the world. I, it’s hard to put a finger on it. But I personally sort of think something like 80 to 90% of car journeys are essentially unnecessary or ought to be unnecessary if we designed our cities in a better way.

Carlton Reid 8:12
No, I couldn’t agree more. And I speak as a militant anti car person who drives. So here’s what I’m gonna be flipping back and forth. So that was acknowledgments. Let’s go right to the beginning. And look at the dedication, because I always like looking at dedications and acknowledgments almost before I do do anything else in the book. So in the dedication, you dedicated to your mom and dad, who you say, we put you in a bicycle child seat, when it kind of went it wasn’t even fashionable to do that. Now, elsewhere in the book, it talks about your dad being a policeman, our traffic policeman even, and your mom, I’m not too sure what she did early in our career, but she certainly latterly is a local petition politician in in Birmingham. So tell me a bit about your parents, and how they have shaped maybe some of your your polemic or not.

Daniel Knowles 9:08
So both of my parents were police officers. And now with retired and yes, as you said, my mom is now a counsellor. And they were growing up you know, they’re now pretty well off as as kind of public sector workers in their 60s tend to be good pensions but I think when I was child, and very small, you know, my mom had had to leave work because you have no maternity leave in those that isn’t the police. And money was a bit tighter and they had one car, but then it was used a bunch and so we I think it’s second car was kind of an expensive thing to have. So they they remember and kind of be more than three years old or something but I have this memory of these bikes coming home these old mountain bikes and mum actually still uses the same mountain bike. It’s had a lot of fun. pears over the years, but they had child seeds and transported us around on them. And I was given a bike pretty early and, you know, probably age seven or eight goings part on Central and Saturdays to go to a cycling safety course. And my dad used to cycle he was a traffic cop for a while, but then he also worked most of his career on the police helicopter. So he worked at Birmingham Airport, and he used to cycle to the airport, which I think was about seven or eight miles each way to get to work so that mom would have access to the car, you know, to kind of take us so whatever it might be, or to get to work herself. And that was really quite rare in those days. And it was dangerous to work the bike lanes, it was quite hard work for Daddy later then switched to going on a motorbike. And we had a motorbike instead of a second cart. But biking was kind of we grew up on it before there were bike lanes everywhere. And I think before there were cycling strategies, and at a time when you know, car crash deaths were a lot higher in the UK than they are now. And I do remember, you know, a man of our acquaintance who was the father of one of my sister’s friends dying in a bicycle crash when I was quite young, so it was a thing. But yeah, I kind of grew up assuming Yeah, bikes are a way of getting around. And I feel like that was not such a common kind of idea, then now, very much is.

Carlton Reid 11:36
And Birmingham is certainly the if the dreams of the kind of the local circulation plan, when when it eventually gets put in is going to you get rid of the concrete colour as you talk about in the book. And it’s going to make Birmingham far more bicycle friendly.

Daniel Knowles 11:54
It’s amazing what what is happening in Birmingham, and it’s, you could like it to happen faster, I think. But whenever I go back, there are significant improvements in the kind of the bike lanes that building a tram as well. And it does seem like the city has began to work out you know that the traffic congestion of being so car centric, and I think it is, you know, if not the then among the most kind of car centric of all British cities is kind of damaging to the economy, it slows down everybody being able to get to work, the traffic is so bad. In the morning and in the evening, you know that whether you’re travelling by bus or by car, it just takes you twice as long to get to work as it otherwise would. And that kind of limits, you know, the number of jobs that people can take. And it’s a problem. So I think they’ve got their head around the fact that kind of cars and the car Centricity of Birmingham is a economic problem for the city. And we’re trying to change that. So I’m feeling optimistic about Birmingham. The one thing that still does depress me about it is how much kind of illegal parking there is everywhere. Whenever I go home people, it’s not even illegal, just people park their cars everywhere, which feels weird to be hmm.

Carlton Reid 13:13
And for free, and on other people’s streets. So you talk about your mum in the book. And it’s a segue into talking about LTNs low traffic neighbourhoods. Because you’re saying your mum basically gets has had an awful lot of stick as all local councillors have had on on local traffic neighbourhoods and what you said no cut this bit out. Little as excited the residents of Mosley, which is the son of a Birmingham more than the appearance of the LTNs. on their doorsteps, people really care about where they can and cannot take their cars. When you say people there. Do you think you mean boomers? Do you think people of your parents age? are the ones who get really fussed about this? Or is this across the ages?

Daniel Knowles 14:03
I think there’s definitely a generational slant to it. I’m pretty sure you can find people of my age who will also get upset one way or another. But I think yeah, if you were to draw a kind of a line through it, you’d find that older people drive a lot more and more likely to own cars and are more kind of incensed at the changes whereas I think probably on average, it’s younger people and particularly, you know people who might have small children who are keenest on getting rid of sorts of rat running and you know, high speed driving down there, their streets, their residential streets, but I think it’s probably not as kind of, it’s not, I reckon that’s the trend but the you can probably find people on both sides at every age.

Carlton Reid 14:47
So get on the LTNs front. In the book, you talk about that. We know from actual studies, what people value and they fear loss more then the value gain says that if you put a bollard in, and you prevent people in their cars going this this route they’ve always used, that seems to really hurt people, rather than if you express it as, look, you’ve suddenly opened up this whole neighbourhood, for people to walk into cycle. That’s a gain. But it’s never an Express, it’s always expressed as a loss in the local newspapers, it’s expressed as a loss, isn’t it? Never again.

Daniel Knowles 15:30
Exactly. I think there’s a kind of the funny thing is, I think that that once they’ve been established with LTNs, that kind of loss aversion will go the other way it will protect them. Because I think it is that thing of people fear stuff that stops them, that forces them to change, they fear change, and they don’t necessarily value the benefits that they haven’t previously kind of needed. Or us maybe they didn’t need them, but they didn’t sort of appreciate Oh, well, you know, we will have this quiet street, we’ll be able to walk we’ll be able to cycle and feel safer doing so because they haven’t been doing that. So to begin with, because it’s the idea of never credited. And so the people who tend to oppose LTNs Are those people who, who have got into the habit of kind of driving everywhere, and see it as a real loss and the people who would benefit, you know, they don’t necessarily realise they’re going to benefit until after it happens. But I think once they’re introduced, it becomes it sort of flips around, and the people who, you know, who benefit from a, they suddenly realise, oh, isn’t it great that there’s much less traffic on our streets filled and safer, they will sort of fight to protect their LTNs. And I think the thing that I found that was most kind of revealing about LTNs Actually, particularly if you look at some of the consultation documents that I was looking at, these are mostly but trends during it. Basically, people are very in favour of LTNs. On their streets. They’re, they’re posted on their neighbourhood streets. Because you know, nobody wants rat running cars on your own streets. But you do want to be able to rat run the street next next door yourself, you know, it’s kind of rational. Mm hmm.

Carlton Reid 17:13
The prisoner’s dilemma, I think you describe it in the book. Yeah, exactly. So it I live in Jasmine. I don’t know how much you know, of new capital we have. And this is this is a just a perfect 15 minute city, Jasmine, you can you can do everything. It’s like one and a half kilometres north, like one kilometre wide. It’s just everything you could possibly need in a in a suburb of a big city is there in Jesmond? We’ve got this LTN. And what’s really surprised me is the amount of motoring that people are clearly still doing in a very walkable neighbourhood. In that there’s a there’s a petition, and people give their their address, and they actually say and where they want to get to, and it’s all within Jesmond. And it’s like, Why are you driving half a mile? And why you actually publicising that on a petition that that you want to keep the streets open to motoring. And you’re doing these incredibly tiny distances? It’s not trip chaining, it’s not, you know, doing 20 mile journeys, and you’re really annoyed is literally 500 metre journeys. Now, that to me is absolutely crazy. Is that normal? Yeah,

Daniel Knowles 18:29
that’s completely normal. I’m just trying to remember the exact statistic, but a majority of you know, driving journeys are less than three miles, I think, in the UK. And it’s actually the same in the United States, even though, you know, cities here are so much bigger and sprawling, and people do drive much farther distances, the the majority of trips in the United States are still less than five miles, so easily sort of within bikable distance. And walkable distance often too. And that’s most of the traffic on our city streets. It’s, you know, if we’re talking climate impact, it’s a bit more complicated, because, you know, people drive between cities, and those become, you know, in terms of the distance driven a lot more, but in terms of kind of the traffic on your city streets, and the number of individual journeys, most of them are very short, most people are driving quite short distances, most of the time, even with our cities, as they are designed for sorts of road transport. You could easily kind of replace a lot of these journeys, just why I feel like it can change quite quickly.

Carlton Reid 19:38
So so many of the books like like the book you’re doing, and many of the people who talk about what you’re talking about, like Brent Dyer, and like Jeff speck who’s on the back of your book, the thing that I always say is the one thing you need is political will. You know, there’s Yes, you need money for doing these things. But at the end of the day, you You’ve got to have politicians like your mum, who are going to stick it out, when they’re getting an awful lot of stick by probably every little bit, if you actually looked at it actually just a minority of people, that majority of people probably quite like quiet streets, but a quiet because they don’t actually say anybody want that. And it’s the note that kind of a, the gobius than the loudest. And then people assume that that’s what everybody wants. But not everybody wants that.

Daniel Knowles 20:31
Yeah, it’s all very well saying, you know, you just need political will. But if something’s unpopular, what happened, but I think think about reducing cars is that it actually turns out to be popular, you know, politicians who do these, often, at the time, very controversial things like introducing the congestion charge in London, or, you know, backing LTNs, you know, they get all this pushback, there’s these enormous fights, but five or 10 years later, you know, nobody ever wants to go back. Nobody ever thinks I would you know what, let’s take those bike lanes out and kind of the cars back in, let’s rebuild the motorway. Let’s get rid of the congestion charge it. I suppose Boris Johnson do reduce it back again. But in general, these things remain popular. And the popularity of sorts of these measures actually increases after they’re introduced, and people see how well they work, and they begin to adjust their habits. So I think the kind of, you know, the message to politicians, it’s partly, you know, the people who are loudest are not actually representative. And in general, you know, it’s older people who, who drive are more likely to turn up at meetings and, and to shout, but if you stick with it, you’ll find that there’s a surprising number of people who really appreciate this change.

Carlton Reid 21:47
And then when you’re, you’re finishing the this book, it would have been before all of the fuss on the conspiracy theories, around 15 minutes cities, which probably won’t be a good agenda for your book, but what have you thought about that had that that back, you know, your your subject matter all of a sudden, is, in effect, you know, subject to Moon Landing style conspiracy theories, how do you view the uptake of these ideas,

Daniel Knowles 22:20
I mean, even when I was writing it, so you could begin to see that emerging little bits, Piers Corbyn had been, you know, starting out his sort of campaign against LTNs. At home, and, you know, and there’s been a long history in the United States, actually, of kind of conspiracy theories about this idea that the United Nations is coming to take away your cause and make you live in a pod. But I think the extent to which that that has spread and sort of grown and exaggerated and fitted in with all these other conspiracy theories in the last, you know, year or so caught me slightly off guard, and it is wild and it does come from this sort of, you know, I think it is a minority of people who are completely dependent on their cars and yeah, so there’s a you know, there is a minority of people who have just become so used to using their cars for everything that they think any change is seen as extremely scary and and so impossible to comprehend that you know, that they in their cars are actually making life worse for other people that they they sort of drawn to these malevolent these explanations that are, you know, an evil organisation is trying to take away your freedom. But they see it as an assault. Yeah,

Carlton Reid 23:50
you can walk everywhere. And so then all of these these dystopias, which they talk about every single dystopia, you can still walk or cycle it’s literally a dystopia where you can’t drive so that’s that that’s where they’re coming from, isn’t it is they’re not exactly your freedom has been curtailed, it’s the freedom to drive has been curtailed. There’s

Daniel Knowles 24:07
just baffling way of which type of drivers come to think or some drivers. And I’ve seen it a lot recently following the debates over the congestion charge that they’re planning to introduce in Manhattan, you know, which has taken decades in fact, I wrote about in the book, you know, the first congestion charge for Manhattan was proposed 50 years ago, and never came in because of suburban opposition. And it’s the same now, but the way people talk about it, the opponents, they say, Oh, well, you know, what, if I’m, like dying of cancer, and I need to drive to a doctor in Manhattan, and it’s, nobody’s stopping you from driving to the doctor, they’re going to charge you, you know, $20 to do so. And if you’re going to see a doctor in Manhattan $20 Extra for a congestion charge is really the least of your financial worries. But people are talking About kind of being charged to drive as odd being stopped from driving entirely. There’s this huge kind of commitment to the idea that roads should be free. And that driving should be cheap, that even just raising the cost of driving slightly, in somewhere like Manhattan, where there really are, you know, God knows how many alternative ways of getting in and where the driving and the traffic, you know, obviously makes life worse. For the majority of people who live there who don’t drive, even then there’s this kind of idea of, oh, if you stopped, if you charge me a little bit of money to drive, you are restricting my freedom, and you’re stopping me driving at all, and it’s baffling to me, it’s like, you’re nobody’s stopping you driving, they’re just asking you to pay a bit more of the cost of it.

Carlton Reid 25:50
And even in the most libertarian of conservatives, become an incredible socialists, when it comes to cars.

Daniel Knowles 25:57
Right. And this is kind of what I think is a key thing is that, when you raise the cost, the marginal cost of driving just a little bit, you know, by introducing a road toll or congestion charge, or getting rid of, you know, free parking making people pay for, for parking, you know, even just the market responsive, saying drivers should pay the cost of driving results in a big reduction in how much people drive. Or if they’re asked to pay to park they will suddenly decided that that half a mile journey that we were talking about earlier that actually after they will walk it and they can walk it, people respond very dramatically to incentives. But we’ve devoted a huge amount of of energy and time and especially here in America, but but even at home, in making it not only like possible to drive everywhere, but sort of actively cheaper and easier than any form of transport, we insist on free parking, we insist on the roads being free. And then we’re sort of surprised when everybody drives everywhere, when we’ve made that the easiest and cheapest way to get between places, you know, at the expense of every other form of transport.

Carlton Reid 27:11
And then parking minimums. So like you’re designing somewhere for like the Christmas Day, basically, the amount of shoppers you need to get in on a Christmas Day is where you build everywhere.

Daniel Knowles 27:23
Right? Right. And this is a big problem in America, you know, in that, particularly in the suburbs, but even here in Chicago, everywhere you go, there’s free parking everywhere, and then you have restaurants say that occupy less space than then the parking around them or much less space. So the whole city is sort of turned into these, like, difficult to navigate tarmac expanses, as in small town America, one of the questions I keep getting asked is, well, what about rural areas, and, you know, small villages in England or in France, you’ve got a need a car, to kind of live there to get into a bigger town or that sort of thing. But you don’t need to use it for everything. And even if you do drive, you know, into your village, you might park at the edge of the village and then be able to walk to several different businesses, you know, around the village, whereas small town America, every single business has its own giant parking lot, which you don’t want to walk from one business to another, you don’t want to walk down Main Street. Because you’re having to cross these parking lots, you know, this kind of hostile architecture for walking. And so everybody drives even the journeys that that are quite short, you know, everybody has two or three cars in their households. So even in rural areas, I think, you know, the amount of parking and the way the cities are designed, encourages more motoring than is necessary. And I think what’s what’s unappreciated is that when you provide what people think of enough parking, so that you don’t have to fight for Biden or pay for parking, it makes getting around in other ways, much more difficult. That means that cities are spread out, it means that public transport doesn’t work as well. Walking doesn’t work as well, biking doesn’t work as well. And also it means that we don’t have enough housing. And one of the things that stops us building enough housing, you know, is that people get very worried about parking when when you have driving when everybody drives around, adding more people to your neighbourhood having more people move in, and more housing being built is seen as a really bad thing. Because it’s a there’s going to be more traffic on the streets. And it’s going to be, you know, it’s going to be harder to find a parking space. So it leads people to oppose development. Whereas, you know, if you come at it from the perspective of a non driver, you know, from, from my perspective, it’s like, oh, new people mean that there’ll be more support for the bars for the restaurants for the businesses, so maybe it will be more exciting neighbourhood to live in. It’s much less subzero some kind of game.

Carlton Reid 30:02
One of the ironies of the LTN in my little neck of the woods is that the local authority haven’t really haven’t really stressed this anywhere near enough. But one of the reasons for it or Patna livability apartment, clean air apart from you know all that kind of stuff is, if you dig down into it, they’re worried that the city is going to gum up, these particular junctions that they’re doing treatment on, are going to gum up within five to 10 years, because there are lots of housing developments, car centric housing developments, along this major arterial road out of the city, that are brand new, are going to bring 10s of 1000s of car journeys into these congested already congested roads. So they’re basically trying to nip it in the bud. Now, by removing a lot of the traffic from my area, but they’ve never really flagged it, as I never said that’s what they’re doing. If they explained it as Look, you’re going to gum up in this neighbourhood within five to 10 years because of all this extra traffic. So shouldn’t we be doing something about that maybe people be more amenable to this, if they realise it’s the amount of cars coming down the pike, that’s going to be a problem. But they don’t they kind of they don’t they don’t. Local authorities aren’t very good at explaining these things, or they

Daniel Knowles 31:20
they’re not. And people in general, I think often struggle to think about incentives changing, and they struggle to think that people might act in a different way. So you know, if you build a block of apartments, and it doesn’t have a parking space for every apartment, you know, a lot of people who will oppose that apartment because they’ll go Oh, but they everybody will have a car. And it will, they’ll be using my parking space. And they’ll be clogging up the roads. And there’s this kind of assumption of like, Well, everybody’s going to drive everywhere, even if the incentives are different. And they struggled to imagine how kind of traffic can just disappear. And actually it does. But even engineers, I think you know, another way, a different way this book could have been written is essentially, the problem of traffic engine is there’s this sorts of assumption that traffic is kind of fixed. And you can work from Oh, well, you know, an increase in X number of people in particular place will be in an increase in, you know, X number of cars, and so on. But actually, these things can change quite dramatically, just dependent on Yeah, whether you do provide parking, whether you charge for the road, but local authorities, I think tend not to think like that. And the development we get is kind of car centric, and it does add to traffic. And there’s a failure to sort of recognise that and to to plan for that, which then yet leads to this sort of hostility, it leads to congestion. And we will just end up enduring traffic jams even though everybody is much worse off as a result of them.

Carlton Reid 33:00
David, we’re gonna talk about the solution. So we’ve mentioned many of the problems with with a car centric, and what you’ve mentioned in Carmageddon. But after the break, we’re going to talk about some solutions. Certainly a solution in a few major world cities, including Tokyo. But meanwhile, let’s go across to David for an ad break.

David Bernstein 33:22
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Carlton Reid 34:31
Thanks, David. And we are back with Daniel Knowles, who is the author of Carmageddon and I said before the break that we’ll talk about and we’ve talked about problems let’s talk about some solutions. And yes, the poster child for for that or the poster child or city poster child for that, of course Barcelona of course Paris, but one that’s perhaps not talked about so much and that’s Tokyo. Daniel, describe why why Tokyo is is in many respects the antithesis of everything you’ve been talking about so far and how it’s got to that state.

Daniel Knowles 35:05
So the reason I wanted to write about Tokyo, in the book is that, you know, when you point to a lot of sorts of cities that are not very car centric, the sort of Amsterdam’s or the Paris is, you know, a lot of people go, Well, you know, they’re old cities, they were built before the car. Of course, it’s easy to get rid of cars from them. But what about our city, blah, blah, blah. And Tokyo is a city that was pretty much entirely rebuilt after World War Two and continues to be rebuilt. Very few buildings are ordered in about 30 years because of the earthquake risk. And yet, it is the biggest city in the world. And it’s the biggest kind of rich world city to have to not be mostly car dependent. In fact, it has some of the lowest usage of cars of any city in the world, any city in the rich world at any rate,

Carlton Reid 36:00
12 12% I think I read your book was exactly a standard, which is, which is the third of what it is elsewhere?

Daniel Knowles 36:07
Yeah, exactly. And it actually more people cycle to get to work in Tokyo, then do an Amsterdam, which you don’t really expect, it’s not seen as this big biking city. And it actually doesn’t have like bike lanes or anything everywhere. It’s just very quiet, kind of traffic lanes, so you can cycle in the roads. And it’s fine, because there aren’t that many cars. But yeah, and the thing about Tokyo is that it was kind of luck that this happened. But in the 1950s, when the Japanese kind of economic miracle was really getting going, you know, and a lot of other countries were investing in building motorways and then kind of rebuilding their cities around the car. You know, the Japanese government sort of went no, that’s really silly idea. We don’t have enough money to build highways, and they didn’t build highways. But the highways they built were all toll roads that were expected to be paid for by kind of tolls and by the motorists themselves because they had to raise debt. Because the government was putting all of its own sort of financial resources into RE industrialising. The other thing that they did that that was incredibly kind of effective. And in 1957, the Japanese government passed a law that banned all on street parking. And it is now very difficult to park in Tokyo. Because you be well, if you own a car, you have to have this certificate from the local police station, saying that you own a parking space for it. And then you have to drive Anyway, you’ve got to park it in a private garage. And so people do own cars, but they use them only for really for sort of going out into the countryside, that kind of thing. Because if you’re going to kind of drive across the city, you know, and you’re going to have to park it in the garage and then walk from the garage and pay for that you might as well get the train. And as a result kind of Tokyo has developed basically entirely around its public transport. Over the last 70 years or so, and, and not around its cars and cars have their place in Tokyo, people do use them and own them. But they’re not the default sort of means of transport, they’re not really subsidised in any way, if you want to use your car, it’s kind of an expensive, tricky thing to do. And so you’ll only use it when it makes sense. And as a result, everything else works a lot better the public transport the trains, make a profit, share their private companies that make a profit, then because they don’t need to be subsidised because because people use them.

Carlton Reid 38:44
In the book, you talk about the land value. So basically the train company built these train stations, then they own the land, and they rented it out. And then that’s how they make their money.

Daniel Knowles 38:54
Yeah, so every big kind of subway station or train station that you come out of in central Tokyo usually has a shopping mall built on top of it, and on top of the shopping mall, you know, a block of flats. And so you come out of the session, and then you can do you know all of your shopping there and get right on the train without having to kind of lug it through the streets and come out the other end. So it sort of minimises how much walking you have to do with your groceries, that sort of thing. But it also means that the most kind of valuable commercial real estate is often owned by the train companies, and helps pay for the construction of train lines in one way.

Carlton Reid 39:35
You’d quite like Tokyo to be a template for all future cities. But it’s again, it’s pretty much an outlier, isn’t it? So it’s great to talk about Tokyo and that’s That’s definitely how you can do it. But it’s it’s actually creating that because we’ve made this motor centric crossbar and back it’s very difficult to remove it.

Daniel Knowles 39:57
Yeah, that’s the big challenge. I think you People are just literally invested in their cars now. And I think one of the problems is that, you know, cars are not cheap to own, you spend a lot of money buying it, insuring it, maintaining it, but most of the cost of a car is just in owning it, whether or not you use it. And so when you kind of introduce extra charges, you know, to be able to park it or to be able to drive on a motorway or whatever, people get very upset, because they think I’ve already paying, you know, 8000 pounds a year or whatever, just to own this thing. And now you’re saying that I’ve got to pay even more to use it. But it creates a very perverse incentives where you, you, you spend all this money buying a car, but then using it is very cheap. And you’re like, Well, I’ve got it, I might as well use it all of the time. And that’s how people get into the habit of driving these like, you know, half mile one mile journeys by car, because they’ve already got the car, if we could change the incentives a little bit if you could change it so that it’s more to use up front. People would use their cars an awful lot less and, and you might actually be able to reduce the total cost of motoring. We could all be better off if that was the case. And that’s kind of what they’ve done in Japan. And what if only we could kind of do it here. But it’s hard to adjust when everybody’s already made that decision to be built build their lives around the car

Carlton Reid 41:25
since the mid 1960s. In the Smead report, we’ve known that road pricing is going to be inevitable. And yet it’s an it’s something that’s inevitable that hasn’t come about in the past 55 years. So you as an economist, journalist, you will know that road pricing is regressive. So the rich people will always be able to continue to drive. And if you have read pricing, it’s the poor people who be chucked off the road, which is great, because that’s that’s how motoring started. It was the rich people motoring. So rich people will think that’s absolutely brilliant. They can continue driving, but it gets the great majority of the population off the roads. And that’s that’s unfair. So how do you square that particular circle? How can you make road pricing not regressive? Well,

Daniel Knowles 42:14
I don’t think it’s regressive in the sense of who will stop motoring, you’re right. The way it’s not regressive is who will pay because you’re the rich will pay. And they will be paying for the roads they use. And it is very much the case in the UK that the rich drive the farthest. In the US, it’s actually a bit more complicated, because the rich choose to live in these kind of walkable neighbourhoods like Manhattan, or Brooklyn, or even where I live in Chicago is wealthier neighbourhood in Chicago, where they don’t have to drive as much and the poor are sort of pushed out by high property prices. But it’s generally the case even in the US that you know, the other than the very richest, somewhat richer people drive much more than the poorest and the poorest drive the least. And so if you’re charging for using the roads, it you will raise more money from the rich stem from the poor. And if you then spend that money, you know, in a kind of progressive way, you spend it on things that benefit the poor more than, than the rich. It’s a very progressive move to have repricing so I don’t really accept the idea that yeah, that it’s regressive. It’s also have root pricing. I do think it’s true that yes, it will be people who can least afford to pay for the cost of driving, who will drive less but do we really want to be subsidising driving if you gave them the money instead, you know, if we then they would choose to spend it in some other way. But right now the sorts of subsidise to drive while being kept in kind of other ways. So I think that’s the thing I also think about Roe pricing right now is that we should be talking about it an awful lot more because we have electric cars coming in and the cost of running electric cars. You know, maybe not right now with electricity prices were higher in Britain. And if we assume electricity prices get back to normal, then it’s going to be a lot cheaper to run electric cars. And they’re heavier. So we damage the roads more so we and they don’t raise any money and petrol kind of duties taxes at all. So petrol taxes raised a lot less money than they used to, you know, a generation ago already, and they’re going to decline to nothing. So I think we really need to be talking about road pricing quite urgently at the moment, just so that motorists are paying, you know, for the cost of the roads they’re using.

Carlton Reid 44:32
She talked about how electric cars are heavier and they are but that isn’t that because you know the electric cars are being sold now in effect SUVs and people are choosing to just you know, go for the SUV they had with a petrol engine and now they want electric engines. These things are very, very heavy when you’re putting a battery and motors into an SUV. What we should be doing is somehow incentivizing much, much smaller cars and that’s You talk about in Tokyo how you know the if people do own cars, then they own very, very small cars. So how can you how can you switch people’s perceptions as we don’t need an SUV? And one of the reasons maybe people think they need SUVs is because you need a tank. If you’re going to be if it’s a war on motorists, you need a tank to be able to attack other motorists, so you’re safe in your little cocoon. So how do you get people out of bigger and bigger and bigger cars?

Daniel Knowles 45:27
There has been this enormous growth in the size of cars. And I think you’re absolutely right, there’s just kind of awful, prisoner’s dilemma where, you know, if everybody else has got a giant car, you want to have a giant car too, because you’re worried about getting flattened in your small car. But the thing that I think might change it is that these bigger cars are very expensive, and the cost of cars has gone up tremendously. And for a while, essentially cheap finance was sort of making it possible for everybody to be able to buy one of these giant Audi’s because at least you were getting kind of zero interest, percent loan to pay for it. But Adhir is sort of over. And I think the car industry is going to have to grapple with the fact that people can’t afford their products anymore. One thing that I’m interested in the moment that’s happening in a bunch of American, smaller towns, particularly in Florida, is that people started driving golf carts on the roads to get around the golf bug in the villages. Yeah, yeah. But golf buggies are replacing cars for those sorts of smaller journeys, particularly in these retirement communities. And I can genuinely think there’s, there’s something in that we, you know, can get these small electric vehicles that are basically golf buggies that don’t go very fast. So they’re not very dangerous to pedestrians, and particularly, you know, for those journeys, that, that, that we can’t really get rid of, kind of some form of motorised transport. You know, we’re talking journeys for disabled people perhaps, or very elderly people, where you do kind of want that door to door transport, and they can’t realistically have a bicycle. I think a golf buggy is kind of great, it’s much less dangerous to pedestrians, it uses much less energy is much less polluting damages, the roads less and, and we could have golf buggies replace a huge number of journeys, or smaller vehicles. And right now the sorts of incent the laws often for for event that they say, you know, thing, these smaller electric vehicles are not considered roadsafe are not considered legal on the road. regulations make kind of bigger cars, often the only thing that’s allowed, but that can change. And I think we should be doing more to encourage kind of smaller electric vehicles that weigh a lot less.

Carlton Reid 47:44
So smaller electric vehicles when you do get these in Amsterdam. And they use the bike paths, unfortunately. So they’re not they’re not actually, you know, the smaller vehicles aren’t mixing with other vehicles on the road. They’re basically taking space away from from from cyclist. So it needs to be some sort of incentive from the municipality in whatever city or country to incentivize the use of these vehicles, but on road rather than taking space away from from cyclists.

Daniel Knowles 48:15
Yeah, absolutely. I think the idea of playing golf buggies and then them using the bike lanes is so sort of perverse, because bike lanes already, you know, occupy so little road space. That, that, yeah, just just turning it back into a car lane, for sorts of slightly less bad cars is going backwards. Like I’m all for replacing cars with electric buggies and things, but on the roads, and exactly as you say, because they have treated as sort of, you know, like big bikes rather than small cars. It’s a completely sort of backwards way of doing it sometimes.

Carlton Reid 48:53
And if not the way that electric bikes are going in that, you know, an awful lot of electric cargo bike companies, they like to stress that, you know, okay, you can’t you say you can’t carry crates of beer on a bike. Ha, look at our electric cargo bike, we’ve got 30 barrels of beer on the back, and you almost don’t well, you’ve just invented a van. You know, yes, it’s an electric cargo bike. And yes, it goes on a bike path. But if it can carry 20 bottles of beer, it’s a white van. And you haven’t really made much progress at all if that’s all you’re doing. So how do you get people to get away from this size thing and go small, and then obviously, the smallest vehicle bicycle doesn’t even have to be an electric bicycle can not just be human powered.

Daniel Knowles 49:42
I mean, I’m all for the electric bicycles because I think that they they radically change how much you can do with a bicycle. It just widens the range of which you’re willing to cycle like I will happily go seven or eight miles on an electric bike. Even just one of the rental ones that they have here in city of Chicago. Whereas I don’t really like to go more than sort of four or five on my own bicycle. And I haven’t bought an electric bicycle yet. But I think it’s, I think the thing with cargo bikes, I think we’re not there yet. But we will get to a stage. If enough traffic begins to switch to electric bikes and to cargo bikes set, we’ll go hang on a minute, why are we leaving so much road space, to cars, and not to bicycles, and forcing all of this traffic onto this kind of, you know, the bike lanes, occupying, I don’t know, a quarter or of the road space, I will go wait a minute, we can just use the road for all of these vehicles. And if we begin to get rid of the big heavy cars that are moving at 30 miles an hour or so then suddenly we radically increase the kind of capacity, and we can get all of those electric cargo bikes just onto the normal roads. And I think that, you know, while there is an element of okay, they’re reinventing a van, the big electric cargo bike, even the biggest ones, you know, that can transport all this sort of, you know, stuff, they they’re going away most kind of 100 kilogrammes, whereas your van will weigh 10 times that. So if you’re hitting hit by one and it kind of crash it, you know, it’s way less dangerous, it’s, it’s far less likely to kill you. And they’re not going more than, you know, I think 15 miles now really 20 miles now that’s in here in America. And so So I think there’s still a radical improvement. We shouldn’t be encouraging stuff that’s been moved around by van at the moment onto those things, but but we should also be thinking when when we get to that stage of having lots of them and the bike paths are all clogged up. And I think, you know, some of the bike paths in London are already reaching that stage where we begin to go hang out a bit that we should be having, you know, we’ll put the cars in like one lane on their own. And the bikes can have three lanes. That’s where I’d hoped we can get to, rather than it being the other way around.

Carlton Reid 52:05
And what do your colleagues think about these kind of ideas? What do they think about your book? Because I know in the acknowledgments, you say there’s at least one colleague assumes you’re going to be owning a car and driving around the car, you know, pretty soon, and I’m guessing you have some sort of a bet with that person say, no, no, no, I’m not. So what are your colleagues think about your book? And your ideas? Because I’m assuming you had these ideas before you wrote a book?

Daniel Knowles 52:27
Oh, yeah. So that’d be writing this kind of stuff for a while. And I think, you know, The Economist slide is generally in in maybe not completely as anti militantly car as I am. But but as we are, you know, a paper an organisation that believes in free markets. And, you know, the way I’ve written the book and framed the book, and the way I think about it is that there are a huge amount of hidden subsidies for cars, that this is not truly a free market, the government has been intervening to make driving the sort of best way of getting around the cheapest way of getting around and it wouldn’t be in a kind of natural market economy. And we should stop subsidising driving, and economically, we can all be better off. So that’s the way I try and make the case, you know, an economist editorial meetings, but I am a, I believe in the stuff that the economist says too. And that’s also how I’ve tried to make the case in the book, I see it as like, you know, it was a conservative, but there’s a libertarian case against cons right now, as a taxpayer, you are paying for roads, whether you use them or not, you know, you’re paying for, you’re being forced to buy parking spaces, whether you want them or not. We’re all forced to pay for this driving infrastructure, whether we use it or not, and we shouldn’t be.

Carlton Reid 53:48
So as I said before, about how can even the most libertarian of conservatives have completely socialist when it comes to cars. Does that concept never really hit home? Do people not understand that? motoring is just incredibly subsidised? You know, the roads, the fuel, you’re put into these cars. It’s incredibly subsidised. And as you said, everybody else is paying for that. Do. Do we have conversations with conservatives who really cannot get that or deep down? They know that, but they’d rather not talk about it.

Daniel Knowles 54:23
So I do think that conservatives who get it I met a few funnily in America, I think you get more support at times, for things like tolling on roads from conservatives, then, you know, from Democrats, there’s this kind of idea of like, well, the government shouldn’t pay for a road the motorists should is somehow is more accepted sometimes in conservative circles. I think when it comes to city streets, you know, the big problem is it’s less actually conservatives against liberals or against left wingers. As suburbanites and rural areas against cities, that’s the kind of dividing line on this. But I wrote a story last year about a Republican mayor of a town in Indiana, who very much gets this. And he’s, he’s very famous to towns called Carmel, and he’s very famous for installing roundabouts in his town has more roundabouts in any American city, but his he completely gets this idea that when you are using up land for parking, you generate less tax revenue. And I think it’s going to kind of become apparent in America in coming years that you a lot of cities and suburbs that rely on, you know, their associate car centric spend so much money on maintaining their roads, and that they can’t cover other services. And it’s way more efficient to, to kind of be dense to be densely populated. And in the UK, obviously, where we don’t have so much kind of local funding for government and it’s much more of a centralised system, you know, it’s clearly the case, that kind of London pays a lot more in taxes, and it gets out because it’s more efficient. In the way it’s to be less car centric as economically better, it means more people can get to jobs in a particular area, because when you rely on cars, essentially, before you can become a big enough city to, to have all of the kind of you know, to generate those sorts of really good jobs, you get sort of strangled by congestion. And I think people are beginning to realise that sort of everywhere and the conservative backlash against cars, I think it comes less from sort of ideological views, because I think sometimes they do recognise that. But it comes from worries about, you know, the fact that conservatives are thrive, thrive and do better in those kinds of low density suburbs, or rural areas where people already have cars. So even those conservatives who do sort of know it, as you first suggested, often they’re trying not, they don’t want to say it.

Carlton Reid 57:03
Because there is this myth, not so much. I don’t know the US much, but certainly in the UK, there’s this kind of myth that, you know, being pro car is conservative is right leaning and bring an anti car is laughing. It’s absolutely not the case, you know, the throughout the history of the motorcar, the Labour Party has been if not more pro car than the Conservative Party, it’s certainly been up there with them. You know, the theory of you know, every working family should have a motorcar is embedded completely in the Wilsonian economics of you know, everybody should be owning a motorcar because that’s good for workers.

Daniel Knowles 57:45
Right? Completely. And it’s good for the car industry, you know, which back to Wilson was a huge employer and a big supporter of the Labour Party, and perhaps a little lesser now, but I think it’s support or opposition to causes is generally cross party. And that’s the case in the UK, it’s certainly the case in, in the US. And I think the big divide is, it’s local, it’s, you know, the politicians who are sort of supportive of LTNs and things, I tend to be more urban. And I think there is a bit of a divide emerging in the UK, between the conservatives who obviously have not raised fuel duty and, you know, 13 years and have lent more and more into this kind of anti LTN, anti Procar kind of model of development, because the LTNs came in under a Conservative government. So the sort of funding for it came from from, from central government from Whitehall to put these things in, and you have this funny thing of the conservatives, I think, a national level, sometimes sorts of encouraging quite good policy, and then fighting it at the local level, by going it’s his Labour Council that’s done this thing that our government paid you to do. So it’s all a bit confused the politics of cars right now. And I think it’s going to stay like that for a while. It’s not going to become one way or the other sorts of dominant anti car from one party and Pro from another.

Carlton Reid 59:18
Ignore all the stuff that comes with him and mention of this person’s name, but what do you think we just have a would have a much better chance of actually having this Tokyo style future if Boris Johnson was a still Prime Minister, and was, you know, the world king that he aspired to be? He would have brought in a lot of these policy did bring in a lot of these policies, and actually not having him there, makes the Conservative Party far, far more likely to be anti LTNs to be pro motoring. Whereas Johnson was you know, going in the right direction.

Daniel Knowles 59:55
I think get Boris Johnson’s legacy on cycling in London is really extraordinary, we shouldn’t discount that, you know, he started out with the cycle superhighways, which were all painted and not very good and got loads of criticism, and to his credit went and built proper ones. And on the other hand, he did get rid of the, of the kind of Western congestion charge zone. But I think, you know, in London, Sadiq Khan has been a bit of a mixed kind of bag to he, he is expanding the Clean Air area, the Ulez. And I think that’s all positive. But he also did change the hours reduce the hours of the congestion charge that had been expanded back again, so that it doesn’t operate as late in the evening, as before, so it’s it’s a bit of a mixed bag, I think. Yeah, we but if Boris Johnson, I think was a positive thing for cycling for the Conservative Party and, and that that’s something that that is now almost completely gone. And that’s unfortunate. Sort of everything else aside, about Boris Johnson, unless you’re, you know,

Carlton Reid 1:01:08
so you mentioned Sadiq Khan there. And that’s actually I can I can segue this into where I want to end this podcast anyway. But let me just talk about Sadiq Khan, because he wrote a book recently about his climate credentials about how climate friendly is. And yes, he did, watered down some of the congestion charge things but more than anything, he will go down in history, not for his climate stuff. But for his building of the Silvertown tunnel, this amazing tunnel that can only do what you’ve mentioned your book frequently the induced demand, it will only increase motorcar journeys. So no matter how many eco friendly things he brings in, he’ll remembered in history for bringing a sucking great road tunnel into London, which pretty much isn’t actually needed, and will just generate more traffic. Is that a fair characterization?

Daniel Knowles 1:02:02
Yeah, I think that’s absolutely right. I think Ken fits into the model of an awful lot of kind of left leaning politicians at the moment who really concerned about climate change, they are concerned about air pollution, that sort of thing, but uh, leaning very heavily on the sort of the car industry solution, which is, oh, just electrify everything, you know. And so the Ulez is really good. But that’s about older cars. And if you have a newer car, you’re still fine to drive. And I think that the case I’m hoping to make with this book is is particularly targeted at those sorts of centre left and left politicians in cities to say, you know, yeah, we do want to change cars to electric cars, but you should be really taking this moment to try and say we should have less cars too. And there should be more alternative ways of getting around. Because I worry that we’re at a sort of moment where we’re going to completely transform our sorts of transport model by changing, you know, from petrol cars, to electric cars. But other than that, all we’re going to do, and we could use this moment to go, maybe we don’t all need to drive quite as much as we do.

Carlton Reid 1:03:11
Because I think you make a very strong case in the book, and there’s a thread throughout. And then there are explicit mentions about the climate catastrophe that is, in large part is being brought by by the motorcar. And even if we have a look, are you saying electric or even driverless, which will actually, as you say, in the book will bring more journeys? Not Not, not, not fewer? So climate, kind of like, let’s let’s wrap this up by talking about how, you know the Carmageddon part of the book was the you know, like the end of the world, Armageddon type stuff, is the climate crisis. And if we continue, I think you’d actually say in there, where we, we picked this bit out, so we do not have to, this is your word, we do not have to be so reliant on gasoline and cooking the planet to be able to live decent lifestyles, the important thing is not moving metal, it is moving people and that was absolutely a climate change. So So wrap up how your book is The lots of ills in this world that comes with with with with cars, but one of the cheap ones is absolutely climate change.

Daniel Knowles 1:04:18
And, you know, there are currently about 1.5 billion cars in the world. And imagine, you know, if we everybody drove it sort of British or American rates of driving, we’d have six or 7 billion cars in the world, and they all need to be powered and fueled and that is going to you know, that already the number of cars is going up and the emissions they produce is going up we are managing to reduce the emissions from our power plants, from our sort of other forms of transport but from from cars, they are going up and cars. Both directly produce emissions, but even if we electrify them, when we are all dependent on our car We live farther apart in more sort of sprawling cities. And we use more energy in every other way. And if you look at, you know, people in Paris or in New York, can produce far less co2 from everything that they do, not just from their transport compared to people who live in, say, Houston or Birmingham, because they live closer together, and people in New York have lovely lives, people will really want to live there, you know, the cost of living is high, because it’s such a popular place to live. So if we can kind of live in less cost centric lives, it won’t only reduce the emissions, you know, that we currently produce driving, it will reduce all of our emissions on everything, we will use less energy heating our homes, use less energy, getting things delivered, you know, less energy, kind of moving our running our water, kind of delivery systems, whatever it might be, uses less energy. So moving to a kind of less cost centric world is a way of reducing our climate emissions dramatically. And I think for the rest of the world, the poor world right now, which you know, we want to become rich, we want people in India or in Africa to be able to have the lifestyles that that we aspire to. We have in the rich world. We want to have lifestyles like those in Manhattan, not those in Houston because if everybody in the world tries to live a lifestyle like in Houston the whole planets toast we are cooked there is nothing we can do.

Carlton Reid 1:06:34
And that people I’m gonna go back into my my my Jesmond people who, who by and large, it it’s a it’s a middle class area people know. And absolutely, when they, when they mentioned on petitions that they are against the LTN. They mentioned that they’re not climate change conspiracy theorists, they believe in climate change. But LTNs Make climate change worse, because it makes people drive further because you’re you’re shunting people on to these other roads, and they can’t grow, in effect rapper and through the local neighbourhoods. So what do you say to people who would agree with you that climate change is an absolutely pressing the pressing argument of the day, but who still want to continue driving because they don’t think that’s actually affecting climate change. And if anything, LTNs actually increase emissions? What people

Daniel Knowles 1:07:35
think they’re going to do, and what they actually do are very different people respond to incentives much more than they think. And so yeah, when you introduce an LTM, what people think will happen is, oh, well, everybody will just drive along the way to get around, you know, they’ll they’ll still drive. But what actually happens is that people go, Oh, well, I might as well just walk. A good example of this. I have a personal example, I think I mentioned in the book was when Birmingham introduced this kind of high. This charge on driving an older car Villa or Ulez of its own into the city centre. My parents have a very old diesel car that they drive very infrequently. But my dad’s view was, oh, this is just a tax grab. You know, it’s this is just a way of making money people are still going to drive in, but I’m going to avoid the tax and you went out and bought an electric bike. And he never drives into the city centre anymore. He’s like, No, obviously, I can’t pick you up from the train station. That’s a quit. I’m not paying that. You know, my dad barely drives anymore, but he’s still kind of used to be a bit of a Motorhead. As he said he was a traffic cop. He’s still got a motorbike that he takes out on holidays and things. And he for him, I think, to realise, but yeah, the how his own behaviour would change. And then getting this electric bike and using it a lot more and all but stopping driving it you know, that kind of persuaded him but a lot of people Yeah, they think that before this charge comes in, they think oh, well, obviously i this will, this will just lead to more traffic, we’ll all drive more. But the reality is, you just change and you adapt and you drive less. And after a while, it seems completely insane that you ever did those journeys in your car to begin with.

Carlton Reid 1:09:26
But you’ve convinced me Daniel, but then again, I didn’t need a great deal. I’m convincing as you can possibly imagine. But hopefully you’ll be able to convince other people and I’m guessing people who listen to this podcast are also going to be attuned with with your concepts and will agree with you and we quite like people who don’t agree with with with this concept to read your book. But anyway, let’s find out where we can get hold of your book and give us also as well as the publisher details and because it’s new for the UK isn’t it is That’s like it’s been out in the US, but now it’s new for the UK. And then finally, tell us your social media handle. So where people can can contact you. So yeah, so the books

Daniel Knowles 1:10:09
we’re releasing in the UK next week, and it’s primarily available on like the Kindle platform, you can also get a hardback, you can order that on Amazon, but if you if you ask your bookshop, they will probably be able to, to get a copy two more book shops are beginning to stock it, which is quite pleasant. But yeah, the publisher is an American publisher Abraham’s press and I’m basically publishing it myself in the UK. So so it’s getting out there but it’s but you might have to ask for it. So if you are to have that coffee,

Carlton Reid 1:10:42
and social media

Daniel Knowles 1:10:45
so on social media, I’m on Twitter at DLknowles, Knowles with a K. And you can read my writing in The Economist as well in the United States section,

Carlton Reid 1:10:55
can we because don’t have names under there. We don’t have names but if it’s got

Daniel Knowles 1:10:59
if it’s got a Chicago Dateline, it will be written by me. So you can usually guess what’s mine, or if it’s about how Carlsbad definitely by me.

Carlton Reid 1:11:08
Thanks to Daniel Knowles there and thanks to you for listening to Episode 331 of this spokesmen podcast brought to you in association with Tern bicycles. Shownotes and more can be found at The next episode will be out in July. But meanwhile, get out there and ride …

June 13, 2023 / / Blog

13th June 2023

The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

EPISODE 330: Andy Boenau

SPONSOR: Tern Bicycles

HOST: Carlton Reid

GUEST: Andy Boenau — White Collar Epidemic

TOPICS: Andy discusses his urban planning background and his proposed new documentary, White Collar Epidemic.


Carlton Reid 0:13
Welcome to episode 330 of the Spokesmen cycling podcast. This show was engineered on Tuesday 13th of June 2023.

David Bernstein 0:28
The Spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast is brought to you by Tern bicycles. The good people at Tern are committed to building bikes that are useful enough to ride every day, and dependable enough to carry the people you love. In other words, they make the kind of bikes that they want to ride. Tern has e-bikes for every type of rider, whether you’re commuting, taking your kids to school, or even carrying another adult, visit That’s t e r n to learn more.

Carlton Reid 1:04
I’m Carlton Reid. And on today’s show, I’m talking urban planning and more with Andy Boenau speaking to me from his home in Virginia, USA. Andy is an award winning filmmaker, and we talk about his background in transportation, and his proposed new documentary, White Collar Epidemic. And if you were last on the show in 2019, do I have to update the profile picture that we use the last time? And I’m gonna say not because I saw you on video a second ago, you look the same. So well.

Andy Boenau 1:40
Well, I was gonna show when you make when you make deals with the devil, when you’re doing urban planning work? Yeah, you get to keep your look.

Carlton Reid 1:48
Yeah, this is why my good looks are still the same. Yeah, no, I completely agree that were the bad ones. We do deals with devils. And we continue to look wonderful. And if we’re going to be talking about a project of yours in a moment, but first of all, I’d like to come on to because people I’m sure will remember vividly that 2019 show we did with In fact, it was about bike share. So that can kind of like give people a clue because you had a bike share book out at that time, didn’t you? That’s what we’re talking about the last time bike. Yes. So how did that pan out? Are you still interested in Bike Share? What where’s your where’s your interests bubbling up right now?

Andy Boenau 2:34
My, the short answer is yes. I’m looking at an oversized poster on an old canvasses an old advertisement from some French magazine propaganda with a cartoonish woman on a bicycle. I still adore not only bicycles, but bicycling propaganda. My

Carlton Reid 2:57
Propaganda? Marketing?

Andy Boenau 3:01
I’m taking back the word I’m taking it back propaganda. Yes, because it’s messaging, like I want to find, I want to find people’s emotions, I want to hook people. Because we’re silly creatures, we like to think that we’re logical. And we’re in so many ways, we’re just not. And so whatever the thing is, whether it’s buying diapers for your newborn baby, or trying to figure out which bicycle is right for you, if you need to be able to connect with people, and so at its core, that’s what, that’s what I do. It’s that kind of messaging. And so my entire career 25 years has been in mobility or urban planning of some kind. And so I developed organically a strong bias for transportation systems where you can walk or ride a bicycle as ways to get around not only because it’s good for the air, good for the environment, those are happy accidents. And for me, anyway, I, I just I want to be able to get around and I want other people to be able to get around without having to be stuck with only one option being a personal vehicle. And so yeah, years ago, when you and I talked, I was working specifically with the bike share company, I was helping them grow out of just doing Bike Share operations at universities and become more of a shared mobility offering where fleets of electric vehicles will be connected, so scooters, bicycles, trikes, low speed, electric vehicles, that sort of thing. But my kind of Northstar and this is both for professional work that I get paid for but just also some fun things like street photography has to do with happy, healthy communities. I am a people watcher. I like to see happy people. I want people to be able to live in an environment wherever they are, whether it’s a city or a suburb, That doesn’t matter, but to be able to be healthy. And what really infuriates me is infrastructure that blocks most of us from choosing healthy habits like walking around here and there riding a bicycle here and there. But we

Carlton Reid 5:18
wouldn’t be right in thinking that you started your career in designing that exact kind of infrastructure. Now, have you kind of rebelled?

Andy Boenau 5:27
That’s a great question I because some would, if they if you just read my career arc on a piece of paper, you would say, Oh, he’s he’s a reformed traffic engineer, because I began my career as just doing traffic analysis. And in a sense, yes, I was, I was the bad guy. But, but I didn’t I don’t think I don’t think it’s that simplistic that traffic engineering, but the people in it are our ministers trying to destroy things around them. What I the reason why my career has taken the path that it that it has is, and what I think why it was different in certain groups that I worked alongside. I didn’t know when I started my career, what I wanted to do when I grew up, and I still don’t really know, I just know that I know, things that I enjoy doing. I know a handful of things that I’m decent at. And when I stack those up, it ends up being unique in this infrastructure, sort of business planning and design. And so as I was going through analysing traffic, for consulting firms, you know, doing these projects for city governments and counties and state DoD departments of transport, I just asked a lot of dumb questions like, Why do we do this? Why do we analyse that? Which options do I use as the default settings? And not not coming from some place of no it on this? I didn’t know. I didn’t know anything. And so all my questions, were always coming from a place of I want to be able to do my work, and pay the bills and not have like, not have to keep going back to my boss. And along the way, these questions kept being answered with forms of, well, this is the way we do it, just because that’s how it’s always been done. And that doesn’t stick well with me. And so I’ve I do like transportation and urban planning. And I’d like, like I said, I’m a people watcher. And so it’s interests me how people move through space. And so the questions that I asked, were never about, I’m going to append an industry or, you know, I’m just going to stick it to the man, I just thought, wow, these these basic assumptions about how we calculate and then put judgement values on how much time it takes people to get around. It’s not really, with the human being at the centre, it really is with the machine at the centre. And it is even hearing myself say it, it sounds silly, it sounds absurd. But that is the heart and soul of modern traffic analysis. And it’s, it’s kind of silly tonight. And so when you disk when you put it, you know, back to why I use the word propaganda or messaging on purpose, when you put these things in just plain language for people to understand how it is that we analyse how people get around, it sounds so bonkers, that you can’t think it’s possibly true. So a human being sitting in a vehicle waiting for say 60 seconds for a red light to turn green, that’s considered unacceptable delay. But if a human being that same human being is standing at the corner of the intersection, and they have to wait 60 seconds to cross the street, that’s considered totally fine. In fact, if they if that person standing wants to complain while they should walk to the next block and wait maybe there’s a shorter wait over there, like go five minutes out of your way or 10 minutes out of your way. So it’s that sort of thing when you

Carlton Reid 8:59
it kind of just kind of started kind of talking to that because before you then segue off into a different subject I don’t think I want to zero in because I’m gonna use your background here in what you were doing and exactly what you said that about the what we would call in the UK a traffic light a stoplight for pedestrians so it’s a conscious decision by the municipality by the traffic engineers at the end of the day to a certain and a certain amount of time for as you said the machine and a certain amount of time for the human so they are presumably doing that a consciously be using figures using data so or is it just a bias in that no, the car should have more time the motorists should have more time more time than the pedestrians. How is that bigger now that that timing?

Andy Boenau 9:57
It’s so there’s a lot in there So, before I tell you about, like how it’s figured out, I think one of the reasons why because this is probably also something in some people’s mind. Well, why would this be? Why would people consciously go along with it? Because yes, there are, there still are in the year 2023 human beings operating the software programmes to analyse traffic. And I think so much of this goes back to the education system where we are trained to conform, not trained to be intellectually curious. And if you challenge how things are done, just the act of challenging it is seen as a you’re now part of an out group, even if your goal is I want to understand how it is we do this so that I, the engineer, or the planner can do my job better. You’re, you’re expected to conform not only at the individual kind of and team level, but then also at corporate levels and local agency level, the municipality level people in these businesses are expected just to just go with the flow. how it’s calculated, is it’s an, it’s another one of those silly things where you if you were to tell a child, a 10 year old, they would say no, that can’t possibly be if there’s these tables that you refer to, to determine whether or not the delay at the stoplight or a stop sign is air quotes, acceptable or not. And they have this genius way of getting us to agree with acceptable and unacceptable, and that is using letter grades just like you got in school. And so A, B, C, D, F, everybody wants an A, and then everybody’s like, Well, maybe if you get a B, okay, maybe not everyone can be an A student, but at least I gotta be. But if you’re getting C’s and F’s, on your stuff, come on, you’re like, No, your parents are gonna start asking questions, right. And so if I’m regularly turning in work, that’s getting D’s and F’s, somebody’s gonna go wait. And he’s got problems here, he needs to get with the programme. That’s how they label intersection analysis. And so if a car only has to wait, you know, 10 seconds, 15 seconds, that’s good level of service, a so good grade, good job. If if the person sitting at the light in a car has to wait a whole whopping minute, that is unacceptable, F. And now if you’ve got an F, what are we going to do about it? Well, what can we do to get this grade up to a, we probably need more space for cars, not just to drive along a corridor, but to stack up at the front of the intersection so that when the light goes green, boom, they can all head off. And so that means of course, more lanes to get people to get cars closer to the front line. So it’s kind of like if you picture the NASCAR. I’m not a NASCAR fan, but like a car race where you have. So I got speaking in an area that I don’t know a lot about, I can picture the starting line, or even the finish line. If you imagine all of these cards next to each other. That’s the kind of thinking behind standard traffic analysis that if if you get a bad grade on your report card, then you need to make more space up at the front, so that you don’t have a queue of people waiting. And what happens when you do that is anybody else on any so any anybody sitting on the car on the side street, they’re having the same issue as the main street, or the High Street, they’ve got to have as little delay as possible. So pretty soon, you’ve got two left, turn lanes, multiple lanes going through, you’ve got a separate slip lane. To the right, I’m gonna have to reverse all these for people in countries where they turn on the wrong side of the road. And then, of course, as you expand the streets, in the intersections, if you’re walking, or riding a bicycle to get around. Now, not only do you have to wait a while for it to be your turn to cross the street. But once you start crossing, like forget the safety implications for a second, just the time it takes you to walk across all of that pavement is wild. So these two things he’s kind of human being on foot or or on a saddle and human being inside of a machine are treated very, very differently.

Carlton Reid 14:33
But isn’t that you described moto normativity? You’ve described carb reign, as some people like to call it but isn’t that 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s maybe thinking and the modern traffic engineer who came after you and the ones today you’re not thinking differently and then no longer using such such crazy? A car brain tables to work things out?

Andy Boenau 15:00
Ah, I wish that it was. So I, I wish that there was reform. I mean, the thing is, they’re each I think, each generation and then subgroups within generations, there’s, there’s some hope put in them that, oh, this group of people, they’ve learned this thing, they’re now enlightened, they will do better. But then what happens is they get to the workplace. And they have a mentor who reminds them either explicitly or implicitly. We’re about conformity, like, go with the flow, this is how we do things. It’s just the way it is, I wish things were different. But this is just the way it is. So all of these decades later, it’s no different. I remember, near the start of my career, there were some I would hear things occasionally, there would be somebody interviewed on something like NPR in the US, you know, public radio, kind of a niche interview with somebody who would have these ideas about a mixture of traffic, calming and livable places, and how great this could be, if we were to reform the transportation industry. And as I got into my career, I started hearing things like, well, younger people these days, you know, the on a Gen X or so the millennials coming up behind me, Millennials don’t care so much about car ownership, they’re more interested in the environment. And so there were these news stories that would pop up, that would suggest, hey, things are going to change, because the next generation, this next group of people coming in, when they get to the office, they’re going to be different. And it’s, it’s just not happening, whether or not they want to, so maybe they care differently about social issues or environmental issues than the people before them. But that doesn’t matter if they’re not putting their ideas into action. What still happens at the office is the same as it ever was, it’s land use rules. And in the United States, we have most of these things are local, local municipal rules that dictate where you can build different types of buildings, different types of land uses. So if you live in a house, you go over here, oh, you want a small house, okay, that’s a different zone, you need to go live in this zone. If you want to have a shop or a market, those belong in this zone over here. And so then the planners have all these rules that lead to car oriented roads, to connect all of those zones. And then you’ve got the traffic analysis that comes behind it and says, Okay, we’ve analysed all the traffic going between these zones, there, back to the letter, the letter grades, we’re not getting good enough grades, we need to add more infrastructure for the cars. And it’s just this never ending thing. Because I think a major part of it is this, this issue of conformity, it’s just, you just are supposed to go with the flow and not stop and say, Wait a second, if we are here to serve the public interest to to deliver infrastructure that is helping people, this thing that we’re doing this process is not helping. So is there a different process that would get to the outcome which we want, which is vibrant places, Healthy Places, safer places.

Carlton Reid 18:14
I want to give you an anecdote, actually. And that this is very personal to me. And when you’re making your point, I was kind of thinking of it and that was there’s a bike lane put in in my home city of Newcastle upon Tyne and it’s a very wide bike lane it’s in many ways it’s it’s a very good bike lane. But what it’s done is made my journey through into into Newcastle City Centre longer if I follow that protected bike lane, and that’s because the stoplight which they put in the middle where before I was in with the traffic and effect when I’m not being vehicle a cyclist about this, but before, there wasn’t a huge amount of traffic on this road anyway, because it’ll be filtered elsewhere. And but I would go with the traffic lights, and I would go reasonably fast now to put this protected bike lane in but at a at a at a junction, there’s like an hour for way perhaps even more stoplight where every thread to go through. So now as a cyclist, you’ve got to wait there for enormous amount of time to cross and then when that goes green, you know you’ve got like just a few seconds, whereas the motorists get loads of time, you know, they get like five, six cars, you know, they get maybe four times the amount of time as the poor cyclists get. So I now no longer use that world class superlative very expensive bike path. I will often use the the road just because the engineers the traffic engineers through their timings of this, these lights have made my transit through that area much much right now. They could if they want the reverse car Rain, they could make it longer for the motorists, and it could be, you know, super fast for the cyclists spending all that money on this great bike lane. And they just my point of view they’ve blown it.

Andy Boenau 20:11
Yeah, I’ve seen that sort of thing in the US also. And one of one of the common bits is, you’ll see, you’ll see things described as bike infrastructure. That is nothing at all. It’s the word infrastructure is just silly to apply there. It’s a stripe of paint on a road, that’s essentially a highway where motorists are going 55 miles an hour, and just right next to the elbow of somebody riding a bike. So you’re never going to a normal person, even a well abled adult is not going to ride there, let alone your wobbly children or wobbly senior citizens. It’s frustrating, because yes, we then if you want to ride a bicycle as transport, you end up finding a different route, even if it is circuitous. And it adds 10 or 15 minutes because you’d rather Arrive alive. And it gets I think it gets to the heart of this issue of why are you what’s the outcome of your traffic analysis and your road design? Is it safety is our number one priority, which many departments of transport or public works? That’s their slogan? Is that really your your mission? Or is your mission to make driving as convenient as possible? And I argue in practice, it’s like, it doesn’t matter what your policy says, if in practice, you are making driving the most convenient thing and not only driving but driving often fast or recklessly that’s that’s the real kicker.

Carlton Reid 21:49
Now on your website if you don’t mind me saying so it almost doesn’t read as though it’s you know, your transportation expert website yet, of course, you you have that on there and you have all your, your credentials, etc. But it’s talking about storytelling. It is almost as though this is like, you know, an actor or writers website. So you right at the top, it says create, distribute and amplify stories. And then you know, the the text below is storytelling, storytelling, storytelling. So why do you think you have to tell stories? And what are the stories that you’re, you’re trying to tell?

Andy Boenau 22:31
That’s a fantastic question. I love that. I learned through so this is this is a shift, since you and I last spoke were my, throughout my career working in planning or, or engineering for transport systems or for for downtown areas, you know, mixing, bicycling, and walking and transit and all those sorts of things. My work was project to project. So it was a specific thing like this corridor, we were, we are doing something on this particular corridor. And the last few years I’ve been freelancing, or as I say, Now storyteller for hire, and all but related to the built environment. But why it’s so important. The very, I’ll tell you briefly why it’s important. And then I’ll tell you how I discovered this. It’s important because that’s how human brains are wired. We I mean, I’m not the first person to say this. Many people have said, humans are Wired for Story, like go back to the cave days. Any point in human history, if it’s just a campfire, if it’s peers getting together, if it’s old friends, if it’s new friends, whatever. Whenever people congregate to or more. We tell each other stories, even if it’s just an itty bitty story. Or if you’re me and you tell a long winded one. That’s how we communicate we we talk to each other. We convey information through anecdotes, we don’t just simply list facts. And that’s it, we’re done. We, and it’s especially true. If we’re trying to persuade someone, then then we absolutely have to integrate stories because that’s what makes somebody turn their head and go, Wait a second what I need to hear more about that, either because they’re delighted by something or they’re outraged by something, or they’re hopeful about something or whatever the emotion is, that kind of stuff comes out of storytelling. So I discovered this because I happened to enjoy advertising. I was fascinated by propaganda campaigns of World War Two from all of the countries that were involved because it’s interesting in the sense that simple things like posters with slogans and and illustrations, were moving people to action of some kind. And this is not only true for war time, but those just happened to get so much attention that it’s easy for people to pictures Don’t think in their mind like, oh yeah, I’ve seen those before. But the same is true or was true for, like, cigarette advertising. Things like four out of five doctors recommend Camel cigarettes. You know, things like that, like, whatever the product is, people who make stuff and need to sell stuff, they understand how to tell stories to get people’s buy, in that case buying behaviour to alter, or how you think about a particular issue or a social issue. So I was trying, as I was learning about that stuff, I was applying it to my technical work. So if I was helping to write a proposal for a traffic study, or in a downtown master plan, you know, long range plan about how you deal with the land use, I started incorporating that kind of storytelling that I was learning about, into the proposal into cover letters into how I did slide design, and it kept working. And I know it was working, because I would ask or go to meetings after we would when when these contracts, and ask questions, so that I could be better the next time. And I

Carlton Reid 26:11
ended up far better for me. Sorry for stopping a bit far be it for me to poopoo that idea. But does this not also say that anecdote beats data. So you can be a traffic engineer, for instance, let’s just say, who’s got this great set of data on for instance, a low traffic neighbourhood and how what we have in the UK, and how you restrict cars. With 21st century traffic engineering, thinking, you then reduce congestion and you improve air, you’ve got the data that says that, however, members that public with anecdote say no, it’s not like that my life has been made hell. So the storytelling, actually Trump’s actuality. So do you not see that storytelling is potentially have problems, you could be spinning lies here, Andy, by using your excellent storytelling techniques when you should be using hard data. So how do you square that circle?

Andy Boenau 27:20
It’s the you’re right, in the sense that any anything’s possible. I mean, the fact that humans are able to speak is wonderful and terrible at the same time. I mean, I’ve joked that I’m an extrovert. And we extroverts think that everything that comes out of our mouth is important. That’s not great. So on the one hand, yes, anything could come out. But I compare this, when I’m when I’m talking about stories, and, and data. I compare this to the voting booth. So if you were to if two different people who played politics, go into a voting booth, and they’re given a piece of paper that has the the same, the same piece of paper, a list of 10 indisputable facts, and they’re asked based on these 10 indisputable facts, which politician is going to serve us better. And these two people will pull different levers. And they’re both convinced that their person, their team is going to address these indisputable facts in the better way. So that’s one way that I connect that idea of data and stories. The other is it’s not I’m not suggesting that people just spin stories without any data. The trick is using data to tell stories. If you what’s really fun, though, I mean, I find I take sick pleasure in trolling people who don’t do this. But if somebody if you catch somebody, like a road designer, or a traffic engineer, or somebody from the planning department, who is making a claim, without data, they see you, you know, they don’t really know what they’re talking about, then it’s extra fun, because you can take what you know to be true. And make some excellent stories. And when I say story, I that is not equivalent to lies that is just simply a narrative. It’s some kind of there’s a beginning middle end, there’s a conflict, there’s a resolution you know, that’s what I mean, when I say story. You you are going to be the most effective when you take some facts and then do something with it. So for example, like one simple thing with with traffic safety in the US. I know and this is it’s it’s not exact every single year, but about 100 Americans are killed in traffic every single day. So that’s that is a stat statistic. I can use that in different ways and in different stories, or another one would be Our local governments, in their zoning rules that dictate where you can live where you can shop, where you do all the different things like they’re very when you look at those, those rules, they’re very rigid. And so if I look at that, I can take a fact. Like, you’re not you’re only allowed to have a certain type of home here. And I can say something true from that data, which is, this is interesting. You outlaw townhouses, or I don’t know, maybe you call it row homes, but narrow attached homes, like a lot, a lot of places in America, outlaw those, when you tell someone that it sounds so ridiculous, it can’t possibly be true. It is true. But if I don’t put it in a way that hooks them that catches them that makes them go, Wait a second, what? It’s illegal to have a townhouse? Well, yes, in a whole lot of areas, it is illegal to have a townhouse. So that’s, that’s the kind of way that I say, use data to tell stories.

Carlton Reid 31:04
Okay, yeah, so I wasn’t saying you can pay using stories. And I appreciate you kind of like, you know, you can use stories for for good, of course, you can, as you say, you know, humans have have use stories forever in a day to get across their point of view, and whether that’s a politician, or in fact, a storyteller. Now, after the break, we’re going to talk about white collar epidemic. But right now let’s go across to David for a brief intermission.

David Bernstein 31:34
Hello, everyone. This is David from the Fredcast. And of course, the spokesmen. And I’m here once again, to tell you that this podcast is brought to you by Tern bicycles, the good people at Tern build bikes that make it easier for you to replace car trips with bike trips. Part of that is being committed to designing useful bikes that are also fun to ride. But an even greater priority for Tern, is to make sure that your ride is safe, and worryfree. And that’s why Tern works with industry leading third party testing labs like E FB, E, and builds it bikes around Bosch ebike systems, which are UL certified for both electric and fire safety. So before you even zip off on your Tern, fully loaded, perhaps with a loved one behind, you can be sure that the bike has been tested to handle the extra stresses on the frame, and the rigours of the road. For more information, visit to learn more. And now, back to the spokesmen.

Carlton Reid 32:44
Thanks, David. And we’re back with Andy Boenau. And we are going to be talking about White Collar Epidemic which is Andy’s forthcoming project. But first of all, I want to go backwards, not not to what we were talking about before the break nd but the awards that you’ve won. So this this white colour epidemic is a proposed film. But first of all, tell me about your previous films, because I see on your on your website, your storytelling website, where it says you’ve 2013 2014 and 2015, you won awards for short films at the New Urbanism Film Festival. So what what were those three films,

Andy Boenau 33:24
those were walk, don’t walk, streets, floatation, and war on congestion. All three were short as I would call them, my documentaries, where I was making up true stories like we were just talking about. Having come out of the World of Traffic Analysis and transportation planning and traffic safety. I know how things are done. I like I know how projects go from start to finish. And so it frustrates me how they move. And so I took that and put it in short film version. So that first one walked don’t walk was essentially that’s what really got me excited about doing these kinds of projects because I realised there aren’t people, especially not that long ago, talking about these issues of how we move around in space, how we use public space in a way that normies would pick up on and understand we were so used to using jargon, like intersection level of service and functional classification. And even even with urban planning, well meaning people like walkability, this is a term I use, there are terms like that, that they get used so much that it becomes almost wallpaper that’s just in the room, and you you kind of forget about it. And so I wanted to take some of these ideas, where I know there’s a problem out there, and it’s gonna get worse unless we intervene. But wait, there is a way to intervene and things can get better in the end because I know I’m I am an intern No optimist, but I know I’m right things can get better in the end.

Carlton Reid 35:04
So we’ve established that you’re wondering how long they’re short films, by the way, how short? Well,

Andy Boenau 35:11
there are between, I think each of them is between 11 and 15 minutes. I think the longest one is 14. Okay.

Carlton Reid 35:18
So they’re not like, you know, Instagram short, they’re not like one minute, they are 1015 minute documentaries. Now, the one that you’ve got your crowdfunding for now, white collar epidemic tool, we’ll start talking about how long do you think that one’s going to be? Is it gonna be longer? Or is that going to be like another 15? minute one,

Andy Boenau 35:36
it’ll be a solid hour. And in fact, at first, I was thinking maybe 70 or 80 minutes, but then I’ve been, I’ve been getting some advice from other filmmakers more much more established filmmakers. And that’s where I settled on an hour is probably the sweet spot from those advisors. And it’s, in part because there’s just so much to pack in. I was, I was talking with a journalist yesterday about this, that there are so many smaller personal story arcs that I’m finding that this, I think long term really needs to be a series. It whether you know how that ends up coming to fruition, I’m not sure yet. But I know what I can control right now. And that is make a one hour long documentary. And so that’s where I find myself and it’s still, this one is different for me, because it’s bringing in an industry that I am not an expert, I don’t have expertise in I do on the infrastructure side, of course, but this is linking to things, infrastructure, and health. And the premise came out of just this. I mean, there were a few things happening a few years ago. And as I was jotting notes in my my personal idea book, I put something I wrote something down to the effect of a doctor prescribes walking, but the patient is unable to fill the prescription. And that note to myself was because I was I was reading articles and blogs that people were sending me about doctors in the United States who were doing just that they were writing prescriptions, but instead of pills, it was for Active Living, it was take a walk once a day, or ride a bicycle once a week. But if you’re in the States, most most of us whether it’s a city or a county, that doesn’t matter. Most people in America, if they get that prescription, and they walk outside of the doctor’s office, and they look at the street, or the the network around them, they go, how can I possibly fill this prescription? There’s no way. So a doctor is going to tell you riding a bike will help treat your anxiety and your depression. But good luck. Yeah, you can’t you can’t do what he’s saying. So doctors no and this, this is what the title might change. But tentatively, this is where it came from. That healthy activity is prohibited by design. So you’ve got on the one hand, this one group of white collar professionals, the medical community, where they’re saying, This is what’s good are these things are good for the human mind. And the human body, and, you know, has to do with movement and getting around interacting with other people being social, they know what’s good for us, then you have this other group of white collar professionals, highly educated. That’s the infrastructure community, they’re saying, nice, try not gonna get it. It gets back to what you’re describing before, even if they do something like put down a white stripe and say, That’s a bike lane. Now, nobody’s using it because it’s, it’s just awful. And so by design, infrastructure does not fit, healthy activity, healthy living or active living. So that’s, that’s kind of the rub. So I want this to be focused on that on highlighting that conflict to show people. There’s a lot that can be done to improve mental health and physical health. But there’s something blocking and it’s not just a something, it’s an entire profession of very smart, well educated people. And it’s, it’s I mean, it’s kind of it’s crushing. It’s so I know the physical types of physical impacts that I already knew about with infrastructure with things like doing traffic safety work for years, crash injuries, and so car on car crashes car on bike, car, and pedestrian, like I understand that very well in terms of physical health. What I’ve been learning a lot about and realising I just had no idea how bad things were. is things like the top 10 causes of death in America. Can all Trump adequately be reduced by active living. So it’s not like going to the gym necessarily and pumping iron and running on a treadmill and then going back home with that, that could be fine. But just it doesn’t even have to be that intense. And so in the US, we have things like, one in two Americans has a chronic disease, and the numbers keep going up. But I think it’s one in three are obese right now. And then something that doctors have been studying for, I think this is going on 25 years, where people who do not live in a neighbourhood that’s walkable as in they can easily walk to say, a market or, or a pharmacy, or

Carlton Reid 40:43
a minute cities. And

Andy Boenau 40:45
there we go, there we go. We’ll be extra controversial and say, people who don’t live in the 15 Minute cities, they’re trapped. The flip would be if they have to take a car everywhere. Those people have higher rates of obesity, higher rates of heart disease, and diabetes, and then and a bunch of other ailments. And so that kind of like the beginning of my career, when I was just asking dumb questions like, why is this? Why do we do this, learning these things about just physical health was jarring to me. Because, sure, it makes sense that if you move around, you won’t, you won’t gain as much weight. But the extent of your body’s damage by not having regular movement was was pretty eye opening to me. And then also, the other thing that I would say, that was really eye opening was just how strongly the connections are between humans being active and their mental wellness. So anxiety and depression are by far the big ones. But then also, other things that are are harder to pinpoint, like cognitive decline, or creativity. They they’ve been researching that. This is to show when people are moving around when they’re active, they’re way more likely for their brains to stay intact for far longer than if they’re just seated and alone and isolated. And it’s not the doctors have answered why behind all of that. But they do know this correlation that these things happen together, that when people are stuck in a car dependent area, they are more likely to experience these bad things. And so that’s why I say like, we hear headlines every year about infrastructure is crumbling. infrastructure is crumbling. And I’m saying that’s only the first part of the sentence the full sentences infrastructure is crumbling our minds and bodies

Carlton Reid 42:42
so in on the you say that infrastructure programmers bodies on the the YouTube video that’s on your your, your your seat and spark pitch there. But under the third one down the third line down it says watch the quest to legalise healthy neighbourhoods, what do you mean by legalise healthy neighbourhoods.

Andy Boenau 43:02
So that’s, that’s part of the storytelling based on data. So in the United States, we have local land use rules for this is this is generally true, where it’s not usually the state level, that tells you how exactly a neighbourhood has to be designed. But at the local level, we have these rules. For example, like I mentioned to you about townhouses where townhouses are often outlawed. Another example would be, you’re not allowed to have a front yard business. So let’s say you have a garage next year, you could be in a single family dwelling, this is not about living in a SkyRise in Manhattan or something like that just in a normal in a normal neighbourhood, you’re not allowed to just have a garage converted to a barber shop, or a nail salon or a tax accountant, you know, something like that. It’s whatever it is, you’re just you’re not allowed, it’s illegal to mix the business with the residential. It’s illegal in in most of these places to have a corner market. So you end up having to drive to the grocery store or to the market. You can’t just walk a block or a couple of blocks to the market, or restaurants or pubs. You can’t have those in neighbourhoods, it’s outlawed by local land use rules. And so what I’m pushing on you I’m using those, that language very intentionally, I want to deliberately remind people, this is not accident. This is not an accidental circumstance that we find ourselves like, Oh, if only our forefathers had thought ahead and developed mixed use neighbourhoods. Now this is active rules that are still on the books today that prevent you from living in a place where you could walk to these things. It’s that’s how I want to legal as in this is part of the What I hope is the outcome of this film is highlighting for people, this huge problem of how infrastructure and health are currently going at each other like they’re in conflict. And I want people to see, there are ways at the local level to make things better. So this is not about who’s president of the United States, or even who your state senators are, this is at the local level, if you make enough noise, you can make change. And so that’s what I want. I’m not this is not about preaching at people, that they should always ride their bike everywhere, even though I think the bike is a wonderful tool to get around. This is about highlighting a conflict that has not yet been talked about in the documentary format.

Carlton Reid 45:47
And when when this documentary comes out this over an hour or adventure series, where’s it going to be distributed? How are you going to be this is like film festivals, where do you see it being broadcast?

Andy Boenau 46:00
It’ll be a, that’s a yes. And as they say, it’s, I want it to be as widely distributed as possible. So I’m going to be if I can raise enough funding for the film festival entries, the more that I’m able to raise the more festivals that I will, I will put it in. But then also, just old fashioned networking, I’m gonna, once it’s done, I’m gonna reach out to as many people in my network about this regularly about this, find some influential people who can help amplify. And then of course, some of the folks that have already volunteered to contribute to it are fantastic people. I mean, they’re, they’re loaded with information on their own.

Carlton Reid 46:47
I’ve seen the list, it’s a good list. And so Chris Bruntlett who’s been on the show, of course, with his wife, who’s Dutch cycling embassy, in Vancouver? Yeah, there’s a whole bunch of stuff. So these are these in the can? Or the are you going to be going to these people, how many of these interviews have you done and how many are still to be done?

Andy Boenau 47:10
They’re, they’re fantastic people. And I’ve had I call, I call the pre interviews with all of them. So we re recorded with every so every person listed on the website, I’ve done a short recording with, because there’s, they have a couple of areas of not just bias, but perspective about some of these, some of the areas that enter that, that are involved in this conflict of health and infrastructure. And I’m not, I wasn’t asking any one of them to be the overall an overarching expert in this issue. But they all bring something very important. So the reason why I have so many people in here is I know that there are so many potential ways that this kind of main storyline of the documentary can go. I also know that 20 different people, that’s I can’t have 20 different storylines, that’s just going to be overwhelming. So I don’t know for sure what the final stories are going to be. So when part of the crowd funding for this, this film is to make it possible for me to as I narrow down the stories, which is one of the things I’m doing right now, to then be able to go in person and do what what you would say, is a traditional kind of in house interview format, with the lean team that I’ve got. So that’s that’s the plan. But all of these folks were and there are even more who have since said that they want to be able to contribute in some way. But we haven’t we haven’t gotten them on film. But it’s it’s fascinating to me that there are so many people who are both in health and an infrastructure. As soon as I give them the pitch of this just this idea that a doctor prescribes healthy activity that another group says Cool story, bro, you can’t get that. It hits them quickly. They’re like yes, that’s true. And yet the industry as a whole is just not budging and and I think a lot of it just goes back to how we’re siloed in different areas like traffic safety is one silo and land use planning is another silo and architecture and cognitive design that an assessment works on that’s another silo. And they don’t interact with each other. They don’t have they’re not incentivized to interact with each other. And, and so because of that, we the human being that just wants to get around, we suffer the consequences.

Carlton Reid 49:47
So this you’re using, and this is a platform I’m not familiar with, because I’ve used Kickstarter in the past seed and spark. So that’s like Kickstarter. Yeah, but do you do you Get your money. Even if you don’t reach the total because of Kickstarter, if you don’t hit your total, you don’t get any money. So how does this one how to seed and spark work?

Andy Boenau 50:10
Seed and spark is very similar to Kickstarter or Indiegogo. It was made specifically for filmmakers. And so years ago, I had done something with Kickstarter. This is one where you need to raise 80% of your goal before it’s greenlit. I’m optimistic that we’ll be able to get there. But it is one of those things like you’ve got to get the vast majority 80% is what you need to get, which for this project is about $10,000. So the goal, the overall goal for this is $12,000, which includes all the production, travel, the interviews, all that kind of stuff, the in person stuff and then be rolled along with some of these stories that are coming out. So this is going through the month of June, we’ve got 21 days left As of recording, so about three weeks. And then and then we’ll we’ll see where we stand. And then once once we get to the end of this, crowdfunding assuming that it’s successful, I’ll be I’ll be well on my way to scheduling FaceTime with these great folks. And then also adding in some, some local stories in in a couple of cities were not people, they aren’t experts in their field. They’re just people who have been on the receiving end of unhealthy infrastructure. And those stories need to be told. So

Carlton Reid 51:35
this is seed and The URL is way too long to actually say this on air. But basically you search for either your name or probably easier because your name is quite difficult to spell.

Andy Boenau 51:48
It’s my forefathers. So I made a slight colour epidemic. You can search for that you could also go to

Carlton Reid 52:01
Thanks to Andy Boenau there and thanks to you for listening to Episode 330 of the spokesmen podcast brought to you as always in association with turn bicycles shownotes and more can be found at the hyphen The next episode features the Midwest correspondent for The Economist, Daniel Knowles. We talk about his new book, Carmageddon. But meanwhile, get out there and ride

June 5, 2023 / / Blog

5th June 2023

The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

EPISODE 329: Hilltrek’s revival of a 1950s cycling jacket: the Greenspot

SPONSOR: Tern Bicycles

HOST: Carlton Reid

GUESTS: Dave Shand and Daniel Odermatt

TOPICS: Hilltrek’s revival of a 1950s cycling jacket: the Greenspot


Carlton Reid 0:13
Welcome to Episode 329 of the spokesmen cycling podcast. The show was engineered on Monday, fifth of June 2023.

David Bernstein 0:28
The spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast is brought to you by Tern bicycles. The good people at Tern are committed to building bikes that are useful enough to ride every day, and dependable enough to carry the people you love. In other words, they make the kinds of bikes that they want to ride. Tern has e-bikes for every type of rider. Whether you’re commuting, taking your kids to school or even carrying another adult, visit That’s t e r n to learn more.

Carlton Reid 1:03
I’m Carlton Reid. And on today’s show, I’m talking cycling history with Dave Shand and Daniel Odermatt. Dave’s company Hilltrek makes the Greenspot cycle jacket, a revival, a classic revival, from the 1950s and Daniel works with Ventile, which supplies the historically-resonant fabric. Dave and Daniel here and Dave, you’re in Scotland, Daniel, you’re in Switzerland. So Dave first whereabouts in Scotland? Well, I

Dave Shand 1:37
I am actually on the west coast of Scotland in a place called … is where I stay, but our businesses in the northeast of Scotland in the Cairngorms National Park

Carlton Reid 1:49
both beautiful areas and then I know that Daniel is in Zurich at the moment that right Daniel?

Daniel Odermatt 1:54
That’s correct. Yes at the borders of the lake of Zurich. Exactly.

Carlton Reid 2:00
Beautiful. So both of you got reasonably good and easy access to mountains. I’m in Newcastle and it’s a way for me to get to mountains but let’s talk about first of all Hilltrek because Dave that’s that’s who you work for when when you’re not where you are right now. So Hilltek clearly is making garments for hill walkers that kind of clue is in the name to how come you’re now doing or you have been doing for a few years a cycling garment. How did how did that come about?

Dave Shand 2:31
We started we started off a bit 40 years ago making garments for hillwalkers. But But that changed the developed through time. So we know make garments for cyclists, bushcraft people, bird watchers, hunters, I think the clue the clue is really in the fabric we use rather than our origins as hillwalkers if you like, and we still make garments for hillwalkers…. We’re a big Ventile user though.

Carlton Reid 3:03
Yeah. Because that’s Daniel that’s that’s that’s where you’re speaking to me from from Zurich, as many people may be confused with that because you know, Ventile is is often marketed to in labels, you know, developed in Britain, that kind of stuff. And is as it has this amazing English British that pedigree. But it’s a Swiss company now. Yes?

Daniel Odermatt 3:28
That’s correct. That’s correct. Yep. The reason is, because in the 70s or 80s of the last century, so there was a deindustrialization of the cotton industry especially so the spinners and weavers they started to disappear in in, in Manchester area where it was woven this fabric. So these people went to they came to Switzerland, first of all, also for the finishers. So they’ve been looking for finishes who can finish that fabric, because there is a lot of know how. So then that’s that was the first step when we started to shift to know how from England to to Switzerland, to finish the fabrics. Later on Stotz took over this idea and they started weaving, spinning and weaving this fabric also. And then little by little we had the full know how here. And at the same time in England, all these companies started to close down business. And then that’s where actually From that moment we produce that fabric in Switzerland. back five years ago, we have bought the brands lentil from Talbot weaving there was only one person left Mr. Mark Burrows has sold us the brand. And now so we are the producer and the owner of the rental brands.

Carlton Reid 4:56
Now, this is gonna be a history I mean, we have talked about the history of Ventile, Dave, but there’s also a history here for Hilltrek, and not just what you know, the 40 years, Dave, but also the fact that you’re making in effect, a replica jacket, a famous replica jacket from the 1950s from Bertram Dudley. Yeah. So tell me about that 1950s history and whether you’ve got to ride a steel bike, and you’ve got a, you know, Eroica. And the kind of the heritage that surrounds this product.

Dave Shand 5:31
Yeah, you’re right there. It has a famous heritage. The company was about to Dudley run in the Midlands, and they made jackets for all sorts of uses. And one of the jackets was, was the new mud jacket and the supernova jacket. And I think originally, they probably made that for golf, golfing use, but the cyclists began to use it. And it became really well known amongst cyclists. And you’re right, you know, amongst the traditional, what we would regard most traditional cyclists but, but that was the only tradition then if you like in the 1950s. So Beltrame, Dudley, the chap owned Bertram Dudley decided to retire I think, sometime in the 90s. And we were approached in the late 90s by a local customer in Aberdeen to see if we could make a green sport jacket, or green sport no been jacket.

Carlton Reid 6:32
I’ve done my research. That’s Paul Kohn.

Dave Shand 6:34
That’s one yes, yes. All right. Good. Yeah. Yep.

Carlton Reid 6:38
So he approached you and said, You’ve got to make this jacket because it’s, it’s fantastic. Is that Is that where it came from? And you just, you able to just you bought the rights to it, or you just did you know,

Dave Shand 6:48
we looked at the design, we didn’t actually make a replica of the original design, we took the design and adapted it for what we thought we could do. And for what we thought cyclists would would want it that you know, and in the late 90s, early 2000s So but actually, we made it I think in 2015 We made a green spot heritage jacket, which is more like the original green spot

Carlton Reid 7:19
and who’s buying it. I know it’s hard sometimes hard for you to answer that because anybody can be buying it but your gut feeling who is buying this jacket is it is it. If you buy a carbon bike you just can’t ride this jacket is what’s what’s the customer profile? Who’s buying

Dave Shand 7:38
what the customer profile think you hit the nail on the head earlier, the customer profile is largely those who like to write traditional bikes but we also have half cyclists who like to do you know long rides and unlike protected from the weather. So you know, somebody somebody’s doing a day cycle and a carbon bike probably wouldn’t buy a jacket but somebody you know, cycling over several weeks over the northwest of Scotland probably would.

Carlton Reid 8:19
So let’s let’s talk about let’s go back to Daniel and let’s because this is this is the history of event tile is it’s slightly disputed history. But let’s let’s go into what’s say well known about the history so 1943 Surely Institute in Manchester, which is like a cotton research organisation. It’s then meant to be abused in RAF emergency food, so hurricane pilot ditching into the, into the North Atlantic would then be rescued because the fabric was meant to go close up and and become waterproof when it got wet. So that’s the traditional history. How much of that would we say is is correct, Daniel?

Daniel Odermatt 9:07
Oh, that’s almost 100% I would have described it exactly as you did. So there’s no nothing more to add to that. Still, until today we produce that original fabric that was developed by the Sherman Institute in 1943, or Winton in mass production in 1943. It was developed a bit earlier. So still discovery we produce. That’s the 300 gramme the heaviest one of that classic line. And we we developed then lighter ones, like two underground 120 on the 70 gramme, even on the 45 gramme and they all have that same characteristics of waterproofness and all the work like the original one, they swell when in contact with water, and then the the pores they close completely Under bought the fabric gets waterproof.

Carlton Reid 10:03
Does that not make if I’m saying I’m a lightweight nylon jacket kind of person normally and yes, you sweat in them. But this jacket if if our customer will come back we said, well hang on that that’s gonna get awfully heavy. If it’s if it’s in effect absorbing the water and swelling, does that not make it a much much heavier jacket when it’s actually raining?

Daniel Odermatt 10:28
Yeah, that’s a very good question actually. But the fabric is, is evolving in a such a dense way. There is not much water that can penetrate through the fabric, there’s just it’s rather humidity. And, believe me or not, the fabric takes less than 10% of weight when it’s after ditching into the water after being into water. So that that’s not much at all. It also dries very quickly because it doesn’t take doesn’t take a lot of water.

Carlton Reid 11:01
And it’s one of the characteristics that’s really important here is ultra ultra breathable.

Daniel Odermatt 11:07
Definitely because it’s 100% cotton and cotton always briefers the fabric is not coated, it’s just the DWR impregnator Is the impregnation on it in order to make it water repellent. Without that the fibres they would soak, then it will take more humidity definitely or more water, it will absorb more.

Carlton Reid 11:29
And how long does that DWR treatment last,

Daniel Odermatt 11:32
though we have changed almost three years ago now from PFC six to total PFC free DWR PFC free nobody wants to have it anymore, we want to avoid that harmful substance. And, but this lead led also to a less it’s less durable actually that DWR. So after, after two, three washes, or after a while of wearing it, it wears off a bit so that you just can re impregnated and you will have the same characteristic as from the beginning.

Carlton Reid 12:09
So Dave, when when when I was doing the research for this, you can get you know, original Bertram Dudley, jackets made out of Ben dial in this particular you know, the Nomad. They’re like my collective gifts, and they clearly last a long time. So is that again, that’s something that inbuilt with this product is. It’s tough. It’s weatherproof, you know, what Daniel was saying? But it’s also there’s, there’s almost like, you’re gonna hand this down to your children, your grandchild? And this is, these are items that are going to not be they’re not disposable.

Dave Shand 12:44
No. And, you know, we have a lot of customers who, maybe not maybe not necessarily site cyclists, because you don’t get the same abrasion, for example, as a Bushcrafter. That would with his jacket, you know, but we get, you know, people like Bush crafters and hunters that go come back to us after 10 years wanting us to refurb the jacket. And, you know, they’ll keep it for another 10 years. In fact, we have one customer who’s who’s been in for three different refurbs over over 50 years for the same jacket. But to incite cycling, there’s less there’s obviously less abrasion. And and so it does last a long time. You know, people do hunting jackets on to on to siblings,

Carlton Reid 13:32
and it has you can always use this jacket without a rucksack and without even pannier bags perhaps because there’s lots of pockets. There’s pockets and every single place you can imagine having the pockets.

Dave Shand 13:44
Yes, loads of pockets to store stuff. Absolutely. And I think that’s one of the beauties of this jacket. And that’s what probably made it very popular in the late 50s

Carlton Reid 13:56
and then when it was in the 1950s and it was in its heyday as you said before it was like your that was a jacket. It wasn’t a jacket for a specific kind of cyclists which it is today. So were the people who are buying your jacket where are they getting it from? Are you are you in any shops or is this something that you kind of need you’re gonna have to be online only. Yeah, we

Dave Shand 14:20
are online only we do have we do have one or two outlets but not have the cycle jacket. We’ve we’ve got some outlets and the bushcraft and in hillwalking but not many but for the green sport. Yeah, sadly you have to come directly to us.

Carlton Reid 14:39
That’s not sadly that’s you get exactly what you want. You can put a hood on it you want it you can put in absolutely yeah, it’s if you’re getting a custom steel by, you know you’d get a custom Hill track jacket. Not sadly at all. Yeah. Daniel, let’s come across to you again. We’re talking before about before we We can we started recording this about other brands who use bento and I’m assuming they use it. Some of them like the stone Island was one of your biggest sellers. They’re using it the mental as as a heritage brand as an interesting with English kind of backstory. They’re not using it for I’m assuming here you can tell me they’re not using it for the performance characteristics they just liking it as a quintessentially English developed fabric. Would that be right?

Daniel Odermatt 15:35
Yeah, actually, they don’t play that much with that history. Their brand is so strong stone is such a strong brand. So they don’t want to be the fabric to be the star actually, their own brand is the star but they were rich, they chose the best fabric on the market. And they’re really I asked them also I met them several times. I asked them also why did they choose winter which is not the cheapest fabrics of all but they really wanted the best one and it’s because of the performance they ran they love the performance they play on that one the performance and they love also the feel and the it’s a bit stiff the fabric but still feels very cotton like so that’s exactly what they were attracted

Carlton Reid 16:19
well I make all my apologies there I thought stone island would have been doing it not so much for the performance characteristics okay, I stand I stand corrected there’s another name for for for vent tile. And that was developed by in partnership with with Carol marketing who’s in Newcastle here PR company and marketing company here in Newcastle. And they that they helped him it was good 1520 years ago, they helped develop a product it was called ether proof. Yes.

Daniel Odermatt 16:56
That’s correct. What?

Carlton Reid 16:57
What’s What’s it is um I’m pronouncing it wrong here at approve eater proof. How do you pronounce that?

Daniel Odermatt 17:02
I pronounce it as a proof you pronounce that’s mostly right. Yeah.

Carlton Reid 17:07
But if you’ve got if you if you have a product and it says at approve, is it the same as Ben Tyler’s at different event title what’s what’s the what’s the how’s it joined together or not joined together?

Daniel Odermatt 17:17
Alright, is joined together definitely. Because as I told with the history when the production was moved and shifted to Switzerland, so we produced pantile for the British Mark for the English market. Actually, we produced it for Talbot weaving, who sold it worldwide under the brand Venton. But we also wanted to sell or to build up our own brand. So Staats that’s the company who was producing who’s the owner of rental nowadays. Starts created a brand it’s a proof and it’s an effect that is 100% the same these are identical fabrics.

Carlton Reid 17:55
Okay. And then so who Why would somebody use as a proof and somebody use Ben tile what’s

Daniel Odermatt 18:01
it’s just, it’s a it’s a marketing it’s a brand so some of the customers they they started with a top roof so they don’t want to change the brand. Now even though when tile is the stronger brand better known. A few customer they still stick to the waterproof branch. But it is less and less I have to say so one day it will maybe disappear.

Carlton Reid 18:24
Right? Because then tile is more known

Daniel Odermatt 18:29
is the original one it is but much that unknown and holds the rich story that whole story belongs to Ben time at approvals just a little brother.

Carlton Reid 18:40
So tell me about Staats because we’re about if you’re in Zurich, we’re about to start where the actual manufacturing,

Daniel Odermatt 18:46
we’re manufacturing before we have been spinning and weaving and finish time finishing all in Switzerland, unfortunately also here to happen. So the last spinner, they had to close down couple of years back. Our last independent Weaver we’ve been working so close with they had to close down during Corona times unfortunately, and almost 200 years old company, reverse company. So then we had to look for other Weaver’s they are based nowadays in, in Italy, in Turkey, Egypt and Austria. That’s these are our partners for the weaving nowadays. Still be the thing we die and finish the fabric in Switzerland that that our warehouse

Carlton Reid 19:37
is incredibly International. So the this this product is going around and it’s travelling product.

Daniel Odermatt 19:44
Not that much. We really try we don’t we don’t want to Vivid it would be much cheaper to do all the steps in Asia for example we really don’t want so it’s it’s not that far Italy. That’s like three hours from here. By car via you can see our Italian vivre. The Austrian one is even less one hour and a half. So it’s still as close as possible.

Carlton Reid 20:09
And Dave, and if if somebody was going on your website and and ordered all the bells and whistles, and an order the hood and I’m guessing the hood is relatively not ordered much. Cyclists tend to you know, not have heard them over I’m assuming Well, you certainly you can, you can normally take her dog, you know, detachable hoods. But if somebody was if somebody genuinely was taking every single option, how much how much is the most expensive? No man, but you can you can you can buy off you.

Dave Shand 20:43
Oh my goodness, that is a good question. And you you’re testing me. The other version, we also have an organic vento version, which I’m sure Daniel will explain. Which is also a bit more costly.

So I think probably, maybe around a bit 450

is probably the most expensive. And the heritage is slightly slightly more expensive. It’s because you have the the the small design differences and the fiddly things we have to do for the heritage jacket. But you’re right, in terms of of cyclists, they will tend to order without the hood, but some cyclists will wear it for for walking as well. So you know, they’ll they’ll order the food with it for further uses.

Carlton Reid 21:33
Yes, and then just take it off. And then when they’re cycling, they just take it off. Yep. Back, I can understand that. So tell me sell it to me, why is it so expensive? Because that is that is that is expensive. So why is it so expensive? Yeah,

Dave Shand 21:48
I think there’s a couple of things. Daniel touched on it earlier, the fabric itself is quite expensive. You know, compared to other fabrics, we could we could produce the green spot and another fabric fabric and the jacket would be cheaper. The the other cost is the fact that we manufacture in the UK, we have our own small factory, I call it a workshop, it’s not large enough to be a factory. So we, you know, we produce it using people we have worked with for, you know, 1015 years, 20 years. So, and that’s costly, employing people in the UK. And, and it takes time. The skills required to use Intel to make products out of Intel are not all that easily acquired, you know, it takes probably two years to train up somebody to make a green sport jacket. You can’t just take somebody off the street, and within a few months, they can do it. So that it is costly. And so hence hence the price.

Carlton Reid 23:07
Yes, no, and I’m not I’m not being critical here. I’m just saying you try and try and sell it to me as a customer. Why is it expensive. But I

Dave Shand 23:17
think the other thing is customization. If we if we produced all the jackets with the same spec, we could we could batch produce. But once you introduce customization, you make smaller volumes of the same product. And that is cost. So this

Carlton Reid 23:38
is probably a product that you can’t just click it and get it the next day, it might take a while before it can be made.

Dave Shand 23:45
Yeah, typically, typically, our delivery is eight weeks, we do carry some stock. But we have such a variation in you know, in product specs, including customization, we don’t carry much stock. So it would typically take eight weeks to from order to delivery.

Carlton Reid 24:03
So again, that’s something that you’ve got to be a specific kind of customer. You have to be you know, I’m going to be wet for the next eight weeks because I’m not, I’ve got my I haven’t got my Hill track jacket. So you’re having to think ahead here. That’s that’s also a very specific kind of customer here.

Dave Shand 24:23
I think that’s a big problem. You know, people, people will think, you know, it’s getting cold out, it’s getting wet out, I’ll go and see if I can order a green spot that is a challenge, you know, and then eight weeks to get it and then you know, they might decide to order one in the middle of the season and then both teams get it. It’s,

Carlton Reid 24:44
it’s a bit more but before we came on air, I was thinking we’re gonna be talking about in effect, a cold wet weather jacket in a very warm spell that we’re having in the UK here. Going into the summer, but what you’re saying is it’s probably Best to actually talk about it now because it’s gonna take yes you know yeah so almost into the past the son of the boy you get it anyway but in

Dave Shand 25:07
saying that we also produce a single Vendel green spot and we produce a cycling jieli which are used this time a year. So the single Vento is a windproof essentially, and the GLA is obviously windproof with loads of pockets also.

Carlton Reid 25:26
Kathy Do you know which colours are the most popular was cyclists?

Dave Shand 25:34
A that’s a good question. I would say Orange is a pretty popular colour. Because traditional

Carlton Reid 25:45
we’ll be putting glaze on a very nice dark colour will be traditional. Yeah, so the originals were probably grey black, maybe dark blue. So you’ve modernised it by having different brighter colours. Yeah, we

Dave Shand 25:58
yeah, we offer a range of colours. You know, oddly enough green is is very popular. So not all of green. But yeah, black, black and grey we sell a lot of

Carlton Reid 26:15
because you know that the person who’s going out you know, a high vis jacket is probably not the kind of customer here so you can imagine somebody will be buying a darker colour if they’re going a bit more traditional and if they’re running a steel bike and they’re gonna be happy you’re not having you know, a dayglo colour here with with lots of knots. You haven’t got his lots and lots of reflective striping. You haven’t got anything like really heavy?

Dave Shand 26:42
Nope, not at all. I think one of the reasons for that this is

the I think event held event or jacket you know, the the life cycle of things like like a reflective strips is less than that of an event L so, you know, they would probably degrade first. And the jacket wouldn’t look good. So that’s why we wouldn’t set in the original use reflective material jackets

Carlton Reid 27:15
obviously wouldn’t have used Velcro that have used precedents for the for that.

Dave Shand 27:21
Yeah, press starts. Yep, yep. Yep. I think luckily the use of velcro I’ve got an old green spot probably from the 19 1980s 1990s. And that’s that’s got Velcro, got some Velcro on it. It’s it’s also garbled been lined. So event outside gasoline inside. Okay, so in effect, it was a single Ventile jacket, rather than double Vendel.

Carlton Reid 27:50
Okay. Thank you ever so much for talking about that the history of a particular jacket that will be as we’ve kind of identified will be a particular kind of customer. But that particular kind of customer is going to be absolutely going bananas over this kind of product. I know that because I’m I’m a member of the veterans cycle club and I know exactly the people who this is cool. So Dave, I’m gonna come to you first. If you can tell people kind of give you a company website, basically where they can get more information about this product. And then I’m going to come to Daniel, I’m gonna ask him the same thing. But Dave, you take it away, where can you get? He’ll track stuff.

Dave Shand 28:31
Okay, so our website is health easily reached. And we are based in a small town called aboyne and northeast of Scotland, right on the edge of the Cairngorm National Park, a beautiful place to come and visit us back to

Carlton Reid 28:47
say, yeah, that’s beautiful. So did customers come to you and say that you’ve got a online only? Or are you do welcome

Dave Shand 28:55
customers? No, no, we have a small shop. People pop in. And I’m the they talk to the people who make the jackets and design the jackets. And that’s where some of the product changes come from people walking in and saying, I really liked this idea. What do you guys think of it? And we say oh, yeah, that’s interesting. So we will incorporate it.

Carlton Reid 29:19
And Daniel, how can we find out about Ben tile?

Daniel Odermatt 29:23
The best thing is to go when there’s tonnes of information. There’s also a contact button and then you reach me directly. So I’m getting inquiries via this way via our website.

Carlton Reid 29:39
Before the end credits. Here’s David.

David Bernstein 29:41
Hello, everyone. This is David from the Fredcast and of course the spokesmen. And I’m here once again to tell you that this podcast is brought to you by Tern bicycles. The good people at Tern build bikes that make it easier for you to replace car trips with bike trips. Part of that is being committed to designing useful bikes that are also fun to ride, but an even greater priority for turn is to make sure that your ride is safe and worryfree and that’s why Tern works with industry leading third party testing labs like E FB E, and builds it bikes around Bosch ebike systems which are UL certified for both electric and fire safety. So, before you even zip off on your Tern, fully loaded and perhaps with the loved one behind, you can be sure that the bike has been tested to handle the extra stresses on the frame and the rigours of the road. For more information visit to learn more. And now, back to the spokesmen.

Carlton Reid 30:52
Thanks to Dave Shand. And Daniel odermatt there and thanks to you for listening to Episode 329 of the spokesman podcast brought to you in association with turn bicycles shownotes and more can be found at the hyphen The next episode featured American transportation expert Andy Boneau, and we’ll be out in the middle of June. But meanwhile, get out there and ride