Author: Carlton

January 25, 2021 / / Blog

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Monday 25th January 2021

The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

EPISODE 265: Desert Skies, Warm Showers and Church Bells

SPONSOR: Jenson USA

HOST: Carlton Reid

GUESTS: Donna Tocci and Sylva Florence

TOPICS: Solo cycle touring. Donna and Carlton chat with Sylva who — among many other bike trips — rode solo from Berkeley, California to St. Augustine, Florida on Adventure Cycling’s Southern Tier Route. Carlton was in Newcastle, Donna was in Boston and Sylva was in — as you will hear thanks to some melodious bells — a small town in Italy.

LINKS:

Sylva’s website: The Sylva Lining

Sylva on Instagram

Warm Showers hosting

“Penny” — Sylva’s bike, a Dahon Tournado

“Dirty South”

242km Tour des Stations, Switzerland

Everesting

Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge

Carlton’s Kickstarter tips for crowdsourcing a book or other projects

Our show sponsor: Jenson USA

TRANSCRIPT:

Carlton Reid 0:13
Welcome to episode 265 of the Spokesmen Cycling Podcast. This show was published on Monday 25th January 2021

David Bernstein 0:24
The Spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast is brought to you by Jenson USA, where you’ll always find a great selection of products at amazing prices with unparalleled customer service. For more information, just go to Jensonusa.com/thespokesmen. Hey everybody, it’s David from the Fredcast cycling podcast at www.Fredcast.com. I’m one of the hosts and producers of the Spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast. For shownotes links and all sorts of other information please visit our website at www.the-spokesmen.com. And now, here are the spokesmen.

Carlton Reid 1:08
I’ve got a good mic but have yet to fully soundproof my home office so if you listen carefully you may be able to hear, as the white noise beneath my voice, birdsong and the distant rumble of traffic but later in this not-quite-an-hour-long show you won’t be craning your neck to hear a wonderfully different smattering of extraneous audio. I’m Carlton Reid and on this episode of the Spokesmen podcast you’re going to hear — for a wee while at least — some Italian church bells. They’re the sweet sweet background noise that comes as a package with my guest Sylva Florence who’s an American living in a small Italian town near Bologna. Joining me to quiz Sylva about her solo cycle touring is show stalwart Donna Tocci.

Carlton Reid 2:03
Hi to everybody. It’s another recording of the Spokesmen. It really isn’t the men today. It’s it’s the spokes people very much. And I’m outnumbered In fact, very happily to say I’m very outnumbered. We’ve got one guest who is a regular, who you’ll have heard many, many times over many, many years. I can’t say how many years but a good number of years. And then we’ve got a complete newbie to the show. So that person who is the old hand, but I haven’t talked to for ages. I’m afraid to say it is Donna, Donna Tocci over in Massachusetts.

Donna Tocci 2:40
Hi, everybody. I don’t know this old you said old like five times. And I’m not really sure that what that means. But yes, Carlton and I have known each other for a very long time.

Carlton Reid 2:52
It’s not so old that you can get a vaccination that we know you

Donna Tocci 2:57
No, I’m not that old. And we haven’t known each other that long. But yes, Hi, everybody. I’m so excited. I thought we would do more spokesmen, you know, with everything going on in the world and everybody being in their home, but we haven’t. So it’s really great to be back

Donna Tocci 3:12
with us. I know that’s so cool.

Carlton Reid 3:16
To be fair, and to give an explanation that is just still so difficult to get everybody you know, it’s herding cats stuff, it’s getting everybody in the same place at the same time, even though every is in the same place.

Carlton Reid 3:29
By by law almost. It’s still difficult to track people down. So Hi there, Donna, it’s good to hear you again. And the new guest who who we want to bring in today and who we’re gonna kind of like semi interrogate is Sylva Florence, hi Sylva.

Carlton Reid 3:48
You’re American, but you’re not in America.

Sylva Florence 3:51
No, I’ve been living in Italy now for almost three years.

Carlton Reid 3:54
So why Why are you in Italy? And where are you in Italy?

Sylva Florence 3:59
I am very close to Bologna so northern North Central Italy, but I’m in a town called Faenza, which nobody knows about. And most people confuse with the, with Florence — Fiorenze —, which is more more known.

Sylva Florence 4:16
I came here first in 2009 to be a cycle tour leader. But it was always kind of like

Sylva Florence 4:25
seasonal work. And I kept going back and forth but I had something that kept pulling me back to Italy. So eventually I decided okay, it’s time I’m gonna come here and study language and and try and stay so

Sylva Florence 4:39
I’ve been here about almost three years in May now.

Carlton Reid 4:43
And which which companies, if any, we are actually doing bike tours for?

Sylva Florence 4:48
The company is called Experience Plus, and our clients are mostly Americans, Canadians, some, some Brits and some Australians, but largely English speaking people.

Sylva Florence 5:00
So, obviously in the last year, we didn’t have anything we had no seasons. So

Sylva Florence 5:07
yeah, yeah, but I do like a lot of English speaking people over here in Italy, I do a lot of things. So I’m very fortunate that I’ve been able to still kind of

Sylva Florence 5:18
make ends meet even though I haven’t had any, any bike touring over the last year.

Carlton Reid 5:23
So we are gonna be talking very much bike touring so so Sylva got in touch with me and gave me her backstory, which is fascinating about that the cycle touring, which will go on to, but I’m now going to drop Donna in here and just say, you know, drop her in it really is have you done any cycle touring Donna? Have you read any cycle touring? What is your connection to cycle touring, so if any?

Donna Tocci 5:46
Sylva is my new connection to cycle touring

Donna Tocci 5:54
and she’s in Italy, so when we can travel again, I am all on board. But I love I can totally understand the pull of Italy. Obviously, my last name means that I have an Italian heritage. So I was wondering, actually, I would like nothing better than to tour around Italy. Um, that would be wonderful. But no, I do not have any prior cycle touring experience, but very happy to hear about it and learn about it. And

Carlton Reid 6:25
let’s go to Italy. Well, let’s let’s get your Italian background then. So how far back is your, your heritage there? Ms Tocci?

Donna Tocci 6:35
Um, my great grandfather and great grandmother both were from Italy. So not that far back and down near in Naples.

Carlton Reid 6:46
And

Carlton Reid 6:48
and have you been Do you do do you go back and have you been back?

Donna Tocci 6:51
No, I have I have only been to Italy once I am sorry to say it was actually on a press tour for Kryptonite. So there we go with the mic but and and we were we’re in a couple of different cities but then spent the weekend up at Lake Garda for there was happened to be a mountain bike festival up there at the time, and went up there and hung out with mountain bikers for the weekend. And yeah, it was beautiful. I mean, I it’s always been on my list to go back and especially go back to that area.

Sylva Florence 7:22
It’s beautiful.

Carlton Reid 7:22
So for sure. So one of the theories that many people are touting and certainly in the tourism sector is that there’s going to be such an aptitude for travel, after these lockdowns have finished and that could be travelling all sorts of different forms, including bicycles, but certainly people are going to be wanting to get out of their four walls. And, and travel. So don’t Is that something you are? Definitely, if you’re thinking about that right now? Yes, we are absolutely thinking about the first place we will go.

Donna Tocci 8:01
When we’re done. And I think for us, it will be it won’t be Italy, unfortunately. But fortunately, it will probably be Ireland because my better half.

Donna Tocci 8:10
And the bigger cyclist in this family is from Ireland originally. And his family is there. So we will probably go there first.

Carlton Reid 8:20
You might be racing your president.

Donna Tocci 8:23
What’s that?

Carlton Reid 8:24
You might be racing your new president because he’s he’s got Irish ancestry and he looks like he’s gonna be going to Ireland pretty soon.

Donna Tocci 8:31
He does. I know. I’ve seen that and a cycling president. Well, yeah. But with the the big controversy now is is peloton in the White House.

Sylva Florence 8:42
See what happens?

Donna Tocci 8:43
I know.

Donna Tocci 8:46
Yeah. Yeah. So where will you go, Carlton?

Carlton Reid 8:51
Uh, I don’t know. I mean, I have got a very, very hard cycling ride to do in the Swiss Alps in August. So touchwood I can get out there but not touchwood. It’s going to be absolutely brutal. It’s basically every tough climb in Switzerland. 280 miles or something [NOPE – 240kms] . It’s just crazy. So hard to do it and then half of me doesn’t want to do it, because it’s a tough one.

Carlton Reid 9:23
But yeah, that’s that’s that’s kind of like what my goal is to maybe get to Switzerland. So so that even though you’re now living, and you have lived in Faenxa near Bologna, for three years, you’ve done some cycle touring, and you went across America. So when when did you do that? That that trip?

Sylva Florence 9:44
So I did that trip. I started in October of 2017. And I ended in February of 2018. And that was the longest cycling trip, second bike touring trip that I’ve done alone.

Sylva Florence 10:00
But I have done other ones alone. And I’ve done other bike tours in other parts of the world. But that one was particularly important because it was one that I did by myself across America. You did all by yourself no support vehicle or anything? No, it’s just me how, yeah, just me

Carlton Reid 10:21
in what kind of accommodation at night times.

Sylva Florence 10:24
So I brought a tent and I bought a stove and I bought everything. So I had, I was very self sufficient. I was able to stop wherever I wanted more or less,

Sylva Florence 10:34
which I did for about the first month.

Sylva Florence 10:38
But then it obviously because it was over the winter, even though I was going, I went from

Sylva Florence 10:44
Berkeley, California to Florida, so it was very far south. But we still had a little bit of winter weather I ran into like a blizzard in Louisiana, which was incredibly strange, and not normal at all.

Sylva Florence 10:59
But I ended up using the Warm Showers network a lot. Are you guys familiar with that?

Donna Tocci 11:04
No.

Carlton Reid 11:05
Donna is not. I am but you explain it. I’ll tell you why I’m familiar with it in a second.

Sylva Florence 11:11
Yeah, because you ‘ve bike toured too I think I read right, Carlton?

Carlton Reid 11:17
Many, many years ago in a previous life when Warm Showers did not exist. fantastic to be able to hook up. The internet didn’t exist when when I was cycle touring.

Carlton Reid 11:28
Computers had only just been invented, you know, it’s like

Sylva Florence 11:34
Hey, bike touring his bike touring no matter how you do it. So for sure. So yeah, it’s a warm shower. Isn’t it really cute. Thank you. Yeah, but basically warm showers is like, if anybody knows couchsurfing.

Sylva Florence 11:47
It’s very similar to couchsurfing. And that it’s a hospitality based website, which people offer for free their homes and you never know like, maybe you’re going to be putting a tent up in their backyard, maybe you’re going to be sleeping on their couch, maybe if they have an extra room, you can sleep in a bed. And then like the name suggests, you’ll get a hot shower. And then part of the culture is that usually you share dinner together or and or breakfast. And so you get to know the people that you stay with, which is really cool. You feel like you’ve walked into a family or something. So I use warm showers a lot and it was a really enriched my my trip. It was it was a really beautiful part of it.

Carlton Reid 12:31
I know why people use it but alone woman using it. Do you have any extra worries when you’re you’re hooking up with somebody? Or you’re thinking ‘I’ve got to go with a couple I can’t be going with this …. You know, do you have an antenna for thinking ‘I’m not going to go to that one. I’m gonna go to this one’. How do you cope? That I wouldn’t have to think about these things. But But I’m presuming you you would have to sadly.

Sylva Florence 12:55
Yeah, it’s true. It’s a little bit different for a woman still, unfortunately, I’m just kind of the way the world is. But honestly, it’s not as scary and dangerous as everybody thinks like them the 95% of the experiences and the people that I met were positive and were helpful and curious and wanted to in some way help me out.

Donna Tocci 13:19
But as far as warm showers,

Donna Tocci 13:22
I’d lucky or we’re all lucky because there’s kind of

Donna Tocci 13:25
a system in place. So when somebody stays with you, you leave them a review, and vice versa. So I could go on to these profiles of people I would hope to stay with and I could read reviews about them. And if they didn’t have any reviews, maybe I would choose a different one.

Carlton Reid 13:44
For example, that had so it’s kind of like Airbnb, but you’re not you’re you’re not paying for it. This is given gratis. And then I’m presuming that’s bells in the backgroun. And it’s not your strange

Donna Tocci 13:55
I love that.

Sylva Florence 13:56
Oh, that’s my house.

Sylva Florence 13:59
Can you hear that?

Carlton Reid 14:01
Yeah, totally cute. I mean, normally we say can you turn your phone off? You’ve got strange Italian

Carlton Reid 14:06
bell ringing as your your your ringtone is like no, no, no, that’s, that’s where you live. That’s cute.

Sylva Florence 14:11
I didn’t even notice because it happens like several times a day. I live like very close to a church. So beautiful. Yeah, yeah, it’s nice. I like it to actually kind of like a nice soundtrack to my life.

Carlton Reid 14:25
And how often do they go off? Are they you know, that soundtrack to your life is how frequent?

Sylva Florence 14:30
Well if you’ll notice right now it’s it’s 5.18pm so they go off at really weird times. Like actually my neighbour and I laugh about it because it’s never it’s never on the hour like on the quarter hour it’s always like a weird time so it’s it’s Sunday though so they go off maybe like three times a day on Sundays.

Carlton Reid 14:49
There’s something I’m presuming it’s religious then it’s like as in not a time thing is like taking you to Vespers or something I don’t I’m not religious.

Sylva Florence 14:56
I don’t know but I don’t know either cuz I’m not religious.

Donna Tocci 15:00
I feel like yeah, I feel like it’s connected. Because it’s Sunday. So, yeah, strange time.

Donna Tocci 15:05
5.18? I mean, that’s just an odd. It’s not like five o’clock or even 5.15 or 5.30.

Sylva Florence 15:13
I mean, I feel like there’s something about like six o’clock. So maybe it’s like, go quick get your coffee because you’re Italian and then go to Vespers.

Sylva Florence 15:24
I love living here. Yeah.

Carlton Reid 15:27
So it’s still going on. So it’s quite,

Donna Tocci 15:31
it will go for a while.

Donna Tocci 15:34
So, Carlton, have you done any bike touring around the US, like when you were here for maybe Interbike, or Sea Otter or anything like that?

Carlton Reid 15:43
Yeah, for many, many years, well, every time I came, I’d always try and fit in a bike tour. So sometimes I’d hire a car. So I’ve done a lot of desert trips. So I would hire and get out somewhere, getting a bike out, do some trips around, then getting the car go somewhere else when I was connected to, to

Carlton Reid 16:03
the kind of the schedule of doing trade shows, but even before that, I would now this is now in the 1980s. So he’s now dating me very much. So then I would fly in, and I would just do American deserts and spend a month. So every every

Carlton Reid 16:20
university holiday I had, after I’d already I’d already spent two years cycling around, and and just doing stuff on a bike somewhere in the world, generally in the Middle East. And then when I went to university, I then spend one month, every year, somewhere exotic, and it would either be the Sahara

Carlton Reid 16:41
or I then went to the Kalahari Desert. And then I decided to do some of the American deserts so so went out and spent time doing solo bike touring, or sometimes with an Israeli friend In fact, who I had who we did the

Carlton Reid 17:01
we went into Mexico and so did some of the the deserts that part of the loss I’m very much a desert cycle tourist. That’s what I like the best is, is getting really dusty.

Sylva Florence 17:12
Deserts awesome. Why do you like it?

Donna Tocci 17:14
Yeah, why?

Carlton Reid 17:17
I’m, I’m British, I get rained on a lot.

Carlton Reid 17:24
Going for the opposite. Let’s go somewhere the opposite to where I am. Okay, deserts.

Carlton Reid 17:30
I just I just absolutely loved, literally getting dusty.

Carlton Reid 17:36
riding along. So I’ve done lots and lots of deserts in my time and even took so that’s why my son Josh, that’s why he then graduate become a cycle tourist. So we used to do some pretty adventurous trips, including to Iceland. So Iceland, you might think of as a like a snowy, you know, ice place, but it’s actually the biggest desert in Europe, in that there’s no there’s no rainfall, very little rainfall at certain times of the year. And enormous expanses have in effect volcanic sand. So Iceland is a is a place we went to, and spent time in with my son. So in fact, teaching him desert

Carlton Reid 18:21
survival techniques, even though it wasn’t a hot desert, it was a cold desert. But I would go to the deserts wherever they are. Even now.

Sylva Florence 18:31
They’re pretty awesome. There’s something about the desert, like there’s like a silence in the desert that you find, especially at night that I’ve never found anywhere else. I guess

Carlton Reid 18:40
Yes. So I’m looking at this guy as well, the sky, it tends to be amazing in deserts. Obviously not going to get clouds. And so you just lie back and I’d lie back in the Sahara and literally the Sahara and I’m in a in a sleeping bag. And just look at the amazing amazing sky which I’ve never seen anywhere else apart. You know the desert you just see just masses of stars. It’s just incredible.

Carlton Reid 19:07
Anyway,

Donna Tocci 19:08
no, I would think you would have to prepare very differently for a desert tour rather than what Silva did. You know, going from coast to coast. I mean, where there’s a tonne of cars and people and all of that what would be the differences in preparing?

Sylva Florence 19:28
Well actually went through the desert through from from Eastern California until until midway through Texas was all desert pretty much. So

Carlton Reid 19:41
cute. Nice service stations. So you can just pull in and getting a coffee and a donut in in the middle of the desert, which is just kind of cool.

Donna Tocci 19:53
Did you find that a healthy way

Donna Tocci 19:59
when you’re cycling

Donna Tocci 20:00
You need a lot of calories. So it’s true. And caffeine never hurts.

Carlton Reid 20:05
And I found that American deserts were less populated than deserts elsewhere in the world. So Kalahari, the Sahara, there’s, there’s probably habitation every 5 or 10 miles. Whereas in an American desert, it’s literally how far you can get in a car.

Sylva Florence 20:24
You know, that actually devastations would be, actually, so I was I went, because most when you cycle as you know, you don’t take the main routes, because they’re traffic up. And maybe not. Because when usually when you travel you, you look to kind of enjoy what you’re going through. Like, some people do want to ride as much as they can in one day. But I’m, I’m not necessarily one of those people. I tried to cover some distance if I can, but I really like to also enjoy what I’m going through. And the route that I followed took me away from interstates unless there was no other road, sometimes I had to read on an interstate. But the the towns were actually about maybe 100 kilometres 60 miles spaced apart, because it was where the train used to stop. Mm hmm. So So between those those 60 mile 100 kilometre points, there was absolutely nothing. And some and sometimes it was there was a town on the map, but it wasn’t actually a town, it was like a ghost town.

Donna Tocci 21:29
And so you really had to think about water, you really had to think about carrying water, enough water for the day or even the night if you’re going to camp or something or you didn’t know. And really getting, I asked a lot of people because sometimes there was like a faucet maybe behind like the library or the post office or something. So I could fill up water. But other than that there was nothing. So it was it was logistically interesting for sure. Now

Donna Tocci 22:02
what what’s that? I’m sorry, sorry. Go ahead. Carlton.

Carlton Reid 22:06
Donna said How did you plan the route? And my question was about clothing through a few different climate zones. So how are you planning? Were you jettison clothing and mailing it back? Or do you carry everything? So planning and clothing?

Sylva Florence 22:20
So okay, so for planning, I started in Berkeley, where my brother lives, and I rode to San Diego. And then I followed what’s called the Southern Tier Route, which is the American cycling associations route that they’ve kind of already come up with. And it’s, like, well known enough in in cycling culture, I guess. So they give you the route, but they don’t tell you where to stop. So you have to you have to figure it out on your own, where you’re going to stop where you want to stay that kind of thing. So, after a while, I kind of just got into a pattern where I was contacting warmshowers hosts on the road ahead of me, maybe, because I discovered that they appreciated you know, a few days to a week of notice. So I tried to contact them with some notice if I could, and I was also contacting churches and fire stations and police stations to ask them if I could camp or stay

Donna Tocci 23:20
there, too, to save money because it was almost a five month trip. Um, and then as far as, as clothing and things that I brought, I brought everything because I started in October and I finished in mid February and so I kind of needed I needed everything honestly.

Donna Tocci 23:41
When I started in in California, I was dealing with heat waves, like over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, which I think is like 35 maybe Celsius.

Donna Tocci 23:54
And then when I got to Louisiana, I had a blizzard. So I needed everything and had absolutely everything. So I carried it all with me but luckily having done this for many years I have kind of accumulated a lot of the gear so I’m very lucky. Like I had everything that I needed light like gear. So

Carlton Reid 24:17
you’ve told us why you started in Berkeley because your brother Why did you end in Louisiana?

Sylva Florence 24:24
I ended in Florida,

Carlton Reid 24:26
Florida, Florida sorry Florida. Why did you end in Florida?

Sylva Florence 24:28
No problem. Um, because that because I was going coast to coast. I was going from the the Pacific to the Atlantic basically. And I was I was following this already more or less established route even though I went off of it a few times, which started in San Diego and ended in St. Augustine, Florida. So I basically just followed it until the end till till Florida.

Carlton Reid 24:54
Mm hmm.

Donna Tocci 24:56
It’s something I always wanted to do this this Southern Tier trip.

Carlton Reid 25:03
I don’t want to get too rude here and you can, Americans can absolutely stop me here if you say you can’t say these sort of things, but

Carlton Reid 25:12
it’s the states you are going through are very rudely called flyover states. Yeah. And and are you gonna stop me here now? Or should I

Carlton Reid 25:23
pick on flyover states for a reason? Whereas, you know, obviously, people go from one, one American coast to the American coast, and then don’t go in to the hinterland. And in elearning, see the comments we’re gonna get for this. Go ahead. Well, especially where I’m going with this. So the hinterland

Carlton Reid 25:47
also has a reputation for certain kind of politics. When you were going through, did you see any massive changes in politics and how you were treated? Why? I don’t know how you can skirt around these things, or whether you even never saw any of this, because because it just didn’t come up. But describe how, where I’m going here and what you think I’m talking about, and how the political how people view politics can maybe even change how they view a stranger coming into their midst?

Donna Tocci 26:28
Or a cyclist. I mean, we all know that, in, in every part of the world, there are folks that are very accommodating to cyclists, and that there are other parts that are very much not. So did you encounter any of that as well?

Donna Tocci 26:47
These are very interesting questions. And actually, Yeah, seriously, we’re not answer. So no, I’m happy to. Okay. So I, when I wrote in, I told Carlton that I wrote a book about this trip. So I bought a wrote a book while while I was writing across the United States, which I’m now trying to pitch to editors and things and decide what I want to do with it. But I talk about this kind of stuff, because, for example, like going into the Dirty South, as we call it, like it’s not, it’s not necessarily a place that people think would be like, Hey, I would love to go like ride my bike through

Donna Tocci 27:26
the Dirty South because there’s not, in general, a lot of infrastructure for cycling, and for cyclists. And when you ride through some of these areas, and I didn’t even really understand it. So I’m really grateful to have experienced this so that I understand my own country better our own country. But when you go into the south east, and in particular places, for example, like Baton Rouge, which I wrote through

Donna Tocci 27:55
a bicycle is kind of seen a bicycle as seen as either maybe like, not not probably by everyone, I’m generalising but as a as a rich person sport, or as something that people do when they when they’re really poor, and they can’t afford a car.

Donna Tocci 28:14
And so I was kind of like, in the middle of this so like a weird like, what what in the world is this girl doing? You know? So they were I have a lot of problems with traffic and had a lot of people with not not giving me space, like really brushing me very close. Like a few times, I was almost knocked off the road and things like that.

Donna Tocci 28:35
But I think it wasn’t it wasn’t a point of like them trying to be mean or aggressive. It was more like they just didn’t understand where I fit into the scheme of things. Like I wasn’t, I wasn’t a super poor person. And I wasn’t like somebody on a fancy road bike. I was like this weird girl going through with a pirate flag and bags. Because I had a pirate flag on my bike. Hired flag I found it on the side of the road in eastern California and I just like couldn’t help myself. I I flew it all the way to Florida. So the Kenny Chesney fans would love that.

Donna Tocci 29:09
It was the pirate ship and my back was the pirate ship.

Carlton Reid 29:14
Tell me about your bike. What kind of bike are you talking about here?

Sylva Florence 29:19
Well, I’m one of those weird people who likes to name everything. So her name is Penny because she’s the colour of like a penny. A US one cent

Sylva Florence 29:30
and it’s a it’s a Richey bike but it was like Richey made it for Dahon the the brand Dahon but it’s a Richey. It’s a Ritchey Tournardo basically. And it’s coupled so it comes apart and you can put it into a suitcase. Basically, it’s made for this kind of stuff. Thank you, Richey.

Carlton Reid 29:50
Is that the s&s couplings. It’s that that thing?

Sylva Florence 29:52
Yeah, yeah. Mm hmm. And then like the brake cables come apart and it’s got it’s like suitcase and

Donna Tocci 30:01
I carry like a collapsible cloth bag which I had my brother send me from Berkeley and I had him send it to my warm shower hosts in St. Augustine so that I could bring it to a bike shop and have them put it helped me put it into a bag, but you’ve got to like take a cardboard box apart and make a sort of an internal frame for the for the box. It’s a bit involved, but you can do it.

Carlton Reid 30:27
And then you old school with like panniers, do you have a trailer or are you like new school in that it’s bike packing.

Sylva Florence 30:36
I’m I’m a little bit half and half I guess because I’ve done bike packing. And so I’ve got what’s called a sweet roll which I absolutely love for my handlebars where I put my tent and my fuel and a couple other things. And then I have panniers on the back.

Sylva Florence 30:52
And I often also use a front rack with panniers but it broken right before the trip and I didn’t have time to to buy a new one and get it all figured out. So I’m I guess I’m like middle school.

Carlton Reid 31:05
I’m older. Yeah. Yeah. Whatever works, really? And is that bike, the collapsible bike, something you’re still riding is that your like your go to bike.

Donna Tocci 31:17
I brought it over here to Italy. And actually after the first after the lockdown that we had that ended in June, I rode

Donna Tocci 31:26
18 days, I think by myself from where I live to very southern Tuscany. So I use that bike as well. So yeah, it’s it’s still in action.

Carlton Reid 31:37
A pretty flexible machine that if you can take it apart, that’s a good bike to bring with you from America into Italy. Exactly. Yeah, exactly. So it’s very much in use. I have I have four bikes, if I’m going to be honest. So

Sylva Florence 31:53
with you that just in life in general. With me now with me now. I have four bicycles.

Donna Tocci 32:00
Every bike person has more than one.

Sylva Florence 32:03
Brava. So I would say yes.

Donna Tocci 32:08
So I have a question, Sylva. So you did this all by yourself, which is amazing. And Awesome.

Sylva Florence 32:15
Thank you.

Donna Tocci 32:17
Did you know where you were going to end? And did you have to some days because I’m sure some days it was like, Yes, this is fantastic. I love this. And other days were probably a little bit of a slog like, okay, I just want to get through the miles today. Did you did you use any visualisation to like, I know exactly where I’m going to end? Or did you not know where you’re going, and you just knew you were going to end on the coast of Florida?

Donna Tocci 32:44
Well, because I was followiong this route to St. Augustine, Florida, I knew that I was going to end there. And honestly, I didn’t. I didn’t want to stop riding. When I arrived in St. Augustine, I was so happy with bike touring and, and just the feeling of being on the road and being so free to an autonomous will all the stuff that I had, I would have loved to continue. But by that point, while riding, I had already planned my move to Italy. So I kind of had to return to my parents house or had my stuff in the interim and start getting my visa and everything together to move to Italy. So

Carlton Reid 33:26
I suppose Yeah, maybe maybe I’m wrong here Donna. But maybe the question was a daily thing, even though you had your your your eventual

Carlton Reid 33:35
target. Did you know each day where you were going to stop? Like was it just literally you just rode until you stopped? Was that? Would that be right? Donna?

Donna Tocci 33:44
That’s kind of the question. I’m kind of how you’d write every day. But how do you motivate? How did you get that motivation every day to go out on the days that were hard? Because there have been some days where you were sore? Or you just kind of didn’t feel it?

Donna Tocci 34:00
Maybe? I mean, in five months, there’s had to have been a couple of days that were not your favourite. So did you do any visualisation? Or did you just say no, I just kind of grit through it and got to do it.

Donna Tocci 34:14
I think I don’t know. I think it’s probably a bit of both. I’m really a very stubborn person. And I’m, I’m rather determined. And so when I when I see something that I want to do even I’m not entirely sure how I’m going to do it or figure it out. I kind of keep looking at that and saying I’m going to do that. And so there were definitely some days that were really rough like I had had a lot of I mean as any long bike tour anybody that ever goes on a long bike tour, there’s all sorts of things that happen to you. I had back problems I had blizzards, landslides, heat waves, knee problems, like everything imaginable, which is kind of normal and but

Donna Tocci 35:00
For me, it actually became kind of a joy to, to problem solve and to say, Okay, I’ve got this problem, but how am I going to figure it out? And then, like not seeing it more as, as a problem or as like a fun challenge or something? And definitely there were some days where I was like, What am I doing this is so stupid. But then the next day would be completely different. Or some or I would meet somebody that would just pick my spirits up in like a second.

Donna Tocci 35:32
It was, I don’t know, bike touring is is one of those things that it’s like, incredibly hard, but it’s also really rewarding. And so by the time you get to the end, you look at the whole thing as being something more rewarding than it was punishing or hard.

Donna Tocci 35:50
Because you’re changing. Sorry. So do you feel like your 18 days to Tuscany was like, going around the corner for milk?

Donna Tocci 36:03
I mean, actually, at the end of that, too, I didn’t want to stop either. But I had some bureaucratic stuff. I had to come back and go to the police, that deals with immigration, so

Sylva Florence 36:18
but my friends were laughing at me because I could have just gone the easy way. And I could have, like, not climbed like 1000 metres a day, but I chose a route in which I really pushed myself and climbed a lot. So I made it not necessarily very easy for myself, but it was incredible.

Donna Tocci 36:39
So you and Carlton with the mountains?

Sylva Florence 36:42
Carlton, you like to climb too?

Carlton Reid 36:45
Yeah, that’s my favourite. My favourite is climbing bags on so yeah, it’s nice to go up in a nice you know, incredibly light, light road bike, but it’s also really nice to go up with really heavy bags.

Carlton Reid 37:00
Sharing you and and and cars to be stopping and, and that kind of stuff. So that that’s also cool.

Carlton Reid 37:09
No, you go first Donna,

Donna Tocci 37:11
I might have missed it, Carlton, how long is your event in the summer in Switzerland?

Carlton Reid 37:18
Well, that’s a one day thing. So that’s 280 miles in a day over every single mountain. So that’s why I was going Oh, it’s not it’s a tough one. Wow. Cool. Yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s the tourist action, if you go over every

Carlton Reid 37:36
Swiss ski resort, in effect in the summer, and it’s an interesting thing as well. So it’s new for this year. So you’re definitely doing the height of Everest, in your in your day of punishing climbs. So they’ve extended the distance of an already brutal course. And how dare the Tourist Board invite me across for such a punishment?

Donna Tocci 38:06
How are you training for that?

Carlton Reid 38:10
I’ll start soon.

Sylva Florence 38:12
And how will you train for it?

Carlton Reid 38:14
I’ll do hills.

Carlton Reid 38:18
I can get out and do some hills.

Sylva Florence 38:19
You have some good hills where you live?

Carlton Reid 38:22
Yeah, yeah, it’s okay. I can do some elevation. But you’d so tough to do a trip like this, because it’s just Hill after Hill after But on the plus side, you’ve also got down hills, plenty of downhill. So it’s not the whole way.

Carlton Reid 38:38
So my question, Sylva it was was

Carlton Reid 38:41
was going to be you’ve talked about where you’ve been or what do you haven’t talked about every one of your your places you’ve you’ve been to. But one of the things we started talking about in the beginning was all about how are our dreams about lockdown? So have you got dreams about cycle touring? independent cycle tours coming up? Have you got stuff planned?

Donna Tocci 39:02
planned, planned now because it’s just really difficult here. Like I don’t know how the lockdown stuff is where you guys are. But here we have just kind of a seemingly never ending series of regulations that right now where I live in Emilia Romagna is in what’s called the orange zone. So we have kind of tiers of yellow, orange and red and we’re in orange,

Donna Tocci 39:26
which signifies that we can’t leave our towns.

Donna Tocci 39:31
And we can’t and we have a curfew, which we’ve had since the beginning of November at 10pm. And a lot of different other things bars and restaurants, clothes, blah, blah, blah. So it’s very difficult to actually plan something because we don’t know when it’s going to end. But you know, like those of us that travel and they love this kind of stuff. We’re always dreaming and we always have like four trips in mind. So what I would really like is to ride from here to Spain, because I’ve got some friends there and

Sylva Florence 40:00
I’ve never been to Spain. And so I would absolutely love to ride from Faenza to Spain, by myself.

Carlton Reid 40:08
Mm hmm.

Carlton Reid 40:11
by yourself. So that’s that. I mean, that is one of the things I also do get asked loads of times is about the solo stuff. Why? Why do it solo? So that was gonna ask me, I’ll just ask you why? Why solo?

Sylva Florence 40:27
Um, for me, um,

Donna Tocci 40:31
well, a lot of the people that I talked to, especially a lot of other women and Donna, I’m not saying that you’re in this group, I don’t know what your experiences are. But there’s a lot of women who don’t feel comfortable travelling by themselves, because they really are afraid of

Donna Tocci 40:48
I hate to say it like men and just the way that the world is. But

Donna Tocci 40:53
I guess I don’t necessarily see that for myself as a barrier. Because I, I trust and expect that like good things will come my way. And they always do. And I’m very, I’m very aware, I’m not going to be naive. And if I feel something weird, I’m not going to go to that person’s house, I’m not even going to necessarily talk to that person. But I love to travel by myself, because I feel like it really opens people’s influence people’s doors, it opens people’s minds. And it opens people’s hearts. Like it’s a very, you meet a lot of really cool people.

Carlton Reid 41:29
That’s my answer as well, that as well. Because it’s the people think, oh, you’re just so low that you’re not, you’re just being horrible, you’re not you’re being incredibly social, because I found that when you’re, I don’t know how it’s, it’s for you. So when you travel with two or more people, you’re in that little clique, you’re in a little bubble, and you can’t miss stuff, because you’re with somebody else, when you’re by yourself, you see everything, and you are open to talking to anybody. And people also come to you more, if you’re in a group or if you’re in just even just two people, a lot of people just won’t come up and talk to you, because you’ve got a friend, you’ve got somebody to talk to you No need to go and talk to that that strange, exotic person over there. When you’re by yourself, that strange exotic person is all of a sudden, very approachable, because it’s only you. So that that was my fight wasn’t an anti social thing. It was actually the opposite he, you’re more likely to talk to people, if you’re by yourself.

Sylva Florence 42:23
Sure. And you’re free to for example, say you meet somebody who’s really cool. And they invite you to say come to this town. That’s maybe not the direction that you would plan to go. But you’re the only one that decides if you’re going to keep going left or if you’re going to go right. So if you meet these people, and they say let’s go right, then you can go and it completely changes your experience. It’s really cool. It’s like going with the flow.

Carlton Reid 42:49
Huh? No, no, I I it’s all flooding back, Sylva.

Carlton Reid 42:56
I am mad. I haven’t done solo for so long. That I haven’t been asked why do you do solo Tours by now remember why I did solo tours? Yeah, for that reason that you’ve given as well. So thank you. Thank you for the memories.

Sylva Florence 43:08
You’re welcome. Anytime.

Sylva Florence 43:11
Coming.

Sylva Florence 43:14
Donna, you’ve got to get out there by yourself.

Sylva Florence 43:17
would you do it? Donna? would you do it? a solo tour?

Donna Tocci 43:21
Sure.

Donna Tocci 43:24
I don’t know. I don’t know if that’s me. I would go out for solo rides? Sure. I don’t have any problem doing that. I have done that. So and I think you’re right. I think just in general, no matter how you’re travelling, that if you’re by yourself, you’re more approachable to others. I think, you know, like you said, If you already have a friend with you or two friends, somebody’s not going to come up and talk to you necessarily, but when you’re by yourself. Sure people feel like they can approach you more.

Donna Tocci 43:54
So a solo bike tour? I don’t know. Just because I have not done it doesn’t mean I wouldn’t but but bike garage or Absolutely. I have no fear about that.

Carlton Reid 44:08
So but also, this, I guess to many people, this would sound odd but

Carlton Reid 44:14
because because most people would think of bicycling in the boondocks as an inherently dangerous thing to do. I mean, you probably don’t don’t think that but many people do. But do you think actually as a solo woman, actually a bicycle is actually a really good way of being a solo woman because actually, it’s easier because you are absolutely in charge of the vehicle that’s taking place. Whereas if you’re a solo woman on a bus, on a train, there’s potentially actually more

Carlton Reid 44:49
dodgy

Carlton Reid 44:51
connections with with people who might not be as nice as you think. Whereas on a bicycle, you can just go well, there’s somebody up ahead, I want to see them. I’ll go that way. instead.

Carlton Reid 45:00
Do you see a bicycle as actually a means of, of a very good way of of a woman travelling, for safety reasons?

Donna Tocci 45:07
I will take that I will say not only travelling, I do a lot of walking in the summertime, because I try, I actually trained Carlton, you might want to train for that whole thing in Switzerland. But I train for doing a marathon walk every year for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute here in Boston. And when you’re walking, I’m very much more aware of my surroundings, and who’s around me and all of that, as I’m walking, you know, 15 miles on a day and all of that. But when I’m on my bike, I, it’s not that I worry when I walk, I live in a safe neighbourhood, but I do look at all my surroundings and all of that a lot more. But when I’m on my bike, I, I don’t it’s not that I don’t pay attention to cars, and people and all of that. But there isn’t. There’s just another element that’s not there. So I think you’re right. Yeah, bike is, I think a little safer. In some ways. I don’t know.

Carlton Reid 46:03
Same same question to you than Sylva. Yeah, I mean, I think that when you’re definitely when you’re on a bike, you have the decision of where you’re going to go because you’re in charge of the vehicle.

Donna Tocci 46:14
And also in your bike touring, as you probably know, Carlton, like you don’t go through main avenues so much are kind of on the periphery. And so you kind of you kind of seek by things, like if you don’t really want to be seen, you don’t have to be seen, like, and so for me, I would just really use it as like a tool of exploration. And I would go where I felt good and where I didn’t feel good, I would kind of choose another route. And I encountered a lot of people that were really afraid that would ask me like, well, aren’t you afraid to be doing what you’re doing your I would never do, I would never be able to do that. Because with the world as it is, or whatever, but

Donna Tocci 46:55
I don’t I don’t really see the world as being that way. And so

Donna Tocci 47:01
I don’t know, like I found such good experiences. And this is like, not only this trip, but over almost 10 years now like touring. And so as a solo woman, there are some places where I probably maybe I wouldn’t go by myself or maybe like the Middle East, perhaps I would want to have another girlfriend or somebody with me. But most places also in Italy and Europe, I would feel comfortable going on my own on a bicycle is such an amazing place a way to see the world. I agree.

Carlton Reid 47:34
I think we’re gonna have to wrap up for today. But by doing so, I’d like to ask somewhere where can people who are listening to this where can they find out more information and and perhaps how they’re going to be able to find your book eventually? How are you on social media where you can tell people where your books can come from? And

Carlton Reid 47:53
where do people find you is what I’m trying to say?

Sylva Florence 47:55
Sure. Yeah, I have a website which is thesylvalining.com so my name s y l v a lining dotcom. And my Instagram is also thesilverlining. And Facebook, thesilverlining everything is the silver lining,

Carlton Reid 48:13
Does your Instagram have tonnes and tonnes of bike touring pictures or is it your life in general.

Sylva Florence 48:19
I just started a new a new Instagram for specifically for to promote the book and just my life experience in Italy and that kind of thing, which is the silver lining. Otherwise, if you want to see some pictures of the trip, it’s Silvana Firenze, which is kind of my name translated in Italian. So

Sylva Florence 48:41
So yeah, and I’m not exactly sure how yet how I’m going to get the book out, but it’s ready and I’m just trying to find the best, the best course for it.

Carlton Reid 48:52
How about self publishing.

Sylva Florence 48:54
I thought about that too. Mm hmm. If I can find enough people who would be interested in it as as an audience I would absolutely self publish it as well.

Carlton Reid 49:04
So right now it’s research talking about experience there and that I’ve done to crowdsource books

Carlton Reid 49:12
which in how much American money well 25,000 pounds now that a book well first one’s 15,000 pounds second one was 25,000 so there is definitely an audience for books out there even niche niche urban Cycling is nicche, niche books.

Carlton Reid 49:30
So I would I personally I’d recommend

Carlton Reid 49:34
rather than waiting for the world to come to you on this one get out there and get it self published and and perhaps crowdsource it to begin with.

Sylva Florence 49:44
I guess we should have a chat off, off podcast.

Carlton Reid 49:49
totally happy to help. Yeah. And Donna where where can people find you at the moment and your dog?

Donna Tocci 49:58
Oh, my dog.

Donna Tocci 49:59
You can always find me on Twitter at DonnaTocci, and you can find me on Instagram and that’s what Carlton was talking about. That’s more my dogs and my life and all of that. But it’s all there at Donna Tocci as well on Instagram.

Carlton Reid 50:15
Beautiful. Well, thank you both ever so much for chatting today and and Sylva, thank you for getting my memories flooding back.

Carlton Reid 50:27
After after lockdown I’ll definitely have to get out and do more solo bike touring. Yeah and Warm Showers this time.

Carlton Reid 50:35
Wasn’t able to in the dark ages when I was last cycle touring, but I’ve got that to look forward to. So thank you ever so much for being on the show. And thank you to for Donna for asking some great questions too, and for keeping the conversation flowing.

Carlton Reid 50:51
Thanks to Donna Tocci and Sylva Florence for today’s cycle touring chat. This has been episode 265 of the Spokesmen cycling podcast. Links to things we were chatting about — such as Warm Showers, the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge and the Southern Tier Route and more — can be found on the-spokesmen.com. I’ve also provided a link to the Tour des Stations — I just looked it’s not 280 miles it’s 242kms — I was scaring myself. But 242 Kms is the thick end of 150 miles so still brutal, and still with 8,848 metres of ascent, or the height of Everest. No doubt I’ll do a podcast on it. A very huffy puffy podcast Anyway, tomorrow I’ll be talking with mountain bike legend Gary Fisher and then the following day I’m booked in with the Guardian’s political editor Peter Walker — both have got great new books out which I’ve now got to read. Meanwhile, get out there and ride.

January 16, 2021 / / Blog

Your podcast catcher not showing in links above (black circle with three dots)? Loads more on PodLink. Show is also on Spotify. and Google Podcasts.

Saturday 16th January 2021

The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

EPISODE 264: Bike Nerds Kyle and Sara of People for Bikes

SPONSOR: Jenson USA

HOST: Carlton Reid

GUESTS: Bike nerds Kyle Wagenschutz and Sara Studdard of People for Bikes, USA.

TOPICS: Bike lanes, mobility motivations, and Mayor Pete’s high-profile potential impact on transportation.

TRANSCRIPT:

Carlton Reid 0:12
Welcome to Episode 264 of the Spokesmen cycling podcast. This show was published on Saturday 16th of January 2021.

David Bernstein 0:24
The Spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast is brought to you by Jenson USA, where you’ll always find a great selection of products at amazing prices with unparalleled customer service. For more information, just go to Jensonusa.com/the spokesmen. Hey everybody, it’s David from the Fredcast cycling podcast at www.Fredcast.com. I’m one of the hosts and producers of the Spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast for shownotes links and all sorts of other information please visit our website at www.the-spokesmen.com. And now, here are the spokesmen.

Carlton Reid 1:07
Happy New Year and welcome to the first episode of 2021. I’m Carlton Reid and the next few shows are going to have a distinctly American flavour starting with today’s guests Kyle Wagenschutz and Sarah Studdard of People for Bikes the US bicycle advocacy organisation. This is an hour long show in which we talk bike lanes, mobility motivations, Mayor Pete’s high-profile potential impact on transportation and you’ll get a sneak preview of People for BIke’s report on US pandemic cycling trends which goes live on January 21st.

Carlton Reid 1:55
I’m here today with with Kyle and Sarah and and before we get into who you are, describe what you do for people who buys and what is people who buy so people who who don’t know what this us organisation is and I guess lots of people in the US will absolutely know what it is but to explain it for the rest of us. What is peopleforbikes? And where’s it come from? Because got an interesting, interesting backstory.

Kyle Wagenschutz 2:23
Yeah, certainly. Thank you. And peopleforbikes is a US based bicycling advocacy organisation that has been around since 1998. So we we just celebrated moving past the 20 year mark as an organisation. And we have used that time and our presence and influence here in the us to continue to advance policies that make bicycling better for people every day in the US and that most of our support, a large basis centre of our support actually comes from the US based bicycling industry. So manufacturers and suppliers of bicycles, bicycle components, and adjacent bicycle parts contribute are members of our programme. And we act as both a trade association acting on their behalf in matters of business and trade, important export. And then we also act as a as a charitable foundation,

Kyle Wagenschutz 3:27
almost like a traditional nonprofit organisation that would

Kyle Wagenschutz 3:32
help local communities enact and be able to activate on those locally based projects.

Carlton Reid 3:38
So that’s what I meant. When I said you had an interesting backstory, it was it’s industry funded, and it’s come from the industry as an industry initiative. And that’s always and it has been going on for a long time is the industry should be doing more to get bums on bikes, and here there’s an organisation that’s absolutely that’s, that’s its raison d’etre. Yeah.

Kyle Wagenschutz 3:59
Yeah, 100% you know, and, and there’s, there’s a, there’s a reason you know, the bicycle companies exist. And that’s to of course, sell bicycles and parts within their marketplace. But, you know, there’s also a

Kyle Wagenschutz 4:14
joint self interest in these companies who compete every single day on selling their products in the marketplace to come together and say, you know, collectively we have the power to grow the share of bicycling for for the US and by acting in concert together and channelling those activities to people for bikes, we can grow the pie, so that we all benefit. And I think that’s a real testament of, you know, how businesses can function and work together towards a common goal. While

Kyle Wagenschutz 4:46
you know, also advancing, you know, programmes and projects that create a better world for transportation create a better world for our future of our planet and climate change. create a better world related to issues

Kyle Wagenschutz 5:00
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion within our cities and our governance. And so it’s a it’s a real, it’s a real honour to be able to work for an organisation that has this breadth of support and leadership.

Carlton Reid 5:13
Absolutely. Now let’s let’s ground you both in that, let’s work out where you are speaking from. And then you can tell me your official job titles, and then we’ll get into what we’re gonna be talking about. So first, let because we’ve heard from Kyle already. So, Sara, where are you speaking from? And what’s your job title?

Sara Studdard 5:30
I am speaking from Denver, Colorado, and I am the director of local innovation. So I support our team that works across the country to support elected officials, city staff and community partners and advocates to build complete bike networks. Okay, you’ve been you’re not from Denver, originally, I’m not from Denver, I moved around growing up. But previous to living in Denver, I lived in Memphis, Tennessee for a decade and worked through agriculture, creative placemaking economic development, and as well as bikes to make the Memphis region better for the people that live there.

Carlton Reid 6:08
And same question for Kyle, where are you? And what’s your official job title? Kyle?

Kyle Wagenschutz 6:13
Yeah, I’m talking to you today from Longmont, Colorado, just outside of the great bicycle in city of Boulder.

Kyle Wagenschutz 6:21
I am the Vice President of local innovation. And you know, like Sara,

Kyle Wagenschutz 6:27
we’re leading work in cities across the US helping community leaders, they’re

Kyle Wagenschutz 6:35
giving them the tools and the resources that they need to advance the development of their bicycle networks, helping them do it faster than they would do it on their own, and helping them hopefully achieve a broader outcomes than they otherwise would have been able to do. And so we’re, we’re strategically always looking for city based partners to who are willing and able to make bicycling better. And we act as a catalyst in a in a resource to help them overcome the challenge any challenges that are standing in their way.

Carlton Reid 7:07
So I don’t mind who answers this one, you can either if you can, can can jump in here.

Carlton Reid 7:12
How many people

Carlton Reid 7:14
are working for peopleforbikes? And is it everywhere? Is it like do you have like, local chapters? What? What’s the actual setup?

Kyle Wagenschutz 7:24
That’s a sort of evolving question in the pandemic times.

Carlton Reid 7:30
Let’s have it both kind of at pandemic time and maybe normal times. Yeah, good point.

Kyle Wagenschutz 7:35
Yeah, we have a we have a staff of about 30 people working at peopleforbikes. Full time now. Almost all of the staff are based in Colorado, near our Boulder, Colorado headquarters.

Kyle Wagenschutz 7:53
Aside from a few members of our staff that live in Washington, DC, who manage all of our federal policy work with our,

Kyle Wagenschutz 8:02
with our partners in DC, so almost everyone is had been based in Colorado since the pandemic though. We’ve we’ve we’ve had we’ve had several new hiring since the pandemic,

Kyle Wagenschutz 8:13
we’ve we’ve adjusted to a remote working environment. And there’s no there’s no plans for us to return to the offence the office anytime soon. And so I expect that we’ll continue to work remotely from wherever we are in the world.

Kyle Wagenschutz 8:28
For the for the foreseeable future.

Carlton Reid 8:31
And this is this is a question that I could ask absolutely anybody. And I almost get roughly the same answer from everybody. But how’s it affected? How you’re what you’re able to do on the ground? Because you haven’t been able to travel?

Kyle Wagenschutz 8:44
Yeah, that’s a really good question. And Sara, and I contemplated this quite a bit when the lockdown actually occurred is, as Sara mentioned, a moment ago, she and I were just travelling non stop for almost the last two years. And so how did we adjust? And I, I would say that there’s definitely some

Kyle Wagenschutz 9:06
there’s definitely, there were definitely some growing pains that we had to work through, you know, I just there’s been some situations where I know that if we were in a place in a meeting with somebody in a room, we could have solved some problems, you know, over the course of a couple of hours and been done with it. Whereas remotely, you know, several meetings over the span of a couple weeks. So changing the expectations that, you know, communication just is more deliberate, takes more time was a was a was a lesson that we learned and I think the other thing is that even though we’ve been working from home, that the the shared experience of our community partners who are experiencing the same exact thing has been really helpful is that they are also dealing with the pandemic and has made the relationship you know,

Kyle Wagenschutz 9:57
that we’ve been on we’ve been on equal playing field, so to say

Kyle Wagenschutz 10:00
Speak and so we’ve we’ve been we’ve we’ve found that the coordination with our local communities has just been about being more communicative.

Kyle Wagenschutz 10:08
more frequently. And the work work has work has surprisingly continued in many US cities.

Carlton Reid 10:18
And Sara, talk me through bike boom, what? How is bike boom affected people for bikes?

Sara Studdard 10:25
Well, you know, I think it’s been just a really exciting time for the organisation and the industry. And I think in particular, you know, through the role that Kyle and I have in terms of really looking at bike networks, and so how does the bike boom influence the way that our cities continue to be built and respond to residents needs and so it’s been exciting to look across really the globe and see communities, you know, respond to, you know, more time during the day under shelter in place orders, and kind of going outside their, their front door to experience shared streets and car free streets and places to walk and bike and play. And then I’ll let Kyle kind of talk more from the industry side on what we’ve seen from the bike boom perspective.

Kyle Wagenschutz 11:18
Carlton, we’re going to be releasing some new data in just a couple of weeks. But the high level picture is that this past year 10% of American adults engaged with bicycling in a brand new way.

Kyle Wagenschutz 11:35
You know, some portion of that were people who discovered bicycling, you know, after an extended period of time of not biking. So for, you know, people who were absent from biking for more than a year, another percentage of that were people who begin biking in a different way because of the pandemic. So they might have tried indoor riding for the first time or tried riding for transportation or to reach you know, the grocery store to reach a park or something like that. So, tip 10% of the Americans, you know, engaging with Cycling is a significant number of Americans who sort of stepped out their doors this year and, and took up biking and what happened was that you know, the response was people needed bicycles, they needed bicycle parts, inventories became very low and bicycle shops, city leaders saw you know, swarms of people on bikes and then took action to help sort of create safe spaces for them to ride so it’s been this real it’s been this real

Kyle Wagenschutz 12:40
interesting perspective to see that the see the power of grassroots movement, you know, largely unorganised people acting organically looking for ways to escape their indoors to get outside for stress relief for health and recreation, you know, those are their primary motivations for taking a bicycling during this time. But then to sort of see the the spillover effect into what it’s doing for the industry, what it’s what it’s changing in terms of perceptions for city leaders, has has been a real has been a real pleasure to to see unfold.

Carlton Reid 13:17
Here in Europe, we’ve had what are called pop up bike lanes. So Corona, cycleways is that is how they put it in, in Paris. Have you had that same kind of suck it and see initiative that was very much specific to the pandemic. So these pop up type, you know, you know, like, instant

Carlton Reid 13:43
bike lanes that can just come down again, if they have to?

Kyle Wagenschutz 13:45
we documented that there was approximately 200 US cities this year that change the functionality and layout of their streets. Now that’s that’s a really broad way of sort of describing what happens. And that’s purposeful, because what I can’t say is that we had a real sort of uniform approach to this, you know, across all US cities, we did have some cities that implemented pop up like infrastructure.

Kyle Wagenschutz 14:14
And some of those have moved to a more permanent installation, I’m thinking Boston did a pop up set of infrastructure, a holding network in their downtown area.

Kyle Wagenschutz 14:27
And just recently, in the last like three months, all of those orange cones and the traffic barrels that were used to create the public infrastructure are now being painted, permanent,

Kyle Wagenschutz 14:39
permanent protected infrastructure is now being put in place to create that separation.

Kyle Wagenschutz 14:45
We had some other cities like Austin, Texas, who created some pop up infrastructure on some really iconic streets. there’s a there’s a street in Austin, Texas called South Congress Avenue which leads to the state capitol building of Texas across this

Kyle Wagenschutz 15:00
bridge. It’s been a project that has long concerned city leaders and city planners looking to make change. It’s a big it’s a big iconic road that tourists and visitors and residents alike have to traverse every day and in the pandemic gave them the impetus through order of the city council to to make that change and that move from permanent and temporary to permanent infrastructure this past year as well. I would say on on the on the larger whole though, Carlton, most US cities

Kyle Wagenschutz 15:32
who who did things did so with infrastructure that more tangentially benefited bicyclist rather than having a real direct lasting impact. You know, we we our cities closed a lot of streets. To make room for outdoor dining and outdoor retail experiences. We we closed residential streets, except for through traffic. But we didn’t have the sort of like wide scale pop up my sequel networks go in that the last thing that I’ll mention in this is that

Kyle Wagenschutz 16:06
what we did see happen was that communities in the US that were already building bicycle networks did so at an accelerated rate. And so while we didn’t have a lot of temporary bike networks going up, we saw continued progress on the existing momentum that was in place, pre pandemic, continue to spill into even, you know, a time in which we might have expected projects to be delayed or derailed or unfunded. We actually saw those networks going in at a faster pace. They were able to accomplish that this past year.

Carlton Reid 16:45
And Sara and Kyle, I guess, fit for this, but I’ve talked to you both before.

Carlton Reid 16:52
A while ago, and just anybody who’s listening here thinking Kyle and Sara, I know those Where do I know there’s those? So tell me why. And perhaps even when I talked to you before, and then what’s happened to that particular podcast? So Sarah, what what? When did I speak to you last? And and why was that talking to you?

Sara Studdard 17:13
Kyle and I had a podcast that we started when we were both living in Memphis, Tennessee called the bike nerd podcast where we really used it a little, selfishly as a platform for Kyle and I to have amazing conversations with people around the globe, not only in the biking space, but in mobility, health, public space, transportation, you know, people who are passionate about making the places they lived better, and we had over 100 episodes, and we actually have closed down shop with the bike nerds podcast, but have never released our final episode.

Carlton Reid 17:54
So I absolutely agree with your sentiment about speaking to fantastic people from around the world cuz that’s what I’m doing right now. You guys got so I’m inviting you on and you know, it’s like is this in a small incestuous world in many ways, however, you do speak to some amazing people who have got very similar goals around the world, we may have different geographical geopolitical issues to cope with, but we’re pretty much going for the same thing, which is, in effect, getting more people

Carlton Reid 18:25
to ride bikes. Now did any of the bike nerd nerdery lead on to directly what you’re doing now? Sarah?

Sara Studdard 18:37
Yeah, that’s a really great question, Carlton. You know, when Kyle and I began, the podcast, I really had just entered into the bike space, I was part of launching a bike share programme in Memphis, Tennessee. And so I was really in the in the role of learning and educating and making connections of around great people who are encouraging folks to ride bikes. So it really kind of helped me from a personal and professional aspect, create really strong connections within the bike, and mobility space and, you know, really helped me see the value of, you know, not only creating space for people to ride bikes in your community, but also just like the joy and fun it is to ride a bike, you know, bike sharing, particularly because really amazing in terms of creating that, that accessible opportunity for fun and joy and adventure around around the community.

Carlton Reid 19:33
Now, Kyle, you you got in touch with me

Carlton Reid 19:36
a little while ago, and it was actually a Forbes article that I wrote, which was talking about, you know, a very small number of Twitter users, any social media users can actually sway public opinion.

Carlton Reid 19:50
And generally, it were actually the the piece was about was about in I think, was in London. And it was how a small number of anti

Carlton Reid 20:00
cycleway and it was called actually low traffic neighbourhood. So LTNs is the the nerdery in the UK for that particular form of transport intervention. So they were anti-LTN campaigners. And there was an analysis done showing that, you know, they were just talking to each other, but they had this enormous

Carlton Reid 20:23
effect on, on on authority, thinking it was actually a massive

Carlton Reid 20:30
outpouring of public sentiment that actually wasn’t that at all. And then you got in touch and you said, well, I’ve we’ve actually done a study on this. So let’s, let’s talk about why you got in touch what what why did that particular issue ring your bell?

Kyle Wagenschutz 20:45
Carlton one of I mentioned before the some of the work that Sara and I do in cities is, is helping cities overcome challenges to implementing their bicycle networks. And, as we’ve been had our head, our feet and hands on the ground in communities across the US, we we’ve been finding that over the years, it’s that the challenges that cities face are less and less about the availability of public funding to build infrastructure, we’re seeing less concern about design and how to sort of approach building infrastructure that’s attractive for people of all ages and abilities. The concern continually sort of continued to grow to be, wow, we’re ready to go with this. But every time that we go out to build a project, there’s a vociferous opposition to any changes to our to our public streets. And that opposition, every in almost every instance, is either reshaping a project, you know, to the detriment of, you know, the the goals that we’ve set out for the for the project itself, we’re compromising on design, we’re compromising on the limits and the implementation of it, or some in some, in some of the worst case scenarios, projects were being cancelled outright. And so we looked at, we looked into this with with a using a study to understand, you know, our communities, who, if you think about what it takes to get to a point where you’re about to build a project, you know, there’s typically work being done to build the community community support around a plan identifying you think about all the meetings we go to where we draw lines on a map, and we think and envision about the future. However, what’s the disconnect between this exercise where we engage community members and visions about the future? And then when we actually go to deliver on those projects? Where does all that opposition pop up from and why is it so influential, and we say, well, are the American people actually against bicycling and bike infrastructure. And you know, and we didn’t think so, based on some local surveys that we had seen from cities around the US, but we conducted a study in 2018, to look at very specifically how people view bicycling, how they view mobility, and more importantly, to dive into an understanding of what drives people to make the mobility choices that they make every day. It’s our belief that to build the safe networks of protected bicycle lanes, low traffic streets, the kinds of infrastructure that we want to see flourish in our communities, that we can’t just be speaking to cyclists and building support through cyclists, but that we also have to build support for these programmes, from people who may never ride a bike or who haven’t written a bike. They’re though they’re the individuals that

Kyle Wagenschutz 23:41
are to use like a political term, you know, they’re the swing vote, a lot of times in our communities. And we wanted to make sure through a research based approach that we were able to talk with them communicate to them in a way that encouraged them to support this work, rather than discourage it with their city leaders.

Carlton Reid 24:01
And how much of this this assumed popularity for bike infrastructure in the general population is an abstract thing. But then as soon as it becomes concrete, that’s when the opposition comes in. And, for instance, what I’m trying to say here is, if you ask somebody, you know, do you want more bike infrastructure? And they take all they say, yes, that’s one thing. But when you physically get down to the brass tacks, and you actually get the work, people moving in and closing down parking spaces, you know, putting in concrete barriers, then it becomes in flesh. And then opposition would then come in because well, I said, I want the bike infrastructure, but not on my road.

Kyle Wagenschutz 24:43
That is the central component of what the study found. We found that in the US overwhelmingly, the population here support cycling, for all of the reasons that we know people have very fond memories of bicycling

Kyle Wagenschutz 24:59
As children, even if they’ve even if they stopped long ago, they remember what it was like to the fun they associate bicycle lane with being outside, they associate it with the freedom and moving around the neighbourhood. They all have these amazing stories and generally speaking, have really positive sentiments to say, Yeah, I support bicycling. But you’re right, the moment we say, well, do you support bicycling, even if it means

Kyle Wagenschutz 25:26
taking the parking spot away from in front of your home, suddenly that that majority of support for bicycling plummets, it’s it’s a very weak support in this almost almost as soon as you put a trade off in front of people, we lose that the strength of that support to levels that we can’t sustain. If you were going to, if you’re going to run as an elected official on these numbers, and you had a position that this this precipitous drop off occurred, you would not run for election, you would not win very well. And and so what we have to do with that is, I’m sorry, what,

Kyle Wagenschutz 26:06
what we found is when we looked into like, what, what are those trade offs that trigger that drop? The the primary concern for people, as it relates to bike infrastructure, is that as they’re making choices about transportation every day, what what drives a person to get into their car versus public transport, or a bicycle or to walk, it really comes down to people want to control their schedule. And we can we can talk about the nuances of parking space versus travel lane versus diversion and speed and all of those things boiled down to individuals in the US want to control their schedule, they want to walk out their door of their home with some sense of reliability and get to where they’re going in the timeframe that they think it takes to get there. And it also this This phenomenon is not just unique to bicycling, it also explains why traffic congestion or a crash that backs up traffic, you know, creates road rage within people because we’ve disrupted their primary motivation is this this control of their schedule? Currently, driving a car gives people the most control of their schedule in US cities. And bicycling basically, infrastructure is largely seen as an inconvenience to that. And that’s, that’s the real,

Kyle Wagenschutz 27:28
that’s the real communications barrier that we have to overcome.

Carlton Reid 27:33
So Sara, when when people maybe say that they want bike infrastructure could part of that being I want bike infrastructure for my neighbour, because that gets them out of their car? and enables me to carry on going in my car? Or

Carlton Reid 27:50
are there people out there who we don’t know, as a cyclist are using air quotes there? Who would get on to bikes? And they are in favour of bike infrastructure?

Sara Studdard 28:02
Yeah, Carlton, I think it’s a combination of, you know, I also think there’s the motivation to have control of your schedule, you know, as Kyle kind of explained, is there, but I also think there’s a motivation to live in a community that provides multiple options for people to get around. And so I think when we hear support for bike infrastructure for people that you know, may never choose to ride I think there’s also a pride and a community sort of buy in, in terms of being supportive of the greater good and being supportive of potentially your neighbour riding a bike. Maybe your your true motivation is to get them out of their car. But, you know, I think there’s value in that and then I think we know that when we build safe places for people to ride you know, an individual that maybe was on the I’ve never in a million years going to get on my bike because it’s dangerous see, is that a protected lane

Sara Studdard 29:00
and a dedicated space for them on their bike creates a really great experience for their family and so I think investment and infrastructure also you know, creates investment in the people who may choose to purchase a bike and turn into a air quote cyclist.

Carlton Reid 29:17
I’d either you could answer this one because it’s a general question really, and that your people for bikes, so clearly, your bikes, but so much of this, you know, to get people out of cars is not obviously bikes, not everybody’s gonna be able to get onto a bike. So how much do you interact with the other ways of getting people out of cars? So how much do you get involved with transit? How much you get involved with pedestrian infrastructure, sidewalks? How much of that is absolutely. In your brief, even though in your title, it says bikes.

Sara Studdard 29:53
You know, when we look at cities that are most successful, they are not

Sara Studdard 30:00
Truly connected and truly investing into a single mode. So I think for us to really encourage people to ride bikes we under we understand that at our core that you know, we’re never going to get every single American to ride a bike. But by increasing pedestrian space, increasing great safe transit stops and efficient bus bus schedules, we are also creating really great places for people to ride their bike and also choose choose other modes and, you know, the cities that we find to be really successful. Understand that and also, you know, build diverse partnerships and Coalition’s that involve housing, public health, pedestrian advocacy, etc. And really at the bike infrastructure bike network is like one component of what makes that city I’m really great and helps get people around.

Carlton Reid 30:58
So tell me about the US. I mean, I know Colorado is absolutely bike Central. And I mean, you’ve only taken a quite a few years ago,

Carlton Reid 31:08
Boulder overtook Davis, California. And I know you have you had those two cities are vying for quite a long time to being like the capital for for cycling in the USA has the fact that you’re in Colorado, how much does that cover your thinking in that when you go to two other cities, it’s much much tougher, because you have kind of got it nailed in many cities in Colorado, compared to other places in the US.

Kyle Wagenschutz 31:39
Colorado compared to the US other us as a whole is better in some ways, but that there continues to be a lot of momentum building and other places that Colorado and cities can learn a lot from.

Kyle Wagenschutz 31:56
And that I think that’s a I think that’s a real story that sort of exists throughout the US is that there are pockets of real growth, real advancement and mobility. And,

Kyle Wagenschutz 32:09
and then there are areas that are totally devoid of it. And so I I, you know, it’s interesting that

Kyle Wagenschutz 32:17
Sara and I have experienced Colorado this past year for the first time because of the pandemic in a really intense way. But we we are generally speaking, spending a lot of our time outside of Colorado extra exploring the great things happening in other places. And I would say that having we’re now working doing some work with some Colorado cities just in the last the last year, year and a half. And what’s really fascinating about that is that we’re actually taking some of the inspiration and case studies from our work in other cities. And we’re bringing those back here to to our to our local partners, in some ways. So

Kyle Wagenschutz 32:57
I would I would say that, yeah, if you want to get on a mountain bike, if you want to visit the city of Boulder and sort of see what they’ve done historically, I think I think there are some real jewels here, don’t get me wrong. But I would also just say that I think there’s there’s jewels elsewhere that are offering a level of inspiration to even places here in the US that have have succeeded historically.

Carlton Reid 33:18
Rolling it out to the continent as a whole. If you if you include, you know, North America, then you have Montreal,

Carlton Reid 33:30
which is phenomenal for bikes. And it has been, you know, roughly since the 1970s, when they had two very successful advocacy groups arguing for bike lanes and stuff to be put in there. So how close is the best American best

Carlton Reid 33:48
US city compared to a stellar city? Not stellar in Amsterdam, European terms, but stellar in North American terms? How close is any US city to Montreal?

Kyle Wagenschutz 34:02
I would say generally speaking, Carlton, we actually do an annual city ratings programme where we do measure on a system using a system that we’ve created. We do we do rank cities in terms of how great they are for bicycling. And we’ve just in the last year began measuring some Canadian cities, we’re actually as we head into 2021, we’re actually expanding the reach of the programme into Canada, Australia and some European cities for the first time. So coming soon, there’s going to be a sort of a fuller answer to your question here. But I would say generally speaking, a few of the Canadian cities ranked on par or slightly better than most of the cities for bicycling here in the US and so I’m thinking Montreal Of course. Vancouver is among those who

Kyle Wagenschutz 35:00
rim pretty high in that list. And I’d even add in Toronto in terms of a city that, given its size, and sort of density or lack of density, per se, is actually achieving some, some some making some accomplishments for ridership that exceeds similarly, you know, position cities in the US. And so I would, I would project that some Canadian Canadian cities are right at the top of the pack for for all of North America, and only the US is best cities are on par with those.

Carlton Reid 35:37
So where are we talking about?

Carlton Reid 35:39
Well, give me your your best ranked American cities.

Kyle Wagenschutz 35:43
Yeah. Yeah, I mentioned, you know, you, obviously Boulder, Colorado is among those. It’s where our office is located. But we, we use data not not not subjectivity to make these things.

Kyle Wagenschutz 35:59
You know, if we’re looking at like, cities that would be familiar with around the world, in Washington, DC has continued to sort of make constant steady progress. Denver, Colorado, here locally is also a city that over the last decade or so has really improved made some improvements. In Madison, Wisconsin, historically, among the best in the US, continues to rank really well. And then we also have this, this growing,

Kyle Wagenschutz 36:28
that’s of this growing list of small to medium sized cities that are really over performing, giving, given the size of their city. And these are places like San Luis Obispo, California, Santa Barbara, California, even a place like Missoula, Montana, or Rogers, Arkansas, you know, these are, these are communities that you would not automatically think to yourself, boy bicycling heaven, but they have really carved out

Kyle Wagenschutz 37:00
a really strong niche, and some of these smaller communities, you know, less than a few fewer than 100,000 people.

Kyle Wagenschutz 37:06
And the rates of cycling happening there, the infrastructure being built, is really a testament to to the local leadership.

Carlton Reid 37:14
And, Sara, you’re, you’ve got a new Secretary of Transportation coming up in a matter of days. In fact, how much do you think having such a high profile? I mean, even I know the guy, how, how do you think that’s gonna affect Trump not just cycling, but transport as a whole? In the US? Can he transform something in a relatively short space of time?

Sara Studdard 37:46
Mayor Pete, colloquially like really understands that safety is needs to be a first priority with our transportation system. And so I do then from his role, you know, being a mayor of a local community, that he understands that, you know, we need to invest in safe, comfortable, non stressful types of transportation options, whether that’s through transit, bike infrastructure, pedestrian infrastructure, etc. And so I think that understanding of safety will will help us make, you know, strides that are not just, you know, paint on the street, but strides that actually encourage people to get out of there, get out of their cars. And then I think, you know, we need to have a really robust, you know, federal budget that’s able to provide funding to states and then those states to provide funding at a local level to really invest at a high sort of, you know, budget perspective, to really ensure that we’re able to build the bike bike networks in a quick and rapid way. I think what we’ve seen in US communities is, you know, I think part of this vocal minority, this opposition we talked about earlier, is that, you know, a project idea, you know, comes forth, and that project may not get implemented until five or seven or 10 years down the line. And that’s just entirely too long from a project delivery perspective.

Carlton Reid 39:14
Hmm. And then Kyle, roughly the same question in that Mayor Pete is going to be a effect of progress, but anybody’s gonna be a progressive after, after we’ve had, of course, but he’s gonna be definitely an incredibly progressive progressive

Carlton Reid 39:32
Transportation Secretary.

Carlton Reid 39:35
But he is then got, you know, like a whole set. It’s just one man is the whole system here set against him almost in that the whole of the US economy is a gasoline automotive based economy. So how much can he genuinely change in the short term?

Kyle Wagenschutz 39:53
Well, I think, you know, simply by joining the administration

Kyle Wagenschutz 40:00
And I think there’s been a number of roadblocks for the last four years just in moving progress forward at any, any expected pace. And so I think simply by having some new leadership in place, we’re actually going to see some things that have just been lingering, you know, in the bureaucracy actually begin to make momentum, I actually find that the agencies who deal with transport at a national level in the US, certainly are rooted in a historical sort of automobile driven mindset. But there’s some really amazing people working with agencies that have a lot of initiative and a lot of really amazing programme ideas for for making us transportation more sustainable and more relevant to the people living here. They just haven’t been given the ability to unlock, you know, those programmes for last four years, they’ve largely been,

Kyle Wagenschutz 40:52
you know, working every day, but not really able to move an agenda forward, I think, simply by having the new administration in place. And Mayor Pete, leading the helm for transportation is simply we’re just going to see some progress happening, because we’re going to be unlocking the potential of what’s already there. I think after that, I think Sarah is right. You know,

Kyle Wagenschutz 41:14
the the new secretary has experienced working as a mayor and city, he understands the challenges and pitfalls that befall cities, when you’re looking to receive federal funding, take advantage of these programmes, he understands the intricacies of what it takes to deliver the projects. And I think he’ll be able to offer some, some renewed insight and some of the renewed commitment to making transport a broader part of community development. If I remember, under the Obama administration, you know, there was this monumental joint effort between the Federal Highway Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency in the housing and urban development areas of the US. So looking at how does transportation affect our climate change goals? How does that affect the way in which our cities are developed, and we provide housing affordably to citizens residents, you know, that all came to a screeching halt under our current administration. And so I’m eager to see those kinds of conversations renewed because as Sarah mentioned, where we see real progress being made for bicycling. We’re seeing bicycling exist as part of an ecosystem and also making progress for

Kyle Wagenschutz 42:27
you know, living wages being distributed across the city, wealth enhancement, affordable housing, environmental concerns, public transportation success. You know, I, I think I think that’s, that’s what I’m most hopeful for is that we begin to see this broader conversation about how does transportation, interact, affect and be affected by

Kyle Wagenschutz 42:49
these other these other societal and cultural issues that exist within cities?

Carlton Reid 42:56
So, here inn the UK, and I’m sure it’ll, it’ll be in the same in the US is

Carlton Reid 43:03
transport ministers or transport?

Carlton Reid 43:06
mandarins civil servants, and politicians get very excited by electric cars get very excited by E–scooters, because they’re new toys they can play with these new things.

Carlton Reid 43:20
And bicycles and cars are kind of old technology, you know, there are 120 years plus old.

Carlton Reid 43:28
So where do we see because you want people for bikes? Where do we see e scooters fitting into cuz we haven’t even discussed them at all. But with this new toy, this the E scooter phenomenon?

Carlton Reid 43:41
How much do you think the bandwidth will be taken up by looking at these new things at but could that actually benefit the old technologies that the bicycles of the world?

Sara Studdard 43:54
we have a programme that we work on in partnership with nacto, the National Association of

Sara Studdard 44:02
transportation, I’m going to butcher the acronym nacto, the mayor’s office of Philadelphia and peopleforbikes as part of the better Bike Share partnership, and this looks at you know, how does micro mobility you scooters, Bike Share e Bike Share, etc. You know, how do we ensure that these new technologies and these new innovations are deployed and accessible in an equitable way, in really North American cities. And so, you know, I think that, you know, these new innovations are providing increased opportunities for people to, you know, not choose to get in their car. And so I’m excited to kind of continue to see how e-scooters and micro mobility in particular can just be another option another, you know, tool in the toolbox for people to to get around their city and then, you know, I think this continued innovation and and

Sara Studdard 44:59
interest and electrification just provides more opportunity. I mean, think the bike boom has, you know, seen during the pandemic that you know, there’s a hunger and an interest in ebikes. Because, you know, you don’t have to be like a world class athlete to, to do some pretty epic mountain bike rides are just cruising around town on an E bike. So I think it just provides just a tonne of more accessibility opportunity for people.

Carlton Reid 45:28
Kyle, yeah, those are those are definitely a pregnant pause there. I don’t know if that was because you didn’t know whether to which of you want to come in as a scooter thing. But what about your views on on E-scooters?

Kyle Wagenschutz 45:41
Yeah, I was I was just hoping Sarah would.

Kyle Wagenschutz 45:46
That’s that’s an old trick from our podcast is pregnant pause so we don’t overtalk each other.

Kyle Wagenschutz 45:53
I agree with everything Sara said, I’d maybe point to a more tangible example, I mentioned before some of the work that’s happened recently in Austin, Texas, and before the pandemic, Austin, Texas was

Kyle Wagenschutz 46:08
a North American Centre for E scooter use, you know, registering, you know, when comparing East scooters to the bike share the public Bike Share system, East scooters were were being written on a daily basis on a daily basis at a 10 x. So for every one trip being made on the bike share system, there were 10 trips being made on scooters. And it was a, it was a fascinating phenomenon to be in downtown Austin, in, in pre pandemic times to at this peak of scooter years just to see the people that were willing to to get onto a scooter. And you’re thinking about it from that sense. It was like swarms of locusts, and in some ways to sort of, you know, be hyperbolic about looking at a street and seeing the people riding scooters. But when you looked at them, they these weren’t people you would sort of expect to be the they weren’t exclusively young, you know, hit people right into their tech job. It was families it was,

Kyle Wagenschutz 47:11
it was clearly older people it was younger people it was people of all shapes and sizes and ages and colours. And it was just a fascinating exercise to sort of look out and say, Wow, you know, there’s, there’s something to this, I think, to what, what Sara has to say is that, as far as we’re concerned,

Kyle Wagenschutz 47:30
you know, anything that gets people out of their cars is a real benefit for cities, what we’re what we’re ultimately after here is not you know, propagation of bicycle lane as a singular mode of transportation, we don’t want bicycling to become, you know, what the car is today, what we want.

Kyle Wagenschutz 47:46
What we really want, though, is like we want, we want cleaner air, we want a better planet, we want a safer place for our children we want. We want all of these, these, these other benefits that come along with it. And getting there requires you know that we have some some other options for people. And if that’s a that’s a scooter today, and it’s you know, I’ve often joked that the next thing might be like an electric on-street kayak. I mean, I don’t know what’s coming down the pipeline.

Kyle Wagenschutz 48:21
But, but I think as long as we’re moving people out of their cars today, that’s the real, that’s the real strategy that we can put in place. You know, there’s certainly, there’s certainly things that we need to address as it relates to sort of, you know, the the rapid adoption of these of these new technologies.

Kyle Wagenschutz 48:40
They don’t have the time tested, you know, sort of

Kyle Wagenschutz 48:46
requirements that we don’t know how they’re going to play out in the long run yet from a functionality standpoint, from a US standpoint, so it’s all still really too new, too new, I think, to make concrete judgments about it. But I think right now, if for no other reason, if it’s gonna come back to some of the original purposes of talking here about how do we sort of reshape public opinion in terms of supporting bike infrastructure? Well, if somebody really loves to ride a scooter, and I can get them to support building a bicycle lane, you know, that’s, that’s one more person who is writing to their city councillors writing to their mayors and their leaders saying, you know, thank you for creating the space for me to to ride that I don’t have to interact with cars. And I ultimately think that’s a good thing. So mobility lanes, maybe rather than bike lanes. Yeah, I think so. I think

Kyle Wagenschutz 49:38
we, we haven’t really, we need we need better marketing on how we’re talking about this. But yeah, that’s right. low speed, low speed mobility lanes or lanes or for individuals travelling less than 20 miles per hour. I think, you know, that’s, that’s the that’s the concept. We haven’t come up with a really catchy name for those yet. Mm hmm. So I’m gonna ask the same question to both of you.

Carlton Reid 50:00
actually might might ask Sara first and Sara might come up with an absolutely perfect answer. And Kyle doesn’t have to come on this. And maybe Kyle will actually enjoy the fact he doesn’t have to.

Carlton Reid 50:10
And this is not me just picking on you, Sara, but it’s just that you’re kind of like, you’re the next one in line to ask the question. This is why I’m coming to you on this particular point. And it is potentially, well, it isn’t a difficult question. It’s potentially a political question in many ways. But that is just bike lanes. So we have been talking about bike lanes, whether we want to call them mobility lanes, under 20 mile an hour, whatever we want to call them. How much is peopleforbikes, your your your outreach work? How much of it relies on either maintaining what you’ve already got in cities, or expanding them? How important are bike lanes to your work?

Sara Studdard 50:49
Bike lanes are an integral part of our work, you know, communities that, again, when we look across the city and look at communities that are wanting to increase the amount of people who are making the decision not to drive their car, investment in bike lanes is kind of parable Paramount as part of that solution. And so I think we’re actively supporting cities and city staff and elected officials, etc, and communities across the country to look at their bike network. And in a really sort of analytical and sort of hard way, we have a tool called our bicycle network analysis that is able to, you know, really help a city and not deem their bike network successful by the amount of miles they have installed, but you know, are those miles that they’ve installed?

Sara Studdard 51:42
safe, comfortable and accessible to as many residents as possible? And so we are constantly, you know, encouraging and having discussions about, you know, not all bike lanes are created equal, there’s always room for improvement, there’s always room to look at, you know, what our speed limits look like? Are there other traffic calming aspects, so

Sara Studdard 52:07
I could, we could probably spend a whole nother 45 to 50 minutes talking about, you know, how important bike network and bike infrastructure and lanes are to the success of mobility.

Carlton Reid 52:20
So I’m gonna, I’m gonna pick it this one, I’m gonna keep on going. I’m gonna go for I’m gonna go for Kyle now, though, because you’ve had your chance. So and I’m going to go back here, I’m going to pick it at Kyle. And that is,

Carlton Reid 52:33
how much do you then potentially neglect the other things that can boost micromobility, bicycling, whatever. If you focus on bike lanes, bike lanes, bike lanes, which, you know, in many places, you need space, space isn’t always there.

Carlton Reid 52:56
There’s got cost requirements, there are all sorts of things. And there are other measures that you can take that sometimes, not always, but sometimes can have massive, massive,

Carlton Reid 53:08
Upticks for cycling. So. So your elevator pitch on promoting bike lanes above all else, Kyle?

Kyle Wagenschutz 53:18
I would say, I think you’re right there. There are other measures. And there are other considerations that we that we should make. However, I would say that none of our cities visit this and then me I’m speaking solely about the US here. There are very few US cities that have built enough infrastructure to see those other measures actually be successful in a in a really broad way. So by that, I mean, you know, we if you go to any city in the US, and you ask them about their great cycling education programme, they’re going to they’re going to show you what they’ve been doing. They’ve been doing it since the 1950s and 60s, when it began teaching kids to ride bikes, you know, through police departments. And at the end of the day, we’ll look at sort of the growth of cycling as as the expected outcome from all of this work, and we’ve seen cycling remain relatively flat in the US for the last decade. Or if I asked the city you know, what measures are you taking to, you know, grow ridership. And so we have we have these riding events, we have these clubs, and we look at the trend line for cycling and we could we see that Cycling is still relatively flat. What we’ve what we’ve uncovered using this tool that Sarah mentioned, the bicycle network analysis is that there’s a point at which your your your community needs to create a basic network of bike infrastructure that supports riding, and it’s it doesn’t mean that every street has a bicycle lane or that every street is slowed to a point

Kyle Wagenschutz 54:54
where cars are driving 20 miles per hour, but in order for these safety programmes,

Kyle Wagenschutz 55:00
judgement programmes, bicycle commuting tax incentives for those programmes to to, to exponentially increase the number of people riding bicycles, you have to have the basic infrastructure in place to actually support it, it’d be it’s sort of the equivalent of this, if in your community, you wanted to

Kyle Wagenschutz 55:24
get everybody to a grocery store,

Kyle Wagenschutz 55:28
and you built the grocery store in, you know, in a field, and then told them, you know, to, to drive there, they certainly could, you know, without without without having roads, they certainly could get there, it would be an interesting experiment to sort of, you know, ask people to navigate a city with a lack of roads while driving in their car.

Kyle Wagenschutz 55:52
You know, similarly to how bicycles currently experience writing in cities today, we could we definitely see that we can encourage them to do it, we could create some programmes that would help them navigate, you know, a roadless city to get to that grocery store, we’d see some adoption there. But, but if we built a road to get there, wow, we could suddenly get there very fast, very, we wouldn’t be inconvenienced by you know, riding over a dirt or going around a tree or something like that. And that’s what we have to create for bicycling we we what we want to encourage with people for bikes is the more rapid expansion of these networks, these other programmes, these other encouragement ideas, these other initiatives can actually have a foundation for their success, rather than trying to create success.

Kyle Wagenschutz 56:42
In in a place where they lack that underlying support structure. At the end of the day, as you know, we want people to be comfortable riding and riding the bikes. And so infrastructure is the first step. So I would say like, what we want to do is talk about infrastructure, infrastructure, infrastructure, because we haven’t even established that baseline level of comfort with people with our infrastructure network. From there, we can build into broader pieces of momentum.

Carlton Reid 57:12
What’s your argument? And this can be for Sara, if you want to pitch in there first. What is your argument for when you put the bike lane in, you’re successful, the city puts it in either

Carlton Reid 57:24
tactical urbanism, you know, like, it’s just like a soft one, like a pop up first to trial it or they put a concrete one in straight away. And then it doesn’t get used in the numbers that, you know,

Carlton Reid 57:37
ticks those boxes for the local politician who went out on a limb to get this put in? How do you cope with low use of a cycle lane of a bike lane? How do you?

Carlton Reid 57:51
How do you explain that? How do you maybe change that?

Sara Studdard 57:59
I think kind of to go back to Kyle’s grocery store in the middle of a field example. I think it’s really looking at that new bike lane. And can anyone access it and in a safe way, is it part of a full network that creates connections to you know, the variety of places people want to go from their homes to work to a park to a grocery store? And so I think really challenging that maybe the bike lane actually the construction wasn’t a success because it didn’t make those connections to look at it that way.

Carlton Reid 58:35
Same question to Kyle then and then you know, the perfect is the enemy of good. So what Sara was saying there is about you know, is the network up to scratch in effect well shouldn’t there therefore be an emphasis on on getting a smaller things put in place smaller interventions put in place before you go for like a gold standard, you know, in inverted commas bike lane, because if it’s a if it’s a bike lane is put in huge expense, and it doesn’t have those network connections and Sara saying, it’s probably not going to get us however, local politicians and perhaps local

Carlton Reid 59:14
officials as well. They want to put their name to sexy infrastructure, you know, big road, a bridge so they can cut the ribbon off. If you just put a few like ineffective boring bits of connectivity in that will actually you know, just put a barrier in say on one road and it just enables people to suddenly cycle more, but it’s not sexy. So how do you how do you get around the fact that an awful lot of the things that are actually get people on bikes are phenomenally unsexy. And nobody’s really that interested in putting their name to it?

Kyle Wagenschutz 59:49
Yeah, yeah. And so I would, I would concur with Sara. A bike lane is only as good as what it helps people connect to and you’re obviously

Kyle Wagenschutz 1:00:00
right, Carlton, the the way that cities have gone about building infrastructure has historically been in large capital investment projects that completely transformed the street, you know that we’re building infrastructure that looks really great, it has that aesthetically pleasing, it probably accomplishes more than just adding bicycle lanes, it’s also adding enhancements for pedestrians public transport access,

Kyle Wagenschutz 1:00:27
you know, it’s probably, you know, having tangential community benefits, it probably also took 10 years to build that thing. And at the end of the day, you’re right, what happens is you you get to the finish line, you cut the ribbon, you have the big scissors with the mayor on the street. And then you look around and you’re like, well, where are the bicyclists? We built this amazing piece of new infrastructure for them? Where are they all at? And I think what what that what that process misses is that fundamentally, at the end of the day, people are making transportation decisions based on convenience, you know, monitoring their schedule, getting to the places they want to go. And in, in the process of building up to this new piece of, you know, top, top notch latest innovation and design and implementation, we lose the plot on Wow, this bike lane goes for one mile, and then it stops, and then it dumps back into the same terrible road that it was before on either end. How are people reaching this bike lane? What where we’ve seen some success is, you know, the scale of the infrastructure, I think is is less important, you know that there’s different communities have different financial situations, they’re able to afford different styles of infrastructure, where we’ve seen some real success, and we’re working with some community partners is in rethinking the nature of a bicycle infrastructure project, not not to be a corridor, but to be an entire network all at once this, this is a model that we learned about, you know, that was used in Seville, Spain, during their rapid implementation, you know, about a decade ago, and thinking about the bicycle network is the project that we should be pursuing. So we just we’ve just been working, for example, with the city of New Orleans, Louisiana, who, this past year,

Kyle Wagenschutz 1:02:17
ran successfully have implemented a project implementing a network in one part of their city, it’s 11 different corridors, it’s protected bicycle lanes, green paid the full night, the full nine yards, roadway reconstruction, but they took that they took all 11 corridors, I think it’s something like 14 or 15 miles in total, they took all of those to the community, as a singular project, build, we’re gonna build them all start to finish. And as they went through the public engagement process, building support, block by block for that work, they weren’t talking about just the change to the street in front of your business, they were certainly talking about how that street in front of your business connects to the neck connects to the next neighbourhood connects to the next street connects to the next part of the city connects to the park. And they were able to lead a singular public engagement process during a pandemic, and complete implementation all in all last year, by approaching it from this network perspective. And I actually think that is maybe the more important facet for city leaders to think about is that

Kyle Wagenschutz 1:03:29
rather than spending a lot of time a lot of money and a lot of energy on what are at the end of the day, pretty small scale projects from a connectivity standpoint, is to expand the definition of of your bicycle projects. And Get, get something more out of view of your work at the end of the day. You know, and then think about it if I’m a bicyclist, and I’m not sure how to get to this new bike lane, that looks really great. But both sides of it are really dangerous. And your network is only as good as you know, as as the weakest link the most dangerous connection that it has. Imagine, though, if I can go out to my new bicycle network in New Orleans. And I can ride 14 miles and they’re all interconnected. I can seamlessly go from one piece of the network to the other, onto the trails onto the street, I can get to the park that I wanted to get to I want to stop and get some lunch at my favourite restaurant. I can do all of those things without ever leaving the bicycle network. I think that’s the real opportunity before cities.

Carlton Reid 1:04:34
Mm hmm. Fantastic. Kyle, Sara that’s been absolutely fascinating. And it has been definitely nerdy

Carlton Reid 1:04:42
nerdy so that that’s a good form of nerdy

Carlton Reid 1:04:47
so where can people who have been turned on by this and they like that the nerdery Where can they get in touch with you guys on social media?

Carlton Reid 1:04:56
where you can find people for bikes at?

Kyle Wagenschutz 1:05:00
Add people for bikes on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Kyle Wagenschutz 1:05:06
And we Sara and I still maintain

Kyle Wagenschutz 1:05:11
the bike nerd social media presence to find us most active on Twitter at the bikenerds podcast.

Carlton Reid 1:05:20
Thanks to Kyle Wagenschutz and Sarah Studdard of People for Bikes for kicking off the Spokesmen’s roster of 2021 podcasts. I’m aiming to get the legend that is Gary Fisher on the next show but meanwhile get out there and ride.

December 30, 2020 / / Blog

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Wednesday 30th December 2020

The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

EPISODE 263: Loading close pass videos to the cloud with a smart bike dashcam that looks like a cute Pixar character

SPONSOR: Jenson USA

HOST: Carlton Reid

GUESTS: Crispian Poon and Liz Yu of Pelation, maker of the Rebo smart bike light and dash cam.

TOPICS: Pelation is a UK-government backed start-up that is to soon produce for real the Rebo smart bike light and dashcam video combo — it looks like a Pixar character and has been trialled successfully by a courier company Pedal and Post of Oxford.

LINKS:

Pelation website

TRANSCRIPT:

Carlton Reid 0:13
Welcome to Episode 263 of the spokesmen cycling podcast. This episode was engineered on Wednesday, 30th December 2020.

David Bernstein 0:24
The spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast is brought to you by Jenson USA, where you’ll always find a great selection of products at amazing prices with unparalleled customer service. For more information, just go to Jensonusa.com/thespokesmen. Hey everybody, it’s David from the Fredcast cycling podcast at www.Fredcast.com. I’m one of the hosts and producers of the spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast. For shownotes links and all sorts of other information please visit our website at www.spokesmen.com. And now, here are the spokesmen.

Carlton Reid 1:08
It’s nearly over. 2020. The first few months of 2021 still look grim but with the vaccines being rolled out — my doctor wife has already had her first Covid jab — we could soon all get back to normal. I’m Carlton Reid welcoming you to the last episode of the year. As regular listeners will know, the Spokesmen Cycling Podcast is a US stroke UK co-production, with my co-host David Bernstein joining in from Utah. And for the final show of 2020 my guests are another US stroke UK co-production. Crispian Poon is English and Liz Yu is American — they joined forces to create Pelation. No, not peloton, we get on to the naming thing in the show itself – Pelation is a UK-government backed start-up that is to soon produce for real the Rebo Smart bike light and dashcam video combo — it looks like a Pixar character and has been trialled successfully by a British courier company. I met the pair at an expo in London just before the first lockdown in March, and wanted to get them on the show as soon as they had something concrete to talk about. Well, that time is now …

Carlton Reid 2:42
Crispian, Liz. you’ve now got to refresh my memory because I met you at a Move conference exhibition at the ExCel Centre in London, when was that? When did we meet?

Liz Yu 2:57
I think that was earlier this year in February, at Move 2020.

Carlton Reid 3:02
So that’s basically 12 years ago,

Liz Yu 3:05
Now appears to be normal.

Carlton Reid 3:10
When we could actually physically meet in person, which was a it’s a fond memory. So you had at that point you had what you had a product in prototype. You’re now it’s still in prototype, you’re sending it out but with with with couriers and Oxford and stuff, but tell me exactly what product you’ve got. So what is the Rebo? Am I pronouncing it right first of all? Yeah, that’s correct. Okay, so I don’t know how you’re gonna do work this out Liz and Crispian who’s who’s gonna be talking me through first?

Liz Yu 3:44
I think I can give it a quick intro. So the repo is what we’ve been working on. And we as installation, Crispian and I in our team, and word cycle technology company, and we’re in our goal is all about getting people from point A to B seamlessly on a bike in cities. At the moment, there’s a big safety barrier. So rebo is a smart bike light and dash cam. And we’ve designed it to reduce the amount of near misses and record incidents to increase availability of kind of the cycling data in an industry. So there’s a couple parts to it. First of all, I think we like to talk about, we tried to design it with a preventative design, and we can talk more about this later. But we use kind of a unique design that tackles behavioural psychology so people move safer around cyclists. Second of all, this dash cam comes with a handlebar bookmark. So there’s a button on your handlebar. So anytime any cyclist runs into any incidents, whether it’s a infrastructure issue or something on the street that’s unsafe, or you know, potentially a near miss. They can click this handlebar bookmark and what it does is it captures any details at that point of the ride. So the video footage, the location plate numbers, and more. So you Just have to keep writing. And you can review this information seamlessly later. What happens is when you get get home, this uploads through cloud, so you don’t need to touch your device, you don’t need to mess around with SD cards and you have a dashboard to view everything that’s happened. And you can submit it to authorities if it’s something serious, or you can simply just have the recording to share. And what happens? Yeah, and so that that collects in our database. So we have a database of all the most dangerous areas that cyclists feel that there is in the city, and we use this information to contribute directly to data and insights of the infrastructure changes.

Carlton Reid 5:45
So it is a cute looking product. And you you touched on why it’s a cute little looking product a second ago, we can talk about why it’s a cute looking product later on. But first of all, I’d like to find out about you to and where you’ve come from and your background. And I guess why you’re doing this. So first of all, as we haven’t heard much from Crispian. So let’s Crispian you go first, wherever you come from. And I’m why Rebo and why Pelation?

Crispian Poon 6:16
Yeah, so I’ve been an electrical engineer. In most of my career, the first company and the last company I worked for was building electric vehicles. So as in the electric mobility space, building hybrid electric, taxis. We’re actually running trials in London for over two years for a project called Metro cab. Basically, we’re trying to make cities cleaner, safer, using electrify technologies. But I saw on problems when we actually, there was still congestion, people are still stuck in vehicles. We weren’t moving people very efficiently. There are only a couple people in taxis at a time. And they’ve always had an interest in bikes. So when I finished that and went to Imperial to do our MBA together with Liz, we started looking at the sustainability, space and mobility. We both cycled, we both saw that there is a problem in the cycle space and want to do something about it. So we went on lots of design research talk to hundreds and hundreds of cyclists. And the main problem that came up with was cycling near misses, lots of people, we’ve talked to talk about their stories about how they, you know, ran into cars on turnings, or, or having close calls with cars passing too close. And we just saw, there’s nothing on the market that could solve the problem. So we came together, probably has together and started working on rebo to really find a solution to near misses, which weren’t being tackled, either by the authorities or just by, you know, the authorities, in general in terms of enforcement.

Carlton Reid 8:10
So when we met in February at the ExCel centre, how long have you been working on the project already by then? And how fresh was the product? Basically?

Crispian Poon 8:22
Yeah, well, we’re

Crispian Poon 8:23
actually on a, a DFT funded grant project called T-TRIG. So it’s actually right over between December to the latter part of this year. It was a feasibility project to build a prototype out to see what kind of name as technology name as prevention technology we can build out. And the first part of that prototyping stage was where we met, met you move 2020 we got a very rough already prototype out to meet customers, I get some initial feedback. And that was really successful, because then we went on to develop our second iteration of the product, which went on to deploy with occurs in Oxford.

Carlton Reid 9:05
So that was like you mentioned T-TRIG there. So let me just, that’s transport technology, innovation grant

Liz Yu 9:12
transfer technology research, innovation grant.

Carlton Reid 9:17
Okay. Right. And that was January, and that would have ran out a couple of months ago then.

Liz Yu 9:26
So that kicked off in January, but and because of all the delays with COVID. It’s actually gone on till around end of September.

Crispian Poon 9:36
We had lots of issues, you know, we couldn’t were the hardware company and we build physical products, and we need physical parts. So we’re very dependent upon the supply chain. So we walked around a lot of problems actually, with supply chains from overseas and actually insource a lot of development in house but inevitably those delays because we had To switch around our entire operation, we still got there in the end.

Carlton Reid 10:05
Okay, and now Liz, we need to find out where you’re from and and not just where you’ve come from in this space, but I guess geographically where you’re from. So where’s where’s your accent from? Liz?

Liz Yu 10:19
I am from California. But I’ve grown up, you know, all over kind of all over the place in Taipei back in California. And I’ve lived in Singapore for a few years. And I moved to London to complete my MBA. And that’s as crispian said, where we met. So my background actually is previously in hospitality industry, but doing business development and such. So working for hotel brands, like Starwood Hotels, and other luxury hotel groups, so quite, quite a change. For me, and after my MBA, I’ve joined a startup to add tech startup to help lead and grow the startup before. This was, you know, this was for us. At first, a bit of a side project we started during, kind of during the NBA, we started talking about it, we started working on it, and yeah, it just turned into a full time. Full Time project for us. Full Time gig.

Carlton Reid 11:20
So let’s describe it physically. I know that’s very hard, because we’re talking audio. But there’s a there’s a definite look to this thing. And it’s it’s it’s kind of computery futuristic, with eyes. So it’s meant to have eyes. Yes. This this this handlebar camera. Oh, yeah. It’s a light. So the light for the eyes? Yeah.

Liz Yu 11:48
Yeah. And I think I think generally, it’s smaller than than what people imagine it’s about the size of your palm, maybe a bit smaller than that. And it fits at the front or back of your bike. And yes, it’s not a fundamental I design, which we, we like to include, and we like to talk about, because it’s, it’s what we believe can true one of the one of the things we believe in truly make a difference, changing the behaviour of people that are actually around the cyclists to make people feel safer, and be able to then choose cycling as kind of their first choice of transport.

Carlton Reid 12:25
So the way I kind of describe it is if Pixar was to design a bicycle light, you know, it would look a bit like this. So it’s, it’s, you know, a futuristic ii computery kind of face. So tell me about the psychology of why a face.

Liz Yu 12:48
Yeah, so this is something called the watching eye effect. So what it what it is, is it uses I design elements in there, there have been lots of kind of reports about this, the psychological effect of when there is some sort of image of an eye, people tend to feel like they’re being watched. And so they either have more positive behaviour, or safer or so through various examples. And papers are such as littering. Like if there’s a photo of an eye, somewhere nearby, people are a lot less likely to litter, even if it’s just a photo. So we see this used in kind of the surveillance industry and the transport industry. If you’ll notice, TfL has bus ads. And on the back of the bus ads, there, there’s been a few versions that has just an image of an eye saying something along the lines, watch your speed. And similarly in the surveillance industry, there’s there’s an eye in areas but I you know, that one’s a bit more self explanatory. But what it does is it Yeah, subconsciously prompt positive behaviour,

Carlton Reid 13:59
and then helps a cause just with their headlights. They kind of look like faces. Yeah,

Liz Yu 14:05
yeah. So So I think the new the new, autonomous vehicle that Jaguar Land Rover is testing us is kind of AI to communicate safety, intentions and friendliness.

Crispian Poon 14:18
Yeah, I think whenever there’s a product or imagery that that evokes more humanization people tend to respond better because that’s part of their subconscious. You know, people seek out eyes, people sneak out gazes. And that’s why this effect is so effective is because, you know, people already know this. Since they’re born. They’ve been looking at people’s eyes means that, you know, people can humanise cyclists better as I hope we have the product bite also seek them out easier. Because it’s something so natural.

Carlton Reid 14:56
Hmm. So tell me about the the actual implementation of this this product, so you’ve given some of these units, the Rebo units to a courier firm in Oxford called pedal and post, yeah?

Liz Yu 15:11
Yeah, that’s correct. So, um, but this element is just a small part of it. The main, the main, kind of what we are focusing on right now. And you know, the AI element, we’re doing different iterations, we’re testing with the most effective version. So what we’re working on now is, we ran a pilot with, yeah, as you mentioned, put a pedal and post in Oxford. And what we did is distribute these cameras to them. And their riders, you know, are riding more than an average commuter, they, they deliver, they deliver items about, you know, eight hours a day, five days a week, rain or shine, probably seven days a week, actually. Yeah, and they bookmark any area that they feel, and you know, these are writers that are trained, and really, really know how to ride you know, no beginners, they’ve, they’ve been, they’ve gone through proper safety training. So they bookmark areas that they feel are unsafe, or that they’ve had incidents, and, and then we get this, we kind of get all this footage, and it compiles into a bit of a heat map of dangerous areas, sorted by categories of what type of incidents

Carlton Reid 16:18
and the rider themselves after the ride categorises the incident, as you know, that was a close pass that was a, an obstruction, is that what happens? How do they physically bookmark these things?

Liz Yu 16:35
So so they bookmark the handlebar button, so the button that comes with the device, all they need to do is click it. At the moment we are with the writers input, we’re sorting these categories. So whether it’s a close pass, or it’s a left hook from a car that’s coming from the head, it’s usually quite apparent. So we’re able to sort them into different categories. But with the writers input, sometimes it’s something that’s a little bit more specific. But yeah, with individuality of just automating this whole process, is kind of our next project. Yeah.

Carlton Reid 17:12
And then when you could get your adventure, we’ll talk about the commercialization of this. But eventually, there’ll be a map because on the on your website here pervasion. Co, UK, where you’ve got the the description of Oxford, I’m scrolling through it here now. So there’s a there’s a map Box Map, where you can click in and you can see the incident itself, and then you can actually see the video of the incident. So is that eventually how you would envisage all these this data getting out there in that every single eventual owner of a rebo. Any incidents they have, would get logged on to a data, great big map where every incident can be clicked through?

Liz Yu 17:56
Yeah, if they choose to, riders choose to share it, for instance, you know, our next project is, I keep calling them projects, but kind of what we have in the pipeline is with the government of Jersey, and they have a couple of these, quite a few of these units running around the island of Jersey and their writers will bookmark, bookmark the dangerous areas, and we send, you know, report to the government of Jersey, of where these work, sorry, where these points are. And you know, they’re able to go in and view the video. And what they choose to then do with it is, at the moment, it’s up to them. But there’s many kind of mini kind of ways you can present this data other than just on this map.

Crispian Poon 18:41
Yeah, and the beauty of our system is that we’ve reduced so much of the friction in allowing the user to submit these namelessness report. At the moment is very manual process, you have to get the SD card, extract the footage, right? Find the place where the incident is, and then make a manual submission to the police, or whoever. But we’re automating all that you press one button, you get 60 seconds of footage automatically uploaded to the cloud. And it gets put on the map. And the infrastructure planners who want to look at this data to really fix the near misses at the core. They can take the videos and watch the videos themselves and see why these near misses are happening. I mean, that’s an unprecedented capability. Because at the moment they use hearsay from people who talk to counsellors or just raw data that doesn’t really explain why near misses are happening. This gives them a first person view of why incidents happening and really generate the corrective corrective action that they need to take to fix these issues.

Carlton Reid 19:55
Eventually, on the website, it says 2021 next year in effect Very shortly, you’re going to go out to Kickstarter for this product. So how close are you to, to realising that?

Liz Yu 20:07
um, I think, I think right now we are focused on the plan is always to go down the Kickstarter route, there’s a big cycling market there, there’s a big kind of support and community there that we think will be very interested. It’s the people that would be very interested in our product, the same people that have already, you know, signed up for our beta trials and to purchase a beta version of this product. But I think at the moment, we want to make sure we are proving this to be useful, because you know, otherwise, it’s just another camera and dash cam, we want to make sure we have everything set out and kind of the path ready for this to be able to actually make a difference and the future of creating a cycle city in different areas.

Carlton Reid 20:59
Do you have a ballpark price? rough price?

Liz Yu 21:03
I guess what we always say is around £100. That could change.

Carlton Reid 21:08
That’s not shocking. I mean, that’s like that’s, that’s actually okay. Yeah, I’m in this kind of space. £100 pounds is or there abouts is not? I didn’t follow my chair, basically. You know, you’re just no more than that.

Liz Yu 21:25
Yeah, but it’s still as Crispin said, it’s still there early. As we’re still at the moment, the prototypes are, you know, retail value would be more than £100. But, you know, it’s still a bit early for us to tell. We are, you know, if it includes it includes, you know, we’ve we’ve had actually conversations with, with, for instance, London Cycling Campaign when these are ready, you know, maybe we could run a few, you run a few of them on writers for you know, two full weeks of London and see what kind of data we get that that type of project will take more, you know, analysis time and a bit more data crunching and things like that. So, at the moment, we’re not quite sure yet, but I’m hoping for around that price range.

Carlton Reid 22:17
Let’s let’s talk some tech because if there’s any camera geeks on here, who you know, we’ll base all of their purchasing decisions on and it’s not 4k it’s not it’s not 1080 it’s not there’s not that it’s not there’s Why is only looping for this amount of time. So tell me about the actual tech what what is the camera on board? How good is it? How long you know, does it loop forward? Give me all the really nerdy stuff

Liz Yu 22:43
Over to you Crispian.

Carlton Reid 22:46
Yeah.

Crispian Poon 22:49
Well, um, so so the camera was actually an HD camera, we’ve got a wide angle lens, which actually it’s related to after a couple of weeks of testing with pet on post when they were capturing tonnes and tonnes of incident had to gather more evidence of close passes. So we’re actually calibrated the wide angle lens for that particular use case. So the there’s internal storage on board there is 128 gigabytes so we can actually record for about three days straight of constant eight hour shifts usage the device itself has a battery life between five to eight hours so enough for shift because you’re not cycling all the time when your career but it depends on you know whether you turn the camera on full brightness or you doing all sorts of harsh writing in hot sunlight. But our cameras can cope you know, they’ve been out in the streets of Oxford in daylight, rain, sunshine, hail, you name it.

Carlton Reid 24:01
Any stabilisation onboard digital or not?

Crispian Poon 24:04
we try to keep the hardware as simple as possible. So we went back to the fundamentals. So the stabilisation is really about reducing mechanical operation, get it as tight to the frame as we can. Because what we see on the market is lots of cameras using very flimsy mounts, which induce a lot of vibration. Well, that means you have to use electronic stabilisation, which is kind of a plaster on a fundamental one. Our petition is good. We can capture number plates, we can see the road details quite clearly. And most importantly, we can see the incidence the second by second and seeing everything that’s going on during this

Carlton Reid 24:50
and you said before I think was Liz actually was saying that that you can you could put it on behind as well is that is the same unit or you’re talking about a different a different iteration.

Crispian Poon 25:01
Yeah, it’s the same unit. So we’ve got universal mounts for the front of the bike back on the bike, and even the same mount on some of the cargo bikes. It’s a really flexible system, you can clip it on clip off, there’s a locking mechanism.

Carlton Reid 25:17
But then when the lights be white on the back, or do you have like a filter goes across?

Crispian Poon 25:22
Yeah, so we’re working on that at the moment. For the trials, we just have the camera running, when it’s on the back by the pilot to have some kind of filter system to cover the lens. So you have a red light on the back and a white light in the front. Huh.

Carlton Reid 25:42
And then I asked you before about the price I don’t think we actually got and maybe what the when is, so when when might you potentially go to Kickstarter?

Crispian Poon 25:56
I think what, we have a mailing list. So if you sign up, you get all the latest updates. We’re running lots of projects at the moment to de risk our development. But I think the answer is soon not too soon, but soon

Liz Yu 26:11
crowds and yet like right now, our main focus is actually to develop capabilities to automatically identify and analyse the near misses. So, you know, bringing some machine and learning into then applying that to the footage that we captured. So we’re working with a lot of councils right now, in terms of actually developing this part of the software. So when this part of software is ready, and we’ve proven it, then I think we will go back and focus on the actual Yeah, manufacturing of the hardware product. And that’s when Kickstarter, and everything will kick in. But at the moment, yeah, we’re trying to make it so that councils have a tool to be able to, you know, what they have, what they see right now is cycling data, but sometimes just like they know where some of the dangerous areas are, but it’s hard to connect the dots from there to then you know, what caused it. And we’re trying to use these these, like footage on the data points to help with that part of it. So it is, it is this bit is our first focus. Because until we can do that we’re you know, we’re quite focused on like, what will actually improve cycling and will will actually help with more safe cyclestreets. So once we’ve worked out kind of this, this area, and we will go back to launching manufacturing and sending these out.

Carlton Reid 27:40
Okay, and then an awful lot of police forces are now making it much easier for motorists and cyclists and motorcyclists anybody who’s got a dashcam to upload their, their footage. So is that something that you can make? easier? Can you like lock into these systems? And it’s just, you know, a one button upload? And what are you doing for like the not that the council side of it, but the police side of it? Yeah,

Liz Yu 28:10
yeah, we’ve been, yeah, there’s like the dashboard over where people can update at the moment, or you know, our footage automatically. So if you’re writing, and you bookmark this incident, when you get home, you can then get a link of just those two minutes before and two minutes after. So there’s really no processing kind of in the middle, you just have to click that button when it happens, or a little after happens. So at the moment, it’s a link that they can apply to upload, but I think in the future, you know, we’ve we’ve tried to with the the TfL funded London cycle safety team, as well. I think it might be a bit complicated kind of linking the system just because you’d have to kind of link the portals, but we do have plans to make as easy as possible. It’s easier than Yeah, at the moment, a link that basically they could just paste on to any sort of reports they want to report. Yeah.

Carlton Reid 29:08
And then you’re riding through Oxford, and it’s just a such a lovely day that they’re not only motors around, it’s like, oh, I really enjoyed that ride. I just like to post that to social media, just the whole of that ride. If you can do that as well without having a you know, press that button to save that’s the bit I want. Can you go in afterwards? In other words, and get just a nice ride?

Liz Yu 29:28
And and and upload it so yeah, absolutely. We um, you know, we’re all about promoting the fun of cycling as well. We don’t like to promote kind of the aggression on the road that people might have with each other. It’s not always about instance, but sharing the joys of cycling. So you can so yeah, you can still press that button, and you would just, it just wouldn’t be tracked as it wouldn’t be captured as an incident. It would just be something you can then click Share, and share the link to social media. We see that Yeah, we see that all the time people, especially with our team members, you know, they like to date they like to share their their coolest ride or, you know, the most pleasant ride that they have. Yeah.

Carlton Reid 30:13
And what about overlays on the video, you know, like the location data, all that kind of stuff that is behind the scenes in the zip file. But do you have any plans for toggling on and off, you know,

Crispian Poon 30:27
data above, totalling data, but potentially, I mean, it’s part of the development roadmap, we adding information like GPS data, so we have tracking of the location of the bookmark bookmark instance. So you can refer back to the map and see exactly where the instance happened. But in our future prototypes, we have accelerometers and jarra data so you can really see what’s going on on the bike in terms of swerving, acceleration, heading direction, change and stuff. But, I mean, this camera is tailored for safety. First and foremost, it’s really about making the entire process for making safe cycling easier. And better. So yeah, but like I

Liz Yu 31:23
said, as well, like the users can choose to share this information or not. Yeah.

Carlton Reid 31:33
And with with the UK, you could talk us through this, this blog posting on Oxford. So clearly, a bunch of couriers, yes, they’re expert cyclists, but they are also going to be going into pretty much the same locations all the time. And it’s going to be, you know, city centre locations mainly. So it will be different to when eventually consumers get get that hands on this. But what what have the what are the kind of things that have really been highlighted to you from the Oxford paddlin? Post data? What what is what is what, looking at this map, and all these different incidents that have happened? What’s your takeaway from them?

Liz Yu 32:16
Um, I think, I think there, there were a few. One thing was, it seemed quite straightforward to pinpoint, you know, the key problematic areas, and you know, as you might predict a lot of common incidents like illegally parked cars, for instance, that were captured, or cars, and then kind of like a lane that they’re not supposed to be, we’re in city centres, because that’s tends to be where, you know, there are parking issues. And so some of those quite straightforward initial findings. And then we also, we also see specific roads that near misses happened the most often. And these tend to be roads that, you know, again, don’t have cycle lanes. But I think what kind of this map gives extra is to be able to click through to the video. And just because you could say, you could see a point, this is near miss on this road. And that will give you that information. But you know, what this map adds is that, then you can click through and watch what actually happened. And then you could see that, wow, okay, that happened, because this roads tend to be, for instance, very empty at this time of day. So people tend to drive by very quickly without being aware of cyclists. So little, kind of extra details like that could be added through through these videos for fueling the actual footage. Those are kind of like

Carlton Reid 33:52
is it been tested anywhere else apart from Oxford in this kind of? depth?

Liz Yu 34:00
We’re planning?

Liz Yu 34:01
Yeah, so we, you know, we have something launching in Jersey in the month, actually, less than a month. So that would be interesting to see, especially since we are less familiar with kind of Jersey cycling infrastructure, which would be exciting to have a look at what kind of footage we capture there. You know, we have internal trials that we’ve ran throughout London, and, you know, being, you know, us being like living in London. Those are always more interesting to watch because it’s interesting to see exactly which road you kind of sympathise with, with the same issues that you run into and you know, I’m on my daily commute. And then we Yeah, we’re potentially launching in Edinburgh as well. Next year, there was a quarter company that we’re working with, but we kind of need to Yeah, we kind of are rushing to keep up with the quarter companies that are interested In working with us, so hopefully that can be early next year, something we’ll be able to see as well.

Carlton Reid 35:09
And ready to place and come from obviously some peloton going on there, but tell me more about the word

Liz Yu 35:16
we’re absolutely not related to.

Liz Yu 35:21
Yeah, we’ve been getting that a lot. So you know, we might we might go through we’re kind of having conversations of undergoing a potential rebrand but yeah, Crispin.

Crispian Poon 35:33
Yeah, yeah. So pelation the word has, it really embodies the values that we hold, which is we want people to have fun when they cycle and really see cycling as an everyday tool or a means to get around everywhere. So when you get on a bike, we want people to feel happy and elated. And that’s why pollution came along. It’s about Okay, okay, okay.

Carlton Reid 36:02
Got it. Got it. Okay. All right. And then the peloton, not peloton is in the company peloton, but just the word, peloton and so it’s peloton and elation together. Am I am I in the right area now? Yeah.

Crispian Poon 36:21
Yeah, yeah. And elation. No. So

Carlton Reid 36:24
okay. Okay. Yeah, that’s good. Yeah. Okay. So pedal elation. See, I’m coming that from a Pro Cycling point of view. So Rebo? Were does repo come from?

Liz Yu 36:38
repo is actually something, a name that we had during development. It was never intended to kind of mwant to be the actual product name. Um, but yeah, it just kind of stuck. And everyone on the team really liked it.

Crispian Poon 36:57
Yeah, that’s meaning to the word. It just sounded good. We started using it.

Carlton Reid 37:04
So that that kind of Wall-E, Pixar Disney type aesthetic. Is that the Is that likely to be the finished product? Or are you still going to go through some iterations on how it looks?

Crispian Poon 37:16
I think there’ll be market testing. And we want to get more feedback from people. But we like the initial approach. We’d like the friendly kind of kids friendly as well. style of the product. easing eyes as the focal point of our design. Yeah, let’s see. I think more

Carlton Reid 37:39
and it’s Sorry, it’s other lights. Are they street legal light, so they could use this as your only lighting setup from Yeah,

Crispian Poon 37:48
yeah, absolutely. I mean, that’s why we designed the light into the device is that we don’t want people having a light on the camera, and everything else on board, extra battery or whatever. It’s all in one, you just put it on and is ready to go for your ride. frontlight camera done?

Liz Yu 38:06
Yeah, the one feedback we get from cyclists is generally just that there are already too many things to put on your bike. I’m guessing you can put them as fellow cyclists so a common combining them all into one?

Carlton Reid 38:23
Yeah, you need to have a bell on there, you’re gonna have to put a GPS, you know, a Strava dev unit on there. And what else can you

Liz Yu 38:31
well, so doing more testing because we are aware that as a breed cyclists are very picky about many cyclists are very picky about what what they put on their bike bike, so there needs to be Yeah, so we need to do a bit more you know, kind of customer testing, but in general, you know, it’s small, it’s portable, and you instal the mount on so it just slides in and out so it’s a very easy seamless process

Carlton Reid 39:00
and do you have to have in the finished product where you always have to have the button that you press for marking incident is that always gonna be separate to the the actual light camera unit doesn’t have to be separate

Liz Yu 39:15
at the moment and it’s separate because the unit can be applied to both the front and the back of the bike. So you can use the same unit up to you get one for the front one for the back. But yes, at the moment, it’s separate but the button is small. It goes on snaps onto the handlebar really easily.

Carlton Reid 39:36
And it’s Bluetooth.

Crispian Poon 39:38
Bluetooth, yeah.

Carlton Reid 39:41
Okay, and then let’s do a Dragon’s Den here. So is this is this something that you can you can make a living at? Can you can you have you looked at the size of the handlebar, dash cam bicycle, camera light market and you can see a nice Where you can get into there? And you can you can make a business from this. So do me Give me the elevator pitch of, of how you’re going to make yourself into?

Liz Yu 40:11
Um, yeah, so we, I guess on top of, we haven’t had gone through those numbers for a long time. But on top of the growing growing kind of cycle assessment market with with the amount of cycles in cities, you know, growing at a very fast pace and the cycle assessor market being a big one, we are, we are big on looking at the infrastructure market. So this is we’re kind of focused on kind of the data sell of this product, eventually, you know, this is information on cycling that is currently unavailable. So anything that has to do with infrastructure is councils up to, you know, sit, yeah, city planning and even up to autonomous vehicle, you know, they’re there. The AV industry is growing, but they’re having trouble identifying cyclists, they find cyclists like cyclists to be the most unpredictable object on the road. So you know, these are all of these can all feed this information can all feed into, you know, this is just initial thinking, of course. This can all feed into kind of that market. So yeah, it is, it is kind of I don’t have the numbers on me right now. But yeah, it is, it is kind of a couple different areas, the quarters are just a small, kind of our beachhead market, they want to protect their riders, they want safety for the riders. Eventually, maybe perhaps these companies employing you know, like deliver, we see Uber Eats, they’re running into issues on the street when their riders get into an incident. It’s a big kind of liability for them. So their job is to think, okay, what’s the best way to protect our riders, before they ride and after if something happens to them. And then on top of that, yeah, individual cyclists. And then kind of the whole infrastructure planning side of things.

Carlton Reid 42:07
You’re going to say something there, Crispian?

Crispian Poon 42:09
Let’s say, you know, with a lot of local deliveries, last mile deliveries, especially of bands clogging up in the cities, we’re seeing a lot more startup cycle logistics company popping up, for example, in the Edinburgh company, they just popped up a couple months ago. And it’s really filling in the space up. And there’s a lot of driving in the government as well, in especially the high level strategy to push forward more low carbon. So micro last mile, transport delivery logistics networks, to consolidate all the deliveries and also make delivery trips more efficient as well. So we definitely see a potential there. And also, with the infrastructure planning side, there’s a lot of push for, as you know, emergency active travel funding. And that’s why we’re getting a lot of interest from councils, governments, to really see how we can do a data driven approach to planning infrastructure, because there hasn’t been a data driven planning approach to solving especially like near misses. It’s been using very raw, very unrefined data like collision data, which really don’t show the problem before serious incidents happen. For example, like incidents, you can have a couple 100 of actual collisions in the space, but you can have 10s of 1000s of near misses. And I think lots of councils are saying that they’re seeing the missing data that they’re not using in their business cases, when they put for these funding proposals. They’re not seeing the near misses that are part of the whole planning process to see where the issues are, and where they need to put the fixes into get more people cycling. Using a data driven approach.

Carlton Reid 44:18
Great, lovely. Tell me now or tell tell the listeners of there’s a bit on your your website says join our movement. So where can people sign up to join your movement? Liz? Yes,

Liz Yu 44:33
so pelation.co.uk/sign-up. So if you just go to our website, click Join our movement. Basically,

Carlton Reid 44:43
what are people gonna, what

Carlton Reid 44:44
are they signing up for them, they’re they’re signing up for an announcement of when you’re going to be launching your case,

Liz Yu 44:51
as well as just you know, kind of what we’ve been up to. We’re always looking for more beta users to test our product. We like to build a product that’s Not just you know, built by us, a community of cyclists. And we have a lot of kind of users are in regular regularly in contact with. We love feedback from cyclists. And we’d like to hear you know, everyone’s new ideas. So if you’re interested in what we’re working on to sign up on our website,

Carlton Reid 45:21
social media, what you’re doing in social media, yes,

Liz Yu 45:23
we can find us on twitter @pelationtech. And you can find us on Instagram, pelationtech as well. We regularly we regularly kind of update these two platforms, but also on, you know, LinkedIn and Facebook as well. If you want to chat with us. We’re always you know, Crispian and I are the founders. We have a small team. We’re always keen to chat with anyone that you know, is into cameras or likes, likes to talk about buy or likes to talk with, you know, have campaigners that want to tell us you know, what their biggest issues are when you know, when looking at

Liz Yu 45:59
kind of campaigning in the space or just anyone kind of a narrow we’re always up to have a chat.

Liz Yu 46:07
Yeah, get in touch.

Carlton Reid 46:10
Thank you to Crispian Poon and Liz Yu for talking through their pedalling elation project. This has been the last episide of the Spokesmen Cycling Podcast for 2020. We’ve been getting you at least two a month for some time now and I don’t see that changing for 2021. Have a safe and hopefully Covid-free New Year and we’ll kick off again in January 2021. Thanks for listening and for sharing about the Spokesmen Cycling Podcast on social media – show notes, including full transcripts, can be found at the-spokesmen.com Meanwhile, get out there and ride.

December 1, 2020 / / Blog

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GivingTuesday 1st December 2020

The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

EPISODE 262: Baron Bird: “Bikes are the future”

SPONSOR: Jenson USA

HOST: Carlton Reid

GUEST: Big Issue publisher Baron Bird of Notting Hill in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea

TOPICS:
The Big Issue publisher Baron Bird of Notting Hill loves bicycling. He lives 7 miles from Cambridge and when visiting he cycles there. His latest Big Issue project is a dockless bike share scheme for smaller cities using electric bikes fettled and hired out by unemployed people and others who may be vulnerable and in need of a way of improving their lives.

Lord Bird has had a fascinating life so far — a life enriched by art and what he calls social kindness — and he’s clearly not ready to put his feet up under his ermine robes just yet.

The Big Issue is still sold by those living in poverty but, because of Covid, no longer from the street. Lord Bird discusses the various other ways you can now help out Big Issue vendors but first we talk about Giving Tuesday and Taking It Away Wednesday, with the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea set to dismantle the well-used cycleway on Kensington High Street. Lord Bird slammed that decision saying “bikes are the future.”

Pic by Louise Haywood-Schiefer.

TRANSCRIPT:

Carlton Reid 0:13
Welcome to Episode 262 of the spokesmen cycling podcast. This show was recorded on Giving Tuesday, 1st December 2020.

David Bernstein 0:24
The spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast is brought to you by Jenson USA, where you’ll always find a great selection of products at amazing prices with unparalleled customer service. For more information, just go to Jensonusa.com/thespokesmen. Hey everybody, it’s David from the Fredcast cycling podcast at www.Fredcast.com. I’m one of the hosts and producers of the spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast. For show notes, links and all sorts of other information please visit our website at www.the-spokesmen.com. And now here are the spokesmen.

Carlton Reid 1:09
The Big Issue publisher Baron Bird of Notting Hill loves bicycling. I know this because we chatted earlier today about his latest project, a docked bike share scheme for smaller cities using electric bikes fettled and hired out by unemployed people and others who may be vulnerable and in need of a way of improving their lives. I’m Carlton Reid and today’s hour-long episode is a corker even though my guest admits that, in a former life, he was a bike thief. Lord Bird disputes this, however, preferring to say he rode bicycles stolen by others. He’s had a fascinating life so far — a life enriched by art and what he calls social kindness — and he’s clearly not ready to put his feet up under his ermine robes just yet.

Carlton Reid 2:11
In the second half of today’s show we talk about Big Issue EBikes, due to be rolled out in the first quarter of next year, but much of the first half is Lord Bird telling me about his tough start in life, and how he managed to turn his angry brick-throwing nihilism into a force for good. He co-founded The Big Issue in 1991 thanks to some investment from big-nosed Scot — his words not mine — Gordon Roddick of Body Shop fame. The Big Issue is still sold by those living in poverty but, because of Covid, no longer from the street. Lord Bird discusses the various other ways you can now help out Big Issue vendors but first we talk about Giving Tuesday and Taking It Away Wednesday, with the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea set to dismantle the well-used cycleway on Kensington High Street …

Carlton Reid 3:16
You are known, john, as Baron Bird of Notting Hill in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, which is an absolutely fantastic name.

Carlton Reid 3:29
Of course, shortened to Lord john, but but May I call you, john?

Baron Bird 3:34
All right, just this one occasion, just as one occasion I will allow?

Carlton Reid 3:38
Yeah, thankfully, it was because of Baron bird of Notting Hill in the Royal Borough of Kensington Chelsea would be would be a long conversation, wouldn’t it?

Baron Bird 3:46
I tell you, they got the geography wrong. All right. Because Notting Hill is divided between the Royal Borough of Kensington, Chelsea, and also the borough of Westminster, which was Paddington when I was born. So I was actually born in the borough of Westminster as it is now. Right? Wrong and filled in all the forms and it couldn’t be changed. So

Baron Bird 4:12
I’m really the Lord bird of Westminster, but it doesn’t matter, Westminster, nor

Baron Bird 4:18
Royal Borough of Kensington, Chelsea, they’re all posh places now.

Carlton Reid 4:21
But they both both pretty posh, but they weren’t back in 1946, John.

Baron Bird 4:26
They were the actually where I was born, and had the highest infant mortality rate than anywhere in the UK. So if you wanted to kill your children, so for instance, you didn’t want so many children and the bill is once they would die,

Carlton Reid 4:47
not dead but now you live in the equally posh Cambridge Is that right?

Baron Bird 4:51
Well, I don’t live in the town. I live out in the country nearby.

Baron Bird 4:56
Yes, I love Cambridge. I first came to Cambridge

Baron Bird 5:00
When I was 17, I hitched from London.

Baron Bird 5:03
And to go to an exhibition at the Fitzwilliam and I came out the age of 17. And said, one day, I’m gonna live here. It was so beautiful. And also I was kissed by a young student, a young woman, a young girl, who invited me to a party. And I saw, I’m gonna come back, and I came back maybe 45 years later deliver very nicely. Family.

Carlton Reid 5:28
Yeah, that Cambridge is is noted for being a bicycle place. And I do absolutely want to get onto the bicycle related nature of today’s conversation. But let’s go backwards a little bit in that and go back to Notting Hill. And that is

Carlton Reid 5:47
Kensington High Street. I don’t know if you know at the moment, but right the second in time, the Royal bearer is taking out a protected cycleway on Kensington, High Street, were you aware of that?

Baron Bird 6:02
I was not aware of that. But, um, I don’t know why they would do that. Because the future is going to be about bikes. Um, is it not interesting that kind of 40 or 50 years ago, if you saw a photograph of Beijing, it would be full of bikes. And then they move back to cut. They moved into cars. And now even Beijing, and all those places that were that a newly prosperous are now going back to bikes. I don’t know why. The Royal Borough of Kensington Chelsea, but they let you know that, like most authorities, they’re capable of doing things that look very bovine from the outside. I’m sure they have we’ll have a logic that we probably wouldn’t agree with. Huh?

Carlton Reid 6:51
That’s that’s a very diplomatic way of putting it.

Baron Bird 6:53
Yes. Yes. I mean, I used to work for the Royal Borough of Kensington as a as a little as a road sweeper.

Baron Bird 7:02
And I worked in the cleansing department, and I worked in the parks department. And every now and then they would do something really strange. I mean, one of the things they did, I’m sorry, that I’m going on about it, is they over the weekend, pull down the beautiful Kensington Town Hall intensify the high street, because on the Monday, they were told there was going to be

Baron Bird 7:27
one of those preservation orders. So they pulled it down over the weekend. It was it was not illegal, but it was very, very shady practices.

Carlton Reid 7:37
When was that done. But with that, without me going into Google and finding out roughly,

Baron Bird 7:43
that was about 1980.

Carlton Reid 7:45
John, today is Giving Tuesday.

Carlton Reid 7:50
And that’s that’s part of a greater whole, which is like the social kindness.

Carlton Reid 7:59
So tell me a bit about the importance of today and and social kindness in general.

Baron Bird 8:06
Well, I worked in the United States about 22, or three years ago, and I produced a magazine in Los Angeles called Off the Wall. This is where it all goes back to.

Baron Bird 8:19
And working in Los Angeles and meeting some really, really desperately poor people in South Central, in watts in Crenshaw in in Compton, and all that. I was always staggered by the amount of people I met, who were doing things for the community. And I kind of loved that. I thought, they’re not doing it for money. They’re doing it because for the love of other human beings, and these are some of the poorest people on earth. And we in our magazine called off the wall, we had, we chose a day of the month, which was called a 32nd day. And we awarded, we said to people

Baron Bird 9:02
choose any day of the month, whether it’s the third or the fifth or sixth and call it your 32nd day. And your 32nd day of the month was when you woke up in the morning. And you said I’m going to do something for the benefit of others, because it will benefit me. And we had hundreds and hundreds of people sending in suggestions of what could you could do and all that. And it was it was overwhelming. Unfortunately, I then had to come back to the UK because we were having we have to do stuff with the British shoe. And I came back and I popped that up. then lo and behold the COVID-19 heads and suddenly you get these enormous outbursts of people wanting to help other people. And there is no there is no rhyme or reason other than the fact that it’s human beings, forgetting the fact that they’re consumers forgetting the fact that they’ve got their own problems for rent or

Baron Bird 10:00
mortgages and they go the extra mile for the community, the week that the layman the hold. And that is absolutely brilliant. I mean, even somebody like like Markus Rashford

Baron Bird 10:15
tweeting a very simple thing. And he tweets it says, Why does the government not look out for our children for their school dinners, and it’s a bit ratty too. And lo and behold, that gets taken up. And every person who responded to that tweet,

Baron Bird 10:34
in a way, was demonstrating social kindness to such an extent that they change the government’s mind, oh, suddenly, they could afford it. And it looked mean. So we got all these outbursts. I know a company that was one of those largest suppliers of toilet paper, and jail and all those sorts of things that were in that were in demand in March. And they sent out a note now this is anti commercial. But this big company sent out a note saying any of the people they supply

Baron Bird 11:06
if they are found to be up in the crisis, and based on shortage, then they will start supplying. Now that isn’t totally uncommercial thing to do to turn on your supplies and say, you have to be morally strong at this moment. And all those kind of outbursts the way in which readers have a number of newspapers, readers have the big issue got behind the big issue, when all around vendors were removed from the streets, all these sorts of things I am, I think that we’ve gone through the worst year that I have ever known for indecision for too much advice coming from 27 different places, cumbersome pneus not being in the right place at the right time, not knowing how to respond to the covid. But an attempt by the government and by local authorities to impose some kind of order. And you had all there, and you had all those tragic deaths, some of them probably need not have happened if we’d been better organised. yet. 2020 will also be remembered not just as a time of tragedy, but also a time of a new way of working together, and sharing all in it one over one a month for all. So to me, social kindness is a recognition of that. And at the end of this year, when we have our special issue about reviewing the year that we’ve been through, we will leave other people to go on about only other things. And what we will do is we will extract the positivity is the building back better, of social interaction with each other. And we’re going to start out 2021, with reminding everybody that we need to be working together to be in order to get through this, I believe that this is the break, that is possible to create a new optimism in the community, even though it’s founded on a chat, a challenging tragedy of all of those misfortune of people who died last year.

Carlton Reid 13:20
So lockdown ends, December 2, and then you can get your vendors back on the streets because we need to remind people that people haven’t been allowed to be selling Big Issue on the streets, you’ve done a few innovative things, haven’t you with with which haven’t done before? And clearly because of COVID. So what have you done to get Big Issue out there in different ways?

Baron Bird 13:43
Well, one of the things that we’ve done is we recognise the the almost the near death of the streets and said how can therefore can we work with homeless people who and people who who sell a big issue? How can we work with them in a way that says no, we’re not going to accept this laying down. So we moved into subscriptions, getting people on subscriptions, getting digital copies of the magazine, and we’ve been relatively successful. Now, I mean, we’ve lost, we lost virtually all of our sales from one mode, or nearly all of our sales except for subscription and digital. For the for the virtually the whole of the lockdown. This second lockdown. It’s been quite difficult to organise it but we managed to carry on supporting our vendors. And we’ve done one of the innovations we’ve done is where you can go on to the website and you can itemise an alert, you know, find out where the vendor is. And then when you buy a subscription or a digital copy, make sure you know will tell you that half the money will go to them. So we’re carrying on with the relationship. The big challenge for us is what happens

Baron Bird 15:00
plans in the new year will High Street get back to where it was probably not people working at home. And so we will have to innovate at a much faster and an accelerated level. And we’re up for it. Because we believe and this is one of the other things about social commerce, we believe that our readers really want to get behind what we’re doing. They want to support people in need and want to support people out of need. The only tragedy for me and I have to say, maybe I’m more frightened than most people is that a lot of our readers and people who are governance and all these other companies

Baron Bird 15:44
are going to be the people who are lining who’ve been lined up, if they’re not supported, they could end up as the new homeless, and that frightens me because that’s not this eight to 9000 10,000 people we work with a year, that’s hundreds of thousands. And I really do not want any person and their children and other members of their family, caring to go through the dungeon, the Bastille of homelessness that I went through as a child,

Carlton Reid 16:16
let’s let’s talk about that, because you had a rough childhood. So a big part of why you were involved with with the Roddick’s to create the Body Shop fame to create the Big Issue was you had a background where you had been homeless, you did have a troubled background. So tell me about that.

Baron Bird 16:40
Well,

Baron Bird 16:42
I was

Baron Bird 16:44
I think I was groomed to fail.

Baron Bird 16:47
I had a I mean, I love my parents

Baron Bird 16:51
love them to death. They were, you know, working class or labouring class people. My mother was a barmaid when she met a distillery worker who was my dad, they were she was 18. He was 20. They got married, later lived in the slums of Notting Hill where my father came from and where my mother it come from come to from Ireland.

Baron Bird 17:20
And they had children, they did what everybody else was doing, having children. So they had six children, but three, and four in the sons of people. The family broke apart when I was seven. And we moved into an orphanage, but for that period, they had their children.

Baron Bird 17:41
No money worth talking about wages. My father unfortunately was a heavy drinker. So a lot of that money disappeared on a Saturday night. And that was a kind of coping mechanism. That’s how poor people often cope cigarettes and drink would be, you know, the things that helped you get through the poverty. We were made homeless when I was five, because the parents didn’t pay the rent, we were out on the street. We were put into a void in the roof of my grandmother’s cottage around the corner, which was another slum above a stables in a mews, and we became very ill we were moved to a what was called a council house, but it wasn’t, it was a condemned house with some rooms that you could live in, semi condemned, live there didn’t pay, the rent got thrown out, and you’d up in a Catholic orphanage. So in a way, everything that my early life was a preparation for social failure. I was dyslexic. So I didn’t I did very badly at school, couldn’t really understand my brothers did better. My brothers were much better behaved than I was, because I kind of accepted

Baron Bird 18:57
the fact that they were, you know, at the bottom of the pile and I never did. So the older brothers were, you know, my older brothers kind of, I was, I was the third one and then there was another one, the fourth one, and they accepted. You know, alright, then this is where we are. I mean, like my dad did, and my mum did, but I was a real pain in the rear because I hated

Baron Bird 19:23
this. I hated the everybody. I hated teachers, I hated policemen, you know, I was a horrible little Dawber up, you know, you know, swastikas, you know, all the kind of rubbish thinking that went with poverty. I was starting fires and and I was always in trouble. So I was the one who kept getting nicked. So from the age of 10, we came out the orphanage and at the age of 10, first thing, shoplifting, you know, starting fires, you know, tearing down fences, getting into trouble going before the call.

Baron Bird 20:00
The juvenile court and same again at the age of 11, not going to school. bunking off school.

Carlton Reid 20:06
Is that anger, John? Was that seeking attention? What was what was the motivation? Can you can you go backwards and think about what you as a child were thinking?

Baron Bird 20:17
Um, I can’t, you know, it’s so extraordinary because I, I, I see people doing vandal, you know, create vandalism now. And I was, you know, if I’m around, if I’m in a position, I’d stop them, I have no idea. I think a lot of us are on overdrive. And you don’t quite know, I mean, most of us don’t really know all of our motivations and our tastes, and what we like, but I did like, I loved being a pain in the rear, I loved climbing the fence into the new buildings, site, opposite where we lived in getting the bricks thrown in the puddles and smashing the windows, I loved all that stuff. And I was about 7, 6 or 7.

Baron Bird 21:06
And when I was in the orphanage I loved

Baron Bird 21:10
I loved the fact that I couldn’t, they will beat me and knock me around, because I wouldn’t accept what they want to do. And I ran away, and I did all sorts of things. They actually tried kindness on me, and allowed me to go to the cinema. And for some strange reason, what a surprise, I suddenly started to play less of a pain in the rear job and, and kind of fell in love with some of the people who were trying to help us because you had all these nuns, who all they weren’t, you know, they’re a couple of hundred, seriously disturbed children from the slums and rundown citizens of London, really in the south. And they were there trying to help us and, you know, rough love and tough love and all that. But in the end, I kind of got it. But it still meant that when I got out, I was homeless, you know, not a very nice boy. And I was always the boy who was accused in the class, if there was something stolen, and I never stole ever, ever stole from any of my contemporaries. When money went missing the dinner money, they blame me. And of course, and then they find out later on, though, they’ve done it wrong, they’ve added it up wrong. So I was I realised, of course, I had a bad name, and I was getting more and more bad reputation. So, but

Baron Bird 22:36
I can’t say that I was unhappy, I always felt that I was alive. So it’s a pain to have to admit that I kind of like being a bit of an outlaw. And I think that might have been all the kind of silly little cowboy films that I watched. But I love being different. And I think that’s what got me into the prison system. And that is why the age of 16 I could learn to read and write in a boys prison. And my brothers never really mastered that. And that’s how I learned a bit of printing. I learned God, I learned to, to sit in exam, even though I never passed a level,

Baron Bird 23:17
an O level. I tried all I did all that. And, and the thing was, and this is extraordinary thing is that the the state will not spend more than it has to on your education. If you are a labourer, or if you’re a, you know, semi skilled worker, so they’ll supply you with just about enough to get you by. But if you’re a naughty boy, or a naughty girl, they’ll throw a lot of money at you to stop you.

Baron Bird 23:49
offending later in life. So I was blessed with the fact that they spent a shedload of money I was in I was in a place that cost three times what it cost if my children had sent me to Eton.

Baron Bird 24:04
Unbelievable, and that wasn’t painful, but

Baron Bird 24:07
I had the best public school. You know, I mean, wonder I talk right now and I’m very, very

Baron Bird 24:13
well done one of Britain’s greatest public school, it was a reformeratory.

Baron Bird 24:19
There you are, got the accent..

Carlton Reid 24:22
But then you’ve gone to, this is the 1960s now, we’re gonna leap forward. So then you’ve gone to the Chelsea School of Art. Yeah, well, but you’re homeless.

Baron Bird 24:32
What I was, when I was my mum threw me out. Because once she got our hands on my grant and spend it very quickly, because she was a woman who, if a pound would burn a hole in her pocket, she had to spend it. So that went very, very quickly. And then we had an argument over a bowl of porridge and she threw it over my head and burned me quite badly because she was quite an aggressive woman and i i

Baron Bird 25:00
Left and when I left for the day, and when I went back, my dad said, You’re not staying here. So I went, and I slept rough that night. And then a couple nights later, I started to sofa surf.

Baron Bird 25:13
All of the first six months of my time art school, I was homeless, sofa surfer. But the interesting thing was, why was that I an art school at the age of 18, when all my mates were digging holes for London electricity, but I tell you why. Because when I was banged up, they found out that I like to draw and I paint. And I did. And they said they encouraged that. And they encouraged it so much that when I came out at nearly the age of 18, I had this enormous portfolio. Absolutely. And I looked like a boy genius. I was drawing and painting all the time. And all the screws or masters as they like to call themselves. Were kind of proud of the fact that this little get, you know, from Notting Hill, could could actually turn out stuff that they would want hanging in their house. So I went to art school with this enormous portfolio and I looked like Leonardo da Vinci. From the worlds in Chelsea,

Carlton Reid 26:18
Do you continue that? Do you still do art?

Baron Bird 26:22
I’m obsessed by art. In fact, I love to tell my children. When I was 18, I was Britain’s greatest unknown painter, which I still adhere to. And, and if I had my time again, my five children would not exist, I would have got myself, somebody who paid me. And I would be I’d have a room and I live in the room. I paint in the room I draw in the room. And I would have nothing to do with anybody just paint and paint and paint and paint. not have any children not have anything. And I tell them that they say Oh, so you only you only had us because you failed as an artist.

Baron Bird 27:05
Yes. And then when people say to me, you must love the homeless and you must love sorting out the world’s problems. I said I do. But if I had my time again, I wouldn’t be doing it. Now that’s a horrible thing to say. But I absolutely I love painting and I love. I love everything about it in some of the greatest moments I’ve had is standing in front of an American painter, for instance, there’s a beautiful American abstract, pentacle, Helen Frankenthaler, and standing in front of this beautiful abstract work. And or Lee Krasner, who is the wife, who was the wife of jack the dripper, you know, Jackson Pollock, and, and these beautiful, beautiful artists and I, I just, it’s almost the kind of spiritual

Baron Bird 27:55
for me, and wonderful painters, and, and when I get the chance, I’m drawing and painting.

Baron Bird 28:03
And I’m doing things I’ve done. I had an exhibition, which you might not, you might want to Blur. Blur this one out, it was called grasses, arses and trees, and it was life drawings. It was trees, grasses, it was abstracts and all that stuff. You know, I’ve been drawing from models for over 30 years, I’ve been drawing friends, I’ve been drawing everything I’ve been drawing the trees in my garden. And I will soon be launching a

Baron Bird 28:36
website which will,

Baron Bird 28:38
you know, enable people to look at my work and, and even buy some of my prints. So that then because I want to use the money to help on projects, which I’m very interested in, I’m very interested in people given gardening to help them with their mental well being. And so that reformed school education, the prison education, kind of has given you a lifelong interest. Oh, yeah. I mean, before I before the, when the screws, sorry, when the Masters said, were my house masters he was called.

Baron Bird 29:20
said to me in my reformatory, look, Bird,

Baron Bird 29:25
You’ve got from 7.30 at night until 9.30, every night, five nights a week. And over the weekend, you’re going to have time and you’ve got to fill it with something. You can stuff toys with Kpop for the local hospital, you can do a bit of plumbing, you can do a bit of woodwork, you can do anything. What do you want to do? And I said, Well, I’d like to paint and draw. So they got me the wife of one of the screws.

Baron Bird 29:54
Mr. Rahn, Mrs. Rahn had been an art teacher in the isle of Wight.

Baron Bird 30:00
And she was brilliant. And I would go down to a house two times a week. And we talk about art. And we talk about everything. And then she’d lay out an enormous spread, which me and Mr. Rahn would enjoy. And so a combination of good food, and art, and it was just absolutely marvellous. And I love this woman, she is the one who made me feel there was something deep about art. And it was something that that every one of us could share. You know, it wasn’t. No, everybody can paint and draw. That’s the other interesting thing. I’ve had five children, right? Not one of them ever, when they were doing that childish out, when they were doing their art growing up, not one of them produced the dumb, a dumb work, because children start as art geniuses. And unfortunately, we give them all these pre occupations. And we try and straighten out their drawing and all that, you know, one of the greatest painters of the 20th century, was taught to draw and paint like as though he was a photographer. And he spent the whole of his life struggling against Pablo Picasso. He tried to paint like a child the whole of his life, because he realised that there was an insightfulness. The children have a look at things and they know them before you know them, even though you’ve been looking at them for decades.

Carlton Reid 31:32
So did they have the petty offending that that stop? When you’ve got this lifelong interest in art? Is that what it was there a light bulb moment, or you just put on the straight and narrow.

Baron Bird 31:45
I wasn’t quite on the straight and narrow, because what happened with me, which was which is

Baron Bird 31:52
which, you know, I can’t describe as anything other than going in another direction, I met a young woman.

Baron Bird 32:03
And then we, we became an item. And then we married, had a child. And I then got thrown out of art school because I was more interested in this young girl. And I was in art for some strange reason, my biology took over. And then I, and then I went back to another art school, and it didn’t work. And then I fell into the back into crime, and all sorts of things like that. And I was always kind of doing what I wasn’t always doing wrong. But then I got in, I got a number of things that would have got me two or three years. And I disappeared for seven years. And I started using, well, six years, I disappeared this weird,

Baron Bird 32:53
strange anomaly names, anonymous names. And, surprisingly, I have so many of these names. I’ve moved from one job to another and one part of the country to another. And I would have all these names. I didn’t even know who I wasn’t yet. And then after six years, I handled myself in, paid fines and paid other things and got myself straightened. And,

Baron Bird 33:21
and then from the age of about 28, 29, 30, I then started working legitimately, and then I, because I fell in love with printing. When I was in this establishment, I started to become a printer, and I trained myself to become a printer, not in a particularly nice way, I get a job. And

Baron Bird 33:43
after a couple of hours, they realised I couldn’t print it, get rid of me, but I’ve learned something. And after about 10 jobs, I was quite good at it. And then I became a printer. And I started my own business. And I was totally and utterly committed to it because printing is an art. And I could make it it’s printing we’re doing like

Carlton Reid 34:05
was it a jobbing printer? Are we doing magazines, you’re doing fine art and what kind of printer?

Baron Bird 34:10
I did. Well, first of all, I started doing catalogues and leaflets and business cards, and all that sort of stuff. But then what happened was I

Baron Bird 34:21
started to publish stuff. So I started to publish a magazine I helped publish a magazine for the Royal Academy. I published a book for the Royal Academy. I designed it printed all sorts of stuff. I started magazines with other people. I work with somebody called the Victorian Society, I designed stuff for them, help them present themselves. So I became the printer and almost the publisher of this. Then I worked with a number of charities I’ve worked with a homeless charity called the Simon community. I absolutely love them because they allowed people to go and live with homeless people and

Baron Bird 35:00
live and experience homelessness. And I went to some of their places that they had in the country. And I sat with people who were just like the people I worked on a building site with, you know, 20 years before. There was no, there was no difference between them and us. And then I, you know, I saw I do printing for people, you know, and I do that kind of stuff. And I gradually developed a realisation towards the end of my 30s and early 40s that I’d had, I had this enormous experience. And I had a passion for social change and social justice. And I needed to bring it all together. And of course, for sure, fortuitously, I met somebody read met some when I saw them on the telly. And then I pursued them who I’d known when I was 21, hiding from the police in Edinburgh. And that became Gordon Roddick, who with his wife had started the Body Shop, and become multi millionaires, which I was very attracted by.

Carlton Reid 35:25
That ws 1991. And how, tell me about Gordon Roddick, and how you knew him in Edinburgh? Well,

Baron Bird 36:16
what happened was, I had, one of the worst things you can do to the state is steal social security in those days. And what happened was my my wife and I, she was she left me. And I was still getting the social security that I should have been sharing with her. But I was sharing it in the local pub. And what happened was, they found out about it, and they came after me. And that was one of the reasons and I would have got two to three years for that, because I already had a criminal record, back to the age of 10. And now I was 21. And so therefore, I had to disappear. So I disappeared. And I went off to France, I had been educated as a boy online or mis educated, to have many of the problems that you have in in, in the poverty world. I had some very, very bad attitudes towards

Baron Bird 37:16
black people and Jews and Indians and Arabs and all that, you know, and I, you know, a lot of people in poverty, find their mind closes down. And mine was very, very closed. A lot of this inherited from the people around me and from my own parents.

Baron Bird 37:33
And when I went off to Paris, I met some Marxist Leninist, socialist, trotskyists, and all that. And I completely changed because I met this beautiful girl who challenged everything I said, and in order to win her affection, so I started to mimic what she said, about, you know, solidarity with the poor and all that stuff, which I didn’t believe. And then after a while, I started to believe it. And then after a while, I became a committed pain in the rear Marx’s anti racist, anti everything. So I got changed. This is one of the things that I really want to drive home to people, you can start in life or at any one time, with the most pernicious racist Gumby sort of thinking. And if you get the chance of changing it, you grow you develop, I suddenly became a much bigger person, because I’ve been thinking all of this poor, anti semitic, anti black, anti Indian stuff. And when I got rid of it, it was like an enormous weight off my shoulders. And that really did help me in the development of myself as a person who could be useful to other people. And I’ve often

Baron Bird 38:54
had, you know, got involved in in getting rid of racism amongst young people. But anyway, so when I came back to London converted to this socialist from being almost a kind of Nazi and fascist

Baron Bird 39:11
I, then what ended up in Edinburgh because my wife’s family lived up there. And I one night I met this big nose Scotsman, Gordon Roddick and I had a big broken nose and he had a big broken nose. So we shared broken nose stories and we we became mates and then I found out he wrote appalling poetry Absolutely gut rotting poetry, I at the time was writing gut writing poetry. So we we complemented each other on how guff writing poetry books, and we became mates and then I didn’t see him for 20 years and I saw him on the telly when I was with my son Patty sitting watching the telly because he was on there with Anita Roddick.

Baron Bird 40:00
God Oh, I knew them. And then with with Richard Branson, who I also knew, because when he was 17, he started a magazine called the Student, sold by students to work their way through college. And I, at the age of 21, 22, pretended I was a student in London and used to sell his magazine for scoring. He was always astonished at how easy it was for me to sell these magazines. But lo and behold, 20 years later, I’ve taken the same model and used it for homeless people with the Big Issue. So I then went to see Gordon when I saw him on the telly in 87. And then we kind of put a friendship together. And then he

Baron Bird 40:48
he, he was in New York, and he saw somebody selling a street paper called Street News. And the bloke said that he’d been in and out of the penitentiary for most of his life, and he’d used now he wanted to support his children. And he didn’t want to go back into prison because they throw the key away. So he fell homeless, and started selling Street News, which was the first word, it was the world’s first street paper. And Gordon asked me to start one in London, which we, which we then called the big issue.

Baron Bird 41:25
That was 1991.

Carlton Reid 41:26
John, we’ll come back to the Big Issue in a second. But right now I want to go across to have an ad break. And I’m going to pass you across to I’ll pass this all across to David, my co host.

David Bernstein 41:37
Hey, Carlton, thanks so much. And it’s it’s always my pleasure to talk about our advertiser. This is a long time loyal advertiser, you all know who I’m talking about. It’s Jenson USA at Jenson usa.com/thespokesmen. I’ve been telling you for years now years, that Jenson is the place where you can get a great selection of every kind of product that you need for your cycling lifestyle at amazing prices, and what really sets them apart. Because of course, there’s lots of online retailers out there. But what really sets them apart is their unbelievable support. When you call them you’ve got a question about something, you’ll end up talking to one of their gear advisors, and these are cyclists. I’ve been there I’ve seen it. These are folks who who ride their bikes to and from work. These are folks who ride at lunch who go out on group rides after work because they just enjoy cycling so much. And and so you know that when you call, you’ll be talking to somebody who has knowledge of the products that you’re calling about. If you’re looking for a new bike, whether it’s a mountain bike, a road bike, a gravel bike, a fat bike, what are you looking for? Go ahead and check him out. Jenson USA, they are the place where you will find everything you need for your cycling lifestyle. It’s Jensonusa.com/thespokesmen . We thank them so much for their support. And we thank you for supporting Jenson USA. All right, Carlton, let’s get back to the show.

Carlton Reid 43:03
Thanks, David. And we are back with with Baron Bird with Lord John bird but he has graciously allowed me to call him, john. So john, we are back you’ve been you’ve been fascinating history, a troubled history we’ve got to say, but and also a positive history and that you use art to change your life around eventually, you’ve used your printing skills and your publishing skills with Gordon Roddick to create this this iconic magazine, the Big Issue which has gone on to have many

Carlton Reid 43:39
examples of it all around the world. But now you are doing something again innovative with with bicycles. So tell me exactly what you’re going to be doing … [Cough]

Carlton Reid 43:53
Excuse me … with Sharebike of Norway. So what are you going to do with those bikes?

Baron Bird 44:00
Well, it coincides with the tremendous problems that

Baron Bird 44:07
society and the economy is having throughout the world.

Baron Bird 44:12
And that is you we’ve got to create new forms of work, we’ve got to create new forms of business, we were approached by share bike

Baron Bird 44:23
with the idea of putting together I business that would use electric electric bikes. I’ve always been fascinated with bikes. In fact, the number of the times I got arrested and put into detention centres and places like that were to do with my inability to get my hands off of other people’s bikes. But now I don’t know. I want to work with them. And the idea of electric bikes I find fascinating, because it means you can go further or you can get exercise you can get

Baron Bird 44:59
fresh air. And you can do it all yourself not not simply rely on the internal combustion engine. So what happened with with the just previous to the COVID-19, we started to put together this idea of starting in Cambridge and then moving on to other cities. I like the idea that I could gain, I could begin to grow employment for other people, then the COVID-19 hit, and kind of slowed us down a bit, but we still carried on. And the COVID-19 raises the question of lots of people not having a job. And therefore, it’s created a much, much bigger need for us to help create businesses, that will create jobs for people in and around sales, in around maintenance, in and around distribution. And it means that we can take some of the people we work with selling the newspaper, The magazine, and we can train them up. But also we can take people who have fallen into, into unemployment through the crisis, we can start trading them up. So it’s the beginning of a way of intervening in the economic crisis. And at the same time, doing something which is very, very interesting, which is helping people to get exercise to get out of doors, to get away from the internal combustion engine. And obviously, to move towards a world which is environmentally, not as challenged, because you’re not using, you’re not using fossil fuels. So this is the kind of pits all sorts of things. The other thing is that I got a bill going through the Lord’s and it’s also going through the House of Commons with

Baron Bird 46:59
with Caroline Lucas, who is a Green MP there,

Baron Bird 47:03
which is called the well being of future generations. And that is about the importance of environmentalism, the importance of education, the importance of jobs, and all that and making sure that the government doesn’t pass legislation that harms the generations to come. So all of this fits together. So it’s a wonderful, it’s legal, you know, the bill, the parliamentary stuff, that political stuff we’re doing in Parliament, the work around the big issue of growing work for people, and also not accepting the, the fact that people will slip into homelessness, because they will be unable to find work by creating as much work as we can. So we have something called the today for tomorrow, programming. And this, we’ve got a campaign call the Rider Out Recession Alliance, which brings businesses together, brings local authorities together brings charities together, and brings individuals together to try and create the new jobs, and the new opportunities, and at the same time can pay to keep people out of evictions, and get them back working so that they can support themselves.

Carlton Reid 48:29
So, John, tell me how this works a for the homeless person and be for a Cambridge resident, obviously, you want to expand in other cities, but just you’re a Cambridge resident, and you want a bike at some point. So So describe those two ways of operating.

Baron Bird 48:47
Well, first of all, we will be taking some of the people who can be trained up to do some of the skills around marketing, around selling the service, and also around maintaining the bikes, picking the bikes up where wherever they get dropped off, and all of that kind of thing that you would have to do with any form of bike business. So we will be training up people who are who have been homeless or who were trying to get out of homelessness. And at the same time, because we want to, we want we don’t want this to be a ghetto, of the socially displaced. We want to put in other people who have recently fallen into the need for work and grow it almost as organically. So that’s the way that we imagine it for the for the Cambridge resident or the Brighton resident of the Bath or Bristol or whatever city we go from.

Baron Bird 49:50
What we want to do is offer them a service that they’re wanting to use

Baron Bird 49:57
that has a social echo. That means

Baron Bird 50:00
If you use what were doing, then the profits will go back into aiding and abetting people to get out of poverty, and aiding and abetting people to get out of all the needs that go with not being able to keep a job, because you’ve fallen out of it, and help the people to get into a job who’ve been homeless, we’ve been selling the Big Issue, and who need to move on.

Carlton Reid 50:28
So are these are the two kinds of share bikes, you’ve got the docked bikes, which are like the London scheme, where they go into a physical dock that you know, bolted, cemented into the ground, and then you take them from there. And then you’ve got the dockless kind, where they’re freestanding, you can pick them up from from anywhere. But with electric bikes, you really need to have them powered from somewhere at some point. So So what model is this, using?

Baron Bird 51:01
Well, the one that we’re working on, and obviously innovations will happen, those dockless bikes were innovated because of the fact that you had an entrenched place where you pick the bike up before. And, and so we will innovate as we go along. And we may even have a situation where we would deliver bikes to a college or a business, so that they can use it around their buildings and around, you know, like the Science Park or someone like that. But we will start by having got places, and those, we will make sure that we have the staff to make sure that things get, you know, the bikes get juiced up. I think all that.

Baron Bird 51:50
So those are the kind of early steps that we’ll take, obviously, we’ll find that there will be times when people may want to take the bike home with them. And then we’ll have to look at ways of doing that. I know that in the village that I

Baron Bird 52:08
live in on for a period of time, when these dockless bikes appeared, there was five or six of them. And then they disappeared. And I don’t know if they are thrown in the river or struggling. But, you know, obviously, we have to keep security very important, because

Baron Bird 52:26
that keeps your costs down and it means makes you more of a, you know, reliable and viable business.

Carlton Reid 52:35
And what what the timescale on this, when are we going to see the first bikes in Cambridge?

Baron Bird 52:41
It will certainly be probably in the spring of 2021.

Carlton Reid 52:49
Are you a target customer, and you’re going to be one of the people will be using this?

Baron Bird 52:54
Yeah, I am a target customer. Because I would like to, I mean, I cycle everywhere. So I cycle, you know, the seven miles into town, cycle around the town, and all that I’m a sprightly 74 year old. So I don’t need electricity to get me in to town. But if I want to go somewhere else, I want to go really far. And be back from lunch. I will I will use it for a kind of community. And I you know, back to social kindness. I think there is a kind of social kindness factor in everything we do. I mean, the big issue is bought by people who believe in our vendors, they may believe in the magazine, but more than anything, they believe in our vendors. That is social kindness. And I think we will be able to make people feel better in in, in some ways, maybe a very marginal when they say I’m riding a bike that is helping people out of need and into opportunity.

Carlton Reid 54:02
John, it’s been a fascinating talking to you. And I would just like to before we get I just want you to either confirm or deny this this delicious story. And I do hope you’re going to confirm it. But on your Wikipedia page, there is a big gap actually between what you were doing in the 70s and 1991. But anyway, it just says here “for two weeks in 1970, John worked as a dishwasher in the Houses of Parliament canteen” and that’s of course an institution that you would later return to return to in 2015 as a Peer. Is that true?

Baron Bird 54:35
That’s very true. There were in in the late 60s in the early 70s. There was these temporary job agencies, and you would go to them I don’t know if they’re still there you go there. Manpower and people like There you go. And you’d you might have a job for two weeks. I was I had a whole slew of jobs there.

Baron Bird 55:00
quickly and also because I was working under an assumed name. And I went to this agency in in Victoria. And they said, Oh, do you want to wash up in the House of Lords? And I said, Yeah, why not? And and the House of Commons because they used to move you from canteen canteen. And so I went there, I think I started or either started off in the commons, and ended up in the Lord’s or whatever. So I worked there. And that was really, really interesting for me. And I, at the time, I was a kind of mad socialist and I got very cheesed off the management, because I kept saying to the workers, why are you in that in the house of democracy being so poorly paid? Why is it that you’re the working poor? And we’re here we are in the centre of democracy? So I raised that question. And I’ve also raised that question, since then, why is it that you can be working for the state, which

Baron Bird 56:03
runs the the system for the government, the elected government, and yet you can be almost a member of the working poor, you might get a living wage, but a living wage is often not very conducive to living or living in a way that can enrich your life. So I was there. And after a couple of weeks, they wouldn’t renew my contract. Because I was such a pain in the reassigned to people. Yeah, why don’t we go on strike and get to get better wages. In 2016, when I went into the Lord’s, one of the first persons who copped hold me was the cook

Baron Bird 56:45
in in the, in the kitchen, and insisted I walk round. And then the BBC found out about it, and they were making a film called A Year in the Lords, and they chose me as, as a novice coming in. And he took me around the kitchen as well. And I got to know the cook. And I’ve got to know, the star. Why really was pleased with was that the cook and the deputy cook, they were all into the idea of getting people who had, you know, maybe had some problems earlier on in life and training them up in, you know, cookery and, and in kitchen arts and work. So a number of the people were people pretty similar to where I come from in the first instance. So I was very, very pleased. And there was a, there was a whole group of them I gave a talk to, and they were astonished to find out that all of the naughty little things that they may have done growing up, I’ve also done so. So going from, I was washed up at the house in the house of law. I was watching up in the House of Lords. And I hope people won’t say now you’re washed up in the house.

Carlton Reid 58:02
Well, John, I will forgive you everything apart from the bike theft. The bikes. Oh,

Carlton Reid 58:09
but you say that, I mean, that’s the biggest crime in in the world is stealing somebody’s bicycle. I just I can’t forgive you for that. forgive you for everything else.

Baron Bird 58:17
Let me tell you that is that is an interesting thing. That is really, I mean, I’ve had about four bikes nicked. The first week, I moved to Cambridge, somebody nicked my bike, but the thing was, I didn’t steal the bike that got me What happened was, some boys stole some bikes from the school I was in. I found them abandoned in the, in my local park. And then this bloke rode around on the roof few days, and then we put them back to where they were abandoned, where they were picked up by the mum and dad of that. So I was I was what you might call

Baron Bird 58:59
You know, they used to have this thing where you stole it, they wouldn’t have you for stealing the car. They’d have you for taking

Baron Bird 59:07
a car without the owner’s content, consent. So really all I was was I was a user of the bike. I have never stolen a bike but I’ve been put away for stealing bikes, when the person who the two people who stole them,

Baron Bird 59:28
got away with it, and all I did was utilised.

Carlton Reid 59:33
Thanks to Baron Bird of Notting Hill there and thank you for listening to the spokesmen cycling podcast. I’m now off to make a Giving Tuesday donation to BigIssue.com Meanwhile, get out there and ride …

November 26, 2020 / / Blog

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Thursday 26th November 2020

The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

EPISODE 261: Faster, smaller, cleaner: data analysis shows why delivering by cargobike makes sense

SPONSOR: Jenson USA

HOST: Carlton Reid

GUESTS: Ben Knowles and Nicolas Collignon of Pedal Me, London

LINKS:

Spokesmen interview with Pedal Me’s Ben Knowles in 2018.

Nico’s blogpost

TRANSCRIPT:

Carlton Reid 0:12
Welcome to Episode 261 of the Spokesmen cycling podcast. This show was recorded on Thursday 26th November 2020.

David Bernstein 0:24
The Spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast is brought to you by Jenson USA, where you’ll always find a great selection of products at amazing prices with unparalleled customer service. For more information, just go to Jensonusa.com/thespokesmen. Hey everybody, it’s David from the Fredcast cycling podcast at www.Fredcast.com. I’m one of the hosts and producers of the spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast for shownotes links and all sorts of other information please visit our website at www.the-spokesmen.com. And now here are the spokesmen.

Carlton Reid 1:09
Hi there. I’m Carlton Reid and today’s episode is about the significant logistical benefits of last mile delivery by E-cargobike. Joining me from London is Pedal Me boss Ben Knowles and calling in from Copenhagen is Nicolas Collignon who is a Pedal Me rider during the day and the firm’s data scientist at night. Nico knows his stuff. His PhD was in computational cognitive science. And over the next 20 minutes or so, we discuss Nico’s fantastic new blog post that demonstrates with data why dense urban areas are best served with deliveries by wwift, nimble, planet-friendly cargo bikes, cargo bikes that can be loaded up with pretty big payloads. Okay, so this morning or today I have with me two people. Ben Knowles, who’s in where are you saying you’re you’re in London as a market there, Ben, wherever you are?

Ben Knowles 2:15
I’m sitting in Exmouth market, which is one of the very pleasant, low car spaces in London that’s well utilised for commerce. And so you might hear some bikes coming past you might hear some shoppers on their way to COVID-secure buying. So apologies for any of the background noise.

Carlton Reid 2:39
Well, you might hear dogs or a dog in the background of my one as my dog wanders in and out. And also in Copenhagen, which is a fantastic place to be is Nico so it’s Nicolas, I’m gonna murder your name here. Sorry. Is it Nicolas

Unknown Speaker 2:57
Collignon?

Carlton Reid 3:00
Oh, I got it. Right. Actually, I got it. Right. Fantastic. So just to set this up. You’re Nico. You’re a data scientist for Pedal Me? Yes. And you also ride for Pedal Me?

Nico Collignon 3:15
Yeah, that’s correct.

Carlton Reid 3:16
And Pedal Me. Let’s go. Ben, you will last on the show on the spokesmen podcast back in 2018. When you are going for your first round of funding. So just bring us up to speed on where you are and how many riders you have now. That kind of stuff.

Ben Knowles 3:33
Yeah, so I think we were around about 15 staff members then. Today, we’re about 55. Staff members, a lot more advanced in terms of tech and operations. We, we’ve moved to our own system, other than kind of like an A white labelled external system. That’s much better suited for for what we do. We’re doing a lot more large scale logistics. And we’ve done some amazing bits of work, including there’s one project that Nico has written an article about, as well, where we delivered 10,000 packages across Lamberth covering something like 20,000 kilometres I believe it was. So we’ve grown a lot since we last spoke, Carlton.

Carlton Reid 4:26
So you had two funding rounds. Is that right?

Ben Knowles 4:29
Yes, we’ve done to two equity based crowdfunding rounds. And yeah, we’ve put that money into growing our fleet. So we have 56 bikes today improving our tech, which is an incredible amount more advanced today than it was and then the latest features, we have an API, so Companies can plug in directly to our tech system for fulfilment of orders. Also, next next week, we’re starting to move into our first warehouse. So we also do some sort of third party logistics stuff where we hold people stock for them, and then do their deliveries on their behalf as well. Or by bike. Apologies for the beeping in the background. The inconvenience, right because I

Carlton Reid 5:36
yeah, that’s good. That’s my bicycles. Your bicycles don’t have beeping when they when the reverse No,

Ben Knowles 5:42
no, but maybe they should do for the trailers.

Carlton Reid 5:47
Nico is this a wild stab in the dark thinking you might be in Copenhagen because of the bikes you ride with?

Nico Collignon 5:56
knows that my my I grew up in Copenhagen. So I’m visiting my family for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, so

Carlton Reid 6:06
Okay, but you’re French?

Nico Collignon 6:07
Yeah, I’m

Nico Collignon 6:07
French, but grew up in Copenhagen.

Carlton Reid 6:10
Interesting, Nico, how come you’re working for Benjamin there? How come you’re working for Pedal Me?

Nico Collignon 6:18
So I finished my PhD in February. from Edinburgh. I did my PhD in computational cognitive science. And I wanted to take a bit of a break from academia and use my skills on a project with impact. And I believe that cargo bicycles have this potential to change things for the better in cities. So I wrote to Ben and then he replied very quickly, and then I jumped on the bike a couple of days later,

Carlton Reid 6:51
So, Nico, you are riding as well as being the data scientist, is that right? So you’re like, you could be on call. You could be going out like everybody else in the team.

Nico Collignon 7:00
Yeah, exactly. Exactly.

Carlton Reid 7:03
So Ben, I don’t know how much of this will be talking to you. Because obviously, Nico is the data scientist, and he’s the one who’s put some of this data up. But obviously, pitch in whenever you think you need to, but let’s go to Nico because this this, this blog posting and Twitter thread that was put up has gone viral. It’s fascinating because well, you can tell me why. But basically, it’s showing the incredible efficiency of, of cargo bikes, and we’re gonna say this is like London, is this London during the pandemic is that all the data has been captured in that period.

Nico Collignon 7:44
So the data we’re looking at here was just for the month of September. So that was outside of any lockdowns. And I think that the traffic was actually quite, quite high in September.

Carlton Reid 7:58
So first of all, tell me the speeds. So that’s that’s how fast as a normal van or car motor vehicle go in London, and how fast do you guys go?

Nico Collignon 8:09
Sure. So the so one of the problems with this study, so I wanted to do a van versus cargo bike comparison is that I don’t we don’t actually have access to van data. But to the best numbers I could find were from a report from Transport for London, from 2018. That said, the traffic speed in central London was 11.4 kilometres per hour. And in inner London, so a bit outside of Central that was 18.7 kilometres per hour. And that’s between seven in the morning to seven in the evening.

Carlton Reid 8:48
And what are you guys doing? What are the what are the cargo bikes doing?

Nico Collignon 8:51
Sure, so he speeds that I found looking at 19,000 kilometres from 37 of our bikes were 15 kilometres per hour in central London. So that’s 3.6 kilometres per hour faster than the vans and then in inner London, it’s 16.4. So that’s a bit slower, but it’s like it’s averages for two quite big zones. So I think what it really shows is that the more dense area we’re in the faster the faster the bikes and then yeah, I think that if you’re within three or five miles of the centre of London, then the cargo bikes have a definite advantage. And then

Carlton Reid 9:34
you’ve got to factor in for a van driver, you’ve got to factor in somewhere to park Yeah, to then make your delivery whereas you can well what do you do? How do you avoid parking spots?

Nico Collignon 9:46
Well, it’s not that we’re avoiding the parking spots we also have to park but like the bikes are, I don’t know if five times smaller than a than a van. We can also like move a lot more freely. So is just something that’s not not a concern when I’m out and about on the bike doing deliveries.

Carlton Reid 10:07
So this this data that you’ve captured at Ben and Nico, this is all with the new IT system that you have. So this is all logged on riders phones, where’s where’s the data log?

Ben Knowles 10:22
So we’ve got a couple of sources of data. So yes, we have tracking through the riders phones, actually, through a couple of systems that we use. One for the one for our radios, and another for running the running jobs directly through an app. But we also have ways of track we have trackers on the bikes. And I believe that that’s where Nico pulled this data from.

Nico Collignon 10:54
Yeah, that’s correct.

Carlton Reid 10:56
Okay, so you’re using, you’re putting this data through into open street mapping, to show that the bike base trips are actually shorter than the equivalent for a van, is that right?

Nico Collignon 11:08
So yeah, so for this, I looked at the data for more jobs suggest the pickup locations and the drop off locations. And then I looked at the routes that openstreetmaps would give us for bike routes, and then for comparative to car routes. And any and what I what I found is that the bike trips are consistently significantly shorter.

Carlton Reid 11:37
is the reason for that shorter distance that bikes can use bike paths and shortcuts. What’s what what do you put it down to?

Nico Collignon 11:45
I mean, yeah, maybe you can you can? Um, well, yeah, one of the reasons is that, yeah, we have shortcuts with bike paths. But there’s also like, there’s bus lanes, and then cars are sometimes allowed on single way. Roads, too. There’s a Yeah, there’s a bunch of reasons.

Carlton Reid 12:09
And then they’re just that the amount you can carry on a on a bike. I mean, that’s, that’s obviously something that you you push on social media. Yeah. That, but you can’t carry what a truck can carry. So where are the advantages for a client to using you if they’ve got tonnes of stuff to cart around?

Nico Collignon 12:30
Sure was one of the main goals for writing this piece was that it’s, it’s clear that there are misconceptions about cargo bikes, and one of them is how much cargo bikes can carry. So our bikes can carry up to hundred 50 kilos. And if you add the trailer, it’s 150 kilos more. And, yeah, that’s quite a lot. And the thing is that we can ride these bikes at at full speeds. So which is significantly faster than vans in central London. But then the second thing that is maybe not so intuitive, is that the fact that we can’t carry as much means that we can be more efficient in terms of logistics, because the loads are spread between more vehicles. And that can lead to more efficient routes.

Carlton Reid 13:22
So that I’m looking at the the data science here on the pedal me with this the blog, basically, or the article that was written. So this is using, like routing, you know, analysts analysis of like nodes and and different routes that you’ve, you’ve used, and you’re basically showing that cargo bikes are just incredibly more efficient than vans. Is that is that what you’re showing here with all of these different graphics? Which fabulous.

Nico Collignon 13:58
Yeah, so yeah, basically, is trying to give an intuition to what the last mile delivery looks like, which is a lot of drops quite densely distributed in the city. And the Yeah, the point is that, because they’re quite spread out around the city, if you were just to have all your drugs in one van and trying to link them all up, your route might be longer than if you were instead dividing it by let’s say, three vehicles, and then sending a vehicle to each of the patches. Does that make sense? Hmm. So it’s really trying to give an intuition using data and from clients that we work with for what last mile delivery looks like the last mile logistics.

Carlton Reid 14:46
So on here, it’s talking about a pedal a cargo bike can carry up to 36 packages, that’s like or 70 drops in a day. Yeah. So is that also just much more than ever van would normally do?

Nico Collignon 15:02
So I think you’re the point again is to Well, I mean, the bikes can’t really carry more than the navan. But the point is that in for last mile delivery, you’re limited by the time of the driver, you’re probably not going to be driving more than eight or nine hours in a day. And that limits the numbers of drops that you can do. And that means that most of the time your your van will be running or driving itself capacity because you like you don’t have enough time to fill up the van with deliveries, if that makes sense. And I was reading this study that was done in, in Delft in the Netherlands, where they analysed or they looked at the content of all vans coming in and out of the city in a day. And they they found that only 10% or less of vans would have been needed for the trip because like they’re just rarely used it for capacity.

Ben Knowles 16:03
And then, and that backs up some slightly older deep data from London that TfL had, which indicated that something like 67% of all fan trips were the vam is running at 25% capacity or less. So we’ve we’ve used that two thirds figure as an estimate of what logistics we can feasibly do within London. So we think that you know, like two thirds of the logistics that’s going on now would be more efficiently done by cargo bike.

Carlton Reid 16:48
Now an awful lot of cities will be looking at making their their fleets that they use into electric, in which case, you know that the pollution that you’re you’re not creating. But But yes, standard internal combustion engine vans and cars are using, you know, that’s an advantage now, but in say two years, three years whenever when all cargo fleets are electric, you lose that that advantage. So is your advantage, mainly going forward going to be efficiency? Is that? Is that where you’re pitching this? Because in the future, you can’t really pitch pollution as something that is going to be in your favour.

Nico Collignon 17:37
Yeah. So I mean, I’m talking here from Copenhagen work and see bikes from my window. And I think that one of the things that is not so obvious for people that live in a city like London, is the is the damages of car culture or motorised vehicle culture. And I think, yeah, it goes beyond just the pollution. So I tried to put together all the all the facts, but yeah, the one of the points was about the the sheer amount of space that that vehicles take the and then the dangers of having vans on the roads. And these are things that are not going to go away just because you have electric vehicles instead of combustion engines.

Carlton Reid 18:24
And that question for sorry, Ben, for you. You’re still London. And everybody always asked, I’ve certainly asked, and they’re just saying, Look, when are you coming to a city near me? So what’s what’s your expansion plans with this incredible efficiency, it can be done in other cities. So when could you expand?

Ben Knowles 18:46
Well, I guess that’s a question for me. Real realistically, we need to get to a scale where we’ve got the tech operating really efficiently. And we have we start to grow this network of quite sizable business partners that operate in multiple cities, that will make it very easy for us to go and tackle other cities. I guess, for me if things went well. And we got the right funding, and we start to come out of this pandemic period, which has been really quite disruptive because the type of work has been changing all the time, and we’ve had to be have a lot of organisational capacity on coping with those changes. If we can come out of this period, then something and then like the next year to 18 months, we can be coming to other cities. But to be honest, there’s also there’s so much work for us here in London. I don’t want to lose sight of that, because we think that there’s a billion pounds worth of work every year for us here in London. And we’re doing, you know, at the minute, we’re doing about a million pounds of work a year. So we were lucky left less than a 10th at like a 10th of a percent of the capacity of the market here, as well. So I don’t want to lose sight of the potential for expansion right here in London either,

Carlton Reid 20:34
Yeah. Good point. So this this blog posting by by Nico, this this fantastic information on how efficient these bicycles these cargo bikes are, that is going elsewhere than just on social media. This is something to be sent fleet managers, what are you doing with this information? How are you? How are you going to tell people about this?

Nico Collignon 21:01
Hmm. So we’ve we’ve been in touch with people in academia last week to see how we could push that forward. There. But yeah, otherwise? I think we’re people have been reaching out, but it’s Yeah, we don’t have a set plan. Apart from that, I think.

Ben Knowles 21:22
Yeah, I mean, I think, in general, as a company, what we try and do is, you know, we’re thinking beyond, just like the commerce, we’re not just thinking about our place in society as a business, but also where we can add value. So yeah, the company wasn’t just set up to be a money making machine, but it was also set up to deliver a public goods. And this information being in the public domain, even if we don’t directly profit from it, although I suspect they will bring interesting leads our way and interesting opportunities. That will still be, it will still deliver value in a wider sense. If that makes sense to you.

Carlton Reid 22:10
Yes. I mean, I’m just looking at the the, the tweet that I read originally did this so that I mean, it’s at 735 likes it said, 304 retweets. I know a lot of the people who I follow on Twitter, have been retweeting it and and bigging it up, because it is something that’s really, really important to get a certain class of motorcar and van off the road and for bicycle to take over.

Ben Knowles 22:39
Sure, I mean, I just in in general, I feel that the use of motor vehicles in cities is just so screamingly stupid. It’s such a waste of everyone’s time, that anything that helps people understand that and understand why that is, will help push, push the conversation and allowed more dramatic changes to our cities that will help make those more viable and more practical alternatives, easier. cycle tracks, local ship, low traffic neighbourhoods, more road user charging for, for those that do use motor vehicles in the city. And we, as a company were set up to help push that conversation along and help those changes to happen.

Carlton Reid 23:33
Let’s talk about low traffic neighbourhoods. You mentioned it there. So one of the things that people say is, Oh, I can’t get my deliveries. You know, the van can’t get through. You’re having no problems. I’m as human with low traffic neighbourhoods you can get through.

Ben Knowles 23:49
Yeah, so we did have a problem yesterday, when we were carrying a two seater sofa on the front of one of our bikes. And that did make getting through some of the the filters a bit challenging. But in, in general, yeah, the low traffic neighbourhoods, I mean, we can get straight through even with the trailers. And it it’s one of those things that it also makes working a lot more pleasant. Because you’re extricated from being stuck in traffic. You know, motor vehicles are the main thing that slows down. And so allowing us to move on routes that are parallel to the motor vehicles, and to enjoy pollution free spaces while we’re at work. It makes working a lot more pleasant and a lot more fun. As and, and also it saves us time because we’re not, we’re not entangled with the motors, when when they’re sitting there taking up all their space not going anywhere. We’re just extricated from all those problems, right.

Carlton Reid 25:00
Well, thank you to you both for for talking me today. And let me know. I mean, I will put in the show notes. I’ll put the link to the to the blog posting but Ben just just tell me where that website is and tell me any social media connected and I’ll ask the same question from Nico.

Ben Knowles 25:19
Cool. Sorry, what would you want from us in

Carlton Reid 25:22
Your website. So just Just give me a website and and and your Twitter handle that kind of stuff.

Ben Knowles 25:27
Okay, great. Yeah. So people can find us at peddleme.co.uk. And on Twitter or Instagram, on at pedal me at PDLME ATP.

Carlton Reid 25:44
Okay, and Nico, do you have somewhere where people can get hold of you on social media?

Nico Collignon 25:49
Yeah, sure. I’m on Twitter as well. I’m @nccollignon. But also through the Pedal Me Twitter.

Carlton Reid 25:56
And I haven’t been on there. That’s right. I do not follow you. But I’ll go check on you in a minute. And do you talk about cycle stuff on there? Or is this what do you do on your Twitter?

Nico Collignon 26:06
Yeah, quite a lot about cycling, then. Yeah. Then Oh, yeah.

Carlton Reid 26:13
It makes sense. I’ll definitely go and follow you then if you if you talk about cycling. Cool. And well, thank you so much, guys, for for talking to me today. And you’re very, very different locations. Thank you to Ben Knowles of Pedal Me and to Nicolas Collignon, also of Pedal Me and, and his fantastic PhD from Edinburgh University there. And let me just go across to my colleague, David before I wrap up the show.

David Bernstein 26:41
Hey, Carlton, thanks so much. And it’s it’s always my pleasure to talk about our advertiser. This is a long time loyal advertiser, you all know who I’m talking about? It’s JensonUSA at Jenson usa.com/thespokesmen. I’ve been telling you for years now years, that Jenson is the place where you can get a great selection of every kind of product that you need for your cycling lifestyle at amazing prices and what really sets them apart? Because of course, there’s lots of online retailers out there. But what really sets them apart is their unbelievable support. When you call them you’ve got a question about something, you’ll end up talking to one of their gear advisors and these are cyclists. I’ve been there I’ve seen it. These are folks who who ride their bikes to and from work. These are folks who ride at lunch who go out on group rides after work because they just enjoy cycling so much. And and so you know that when you call, you’ll be talking to somebody who has knowledge of the products that you’re calling about. If you’re looking for a new bike, whether it’s a mountain bike, a road bike, a gravel bike, a fat bike, what are you looking for? Go ahead and check them out. JensonUSA, they are the place where you will find everything you need for your cycling lifestyle. It’s Jensonusa.com/thespokesmen. We thank them so much for their support. And we thank you for supporting JensonUSA. All right, Carlton, let’s get back to the show.

Carlton Reid 28:07
Thanks, David. And thanks, of course to you for listening to Episode 261 of the spokesmen podcast, show notes and more, including links to Pedal Me’s website and Nico’s Twitter account and it can be found at the-spokesmen.com. Our website also has all of the subscribe details you could ever eat and details on the previous 260 shows. But meanwhile, get out there and ride …

November 16, 2020 / / Blog

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Monday 16th November 2020

The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

EPISODE 260: Say It With Flowers — My Guardian article’s LTN interviews

“When you see a bike like mine, filled with flowers, even the most steely, cantankerous Grinch will smile, because it’s a business that spreads joy.”

Four interviews rescued from the cutting-room floor

SPONSOR: Jenson USA

HOST: Carlton Reid

GUESTS: Newbie cyclist Sarah Berry, bottle shop owner Liam Plowman, cargobike florist Victoria Clasen and cycle campaigner Giles Gibson.

LINKS:

Guardian article: ‘I got it wrong. Since the changes it’s become more vibrant’: life in an LTN

TRANSCRIPT:

Carlton Reid 0:13
Welcome to Episode 260 of the Spokesmen cycling podcast. This show was engineered on Monday 16th of November 2020.

David Bernstein 0:24
The Spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast is brought to you by Jenson USA, where you’ll always find a great selection of products at amazing prices with unparalleled customer service. For more information, just go to Jensonusa.com/thespokesmen. Hey everybody, it’s David from the Fredcast cycling podcast at www.Fredcast.com. I’m one of the hosts and producers of the spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast for shownotes links and all sorts of other information, please visit our website at www.the-spokesmen.com. And now, here are the spokesmen.

Carlton Reid 1:08
Hi there, I’m Carlton Reid. and on today’s show, I’m letting you see behind the curtain. I’ve got three interviews that weren’t done for this podcast. They were done for The Guardian. I have a story well, actually three stories in today’s newspaper, all about low traffic neighbourhoods or LTNs. Now I talked with retailers and cycle campaigners to get their on the ground points of view. And with their permission, I’m including here some of those conversations. I recorded them to do transcripts. So recording them to just basically take notes and not to put on a podcast so the audio is a little less polished then then usual as recorded on an iPhone. Basically, we’ll hear from newbie cyclist Sarah Berry, bottle shop owner, Liam Plowman, and cargobike florist, Victoria Clausen and cycle campaigner Giles Gibson. That’s four isn’t it? So that’s three people, I said three before. Okay, so it’s four people who are recorded and I got their their permission to put their their audio that they didn’t know they’re being recorded for this podcast. But they gave me permission afterwards to to let you hear it. I have edited it in in parts of course. For instance, we didn’t talk about Chateau Musar. Why didn’t I not the Chateau Musar bit on Liam Plowman’s bit coz you don’t need to know about Lebanese wines. Do you? Okay, Chateau Musar is fantastic. Liam doesn’t stock it but he does have a different Lebanese wine. Okay, so first up, here’s Sarah Berry. And if you’ve seen the amended road closed sign that features pictograms of other road users, such as a cyclist, a pedestrian, a wheelchair user. Is there a skateboarder on this? I think it’s a skateboard on as well, with the text saying road open to those folks, but not motorists. Well, that’s Sarah’s work. And they are appearing all over the UK at the moment. And they’re great signs, but the roads aren’t closed to everybody they’re closed to motorists. And that’s a very, very good point to get across. And in pictogram version, or pictorial way of doing it, Sarah did that brilliantly. So here she is. But tell me, bear in mind, I do not live in London. So I will not know any of these places, but where do you live in comparison to Railton Road?

Sarah Berry 3:45
So I’ve actually moved since the LTN came in. So where I used to live, I was on a street that sort of came off Railton Road, they operate as sort of like a ladder. And so I was in one of the lattice streets off of that. I’ve now moved into a main road that borders the Tulse Hill LTN. So just on the other side of the park to where Railton Road is now.

Carlton Reid 4:11
And when you were living there, how did it transform your life?

Sarah Berry 4:19
Pretty remarkably, to be honest. So I had I’d heard about low traffic neighbourhoods as a as a thing before before it had come in. And it kind of felt like, you know, the ideal, the ideal thing that you would want as someone who wasn’t a car user in in the area, and I was a pedestrian predominantly using buses and trains before before sort of locked down here. But the day we got the letter about the LTN and Railton Road I went out and bought a bike. I only learned to sort of ride a bike doing the cycle confident TfL coursea year earlier, but sort of hadn’t had hadn’t worked up the confidence to test it out in, in London streets because it was just, you know, too busy and sort of too scary. And it didn’t feel like there was any way even local that I could cycle to that didn’t feel overwhelming. But when the LTN came in, when we told you that was happening, I was sort of like, right, I’m out of excuses. So went and bought a bike. And you know, that fundamentally, I think, during lockdown has been a real transformation, because, you know, I still haven’t gotten on a bus or a train or the tube or anything since since March. And I think if I had been confined to only the areas I could walk to, over the past six months, I’d be feeling a lot more sort of isolated and depleted than I am now I’ve been able to, you know, go and visit my new nephew who’s been born in Kingston, because I could cycle out there in able to go and visit friends who live all over London by meeting them in Central, I’ve been able to sort of head into my office on Sundays when I needed to do some work from there. And that’s sort of, you know, functionally and practically been really transformative, but also, in terms of like, my own self confidence. seeing myself now I never thought I would be the kind of person who would ride a bike, it just, you know, I’ve got terrible balance, you know, I’m you know, just not I’m not, I’m not super sporty, I’m none of those things. And I always thought it would be beyond me and to be given the conditions that enabled me to build up my confidence that the LTN bought in has sort of made me feel like, even though it’s a it’s sort of a really nothing to say, but it sort of made me feel like I could do anything, because it felt it was definitely in one of those categories of like something that other people do, that I won’t ever be able to achieve. And now that it’s moved out of that category, when I’ve got the right support and the right infrastructure around me, it’s sort of it sort of reveals, you know, how, how much your space and context has to do with with that, rather than, you know, who you are as a person and what you can actually achieve. And then beyond that I just met so many local people, I just know so many more neighbours, so many more people in the neighbourhood in general, from you know, advocating for lt ends and, and, you know, being supportive of them. But also, you know, I’ve been looking out for opportunities where we can celebrate the community and promote the neighbourhood and sort of get together. And that means that you know, you get in touch with people who are organising little festivals, or who were doing, you know, podcasts on design or different things on history. And it just, you know, now when I walk around the area, it always sort of have to allow double the journey time because I end up stopping and running into people and having a conversation and it’s just, it’s just the kind of life that I didn’t think was possible in London. That has come about as as a result of the changes.

Carlton Reid 7:52
And I’m pretty sure I’ve seen a photograph of your bicycle. We’re not gonna get very nerdy here and go into what bicycle do you ride? And I’m pretty sure I’ve seen what a photograph of you riding your bicycle, but I refresh my memory. What kind of bike have you got?

Sarah Berry 8:07
Yes, I have got a Chesterton from it’s called a company called the Light Blue. And it’s, uh, not interested in sorry, I’m forgetting the brand name, I’ll send it to you. But it’s a sort of like a baby pink, baby pink upright Dutch style bicycle from a company that started in Cambridge. And they were used to build like racing bicycles in Cambridge back in the day and then and then stopped for a period and then started up again. So we don’t want to be oldest

Carlton Reid 8:41
1890s. Sorry. 1890s it yeah, it’s Lloyd. I know the guy who owns it. His great, great grandfather was who set it up in a very, very Victorian for sure, like Light Blue. So yes, it’s a nice brand old,

Sarah Berry 8:57
proper old bikes. Would you get that for me knew when I bought when I bought it? All right. I I picked this one out specifically because a friend of mine works in a bike shop. And I’d you know been talking to him about about the fact that you know, I was such a nervous cyclist and I’d full off all the time and all that sort of stuff. And I wanted something that was like, That felt sturdy and stable. And when that came in, he sort of said, you know, like, by sort of message saying, I want to get this bike I want to get it as close to today as I can. And he said well, we just had this coming yesterday. I’ll set it up for you and come in and test it out. And it immediately immediately felt wonderful. I’ve only I’ve only ever written like the Boris bikes in London before so this felt a lot more comfortable. And a lot more me it wasn’t it was amazing the like difference that having my bike made to that level of confidence. Hmm.

Carlton Reid 9:57
Now I can go to your profile and and work got what I should say who you are. But what would you like me to say who you are in job terms and in even in campaign terms? How should I describe you?

Sarah Berry 10:11
So car dependency campaigner would probably be the best the best way to go about it. I’m the co chair of Lambeth Living Streets as well. But if you could mention that as a volunteer role that would be great because Living Streets keep getting hassled asking if I’m on the payroll and it doesn’t matter how many times that we confirm that I’m not they keep getting asked.

Carlton Reid 10:34
Thanks to Sarah Barry there. And if you’ve read the Guardian piece, you’ll realise that Sarah only got like a sentence or two in in that piece yet she spoke there for like, what, seven minutes. And that’s what happens of course with with newspaper pieces, or magazines or any any form of journalism really, I only had 400 words to get across quite a few points of view in the Guardian, so I’m afraid not all of an interview will ever make it into the final piece. And poor Giles got even less space in the Guardian than Sarah. But by by putting this interview out on this podcast, I can actually put more of jobs and more of Sarah and more of Liam and, and and more of all the interviews. So here we go with with Giles Gibson, and Giles is a business consultant and a cycle campaigner. Hi Giles is Carlton here.

Giles Gibson 11:33
How are you doing?

Carlton Reid 11:34
I’m doing good. Thank you. Are you free to talk now?

Giles Gibson 11:37
Yep, yep, no problem. Sorry. Yes to? Yeah, yeah, no problem. Sorry, happy? How can I help?

Carlton Reid 11:44
Well, first off, um, this is gonna be in The Guardian. Did you want your name to be on this or not?

Giles Gibson 11:53
And probably best to keep it anonymous. Just say, keep it local resident. There’s been a few problems with those who aren’t so keen on LTNs. And having a bit of a go that those who are I mean, they the locals know who’s been doing the surveys anyway. And they know where I live, because I’m pretty prominent in the area anyway.

Carlton Reid 12:19
No, no, I kind of I kind of assumed that might be the case. But I just want to check that. So I can say you are a campaigner for the Railton LTN camp, how should I describe you?

Giles Gibson 12:36
And I would just say a local resident who’s been in the area for 25 years. I don’t mind the name being used actually. Cuz thinking about it, all we’ve done is stand there and count traffic. That’s it. It’s that simple. There were three of us last time. And our methodology is to have one person en route and roads and that’s kind of technically within the ltn. And at the same time, we have people in Dulwich road, who are counting the traffic there and analysing it in the same way. So we both do it at the same time, same day. No, Ready, steady, go and count the traffic and analyse it. lambdas have put tapes down in the road anyway, so they’ll be getting the numbers through quite soon. And I’d certainly be measuring the traffic in Railton road, and Dulwich road, which is technically just outside the LTN. And it’s one of the roads that people say it’s going to get worse traffic as a result.

Carlton Reid 13:53
So why why did they do Railton road? Why is Railton road a key corridor to do a treatment like this?

Giles Gibson 14:03
Well, over the last 20 odd years, I’ve been involved with the local community and every single public meeting virtually when we get on to what’s the vision for the area and what’s the big issues. The number one is traffic. Number two is normally traffic and number three is traffic. It’s been that monotonous over the years, and route and road was identified as being increasing in traffic quite a bit over the last seven or eight years. And the local streets being getting fed more and more fed up with rat run activities. And we want to get better cycle routes from Brixton through to Herne Hill and beyond as part of a network of cycle reads. For Lambeth, we’re looking at A cycle dedicated protected cycle lane all the way down railroad anyway, we’re consulting on the whole thing. Because it was a key link. The number of cyclists who are starting to use route and road was starting to increase prior to the LTN. Anyway, there was a byproduct because I managed to get the Station Square development done about 10 years ago now where we diverted the road outside Herne hill station and created the semi predicts pedestrianised area that has provided a safe way for the cyclists to get across the Herne Hill junction because there is a phase of light dedicated, ironically to HGVss over 10 tonnes to get out of Station Square. That’s why TfL insisted on putting a traffic light phase in and very rarely any lorries use it. So the cyclists started realising they get their own dedicated cross. So as a result of that they’ve been using road as a route from Brixton to then get south to Dulwich and Crystal Palace and everywhere else. And so it was obvious that rail road was a contender, so it’s something quite dramatic, alone along with Shakespeare road, which was suffering from high running activity. So that’s some of the background. Can I

Carlton Reid 16:41
kind of just, I’ve got up on maps here now. So it’s where the the, the LTN the close has been put in to motorists at the station. Station.

Giles Gibson 16:54
It’s actually near Hearn place and Hurst Street, Google has it marked about right.

Carlton Reid 17:02
Okay. And then it goes as far north as Coldharbour Lane?

Giles Gibson 17:07
Well, there’s a filter and just in Shakespeare road, where it leaves a nail right across his nail road, it goes underneath the railway. So there’s a filter there. And they had to put the filter there because of the waste transfer station. That is just on the other side on the north side of the railway. They have very big lorries 40-tonners taking the waste from the skip lorries down to their depot in Greenwich. Big lorries can’t get under the bridge. So they had to allow them to continue to go north, up Shakespeare road through Loughborough junction, and eventually, down to Greenwich. So that’s why the filter was put on the south side. So there’s been a lot of objections from people in Shakespeare Road thinking that they’ve been cut off from the world.

Carlton Reid 18:06
So just to confirm if I can’t see on the map here exactly

Giles Gibson 18:11
what it is. It’s complicated. But yeah,

Carlton Reid 18:14
is there anybody and I’ve always had this, come back to me, as I know, is that anybody who has a car in any of these streets, can no longer use their car, or it’s all down to it takes a wee bit longer?

Giles Gibson 18:30
Correct.

Giles Gibson 18:34
Access to every single front door has remained as is. In whatever they call you want to come in be a 40 tonne truck, or a bicycle or your car or what have you. There’s been no change. You know, there’s they haven’t touched the parking, they haven’t touched the roads in any way at all.

Carlton Reid 19:00
So it’s literally just filters on certain roads. It just makes maybe, I mean, the typical thing is you know that your my five minute journey is taking 20 minutes now Well, of course you think well why are you doing a five minute journey? But that’s what he’s doing is it basically people taking longer to do car journeys if they won’t do car just

Giles Gibson 19:20
some car journeys depending in the direction he wants to go in. And it’s only some it’s not all will take longer.

Carlton Reid 19:34
Right. So now going to your or the traffic survey. So this this it that says on there, when would you tell me again, when was it? When do you start and when do you end the survey?

Giles Gibson 19:49
Right we we just want people were starting to think you know what, there’s a lot more bike cyclists around I wonder if it’s true. So we said okay, well that’s nice. It’s just a traffic survey. So we started roughly 815 in the morning, on a weekday, and we count initially, we just counted until there were 400 vehicles of some sort that have passed. But the last count, we actually did nearly an hour. And we analyse the, whether it’s a car, how many people are in it, whether it’s single occupancy, or more, if we can see whether it’s a lorry whether it’s just categories. So we do yeah, lorries, cars, number of occupants in the cars, whether it’s a delivery vehicle, because people are saying, Oh, we can’t get deliveries anymore in a Tesco stop delivering what we were monitoring that, whether it’s an E scooter or some description. And then on the cyclists, whether it was a male cyclist, what we call male lycra. In other words, they were probably a commuter. Or they had to change their outfit when they got to the destination, probably. So we’re trying to differentiate between casual and just popping around the corner, I can just go in anything I’m wearing to the kind of hardcore, call it what you like, like, and whether there were female and female like her. And then whether there were any kind of kids attached in some way or a cargo trailer or sitting on the panniers or something like that. And we just stood there counting. That was it every single one. So 400 was a reasonable number to extrapolate from. And we and we measured the number of minutes it took to get to 400 and and then converted that to an hour. So everything was that same base rate, if you see what I mean.

Carlton Reid 21:59
400 what, sorry?

Giles Gibson 22:02
But we counted in two, we’d got 400 vehicles, right, right. And we timed how long it took to get to 400. So it might be 46 minutes or something like that. And then so that we had the same comparisons each month, we then divided by the number of minutes and multiply by 60. Hmm. That way, it’s the same measuring units, so to speak,

Carlton Reid 22:37
and you haven’t got up before. So you’ve got 75% of traffic on Railton Road with cyclists, you don’t know what it was like, before.

Giles Gibson 22:45
We only started in August. But to be honest, you know, a lot of the LTN kind of started towards the end of July, but they haven’t even started issuing fines yet. Hmm. You know, so to begin with it everyone was laughing at it is that wasn’t still is the usual vandalism on the signs and stuff like that. And so, it has to be said that down at the Brixton end the number of vehicles going through it’s still quite high. Mm hmm.

Carlton Reid 23:20
And then what are you doing with apart from this this nice infographic you put on the website on the twitter feed? What are you doing with this information is feeding into the council? what’s what’s it been used for?

Giles Gibson 23:30
We send it to the council as well. And it’s just for our own interest to see. You know, we’re wondering how the behaviour is changing, you know what trends are coming on here. And we’re certainly noticing that there’s more females out and about casual cyclists prefer railroad to Dutch road. And the you know, little things that we’re finding out that single occupancy cars going from Herne Hill to Brixton us to lower percentage than single occupancy cars going from Brixton toward Fern Hill. And this might imply we don’t know for sure, but the school run goes in Brixton turn Hill direction, which will probably be correct given the type of spills over in the Dulwich Hill area. And so little things like that. The council traffic counts will only do numbers, they won’t do the type of it can’t tell whether it’s a male or a female cyclists Hmm. And so I’m very interested in if we are starting to get people you know, first timers out and their bicycle, the casual one, you know, just want to do a few miles and feel confident enough, within ltn to make the journey by bike. We know we’re always going to get the white, male lycra clad loonies and nothing will stop them. But it’s the vulnerable groups or the more timid, read user, whether that’s changing, and we’re noticing it is,

Carlton Reid 25:13
and is this LTN. Now, for want one of a better expression, set in stone, so it’s gonna last?

Giles Gibson 25:21
I wouldn’t want to be a gambling man on it. The other thing that we’re noticing, and sadly we haven’t counted is pedestrians. And road is being transformed with the number of people walking now. And Sunday was a nice pleasant day in terms of the weather. And I had difficulty having a distant conversation with somebody on the pavement, because the sheer number of people who kept on wanting to walk down the pavement and we kept on having to break the conversation stand aside at someone else. It really was quite remarkable the conduit that is there now between Brixton and Herne Hill, of people getting up by foot. And the atmosphere has changed. And this is the front line heaven sake in 1981. Place was a no-go area for the police is quite remarkable change. And the and the atmosphere, people just coming out more this barrier of traffic on roads. And when you get high density traffic is a real barrier and segregation for a community and just feel the communities like it’s had a mile the grain for X number of years and suddenly it started to lift. People go, Ah, actually I think that’s what lockdown did for people. But the LTNs is continued that positive aspect.

Carlton Reid 27:04
So just a bit this was you this was the in using emergency powers. Yeah. So that’s 18 months that this potentially could last for? Are there any strident campaigns that you that you think would get the ear of the council to get it taken out before then?

Giles Gibson 27:26
Well, there’s the legal issues that are going on whether they’re saying that it was illegally instigated so there is a legal campaign but I won’t land this one once was the group of people who are very anted there’s still quite a vociferous, smallish group who are campaigning against locally. There’s always a question mark about traders, and whether traders benefit or suffer. And it’s something I had, when we did the Herne Hill junction regeneration, we had huge opposition for quite a few traders against getting rid of the traffic in front of the station. Because the shops passionately believe that all their business came from cars, not in cars. And to be fair, after all the passing cars went some of the traders did have a wobble for a good few months. And then they that business deep change or and people change their shopping habits. But then a different type of shopper added to the ones that were there before. And those shops that some quite a few voids, they can see the rundown ones changed. And it’s now the most desirable space in handheld to get. So there’s a wait there’s a waiting list. We turned it from having into shops to having a waiting list people to get it. Mm

Carlton Reid 29:04
hmm. Now I’m gonna bee talking to a wine retailer, I believe.

Giles Gibson 29:12
Yeah, and you’re talking to Wild + Lees, right? And that they I think they understand where their trade comes from. And, you know, we surveyed traders in Herne Hill literally about 10 years ago. And we commissioned living streets to do a street survey. And they interviewed all the traders and on average the traders thought car, their customers around 50 to 60% came by car, and then when you interview people on the street, asking them how they got there, and it was about 13% got there by car. So that the perception of traders some sometimes doesn’t match the reality. Mm hmm. And I think there’s something about in Waltham Forest whether those on the cycle lane or this dedicated cycle lane where now you have to pay a slight premium to get a shot because it has transformed the area so much. And now it’s a desirable area. But it takes a few years before that change happens.

Carlton Reid 30:29
Mm hmm. So what is the council here which?

Unknown Speaker 30:33
Lambeth. It’s Lambeth, only got three green one tory, the rest of labour. Hmm. Some of the designs of LTNs are not great. I’m a great believer in doing it as a trial so that you can tweak and make changes when they pour concrete and that’s it is stuck with it is that’s a problem. So I think that the light touch trial is actually a good urban realm design approach.

Carlton Reid 31:08
Mm hmm. Tactical urbanism. Giles, thank you very much for that . Er, can I just go backwards and because I’d have to look exactly what exactly what you said to nail this on, but may as well just get you to say this now. Did you say you were okay with me to use your name at the end? Yeah, I

Giles Gibson 31:28
don’t mind. That’s fine.

Carlton Reid 31:31
Thanks to the no-longer-incognito Giles Gibson there. Now before I play the audio from Liam Plowman and Victoria Clausen here’s my co-host, David, with a commercial interlude.

David Bernstein 31:46
Hey, Carlton, thanks so much. And it’s always my pleasure to talk about our advertiser. This is a long time loyal advertiser, you all know who I’m talking about? It’s Jenson USA at Jensonusa.com/thespokesmen. I’ve been telling you for years now years, that Jenson is the place where you can get a great selection of every kind of product that you need for your cycling lifestyle at amazing prices, and what really sets them apart. Because of course, there’s lots of online retailers out there. But what really sets them apart is their unbelievable support. When you call and you’ve got a question about something, you’ll end up talking to one of their gear advisors and these are cyclists. I’ve been there I’ve seen it. These are folks who who ride their bikes to and from work. These are folks who ride at lunch who go out on group rides after work because they just enjoy cycling so much. And and so you know that when you call, you’ll be talking to somebody who has knowledge of the products that you’re calling about. If you’re looking for a new bike, whether it’s a mountain bike, a road bike, a gravel bike, a fat bike, what are you looking for? Go ahead and check them out. Jenson USA, they are the place where you will find everything you need for your cycling lifestyle. It’s Jensonusa.com/thespokesmen. We thank them so much for their support. And we thank you for supporting Jenson USA. All right, Carlton, let’s get back to the show.

Carlton Reid 33:12
Thanks, David. And we are back with the 260th episode of the spokesmen cycling podcast with me Carlton Reid. And here are two more of my notes for the podcast interviews done for The Guardian. First up here’s Liam Plowman of Herne hill’s Wild + Lees bottleshop. That’s a posh name for an off-licence. Anyway, that’s that’s just your trick question for today. Because if you know your Lebanese wines, then you’re going to be very, very specialist. So that’s what you do. You’re basically a boutique wine beer, posh off licence?

Liam Plowman 33:56
Yeah, yeah, exactly that. I mean, so the the sort of phrase du jour is bottle shop. So, which is a bit more kind of gets bit more inclusive. So, I mean, we are primarily a wine shop, we’ve got probably about 250 different wines, but then we’ve also got 400 beers. And yeah, it’s all about you know, small batch provenance craft, you know, getting to know their producers, that sort of thing. But But also, you know, trying not to, not to be too highfalutin, and to you know, supply stuff that normal people can enjoy. So we’ve got, you know, we, we try to stock a lot of wines that are less than 10 quid, so they’re not, you know, we’re not scary. We try not to be scary.

Carlton Reid 34:42
And how long have you been operating there, Liam?

Liam Plowman 34:45
Since November 2016. So pushing for years what actually Oh, yes.

Carlton Reid 34:50
Okay. And I’m looking at the map here now where you are so you’re the other side of Herne Hill station. You’re just outside the Railton Road LTN? But you do deliver? Are you? Are you a national delivery? Or do you local deliveries?

Liam Plowman 35:08
We do. Yeah, we do local delivery. So I do, I do pretty much all the deliveries myself. And, and we, and it’s a combination of methods of transport. So it depends how much I’ve got to deliver. So I trying to with a bike and trailer where I can, but obviously wine bottles bottles heavy, and, and often, you know, delivering, you know, 20 cases at once. So, in that case, we’ve got a camper van. So I just take take that. So yeah, there were there were there were actually a few lt ends on our on our sort of delivery routes as it were. So we’ve got customers who live in the Railon Road LTN, which includes Mail Road and parts of Shakespeare road. And then we’ve got we’ve got customers live in the Dulwich village one. And customers live in the in the Tulse Hill LTN as well. So, yeah, well, well, I don’t live in one or, or, you know, businesses and then one we do interact with them. Mm hmm.

Carlton Reid 36:13
And have you found it? Does it take longer?

Liam Plowman 36:17
Yeah, yeah. So it does take longer. I mean, I suppose the first thing to say is I I’m, I’m really in favour of LTNs. I think it’s unfortunate that they they’ve been are they you know, they’ve had to be introduced at a time where people are being actively discouraged from using public transport. So the inevitable consequences that the streets aren’t in the LTN absolutely rammed all the time. So it’s horrible pollution is worse and congestion is worse. But I said, I think that principle is that great. Reducing, yeah, pollution. Like neighbours more like neighbours, and that’s why, you know, through roads,

Carlton Reid 36:55
and then when you get to your customers, and you knock on the door, and you you, you’re there handing them over your lovely wine, do they then without even prompting, say, oh, bloody ltn or are they going fantastic. ltn. How do you find it on the doorstep?

Liam Plowman 37:13
There’s there’s a real mix. So, yeah, there’s a real mix. So that by the person I did this yesterday, I mean, I started the conversation, but but the LTN, I’ve got, you know, I was panting pathing. And I set up to carry the village because I forgot to bring my trolley and she wasn’t really complaining. But she was saying she had to completely mentally reconfigure her map of the area as a result of the LTN because he couldn’t take the usual route to get anywhere by car. So it was a slightly negative comment, I suppose. But then others actually, a lot of people who live in the well, some road ltn have been very positive about it about one or two people who express negative feelings about it. I think I think most of the people who come in here, because they’re accustomed to the shock, post a talk, you know, speak for them, but most people like discussions with our probe are aware that, you know, there were teething issues, and it’s early days

Carlton Reid 38:24
and using your knowledge of the area. Yeah. Are there any streets houses that are genuinely gridlock? They cannot get out of bed, driveway or whatever? Or literally, is it every car every motorist can get out and go wherever they want in the area, but they can’t any longer take the very shortest route?

Liam Plowman 38:51
Oh, do you mean people who live within the LTNs? Yeah, I think I think that it’s not really a question of gridlock. I mean, the streets in the LTNs are basically, you know, pretty much empty of traffic. I think like so one guy, a book is a regular customer. He lives in in a part of Shakespeare road, that is part of the LTN and he now can’t drive towards Herne Hill, he has to go up to Loughborough junction and take quite a long route to get to where he needs to be so so. So for people like that and for people who will not so yes, village village. You just have to go a lot further to make the same journey because you’re yours. You know, you you might live within 200 feet of where the LTN starts. But you might have to drive half a mile in the other direction to get around.

Carlton Reid 39:46
But I’m sure you’ll have seen on social media and no doubt in local newspapers, people saying they’re trapped in their houses. They no longer can get out in their cars. That’s not true. It’s just they’ve got a drive a bit longer than than then they’ve been used to.

Liam Plowman 39:58
Yeah, yes. well, exactly, I mean that, you know, that, that those, they’ve all been designed so that, you know, obviously residents get in and out. But they have to take a different route and it might be that they have to you know, go very convoluted route to to get to a place that’s down the street from them. But I guess you know, controlling the sliders while you drive to a place of banditry from you. I guess some people have to because of visibility or issues. Hmm. So it’s complex. But yeah, I mean, I don’t think there’s any case in which a visitor is literally trapped and can’t drive out of the street. I mean, that just obviously wouldn’t work. And even in the LTN, like we can, like the wells road out here and you can drive in and out of wells and road from certain side streets. You just can’t go through either end like that. The goal of it is the thought route road being being a thru run from Herne Hill to Brixton. So you can’t enter Belton road at one end to come out the other end, but you can drive out on the parallel roads, drive into Belton road, deliver some stuff for park outside your house, you know, it’s not completely blocked off.

Carlton Reid 41:11
Mm hmm.

Carlton Reid 41:15
Yes, no, I understand. It’s just it that isn’t always the impression that that detractors give, you know, initially.

Liam Plowman 41:24
Yeah, I mean, unfortunately, that’s that, you know, people do get very emotional about their cars and their absolute right to drive wherever they want to kind of thing.

Carlton Reid 41:36
Thanks to Liam Plowman there. And if that made you thirsty, Liam is the co owner with his wife Claire, as the Guardian article says, of Wild + Lee’s bottleshop in Herne Hill, London. And last but not least, here’s my iPhone interview with Victoria Clausen of Brixton’s Pop Florist and you may hear me doing a few weird things in the background because I’m trying to placate our puppy as well. So might be squeezing weird toys and waving treats around just to keep here quiet. I think I achieved that goal. Mostly.

Carlton Reid 42:16
Yeah.

Carlton Reid 42:19
Okay, so I’ll try and do this without interacting with her too much. So I mean, your your business sounds fascinating. I’ve looked at your website for your touring and stuff. So the Urban Arrow which you toured with, that’s also what you deliver with now. The bicycle electric bike, the urban arrow?

Victoria Clausen 42:42
Yeah, yeah, I use it every day. I use it to transport my kids to school and I use it for my business.

Carlton Reid 42:48
And how close are you to the various LTNs that are around?

Victoria Clausen 42:54
Very close indeed. I am in Brixton, near the Railton Road LTN in Brixton.

Carlton Reid 43:03
Okay. And clearly you deliver because it says on your website, you for long distances, you use Ubers and stuff, but you are sometimes delivering locally, and how has that been with the LTN?

Victoria Clausen 43:18
Pretty much exclusively from my bike, to be quite honest. I would say like 95% and then the odd percent like I have done a favour to on the tube now and then. But I would say it’s made a massive difference. It’s safer, I would say as a parents to get my kids to school and for the first time my eight year old is able to cycle to school because Brixton is so congested that it did not feel safe before. I know that there is a highly politicised issue. I’d like to add that both my husband and I are campaigners for Mums for Lungs, which has some very good strong data points as you might have might have already researched yourself on air pollution in London. So we are a family of cyclists. We found that the LTNs have helped us get our kids to school more safely. We noticed a better air quality during lockdown like everyone did. Mm hmm. But I’m also mindful that there are arguments to be made that the pollution has simply, you know, been diverted to main roads. And there is a huge amount of vitriol on the internet over LTNs.

Carlton Reid 44:31
And how about your customers so when you when you turn up on your your electric cargo bike, and maybe they didn’t know that you were coming up on electric cargo bike? Do any of them say to you, oh, you’re one of their side because I hate these LTNs or is it the complete opposite?

Victoria Clausen 44:46
It’s the complete opposite. First of all, if you see a bike like mine filled with flowers, even the most steely, cantankerous Grinch will smile because it’s a business that spreads joy. And mostly, you know, especially through lockdown where people weren’t able to get, you know, weren’t able to get out and about in the normal way they would. My sales definitely increased and my deliveries been busier than ever, because I’m the captive audience. But I would say no one has, no one has given me a hard time, you know, and said, Oh, you’re one of those LTN supporters. You know, you’re a smug, woke, millennial sort of person. No one said that instead, I think they support the business partially, and arguably, mostly because they see it as ‘slow flowers’ and a more sustainable way of doing business and the way that we need to start thinking about doing business all of us.

Carlton Reid 45:52
Mm hmm. And when, when some of the anti’s talk about lt ends, that they often say, you know, I’m trapped in my house, I can’t go out. And then everybody I’ve talked to about this. I say, well, are anybody is anybody genuinely trapped? And people say, Well, no, you can get everywhere in a car. But it just might take a bit longer. Is that your?

Victoria Clausen 46:17
I mean, personally, I couldn’t agree more. It seems that seems to be the evidence. That seems to completely Yeah, it’d be exactly the right way of looking at it. But then there’s a there’s a slightly more sinister argument, which is that I’ve heard people put out which is that, you know, the ambulance and the emergency vehicles cannot get to, you know, two people in time, and I’ve actually heard a GP say that they strongly believe that not to be the case, because there is less traffic. And once you get through the barrier, you actually have a quicker reaction time to get to that patient.

Carlton Reid 46:54
Mm hmm.

Victoria Clausen 46:54
Along LTNs. So I don’t know what evidence I you know, I I’m not ready to stand behind that evidence. But I’ve heard that which is interesting, huh? Look at that. I don’t know

Carlton Reid 47:03
most of the the side roads to Railton Road, are they planters, are they cameras? What are they? What’s stopping people getting through?

Victoria Clausen 47:13
They put planters down? I mean, definitely, people are still I mean, I don’t know how, how much what percentage of that traffic is actually local. And how much of it is people thinking? Oh, what a nice quiet road now like we can use it. And I certainly haven’t seen any enforcement whatsoever around LTNs and cameras and so on and so forth. Have you?

Carlton Reid 47:39
I haven’t no, have you seen I mean, the other lt ends and other parts of London have had bad planters vandalised damaged and knocked over. Has there been any anything like that?

Victoria Clausen 47:51
I haven’t seen that. However, I will point out that there is an LTN on our back route to school, which I can give you the name, I can text you the name today. And there’s a whole lot of signs of local saying stop the LTN sign this petition and my husband actually put up some months for long signs in that area to provide a counterbalance to that prevailing view. And also I in our own school community. A number of parents have gone viral on WhatsApp saying you know that the LTNs our socio economic, you know, scheme to keep the poor poor and all of this like Bs, which I don’t buy any of it, like, you actually need more money to have a car and to pay for a car permit, then to have a bicycle. Now my bicycle is, you know, a very expensive bicycle. So not everyone can afford that. But almost everyone can afford an analogue bike,

Carlton Reid 48:54
Mm hmm.

Victoria Clausen 48:56
Carlton, I really appreciate you doing this article. I think it’s a really important issue. And if we don’t seize this opportunity now, it will be lost. We must have good momentum on air pollution in London. That is, I mean, there’s no better time than now. Because otherwise, it’s just not gonna happen is it?

Carlton Reid 49:16
Thanks to Victoria Clausen there of Brixton’s Pop Florist, and thank you, of course to all four of my unwitting guests on today’s show, and I hope you enjoyed that slight reveal behind the curtain and see what basically gets left on the cutting room floor which unfortunately, it’s most of those comments which is why I’ve I do a podcast to to get everybody’s longer point of view. And rather than just one sentence that ended up in the newspaper, and eagle-eyed listeners/ viewers will will understand that this has only been the London segment, so I had three segments in today’s Guardian. I had a Edinburgh segment and I had a Newcastle segment which is my home, my hometown, the hardware shop in my hometown, a business that basically doubled in size when when Steve Robson eventually benefited from having a low traffic Street. And then the final segment was the London Railton road segment and I haven’t included the Scottish segment I’ll have included the Newcastle segment, because I wanted to keep it into a into a one theme show. So it was a London themed show. And if you enjoyed today’s show, it’d be really helpful for us if you could like, subscribe, and comment on the Spokesmen cycling podcast on Apple podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you are listening to today’s episode. Show notes transcript and a link of course to The Guardian article can be found at the-spokesmen.com. And this is Carlton Reid signing off and suggesting, whether you’ve got an LTN or not, get out there and ride …

October 26, 2020 / / Blog

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The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

EPISODE 259: Cyclist Detection Tech With Tome Software CEO Jake Sigal And History of Road Equity With Historian Peter Norton

Monday 26th October 2020

SPONSOR: Jenson USA

HOST: Carlton Reid

GUESTS: Jake Sigal of Tome Software and historian Peter Norton, author of “Fighting Traffic: the Dawn of the Motor Age in the American City.”

Cartoon by Richard Hedman, 1970.

TRANSCRIPT

Carlton Reid 0:13
Welcome to Episode 259 of the Spokesmen Cycling Podcast. This show was engineered on Monday 26th of October 2020.

David Bernstein 0:23
The Spokemen Cycling Roundtable Podcast is brought to you by Jenson USA, where you’ll always find a great selection of products at amazing prices with unparalleled customer service. For more information, just go to Jensonusa.com/thespokesmen. Hey everybody, it’s David from the Fredcast cycling podcast at www.theFredcast.com. I’m one of the hosts and producers of the Spokesmen Cycling Roundtable Podcast for shownotes links and all sorts of other information, please visit our website at www.the-spokesmen.com. And now, here are the spokesmen.

Carlton Reid 1:08
Hi there I’m Carlton Reid and on today’s show I’m discussing the detection of cyclists by the driverless cars of the future and the partially autonomous cars of today. My two guests are coming at this from two very different angles. First I talked with Jake Sigal, CEO of Detroit’s Tome Software and in the second half of the show I chat with historian Peter Norton.

Carlton Reid 1:35
Jake is a serial entrepreneur and, as he explains on the show, he sold an earlier tech company to automotive giant Ford enabling him to create Tome Software. Tome works with the auto and bicycle industries to create cyclist detection technologies for an increasingly digitally connected world. When every lampost, every road junction, every bit of street furniture, broadcasts its presence — and many already do — won’t cyclists be safer if they ping robot drivers and human ones too letting them know that they’re around the next corner? Jake and I discuss the upsides but also the potential equity and technology downsides to such an automobile-centred near-future, and for all my earlier worries about bicycle beaconisation — that cyclists need to be detected not connected — Jake reveals that Tome is also working on technologies that won’t need Bluetooth bursts or other kinds of proximity pulses. Jake is a passionate cyclist, off-road and for commuting, and he tells me that he wants what we all want: safer roads. In the second half of the show I discuss similar equity and technology issues with historian Peter Norton. Peter’s been on the show a couple of times before and many of you will already know that he’s the go-to guy for the social history of how automobile interests—what he calls motordom—successfuly turned roads meant for people into roads exclusively for motorists. His classic book — “Fighting Traffic: The Dawn of the Motor Age in the American City” — is a key tome, you could say, about the creation of jaywalking as a concept and soon thereafter a crime in many states, a creation that deliberately and cynically favoured one road user over another. In this episode of the Spokesmen cycling podcast Peter uses history to evaluate whether using technology to detect cyclists and pedestrians is the fairest and most effective way to keep them safe. As I said, it’s a long show, so strap in and let’s get straight across to Tome Software CEO Jake Sigal

Carlton Reid 4:03
Tome software, I mean, I know you because of the the kind of the work you’ve been doing on bicycles, and bicycle detection and cyclist detection, I should say rather, let’s use the agency here rather than the the form of transport. But what does Tome Software actually do away from cycling?

Jake Sigal 4:26
Well, we are a software services company based in Detroit, Michigan. And historically, we’ve worked with our clients on mobility projects helping with delivering packages or software that would help vehicles communicate with connected objects or people outside of the vehicle. So that’s been our basic model. And one year we were working we also had a client in the bicycle industry. We built some some connected cycling software products for for bike companies, and where they kind of married up as one could imagine. We’re at a bike conference and one of the folks from Trek Bicycles that based in Madison, Wisconsin, approached me and heard I was in Detroit and knew about our background with autos and asked about, you know, if we had the ability to work on getting with car companies to make safety products between bicycles and cars. And that’s kind of how it started. So outside of bikes, where we still do a lot of software for the automotive industry, we have some non automotive clients as well. And we are always interested in helping our clients understand how to create either cost savings or quality improvement. Sometimes it’s from new revenue for digital transformation, or formerly Internet of Things, IoT products. But a lot of our focus now is within connected vehicles and writing software applications for automotive and bringing it into a consumer electronics, which includes bicycles and environment.

Carlton Reid 5:51
So Jake, how long have you been going with Tome? What were you doing before Tome? So where did Tome come from?

Jake Sigal 5:58
Great question. So previously, my business partner and I, as well as our Director of Engineering, were a part of a company that was acquired by Ford in 2013. And that company helped connect apps and cars, this is now part of the Ford SYNC programme. After we did that, after after the sale, we around at Ford for a while, and then we’re thinking about what we wanted to do next, it just seemed very logical to take our experience and passion around connected car and bring it into things connected outside of the car. So the the old company was about connecting apps in your phone to the car, the new company at home is about a vehicle and connected to everything else around the world and anything else in the area. And that’s really how it started. So Tome is the company name, it’s an old English word for a book of knowledge. And we have this all-knowing owl buddy, which is our mascot, and it’s really fun. I’d say we’ve been at it since 2014. So great team. It’s it’s a it’s really awesome, we we have a strong focus on having people pursue to be the best version of themselves both both in work and in life. And it’s, it’s a great, great team atmosphere. I mean, even during the pandemic, as hard as it’s been for everybody, we did not lose any of our projects and maintain happy customers and just still able to keep a great culture. So we tell them, it’s a business that we started with a mission of making the world a better place around the automotive ecosystem. But I it’s not VC backed, like our previous company was was VC backed this one we own and we’ve got a few investors, but it’s, it’s, it’s really a company we built for the long haul. And we’re really excited to work with some of the best companies in the world. I mean, having Ford and Canon, the camera company’s one of our clients. We’ve done some project with NASA, I mean, there’s like so many cool projects with cool companies and just great engineering teams on the client side that we get the opportunity to work with. And that’s that’s basically Tome.

Carlton Reid 7:59
And how many people are in that great team of yours in in Detroit or spread around Detroit now, I guess on Zoom and stuff, but how many people have you got in the team?

Jake Sigal 8:07
So there’s 15 of

Jake Sigal 8:08
us full time. And then we’ve got a set of contractors as well that that work on various projects. So it’s a mix of that full time a contract, so a small company, and typically, we’re working side by side with engineering groups within our client side. So it’s a great business and, and you know, we’re able to be really nimble and fast with our size. So I don’t have to deal deal with a lot of overhead and clients. I think, like the fact that I’m involved on many of the projects or my business partners involved in the ones are not so we are able to really get hands on and solve problems for our customers in the industry.

Carlton Reid 8:43
And how did you get into that particular sphere into connected apps in thebeginning. Where’s your actual background from?

Jake Sigal 8:51
So I have a engineering degree, a systems engineering degree, and I worked in the consumer electronics industry and professional audio equipment and then consumer electronic audio, which led to a job at in Detroit, where I was product manager for cellular radio at the time, there was XM and Sirius in the US, two separate and then they merged. So a lot of background in audio. And we started the first company Livio, we were making desktop radios for Pandora and other automotive app companies and then and then started writing software. So eventually when the smartphone came out, like in 2008, when the iPhone one came out, it wasn’t a device, there was like the iPod functionality of the phone. But it wasn’t really it was not at that time a streaming media device. It wasn’t until about 2009 when, 2010 really, when people started really streaming audio from the phone, internet radio sort of started to take off. So one thing led to another and then we realised that the consumers didn’t need the hardware and that’s when we started getting into software. So it was very natural progression and all that transpired at the Consumer Electronics Show and was 2010 and we’re situated between the iPhone accessory group people section and then the automotive section. I mean, we’re literally physically between the two sections. And it was kind of like a lightbulb moment. And we’ve we’re still very focused on software that touches hardware. And that’s one of the things that makes us unique is we’re not just making apps. It’s apps that get get involved with hardware and Bluetooth and things like that. But yeah, just kind of solving the same problems, just different technology available to us to use our disposal.

Carlton Reid 10:31
And did you personally move to Detroit because Detroit obviously is, you know, the global automotive capital, or are you from Detroit?

Jake Sigal 10:43
I’m from Ohio, just just a state south of Michigan. And I was living with my now my wife or girlfriend back at the time, we were living in Rhode Island. So yeah, we moved back to the Midwest. And it’s not far away from where I grew up. And same type culture for any listeners that are familiar with the Midwest and United States. So a very natural fit. And I we when we moved to Detroit was right when the great recession started. So it like we were here at pretty much the downswing and now it’s become quite a vibrant community really fell in love with the area, just the amount of cycling and the culture of the parks. Other than December, January and February. It’s an amazing place to be in fact, I always joke with my friends that I don’t I don’t go and I don’t travel even for business between Memorial Day, Labour Day. So unlike the late spring, summer and early fall, this is where the only place I want to be. But when it comes wintertime we we jettison, so it’s when it’s five degrees outside, it’s not ideal, but for nine months out of the year, it’s fantastic.

Carlton Reid 11:45
So describe to me Intelligent Transport. So that kind of connected of things. So lampposts, traffic signs, traffic signals, they’re all now or many of them, no beaming out stuff. And cars, passing bicycles can now potentially be recognised as well. So it described that, that ecosystem of things that we don’t really think about these things, beaming information, but there’s things out there street furniture, beaming stuff, right?

Jake Sigal 12:18
Yeah. So I think that for the listeners, what’s important is to have technology that provides an increase in safety, but it’s still transparent to the user, it’s not something that you have to turn on or press a button. And the original technology to cross the crosswalk would be you have to press the button and then wait or be on a time system and hope that it would, the light will change. And with vehicles there, there used to be technology still in some lights where they have these sensors that would be embedded in the road to detect a vehicle. But those sensors were not able to detect a pedestrian or bicyclist or some other scooterists in the roadways. So a lot of that technology is already been installed. And you wouldn’t know that because you don’t have to download an app or do anything for it to use. So what we’re looking at and is ways for increasing safety while still maintaining the ability to not require users to have to press a button. And if for example, there’s been some technology out that was released I think it’s called Project Greenlight, not our company, but it would allow a traffic light to wirelessly recognise that a biker scooter is approaching an intersection to trigger to the traffic light to turn green when you know that you’re there. And as a cyclist, I can tell you that I can tell you the routes I ride and where that where you have to ride to the sidewalk, get off your bike and press the button otherwise, you’ll never get a green light or you’re you’re given that choice of trying to play Frogger across the road. So a lot of these technologies that we’re interested in involves something called signal phase and timing or SPAT and then separately there’s wireless technology which is coming with cellular V2X also known as C-V2X or CV2X which can communicate from sign to sign or car to sign or sign to car. So once that is set up and enables messages to be transmitted between the devices, so are companies really thinking about the applications so so what is like the so what factor like why would somebody care that these signs are connected? Well, if it’s a streetlight, it would want to know when it turned on at night so so it can be you know, not under the daylight or, or be able to fluctuate when there’s there’s people that would need to have access to that light and not create, you know, any sort of light pollution or other issues. But for safety features, we’re thinking about how to leverage these types of connected infrastructure for sending just very simple messages so that safety systems on vehicles can do a little bit better job or have a little better confidence for things that they can’t see in front of them.

Carlton Reid 14:55
And how much if this kind of Intelligent Transport Systems, that’s what it’s ITS? Yep. How much of this is absolutely 100% necessary for these famous — and we haven’t got them yet and they’re always touted — driverless cars? And how much is the the cars that are going to be like coming along in the next three, four years? Or perhaps even now? So how much is of this infrastructure necessary for the driverless cars? And how much is it just as necessary for the piloted cars today?

Jake Sigal 15:30
It’s it’s really a balanced approach with the technologies and the value of the technologies. So there are driverless vehicle systems that do not rely on any wireless messages from signs. So one could argue that none of it is necessary. But I think that there, I think that everybody would agree with more information is better. Now what you do with that information? Do you trust that information? Is the information accurate? And is it timely? Those are the key questions that we’re getting into. But just to be clear that driverless cars are level five autonomous vehicles like no steering wheel. Right now, there’s a lot of cars that have safety systems called ADAS systems that are level two or level three autonomous vehicles that do have a driver and have a steering wheel. So things like emergency braking, or the adaptive cruise control or lane departure warnings, those are really relevant, because it’s now looking forward in the future about what you have to have on vehicles, it is going to be a function of the driving speeds and the location. So for trucking that are on an interstate going from state to state, it’s going to be a different set of requirements than manoeuvring a dense urban environment. And I think that those teams are still evaluating how to continue improving safety, I would say that I always have people asking us a lot is your how would you feel if there was an autonomous vehicle behind you? And what I tell people is that at this point in time, and they actually have about a year and a half ago, I feel safer having a robot behind the wheel, when I’m running, when I’m personally riding a bike, then the average driver because I don’t know if the average driver is distracted. And if you’re riding a bike around rush hour, there’s also an issue where you have a lot of obstructed vision. So a autonomous vehicle or a tonne of safety system in a vehicle that with a human driver, I think will be another set of eyes, another set of resources to see me while I’m out riding. And that wasn’t the case five years ago, but now I would say that the safety systems are great. And there’s always going to be edge cases and use cases. But I think we’re at a point now where it’s it’s clearly increasing safety. And yeah, you’re going to see the reports of, of tragic incidents that happen. But I’ve met with a lot of engineers working on these systems, and they’re doing it because they’re on a mission to make make the world a safer place and reducing injury and death. And that’s, I think we’re at a point now in the technology where it’s better now than the average human driver. Again, just my opinion, but I’ve seen this from the inside and outside. I know what sort of technologies are there and you know, the just even the the reaction time to recognise it’s a cyclist versus just some object up ahead. I mean, those are things that, that with the right technology can really help a human out that’s behind the wheel.

Carlton Reid 18:27
At the humans who are not behind the wheel, there’s some jargon here. So this is not it’s not your jargon. This is just the jargon and the industry. But it’s kind of you understand this. So VRUs so vulnerable road user is the jargon for a pedestrian, somebody on a scooter, somebody on a bicycle. Now, in the future in your technology, or just this the general connectivity, technology that’s coming are VRUs, are vulnerable road users, are they going to have to use a smartphone is that smartphone going to have to be turned on? What’s the technology that a VRU is going to have to have?

Jake Sigal 19:10
No. So we are very, we’ve been very clear, our 20 companies on our advisory board, have been very clear that that we need to support vulnerable road users, pedestrian, bicycle, scooter riders that do not have do not want to have or their battery is dead and their electronics that we have, we have two very distinct groups, which we call an unequipped VRU or someone that doesn’t have any electronics, or they’re choosing not to broadcast electronics, even for privacy reasons. And then if you have the electronics, whether it’s built into a shared bike that you get on and ride so as a user, you just ride the bike, you don’t have to do anything it’s built in or all the way to an app on your phone that can provide some level of identification – or device classification in other words- letting a car know that you are a pedestrian versus a like a… For example, let’s say you have a bike on a bike rack on a bus. Well, if you accidentally left your your ebike on and the motors on, it’s not spinning but it’s on the bus, we wouldn’t want a vehicle to think it was about to run over a cyclist when the bikes on the front of the bus and you’re riding the bus going down the street. So we really think that there are two paths, there’s the unequip VRUs as someone that doesn’t have the electronics and whether for a number of reasons, including equity reasons, they may not be able to afford the technology that we need to make sure they’re protected both from vehicle systems as well as protected from the ITS, the signs and infrastructure. Now, if there is an opportunity to have a low cost, wireless transmitter that can transmit anonymous information, things like ‘I am a bicycle, I’m travelling north, I’m going 15 miles per hour or 20 kilometres per hour’. That is useful information that helps because GPS does not work very well for tracking a bicycle or scooter. So I imagine many of the listeners, you had an experience in a city where you had the little blue dot on your map and it kind of bounces around a little bit or you’re driving using the Waze app or Google on your car and you’re like on the freeway, and then it thinks you’re on a side street and it jumps back to a freeway. That’s in GPS, this happens where it gets a little bit out of sync, because it’s pulling information off the satellites. So getting direct information off a bicycle or scooter like electronic compass, a speed from a wheel spinning, just some basic information even saying I am a scooter and I am moving that that is some really useful information on a low cost sensor that the having that information. While it’s not enough for a car to slam on the brakes, it is enough for a car safety system to include that information provided it’s trusted, so that the car safety system can do a slightly better job or be more confident in the decision that it’s going to make to help help avoid an incident or alert a driver. So that’s kind of how we look at it is that, that there are some opportunities there. The the opposite of this would be let’s put a $200 doodad on every bike and scooter. And that’s just not gonna happen. So it’s just not gonna happen. I mean, in vehicles, there are basic safety protections and those increase over time, so seat belts became mandatory. And there were lap belts. And then you have the cross strap seat belt then airbags were optional feature. And now they’re mandatory than others. Now you can get vehicles that have 20 airbags and increased safety systems. So like Lane Departure warnings, backup cameras, I mean, all these things are optional, they come in standard features. So I do think that there’s a really good precedent set that if you’re a cyclist and you want to increase your safety, you can buy a helmet, you can buy a bike light, you can buy a reflector reflective armband, or straps. So you look more like a human being and not just flashing light out there. So there are a lot of options on this and start to be a little long winded with this. But I want to make it very clear that that we want to provide options for people, but not leave anybody behind. So there will be more benefit if you’re having electronics. But at the same time it’s we can’t just say okay, now everyone on a bike has to have this electronic device. That’s just not not feasible. And we look at this as finding solutions for all riders regardless of their ability level, their age, their economic status, whether it’s their own bike or share bike, or a scooter or E powered bike or a regular powered bike. For us the Vulnerable Road User includes everybody, we got to make sure that everybody is included in our work.

Carlton Reid 23:29
Everybody’s included, Jake, but is it not the very fact that this could be two tiers of road user, vulnerable road user, in that you’re going to be equipped or not equipped? And this is purely hypothetical. I’m sure you’ve come across this before I’m sure all your workshops with with bicycle companies this has been broached. But in for instance, in a future litigation, where a cyclist and this happens with helmets, this happens with high vis this happens with lights already in in a court case where a motorist hits a cyclist. A lawyer at some point will say, ah, but that cyclists wasn’t equipped with this latest Bluetooth beacon. That’s why the crash happened. And what then happens is that the whole blame isn’t apportined to the cyclist, but a certain part of blame is apportioned. So then it becomes absolutely two tier road system. So how can that be? How can that be kind of like stopped before it’s even started?

Jake Sigal 24:38
Yeah, I understand the point. I don’t fully agree with the point about the two tiered system. And let me let me talk a little about that. So in our opinion, these cyclist does not want to get hit by a car any more than a driver wants to hit a cyclist. So it’s not just about responsibility. It’s it comes down to accountability. So, for example, if a cyclist is riding the wrong way on the road, in a vehicle lane and is breaking the law, he or she’s responsible for taking that action, just like if a driver of a vehicle is driving in the bicycle lane, which we’ve seen that happen, that that driver is then responsible, and especially for commercial vehicles that we double parked and other types of situations. So I definitely understand and see that point that comes up quite a bit. But from our work and experience, we’re really focusing on the use cases where everybody’s doing the right thing. So if everybody’s doing the right thing, there shouldn’t be incidents happening anyways, except for some really limited circumstances where the driver has obstructed view, like coming up in over a hill, or you’re driving West at sunset and you’re, as a driver looking straight into the sun and you’ve got the visor down, it’s really hard to see those types of limited use cases or areas where we think the technology can really help. So if a cyclist doesn’t have this technology, and there’s a litigation around, should the cyclist have had this? I think it’s going to come down to what every governing body whether it’s a state by state, or municipal level, in the US, we’ve got federal, state and local regulations and requirements on this is just going to be me based on the vru style. So it’s very possible that for example, if you have a moped like an actual motorised vehicle, like a motorcycle, you are regulated and having certain things like having lights having a licence plate, I don’t think a pedestrian should or whatever have any of this, I personally don’t think that a bicyclist, whether it’s powered or not powered, should have any of this or any scooter should. But ultimately, it’s up to each group to decide what should be there and what the use cases are. So what I wanted to just kind of put a little colour on this is that this two tier road system, we don’t see it that way, it certainly is possible. But what we see is dense urban environments having a three tier system where one is vehicle only. So in New York City, you’ve got the West Side Highway, or Second Avenue, and it’s I think it’s Seven Av that’s car only. And then you’ve got bike and VRU, Bike Share plus Car Share areas. And then separately, you’ve got bicycle and VRU-only areas and in Europe, that’s pretty common, as well as having these bikeways that are that are developed. And then there’s rules and regulations for the bikeways. So being a proper user of a trail or road. That’s not a new thing. I think that’s going to continue. But trying to say that because technology to make you safer exists means you have to wear it. I mean, that’s not something that we engage on. I mean, our mission is to increase safety and make sure that we can increase safety for both equipped and unequipped. The argument of should helmets be mandatory. I mean, that’s that’s not that’s not our fight to fight. I mean, I’ve got my personal opinion as a rider. But I mean, ultimately, that’s that’s, that’s up to local state and federal jurisdiction on that. So I see your point there, but we kind of see this a little bit differently. And I hope that hope you understand that from our standpoint, we’re just trying to increase safety and make sure no one’s left behind. And there will be some questions asked on this. But ultimately, if we’re increasing and saving lives, I think that it’s it’s worth having these harder conversations about these types of issues if we’re ultimately reducing the serious injury and death count with the technology we’re working on.

Carlton Reid 28:41
So what do you say the technology then is it like an equivalent to you know, all day running lights or wearing a helmet or the hi-vis, in fact these are all optional things. You don’t have to have these things. Many cyclists don’t have these things, but it just increases how visible you are to motorists. So if you’ve got the you know the standard, you know, Bontrager type, you know, always on, yeah, daytime running lights, you’re going to be that much more visible to motorists. You don’t have to have them. But you know, it’s your own. If you want to save your skin, then then it makes sense to have them.

Jake Sigal 29:21
Yeah, so personally, I always ride with high visibility, reflective and daytime running lights and a helmet. I wanted one day during the pandemic, I went to pick up some food and I didn’t put a helmet on I’m just going a few blocks down the street and I felt naked like I was like, I literally forgot something my helmet on and that’s just that’s me, that’s me is personal. That’s That’s me as a cyclist, but it’s not my decision to make for how other people look at this. And some people, rightfully so I would say that as a cyclist. They should need to do this in order not to get run over by a car they just shouldn’t be getting run over. And how I respond to that is that I understand and your rights as a cyclists in your country in your city in your state. I mean, that’s, that’s, again, what we talked about earlier. But if I can make this safer Is that a problem. And I think that where we draw the line is that if we make technology that’s mandated and somebody is left out of it because of cost reasons or some other factor, that that’s not a good thing. Because then in a way, we’re creating a false sense of security for some riders while we’re leaving other people behind. So I agree personally, when it comes to the choices that I make, and why I make them, but I also respect that other people may not agree with that position and might feel differently. So as long as we’re providing options for people I that’s why our team is on mission and doing this and I believe that bike companies are aligned with this is providing options and making sure we’re covering both equipped and unequipped vulnerable road users out there.

Carlton Reid 30:50
Because you know Bontrager daytime running light $80, $90 You know, a lot of people are riding around on bikes that are worth $60. And they’re the ones not going to be you know, protected. They’re kind of like the kind of like, called, they’re invisible cyclists in that, you know, huge mass of people are out there on bikes, but they’re crummy bikes, they’re not very good bikes. But there’s lots of people out there, and they don’t tend to have any safety equipment. At the moment.

Jake Sigal 31:18
You know, I tell you that in Detroit, I see a lot of people that are riding and I’m you know, since they’re not wearing Lycra like like I’m sometimes I’m assuming the ride to work or home from work. And they do have a safety vests on and they have reflectivity, and they’ve made that decision. So I think that there are a lot of different ways to be more visible. And with the type of work that we’re getting into it just I think education for the cyclists is really important. And we’ve worked very closely with Ford Driving Skills for life, which is funded by the Ford Foundation for driver education about how to look for cyclists and how to properly approach slow down and pass a cyclist in Michigan, we have a three foot passing rule. And it’s almost like you could take one of those, the swimming pool noodles off the side of your bike. And that’s how far away that the driver supposed to pass and create some awareness, there’s been more signage about owning like taking a full lane as a cyclist when it gets a little sketchy on a bike. So a lot of these things are happening at a advocacy level and education level, which we fully support with our company, we are really involved on the tech. So understanding the behaviour of cyclists, how cyclists ride, and we’ve also started to take a look at the type of cyclists so road bike child on a children’s bike, looking at share bikes, what sort of acceleration and deceleration how fast they go, how fast are they stopping, and looking for these types of trends so that we can make the vehicle system a little smarter. But like I said earlier, that from our standpoint, we’re trying to find ways to make cycling safer, and we don’t want anybody left behind from like, what should cyclists be wearing? I mean, I’d encourage all cyclists to put a helmet on have some form of lighting or reflectivity, neon lights during the day it the stats show, it’s going to make you safer and everyone knows me, I’m like Mr. Neon going around during the day. But you know, some people think that looks so cool. But you know, it’s it’s a obviously a personal choice and if we can make technology to help help think cars See you when even when you’re beyond line of sight and that’s a good opportunity.

Carlton Reid 33:26
And what do you see the technology? How do you envisage eventually getting out to the market so things like you know, the Garmin radar product which they’ve got your that could be like beefed up with more tech like See Sense. I know See Sense is on your your website? Yeah, as you know, Northern Ireland company that makes some great technology. Yeah, you know, their lights, they’ve got some clever electronics in there. So are you thinking in the future, then how long in the future but there’ll be like, augmented products out there? So it’s not gonna be like a like a transponder that you fit to your bike? standalone, it’s going to be integrated in other electronic devices. Is that is that the way you think it’s gonna go?

Jake Sigal 34:09
Oh, absolutely. And like I said earlier, the technology needs to be transparent to the user. So it’s not some black box that you turn on when you’re riding it’s it’s built in. So we’ve talked to a number of companies about putting it into ebike drive systems so electronic bike it’s got a big battery already has wireless connectivity makes a tonne of sense. We’ve talked to car companies about being able to connect a sign so that if a sign sees any cyclist without any electronics that that message can be received and determining what the safety messages we have a white paper on our website for engineers on topic. We’ve talked to university researchers about this and we held a our first annual conference last year we had a postponed due to the pandemic of course this year but on same topic is like what are the dynamics what how are these things moving? How are the devices moving people on scooters scooters by ebikes different types of other VR use wheelchairs, that sort of thing. A lot of different options that go into this. So I think for us, it’s, it’s really about making the technology as seamless and transparent to the cyclist and the driver. And our companies are really looking towards that I don’t envision there being any black box that’s that’s put on your seatpost. That doesn’t mean it would be incorporated into something that is already on the bike or something you need. Now, of course, you’re going to retrofit so if it’s an a helmet, if it’s on the handlebar, if it’s in a bike light, these are all areas that we’re very interested in. And I can speak for my experience working with the bike companies is that this is not something that they look at as competitive technology, they look at this as creating global standards for how to communicate their presence and and let in such a way that that protects consumer privacy keeps the cost down, and can be really driven into mass volume for, for adoption across all cyclists. So that that’s kind of the area that we’re looking at is different products as this can fit into. But while maintaining that there is a trust level from the auto company that when they get a message from one of these devices, that it’s a proper message and see sense of I want to give them a plug has been absolutely fantastic to work with, as with our other core groups and our prototyping Working Group. But it’s just been really good talking to companies about ways to see where the technology can go, and then find ways to really keep the cost down to get into more more more saddles and more more riders in the world

Carlton Reid 36:37
Is going to be cheap, basically? So people that adopt it?

Jake Sigal 36:41
I would say that if we do this, right, it would be built in to products that you’re already buying. So it’s a very cheap, affordable incremental upgrade for them for some basic protection. So where it gets really expensive is if this turns into a vehicle to vehicle trusted message. So I mentioned earlier, if a bicycle is transmitting some basic information, that’s pretty affordable to generate deliver, if we had to generate the same messages that a vehicle generates, it becomes very expensive, very quick. So I would be very surprised if that’s the direction this goes because it would put sensor requirements on a on a bicycle or on a wheelchair or something that are well beyond what the cost of the bicycle or wheelchair would be for the average rider. So we’re really looking at ways that not only are technically feasible, but also feasible for the market. And that’s not our call to make at Tome that’s why we brought on board the best bike companies in the business. And I want to point out that in addition to having Specialized and Trek and Giant as part of our group, we also have the Excel group and other companies that are working on like Dorel Sports that work on bicycles that are found in department stores and other entry level bicycle programmes. So it’s not limited just to the high end bicycle market, which really helps us make sure that what we’re working on is feasible. And then on the auto side, same thing, making sure that the technology we’re working on would be feasible to bring into a car. So we come up with something that’s super cheap and does something but the auto guys wouldn’t trust it for a good reason, then that’s not going to work either. So that’s a balance between the two industries is something that we have a lot of experience with working at Livio, or previous company with ABS and cars. And, you know, we’re doing that same playbook going in to tell them with with this, and it’s not a Tome technology. By the way, this is technology that will be industry standard. It’s based on SAE automotive industry standards, and working on the same playbook that the auto companies have been doing for the last 20 years. So for us, we’re really facilitating and organising the effort, but it is a industry is a cross industry, open standards effort where it’s not proprietary tech, you’re not gonna see at home our logo on your bike any day, this is really about making the world a safer place and agreeing on global standards. So any startup any large company, any auto company could could access this.

Carlton Reid 38:58
So you mentioned the kind of the packages of information that gets sent out there. And I noticed from our email conversation we had to begin with, there was something called BSM, so that’s basic safety message, and then there’s PSM personal safety message. Are they the two different expensive and or cheap versus expensive? What are the what are they? What are those two things?

Jake Sigal 39:20
Well, messages. So they’re two separate messages. They’re very similar. And the basic safety message is what’s been adopted by automotive companies. The personal safety message has been submitted as part of the SAE [Society of Auto Engineers] standards, but it hasn’t been fully adopted and fully adopted, there’s a bit of an asterix there. And you might be what was that mean? Or what what that means is that we just need to do some more research and really determine what’s in the message. messages are free, by the way, like it doesn’t cost anything to send a message. It’s like typing an email that’s free, but generating the information that’s in that message and then having a wireless system to send that message that that’s where the cost comes in. So they are related. So what’s in the message If I say, here’s my location, but I’m using a GPS receiver, it can be challenging because if you’re in a city, that location may be wrong. So can you trust that location, or if you’re pulling it off a mobile phone, and your phone’s in your pocket, what sort of signal coverage you’re going to get in your pocket your backpack versus having your phone mounted on your handlebar? So the real interesting part for us at Tome is defining the message requirements. So like, what are the like, How fast are we sending this message? What’s the accuracy level, and then the performance requirements of the sensors that are generating the information. Now the sensors could be on sign, could be on a vehicle, or it could be on the bike, or scooter or other VRU itself. So for an unequipped VRU, someone that doesn’t have a phone or doesn’t want to use it, it’s one of the minimum requirements, you have to put on a sign or a vehicle to then send other signs and vehicles that there’s a bike out there, and that bike is heading north and the bike is going at the speed. So that’s really where the challenges so between the the basic safety message and the personal safety message, we’re all working together on like, what is what vehicles need. And we might find out that we need to create a different message and take a light version of the basic safety message or reduce version specifically for vulnerable road users. We’ve had tremendous support from SAE, we’ve had great support from the Crash Avoidance Metrics Partnership, which is a group that GM and Ford created 20 years or so years ago. And there’s got to be 15 automotive companies participating in that. And they’re also partnered with the US Department of Transportation Federal Highway. So we have some really great [adversaries] talking about just the work that needs to be done for a long road user and a playbook to pull from. So I think when it gets down to BSMs, and PSMs and the message formats, I wouldn’t get too hung up on that, at this point, what’s important is understanding and balancing feasibility cost, and what’s the minimum set of information that a car needs to know in order for it to do something different that it can trust, and it’s got the right accuracy level within the message?

Carlton Reid 42:02
And how much of this is North American lead? Because you can imagine, you know that that scenario you said before where you know there’s a light is the sunlight is is low? There’s a cyclist over the brow of a hill. And then there’s one cyclist, you kind of you can you get that information, the driver gets the alert, and you’re golden, because you’ve spotted the cyclist. If you’re in Copenhagen, if you’re in Amsterdam, you’ve got 20,000 BSMs or whatever. Yeah, coming at you like crazy. Yeah, so how much of this technology is like a North American mindset versus like a continental Europe where cycling is you know, like, you know, vacuuming your carpet and brushing your teeth. It’s so normal. Yeah, it’s, you know, you Dutch person would say you want me to do what? You know, with my with my, my phone or I need to have what equipment in my bicycle? What, are you crazy? So how much is North American compared to European.

Jake Sigal 43:07
So we are coordinating with COLIBI, which is the European cycling organisation. We’ve talked to a number of companies out of the Asia Pacific region in Japan and Korea, and there are different use cases. So congestion of cyclists, fortunately, makes cycling safer. Now the more people that ride bikes, if you take a percentage, the more the more number of incidents you’re going to get. But from a percentage standpoint, it’s safer numbers. So what we’re finding and talking with different groups, and even if you look at downtown, like looking at New York City versus a rural area, in the Midwest, with dirt roads, you have these different use cases. So from our perspective, we’re really interested in finding the areas where there’s a high likelihood of a serious injury or death and defining that vulnerability. So we don’t define the vulnerability there’s research out there that defines the vulnerability or in layman’s terms like a danger that you’re at any given time. So not only do you have to feel safe riding a bike, you have to be safe riding a bike, and the vulnerability indices that have we looked at as a six different sources. We’ve modelled this with the US Department of Transportation’s model for vulnerability, that’s those are the areas we got to watch out for. So in a massive area, we’re not saying let’s have 100 bikes in Copenhagen send out 100 messages and that situation we look to a science say let’s let the sign detect that there are a lot of bicycles in the area, and then adjust the signal appropriately when the bicycles are crossing a major road, which is a lot different than in a suburban or rural area by letting a bus know that hey, there’s a cyclist up ahead. And if it’s after sunset, then that may be a different indication to the driver than than if there is like five bikes around and it was in a bike lane. So the situation that the cyclist is in It’s not so much about the part of the world they’re in, it’s really around the density and congestion of the VR use. And also want to point out that we are not looking at alerts for drivers. If you got an alert, every time you saw a bicycle, even in Detroit, you would turn off that notification in five seconds, because they would ding you every every three seconds, it just be, it’d be super annoying. But what’s really useful is looking at those really tricky areas where there’s high vulnerability, and also having the right amount of information for a safety system. Same thing with autonomous vehicles. I mean, we, I think, many of us if you’re around the space, you’ve seen this, where if you’re driving in New York City as a human driver, and this comes up with autonomous vehicles is that pedestrians will stand right at the edge of the curb, and you have to slowly move out and go through on the green light, pedestrians will do what they’re supposed to do. And it’s kind of how it works in New York City. When I was in Asia, same thing. I mean, it’s, you’ve got just people and VRUs, and it’s everywhere. So like the use cases, there’s going to be areas where our technology does not make a lot of sense, because it’s an extremely dense area. But then there’s other areas where it also might be so rule that you need a data connection in order for it to transmit messages. And that doesn’t make sense either. So we’re still looking at finding the sweet spot of where this goes. But for anyone that’s riding in mass numbers, I’d say that this is not like you get an alert or for that you made the comment like the person in Europe says I’m supposed to do what well, the basic idea here is that you’re not supposed to do anything, you’re supposed to ride your bike and vehicle drivers and the vehicle safety systems, we’ll get some awareness where you’re at. That’s the we’re not asking anybody to do anything at this time. It’s really just finding ways for for infrastructure and existing bike products to help help keep people safe.

Carlton Reid 46:51
So before we talked about a hypothetical court case, where it was the lawyer was, was going at the cyclist for not having the right equipment, could we maybe flip that and say in the future, potentially, if this technology becomes ubiquitous for both bicyclists motorists, pedestrians, and motorists, it then becomes incumbent on the motorist that they have been given all this information. And the lawyer could then say, forget, there’s sunlight blinding you that will no longer you can’t use that excuse anymore. You were given that information, there was a cyclist over the brow of the hill, you chose to ignore that information. So it could potentially this technology actually flip that kind of court case where cyclists tend to be squished. And the driver, you know, just comes up with some lame excuse. And then you know, with with a jury of murdering peers, they get off with it. So in the future, could they no longer they won’t get off with it.

Jake Sigal 48:01
I couldn’t comment, I’m not an attorney. And obviously, it varies by area, I just go back to, from our perspective is people want to do the right thing. And if we provide information for a computer system, and there’s no notification of the driver, it certainly eliminates that type of a situation. But for a lot of pedestrian identification systems are out there now they’ll have an LED that pops up and and then kind of creates that awareness that there are pedestrians in the area. I know that that one auto company even does a simulation to show you pedestrians and bicyclists that are around you while you’re driving. So this already is existing and production. And these types of questions always come up. But I try not to engage too much in hypotheticals because in some in some respects, I look at this and say, well are what what are we supposed to do are supposed to just stop making the world safer? No, we have to come up with making the world safer. And we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it on some of the other issues. And maybe there’s some use cases that need to be taken out because of liability issues or confidence issues. More importantly, that, that we think something’s there, but we’re not sure. And that’s not new, that’s what the industry does today. And if we can find a way to save one life with our product, it makes it worth it. So that’s how we approach this and apologise to be a little bit evasive at the base of the question. But I mean, from our standpoint, it just really comes down to look we’re making, we’re making it safer. And we hope that by doing what we’re doing, even if there was a court case that came out of this, we would be saving lives and in my mind that makes it worth it.

Carlton Reid 49:41
Yeah, and I apologise to you as well, because it was a hypothetical. And it basically has to be case law. So at some point in the future, I’m sure case law will will grapple with these issues. These things will come up because it’s no longer there’ll be some excuses, you won’t be able to use anymore both both, probably both, all road users will no longer be able to say, you know, they couldn’t see you. Because it’s like, well, the electronics were there, of course, you could see then you chose to ignore that. So that’s case law. That’s hypothetical. So final question, Jake. And then I’ll let you get away, because I’ve taken up a lot of your time. Thank you. And that is when maybe this is another impossible question for you to answer. But when might we see this technology? When can we go into a shop? Do you think and and get, you know, a light a helmet, or whatever, with this equipment with this, with this technology in.

Jake Sigal 50:39
So our vision is, in the next three to five years, this technology will be saving, will be increasing the safety on VRUs on the roadways in the next three to five years, there are some things that need to happen for that to go. So and also with the pandemic, it’s it’s hard to say with some of the timelines, but with our relationships with the auto companies, our understanding of the technical readiness levels needed for the sensors in the broadcast system, this is three to five years out, which in auto terms is fast, by the way, but this is not next year. But we’re not talking about Jetsons flying cars, we’re not waiting for autonomous vehicles. This is much sooner than that. And again, I want to just stress that this is not going to be only for new bicycles, or only for new cars, I mean, this will be something that would be able to be rolled out not to all vehicles. So if you have a car today, it probably won’t be included on the vehicle you’re driving today. But at some point, these will able to be software updates. And we’re really excited about just the opportunity. So in auto terms, I’d say it’s we’re following the right steps in next three to five years, we’ll have really clear safety methods for in vehicle. And for infrastructure. It’s already started, I mean, infrastructure already is working on and including bicycle protection in some areas in the United States. There are pilot studies going and they’re doing connected corridors, and it’s already begun. So I hope that a cyclist would never look at this as a as a green light to blow through traffic lights or stop signs that That’s not at all what this is not what it’s there to do. It’s there to keep people that are trying to do the right thing a little bit safer while they’re doing it. And for both drivers and cyclists, because at the end of the day, we’re all there together. And we just want to have a safe, safe journey and enjoy the ride.

Carlton Reid 52:26
Yeah, hallelujah to that. Jake, thank you ever so much for for talking with us today. Give us a shout out for your for your website. Where can where can people find more information on this technology?

Jake Sigal 52:36
Yeah, great. So you can check us out at Tomesoftware.com and we have a bicycle vehicle page. I’d also would encourage you to like or follow our Tome Software account on LinkedIn. If you’re in the industry, and you look for information, we’ll talk to you but we have some white papers published. And there’s also an email list to stay updated on on some of our upcoming news announcements and things. So really excited to talk about this. And you know, this is personal for me around bike safety, and we’re very proud of the team has been just fantastic to work with on our side, as well as all the cycling car companies, scooter companies, it’s it’s just great seeing everybody come together. So check us out online and really appreciate you putting this together.

Carlton Reid 53:20
Thanks to Jake Sigal of Tome Software but before we transfer across to Peter Norton here’s my co-host David Bernstein with a commercial interlude.

David Bernstein 53:31
Hey, Carlton, thanks so much. And it’s it’s always my pleasure to talk about our advertiser. This is a long time loyal advertiser, you all know who I’m talking about? It’s Jenson USA at Jenson usa.com/thespokesmen. I’ve been telling you for years now years, that Jenson is the place where you can get a great selection of every kind of product that you need for your cycling lifestyle at amazing prices and what really sets them apart. Because of course, there’s lots of online retailers out there. But what really sets them apart is their unbelievable support. When you call and you’ve got a question about something, you’ll end up talking to one of their gear advisors and these are cyclists. I’ve been there I’ve seen it. These are folks who who ride their bikes to and from work. These are folks who ride at lunch who go out on group rides after work because they just enjoy cycling so much. And and so you know that when you call, you’ll be talking to somebody who has knowledge of the products that you’re calling about. If you’re looking for a new bike, whether it’s a mountain bike, a road bike, a gravel bike, a fat bike, what are you looking for? Go ahead and check them out. Jenson USA, they are the place where you will find everything you need for your cycling lifestyle. It’s Jensenusa.com/thespokesmen. We thank them so much for their support. And we thank you for supporting Jenson USA. All right, Carlton, let’s get back to the show.

Carlton Reid 54:57
Thanks David and we’re back with episode 259 of the Spokesmen cycling podcast. Earlier in the episode we had the technology half of the show, now here’s the history half with Peter Norton, the associate professor of history in the Department of Engineering and Society at the University of Virginia, USA.

Carlton Reid 55:20
Peter, autonomous vehicles, they get rid of the driver, that’s fantastic. And by all sorts of 360 degree vision tech and sensors, they can see around corners, so isn’t that surely better than being on the roads with drivers who we know, often distracted, often on, on high and all sorts of things, and aren’t really paying attention. Computers pay attention, Peter.

Peter Norton 55:50
Computers are amazing, they never lose attention. They don’t mean, apart from any sort of processing delay, they may have. They can pay attention, 360 degrees around them, they don’t get tired, they don’t get distracted. They don’t, they’re not emotional. So they have enormous advantages. And a lot of the tech people are very quick to point all of those out to you and conclude right away, well, this makes them better than a human driver. But on the other hand, they have a lot of disadvantages compared to human drivers that the tech sales force tends to ignore. In other words, they add up all the benefits, and then don’t subtract all the disadvantages. And the disadvantages are major. In particular, the sensors and the processing systems that the data go through, generally are very poor at telling what they’re looking at, they’re very good at identifying the likely predictable things like the car in front of you, the car beside you, the limits of the road. But they’re very poor at detecting unusual objects. This is what people are good at. They have a very hard time figuring out what they’re looking at when there’s a bicycle right in front of them. And while they’re trying to figure out what they’re looking at, they have to decide do we do we brake automatically? Do we steer automatically, but if if their confidence on that is low, then you in the in the in the vehicle are going to have a bad experience with this car braking and turning unnecessarily constantly.

Carlton Reid 57:40
So that’s the level five, the fully autonomous system. So that’s that’s, you know, as we know, it’s always five years away. Whenever tech talks about it, it’s two years away. But generally, no matter where we have been in history, it’s always five years away. But there is an awful lot of tech on cars at the moment. So this this tech is out there. This is not in the future. This is this is now. So isn’t it good that human drivers are? As you said, sometimes not as as fantastic as you like, isn’t that good to give them supplementary information supplementary guidance.

Peter Norton 58:22
There’s no question that it can be useful to have some supplementary information when you’re the driver. There’s a couple of important questions that that raises up though. One is, are you going to get the supplementary information you need for example, if it’s a bicyclist and the vehicle has a hard time detecting that it’s a bicyclist Are you going to find out in time that this is a bicyclist. And even I think more important consideration is anytime you supplement automated attention with to human attention, you don’t get the sum of those two, you know, one unit of human attention plus one unit of automated attention does not equal two units of attention. And the reason is human beings are cognitive misers. They want to limit unnecessary effort. And the tech is telling them that they can the tech is saying you may be a little sleepy, but that’s okay. The tech is here watching out. So you don’t have to pull over and take a rest. This is an old phenomenon that goes back long before digital automation where anything the engineers do to make the road safer the benefit is offset, to some extent at least, by human beings; turning that safety benefit into a convenience benefit. And the tech really can ramp up that effect drastically. In fact, you can, as people will listening to this may know, you can go to YouTube and watch videos of people driving their Tesla’s with autopilot, sleeping playing games sitting in the back seat in these are extreme cases that are indicative of a much bigger problem that affects to some degree all drivers.

Carlton Reid 1:00:27
If bikes are going to be equipped with beacons so so whatever kind of beacons they are, whether it’s the phone that you’ve got on you, whether it’s you know, a little tag that you’ve put on, or whether it’s, you know, tech that goes in helmets, tech that goes in bike lights, or is even embedded on the bike, however, the tech is is done, or if autonomous or semi autonomous systems are going to recognise cyclist in some other way. How reliable would all of this have to be, for it to prove to be at least as safe as today’s humans only system?

Peter Norton 1:01:12
This is a very good question. So I mean, there’s a lot of possibilities here. If we have bikes equipped with devices, some kind of transponder that the vehicles around them can pick up. And these vehicles have some kind of odd automated driving systems in them, then the vehicles can, you know, to be much more reliable at detecting them and and taking appropriate action. However, the minute you introduce this possibility, you kind of have to either have an all or nothing situation. In other words, if you don’t have 99%, something like that of the bicyclist equipped, then those that are unequipped are actually at greater risk. And the ones that are at greater risk could I mean, besides the fact that we care about them as individuals, this will also diminish the the overall safety benefit. So then the tricky question becomes do you require cyclists to have this equipment and if so does this start off with say, all new bicycles must be equipped, then of course, you’re leaving out a really decades worth of bikes. My own bike is over a decade old, that are going to be unequipped for years ahead, as soon as drivers have some confidence that cyclists are equipped, their behaviour will change this to the extent that the change depends on the driver, their awareness of the tech and their own safety calculations. So we know already that when a driver sees a cyclist with a helmet on, they’ll pass them by a smaller margin. If a driver sees a cyclist with a child seat on the bike, they’ll pass it by a greater margin. These are behavioural effects. They’re generally entirely unconscious or almost entirely unconscious. And once drivers think that cyclists are equipped with beacons or transponders that their cars are automatically adapting for, we will see the same kind of behavioural consequences. In other words, drivers on average, will give cyclists a smaller margin. And if we have a situation in which actually, not all cyclists have these this equipment, whether it’s 50% or 90%, then you’re going to have some cyclists at least who are exposed to a greater risk thanks to this tech than they would otherwise face.

Carlton Reid 1:03:55
I’ve been speaking to Tome Software and they’ve said yes, it chances are it won’t be beacons, it won’t be transponder tech, it will be, you know, cyclists and pedestrians. The phraseology, as you know, is VRUs, vulnerable road users. They’ll be spotted without any form of technology. So how likely is that and, well, doesn’t that then answer your issues?

Peter Norton 1:04:18
Well, I have a hard time picturing how we get automated driving systems, forgetting about levels of autonomy, just basic automated driving systems that reliably detect bicycles that are not equipped with anything. Just because we know from the research that detecting cyclists is one of the hardest things that autonomous vehicle developers and automated driving systems developers have had to face. So I don’t see how these systems protect bicyclists. And I think they may indeed increase the risk for cyclists because if they give drivers the message that the car is watching out for the cyclists for them, but the car is actually not doing that particularly well then we actually make the situation for cyclists more dangerous, not less dangerous.

Carlton Reid 1:05:15
But if you’re Trek, and their micro brand Bontrager, if you’re Cannondale, if you’re all of these, you know, high end brands, or you’re Garmin, and you’re going to equip, because they’ve got the Garmin, they’ve got like radar cameras in some of them right now. So if you’re going to equip the cyclists, the rich, in effect, the rich cyclist of the future with this kind of tech, well, they’re going to they’re going to do that. Why wouldn’t Cannondale and Trek, you know, produce this tech because they produce and they’re already advocate for, for instance, you know, daylight running LED lights, they all really advocated that advocate made that advocate for helmets. So come bike companies want to sell more things, they will sell more things, if cyclists survive into old age, because they’ll be able to sell them bikes for forever. So bike companies are going to be doing this aren’t they?

Peter Norton 1:06:18
I assume they will. I mean, this depends in part on what the tech really proves it can do and whether cyclists are convinced that it does deliver these promised benefits. But let’s assume that the tech does work fairly well, then certainly there are going to be some cyclists who want it. If it’s fairly expensive, as I think probably will have to be, then not all cyclists will have it. Already we have a situation. And I think it’s it’s what we would naturally expect, where cyclists have different risk calculations and different budgets and arrive at different conclusions about how much protection they want. Do they want a helmet? If so, what kind do they want hive is? Do they want lights? You know, a lot of times the calculation is a convenience calculation. My bike is not, does not have lights right now, but it’s dark, but it’s a short ride, I’ll take the chance, I’ll just be careful. These are normal human risk calculations. And I think the tech will become a part of that normal risk calculation. Now it gets complicated, of course, when systems get designed around assumptions, such as whether a cyclist has certain equipment or not, whether cars have certain capabilities or not. And if we have cyclists who are equipped, and we have road design decisions, and driver decisions that respond to the assumption that we have cyclists who are equipped, then we’re changing really what begins as an individual choice by an individual cyclist to get the high end bike with the high end safety tech. And we’re now involving the other cyclists who have an older bike who have a budget. And their safety exposure has changed through no action of their own. Because road networks, traffic cycling are all components of complex systems. And no individual action within a complex system is taken in perfect isolation.

Carlton Reid 1:08:38
But Peter, I’m safe. Who cares about everybody else? I’m, I am on a $5,000 Super Deluxe, fantastic roadmachine. I’ve also paid $1,000 for the latest in bicyclist detection. I’m saved, who cares about anybody else? What is the problem with that?

Peter Norton 1:09:02
Well, I don’t think I have any objection to an individual cyclist who wants to put out the money for this this high tech safety equipment, that’s fine at an as an individual choice. What concerns me is the systemic effects. And I’m not making the individual cyclist here responsible for those because now we’re talking about policy. We’re talking about law. We’re talking about engineering standards. Could you know things like lane widths, how you separate bike lanes, if at all from traffic. And it’s at that level that that kind of tech has some serious implications, implications that the individual cyclist who has a big budget, I know may not be their concern. And I don’t have a quarrel with that. But it is a concern of the society that we live in and the people who make the decisions about that society. So for example, if the tech turns out to actually make cyclist cycling safer for those who have it, but more dangerous for those who don’t, does that become grounds in policy for requiring all cyclists to have the necessary equipment for cars to detect them? If that does, then we now have problems about access to cycling among those with budgets, or deterring cycling in a society where we need more, not less for lots of reasons, including sustainability and public health. So these are where these these developments become problematic. We are not protecting these unequipped cyclist when we have equipped cyclists, and we are in to some degree making their situation more serious as drivers come to expect cyclists to be equipped. And eventually even road designers. Road authorities start to assume that cyclists should be equipped, perhaps even the law may begin to expect this such that, you know, an injured party in a courtroom may have a weaker case, legally, if they didn’t have this tech that, you know, nobody had just a few years earlier. This is not speculation. We’ve seen this with bicycle helmets where once the bicycle helmets are out there, some authorities have decided that all cyclists must have them. And there have been court cases where the cyclist who was one who did not have a helmet was at a disadvantage after an injury because of not having a helmet that could take on a new life with the safety tech that we’re talking about.

Carlton Reid 1:12:02
You’re talking from a like a dystopian point of view, basically, historian, and you’ve seen this happen, though your your dystopia is based on what actually has happened in history?

Peter Norton 1:12:17
Oh, yes. Yeah, you know, experience is your best teacher in history is just a sort of systemic study of human experience and the lessons that come from it. I mean, the most elementary lesson about road safety from history is that safety is not some linear measure that is neutral in its relationship with people. Safety is always: safety for whom? Safety is always a question of priority. Safety is always a question of recognition. So there’s there’s a sort of official favour that safety confers but also sort of unofficial recognition. If a say a pedestrian is in a roadway, in conflict with the travel path of a motor vehicle it appears obvious from our early 21st century point of view that the pedestrian has it as a task, and that is to get out of the way. That’s a point of view that did not exist a century ago, when when the prevailing notion was exactly the opposite. And so this means we can’t talk about safety without talking about power without talking about priority without talking about the inequality really between categories of road users. I heard you use the term vulnerable road user a few minutes ago. And the term connotes a road user who is in some way less than optimal as a road user. But we could have a different vocabulary where we have road users, like pedestrians, like cyclists, and then we have dangerous road users or DRUs. Why is it that we have VRUs but not DRUs? These are all questions that history can help us be alert to and it’s really worth being alert to them because, you know, for a lot of reasons, number one being climate change. We are overdue for a rethink about how we’ve chosen these priorities and who we should favour in these conflicts.

Carlton Reid 1:14:44
So, priority and prioritising. I do hate using the term, absolutely, it’s an ugly term VRUs prioritising pedestrians and cyclists with that actually, if that has And say we live in a perfect world. And that happened. The oldest tech actually prioritised cyclists and pedestrians. That’s that’s that’s the beautiful thing where we’re holding out for Peter. If that happened, would that then make it incredibly hard to sell cars to people? Because we’re going to be prioritising these people who have never been prioritised before?

Peter Norton 1:15:21
The answer is definitely yes. And I can say definitely, because we had that dilemma before. We had that dilemma when the question of who do we prioritise between motor vehicles and pedestrians first arose over a century ago? And the answer was, if you prioritise pedestrians, as was universal over a century ago, then drivers’ driving experience is diminished, you can’t go fast, you have to yield frequently. And certainly the driver’s experience is worse. Now, their experience as human beings may not be worse, because in such a world, they may find that actually, they don’t have to drive as much. So a driver is not existentially a driver who can be nothing else. Every driver is a potential pedestrian or transit user or cyclist. And so maybe not everywhere, maybe only in some places, maybe only in cities or relatively dense areas. And maybe not even on all streets in such areas. We can reimagine what streets are for I think it’s worth doing because we have to find some way to have a sustainable future. That’s going to require less driving. And I think that, while that may sound scary in a car dependent world can look attractive in a less car dependent world. I mean, frankly, it’s a lot like how not smoking sounds scary when you’re addicted. But it feels liberating once you’ve stopped smoking for a while. So Ah, yes, the answer to your question is yes, it could be a bad experience for drivers if we prioritise pedestrians and cyclists in some areas. Another reason why we don’t have to speculate about that, by the way is that there are places where drivers can drive but are not prioritised. Where streets are shared shared spaces, or streets in the Netherlands, where cars are, are admitted as guests according to the terminology there. And in such shared spaces, people can and do drive. It’s a different experience. It’s not necessarily much worse, depending on you know, how much of a hurry that driver is in. And such techniques don’t have to be used everywhere, but they can be used somewhere. And some places they they can be a beautiful

Peter Norton 1:18:15
possibility that we haven’t seriously considered enough.

Carlton Reid 1:18:19
What would be your advice to bike companies who are looking at this technology? Do you think it’s it’s something they ought to clear off? Or do you think they’re also tech companies and bicycles are tech? Do you think they they are absolutely going to go with this anyway, no matter what somebody like you says, so let’s let’s what what should they be doing?

Peter Norton 1:18:42
Well, I think that’s gonna depend a lot on on the particular markets, there probably are markets these are the markets where the cyclist is still not something drivers expect to see. This is, of course, practically ubiquitous in the USA, but many other countries as well. In such environments, there’s certainly going to be interest in this tech among cyclists, and perhaps even eventually, among road authorities of various kinds. I think cyclists as consumers need to be careful about what they’re being sold. They should be sceptical if they’re, if they’re if the messages that this tech is sort of automatically protecting them. I mean, after all, the overwhelming majority of cars on the road have no means of picking up the tech that may be in the bikes, so they can’t expect drivers to be automatically adjusting through some sort of technological, some sort of signal between the two vehicles. It’s frankly not clear to me what the tech in the bike will do for the cyclist, until the vast majority of cars have the tech on board to adjust accordingly to the cyclists. That’s a piece I don’t really get, I don’t see how we get from the where we are now, where the vast majority of cars would have no means to detect anything in the bike to a world where the cyclists can expect that any car passing them, or approaching them, is detecting the bike automatically. So I don’t know how we get to that point, it may be that I’m even misunderstanding something about how this tech is supposed to work. I’ve been confused by it, in part, because the messages I’ve been getting from the tech companies has been conflicting on this point. But to return your question, should should bike companies do it? Well, yeah, I mean, if, if they’ve got a market that’s interested in paying for this stuff, and the cyclists knows what they’re getting, and is not misled into imagining they’re getting more protection, than it’s worth. Sure, I just have a hard time seeing that the technology can deliver the safety benefit that would be necessary to justify the expense in the bike right now.

Carlton Reid 1:21:28
You’re almost saying that if it was just a transponder that was talking to a driverless car or an equipped human driver car, that’s one thing, but then what’s actually going to cyclists gonna have, and they’re going to have, like, you know, a heads up display to tell him that there’s a threat coming for the variety of ways that this tech can be sold to the cyclist, if it’s going to be just something that keeps cars away from you. Well, that’s one thing. But if it’s all gonna say out, but you can actually see when there’s a car about to run you over, you can jump off the road. That’s also something that’s you know, you need more things on a bike. To do that, you’d have to have a display, you’d have to have haptics telling you look, you know, in 15 seconds is this motorist is going to hit, you’re going to have all this kind of stuff. So it’s you’re making cycling into, you know, Judge Dredd.

Peter Norton 1:22:23
It’s very hard for me to imagine any cyclist — and I’m speaking as one who would have any use for information coming in from some kind of sensor system — that could possibly be anything but a detriment to the sensor system that every cyclist already has, namely, their vision and their hearing. So a cyclist in a busy environment, your vision and your hearing are on high alert. And any sensor system that tries to crowd that high alert, personal sensor system with more data, it’s going to be an annoyance. It can’t tell you much that your senses can’t already more reliably tell you. I mean, you might have some kind of threat map on your handlebar, that tells you what’s up ahead. But the attention you’d have to give to that screen would be a distraction in itself. And the reliability of what it was showing you would have to be very poor, because this would be real time data coming in from perhaps actively transmitting vehicles as well as whatever the sensor system on the bike is picking up. I can’t imagine a voice or haptic system or audio signals or visual signals that would be reliable enough and relevant enough to a cyclist in a busy environment to be anything but a nuisance.

Carlton Reid 1:24:04
I’m wondering how much of this technology is North American in in it just almost everything about it is because you know, a you put you’re going to prioritise the motorist and not the cyclists and pedestrians but I was speaking to Tome Software and one of the scenarios that they gave, which is which sounds sensible is, you know, if you’re a motorist, and you’re coming and you’re like on a rural American road, and you’re coming up the crest of a hill, you can’t see maybe there’s other reasons why you can’t see and it might be foggy and you get this extra information that there’s actually a cyclist the other side of that hill, then that’s got to be a good thing. But then I put to Jake of Tome Software, who’s the CEO, I said we get Isn’t that like a North American way of looking at that. It is in that if you are in In the Netherlands, you’ve got 1000 cyclists over the brow of the hill, and you will just naturally be going slower anyway. So how much of this all of this this beaconization tech? How much of it do you think, comes from an North American worldview?

Peter Norton 1:25:18
Well, certainly, yeah, this this tech is sort of based on the assumption that you as a cyclist are the anomaly and almost everywhere in North America that is, that is a fair assumption. So you know, of course, it’s perfectly fine if a company wants to cater to a North American market. And of course, there’s plenty of other places in the world where, where this is the the norm as well, you know, Australia is a good example. So sure, the tech could be of particular use in environments where cyclists are anomalies and rare and still be worthy. I have to say, I still wonder, do I really want a bike that’s trying to alert me to another cyclist coming? Or do I really, if I’m, if I’m a driver? If will I start depending on my vehicle to respond to a cyclist automatically, such that I am paying less attention as a driver. I have a hard time picturing this tech actually delivering a benefit either to the driver or to the cyclist. Except in such, you know, idiosyncratic situations as as to be too rare to justify the the tech.

Carlton Reid 1:26:46
You’re a historian. You’ve seen how this has played out before. The tech companies do you think they could do with attending one of your courses? And and actually getting a background in the history of

Carlton Reid 1:27:05
technological misuses? Or the history of privatisation on roads? Do you think that that potential if that’s what they’re missing, they’re missing? They’re missing quite an important indicator of how their technology, however benign they think it might be now, and oh, it’s going to save cyclists isn’t that great thing,’ but how that technology might be used in a non benign way by actors who don’t have cyclists’ interests at heart?

Peter Norton 1:27:35
Certainly. So, you know, every tech innovation is a disruption and a balance of power, you know, balances of power. It’s a familiar term in international relations in military standoffs. But they’re ubiquitous in everyday life. And innovation, shifts the balance, you know, the cell phone, suddenly your boss can call you on weekend, you know, or email or whatever they can, they can. Your weekends are no longer sacred, right? That’s a shift in the balance of power. So every innovation and safety also shifts, priorities, shifts, balances of power, sometimes in dramatic ways. And I’m actually somewhat sceptical about the tech companies that profess that they are merely interested in improving safety. I’m not sure that the deficiency there is that they don’t know that tech shifts balances of power, or they just rather not get into that, because it’s inconvenient. In the history of road transport, I mean, it’s it’s packed with these effects. So if you think about what makes roads and streets safe, you could have roads and streets safe if vehicles were equipped with speed governors that made it impossible to drive faster than 25 miles an hour. Well, that was the preferred ideal safety technology of a century ago. When thousands of people in every large American city were on the record favouring speed governors for vehicles. I mean, I’m using a case from Cincinnati where we have the data. But Cincinnati being a fairly typical American city, we can extrapolate that to other cities as well. There was a sense that the way you make a road safe is to limit the maximum speed of the fast vehicles. Well, of course, it’s also quite possible to make the road safe in the sense that you have fewer casualties. If you banish pedestrians, and in effect in most of urban and suburban America, pedestrians are banished from the vast majority of street space, the vast majority of time at the time. And while this is far from perfect, in fact, the pedestrian fatality rate in the US is is pretty disastrous. To the extent to which we keep pedestrians off the roads, we actually do successfully prevent pedestrian casualties. But we do it by creating a class of road users who are practically like illegal aliens in their own environments. And it’s an important question to ask is that the right way to do it? Now, beacons and bicycles are analogous in the sense that they implicitly suggest that the cyclist is the anomaly the cyclist is that around which the system has to adapt so that it continued to prioritise those that it prioritises. And there’s nothing wrong with prioritising in the abstract, but we need to think about who we prioritise prioritising is inevitable, it’s necessary. There’s no way you can have an absolutely level playing field. This means that we have to think carefully about who we favour and under what circumstances. Right now, to use the North American example we favour the motorist in making this number up, but something like 99.9% of the time.

Peter Norton 1:31:26
And we should be asking is that the way to get safety to return to the tech people. If they’re talking about introducing safety technology, to systems that already prioritised drivers everywhere, then their safety technology becomes another reinforcing component of that system. Another thing that makes that system continue to prioritise and perpetuate the priority of the dominant road users. But tech can subvert these prioritizations as well. So tech can shifts balances of power in surprising ways. Tech can enable the people who have been subordinated we to use the North American example again, we know that video that the web, that handheld cameras, phones with video capacities, really brought attention to a problem, you know, that’s been around for over a century, namely, the violence that has accompanied the arrest by police of people of colour in the USA. Well, technology, to a degree, at least has helped to shift that balance of power by exposing what’s going on. I’d love to see the tech people that you’re talking to find ways to use technology such that it doesn’t merely help the cyclist or the pedestrian survive in a car dominated system, but may help the cyclist or the pedestrian turn the tables to some degree on on the motorists. I’d love to see the tech people working on that problem. I think they would have a big market for it.

Carlton Reid 1:33:28
Well, there is that kind of tech out there. And I think Tome has actually been working with the Give Me Green people which is a system involves equipping, stoplights traffic lights with with this technology. And I guess it’s similar to what happens in Copenhagen with the you know, the green wave technology in that if you’ve got a bicycle equipped with this transponder that basically turns the lights green for the cyclist. Of course that would lead to merry hell from motorists say well hang on, we’re stopped, you know, every traffic light by the cyclist. But that basically is what you’re saying. That’s technology that puts the power to a different user. You can turn lightly.

Peter Norton 1:34:20
This is this is a great example. And I I’d love to see more attention in that direction. The predominant attention I’m hearing about is automated detection of cyclists by motor vehicles so that drivers can continue to assume safely that they have no cyclists in their path. Now, they already do that to a great degree. This technology would enable them to continue to do that. But I agree and I’m I’m encouraged that we’re talking about tech that may prioritise cyclists under some conditions. This, of course, immediately raises as, as you’ve already suggested, political questions about whether this would be feasible in any jurisdiction, given the powerful influence of motorists voices in this kind of arena.

Peter Norton 1:35:20
But it’s a great start, and I applaud it.

Carlton Reid 1:35:24
But a pandemic has shown that many cities I mean, Paris is a fantastic example. Many cities and many, many leaders of the cities on that actively trying to get rid of cars in cities. Now some one of the ways of getting rid of cars in cities, of course, is just prioritising cyclists by giving them closing off roads to the vehicles, opening them, allowing them to stay open for questions. And so that’s one way. Another way would just be to always make sure that cyclists get green. So motorists always on red. And then motorists may go hang on, what’s the point of me driving through the city, I’ll just get a bike.

Peter Norton 1:36:05
Yes, that’s that’s the ideal. And yes, the pandemic has really helped us see what’s possible as sidewalks have been widened into roadways, as people who were driving or people who are riding in buses are turning to bicycles to avoid the crowding. And in the in the bus. This opens up a lot of possibilities, and makes possible alternatives that didn’t look practical. Just a year ago. Paris is a wonderful example in that regard.

Carlton Reid 1:36:43
Peter, that’s been absolutely fascinating, as always. You’ve been on the show before, you have also been on the War on Cars podcast recently, you’re getting around. Now I’d like to finish by going back to a question I put to you before, which I don’t think I’ve got a full answer on and this is not your fault. But I didn’t get a full answer on this because you could have plugged your book here. So I asked you whether those tech companies is tech people who are doing all of this work on on transponders, not transponders, whatever they could actually gen up on on what’s happened previously in history. So one way is yes, they could listen to the 45 minutes of you talking today, they could listen to when you’ve done the show before, you could go to the War on Cars podcast, or and here’s where you plug your book, Peter, or they go for, they’re not gonna go for a full on course, they go for a book, which tells them all this, and what book might that be?

Peter Norton 1:37:43
“Fighting traffic, the dawn of the motor age in the American city.”

Peter Norton 1:37:48
I am happy to plug it. But I also, you know, I rejoice at being one voice in a beautiful chorus of voices that are saying essentially the same thing: namely, that the car dependent places many of us live in, including nearly all of us in the USA, are not inevitable, they are not the product of mass demand. They’re not the product of a free market working according to the laws of supply and demand. They’re not the product of a cultural preference for individual vehicular mobility. These are versions of history that have been packaged and sold to us by people who have a stake in this history. So I mean, besides studying the history of, let’s say car dependency in the USA, I’ve also studied the history of this history. In other words, who’s been telling us this history. And this has analogues worldwide, but I’m, by far best informed about the US case. And in the US case, the first people to tell us the history of the automobile in the USA, were the people who sold the automobile in the USA. They told us a version of history, whereby the car dependency that we now have is the product of a car culture of an American’s love affair with the automobile, of a mass preference for individual mobility in vehicles. And one of the reasons why this version of history has been so successful in its propagation is that it’s by no means false. it’s it’s a it’s a half truth, and half truths are much easier to pass off then, you know, flagrant falsehoods so the half truth is cars are nice to have. They are convenience in many circumstances, and driving for many people is or can be a pleasure. But, you know, the car domination we have now has a lot less to do with people’s preferences than with the circumstances in which people have to make their choices. Now, circumstances were quite possibly your employer set up a new suburban campus out of town away from bus routes with vast free parking lots, such that if you want to get there and you don’t want to make it into a daily burden, you’re going to drive there and the the entire system that gets you from your home to that destination has been redesigned around the assumption that you will drive there and redesigned around the assumption that there’s no other way to get there. And inevitably, people will start to conform to that. And you end up with a system that people find it very hard to escape, or to question. History reveals that people were questioning this en masse, relentlessly from the early days in the 1920s, right through the era that we tend to call the automobile age here, namely the 1950s and the 1960s, when, particularly the one car family was still the norm, and typically the husband monopolised the car, and the women were left stranded at home. And they continued to protest car domination in ways that have been really completely ignored by the people who tell us the history of the car. They protested by illegally blocking streets to slow vehicles down to demand lower speed limits to demand stop signs and traffic lights, such that they end the children they were minding could safely use the street still, as what we now call vulnerable road users.

Peter Norton 1:42:16
The bicycle companies interested in marketing their bicycles today might have something to learn from that history. Because they would be huge beneficiaries. If we have a future that returns to a less carbon dominated model, a future where cycling isn’t something that you engage in only if you have high risk tolerance, the market of people who would ride a bike if they just felt safe, riding a bike is enormous. And I don’t think you’re going to reach that market optimally with tech on the bike that is supposed to protect you. I think you reach that market optimally by creating environments where you don’t need that tech. And the the incentive for the cycle manufacturers is that they can now sell this bike to people who would not want to ride even with the tech close to fast cars, but would take real joy in riding in a safe environment. So there’s a lot of possibilities for our future. I’m disappointed that a lot of the tech that we’re imagining is predicated on the assumption that that automobile domination is a given. I recognise and celebrate the fact that some of the tech does implicitly question this. I’d like to see a lot more of that.

Carlton Reid 1:43:52
Thanks to author and historian Peter Norton there. And thanks also to Jake Sigal for giving the technologist’s point of view. If you enjoyed today’s episode, it’d be really helpful for us if you could like subscribe and comment on this Spokesmen Cycling Podcast on Apple podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you are listening to today’s episode. Shownotes transcripts and more can be found at the-spokesmen.com. This is Carlton Reid signing off and suggesting you get out there and ride …

October 1, 2020 / / Blog

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Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham today cycled to work alongside his walking and cycling commissioner Chris Boardman.

The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

EPISODE 258: “This is a transport revolution” In conversation with Chris Boardman

Thursday 1st October 2020

SPONSOR: Jenson USA

HOST: Carlton Reid

GUEST: Chris Boardman. Greater Manchester’s walking and cycling commissioner

Below the transcript there’s the full press release from today’s announcement of :

Cycling and walking building boom: 55 miles of new routes and 140 new crossings to be createdacross Greater Manchester by December 2021

_____________________________________________

TRANSCRIPT

Carlton Reid 0:13
Welcome to Episode 258 of the spokesmen cycling podcast. This show was engineered Thursday, 1st of October 2020.

David Bernstein 0:24
The Spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast is brought to you by Jenson USA, where you’ll always find a great selection of products at amazing prices with unparalleled customer service. For more information, just go to Jensonusa.com/thespokesmen. Hey everybody, it’s David from the Fredcast cycling podcast at www.Fredcast.com. I’m one of the hosts and producers of the Spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast. For shownotes links and all sorts of other information, please visit our website at www.the-spokesmen.com. And now, here are the spokesmen. there.

Carlton Reid 1:08
Hi I’m Carlton Reid. And on today’s show, I’m talking with Chris Boardman, Greater Manchester’s walking and cycling Commissioner. Now, socially distance by about 175 miles, we discussed a spades-in-the-ground announcement of 55 miles of protected routes for cyclists in Greater Manchester, and 140 new crossings for cyclists and pedestrians. And Chris also talks about his long term plans for national change of culture, getting Brits out of cars. What’s being announced tomorrow? And why is it so special? Because it has not all been, you know, announced before?

Chris Boardman 1:52
Good point. Yes, it has. And I think what’s happened over the last two years has been a huge amount of work to mobilise which isn’t very newsworthy, and people don’t really want to know how you get it done. But we just said, we said in the end of 2017, actually, right, we’re going to do this, and we’re going to do it region wide. And we spend, as you know, about six months putting together a plan in record time, really, the whole re for the whole region that’s added up to over 1800 miles. And and then we’ve had to employ the people get the engineers start to do consultation. So there’s an awful lot involved in in getting ready to deliver. And we’re at last there, and it’s been painful. And but now we know that by the end of next year, we’ll have the first 50 miles in. So it’s the start of delivery. And for me, you know, I it’s my intention that it’s the start of a revolution in the way we travel in Greater Manchester. And in the last six months, we prove just how necessary that is and for how many different reasons it’s necessary. So it’s just to celebrate, and to reconnect people with this project and remind them just how bloody brilliant it’s going to be.

Carlton Reid 3:12
And have you had buy in equally from all the different councils or have some been a bit, you know, more amenable to it and others less. So.

Chris Boardman 3:22
Now we’ve got champions we’ve got I mean, Salford is a prime example of one of the districts that was already on this mission. And they’re going to start delivering early. But we’re seeing reasonable ambition from every every one of them. But I think from the start, I said that one, we’re not going to allocate money equally, we’re going to allocate it to those with the ambition. And if you don’t want to, if you want to do something good, then we’ll fund it. But if you don’t, that’s your choice. And I think it needs to be that way. Really, I think we need to actually prove the point. And I because you want to get to a point where you have a low traffic neighbourhood, and the people next door are complaining because they haven’t got one, and then you’re really off. So leading by example is important. And I think we’ve we’ve got a huge amount of projects to create that healthy competitiveness, I think.

Carlton Reid 4:15
And then you mentioned before about the community involvement, and that is part about that what was Brian Deegan and his crew, and he and his crew go in? And they ask people, you know, where your bottlenecks were, where do you feel you know, that it’s dangerous for you? And then it’s post it notes. And like I said, so how important of an element is that to this going forward?

Chris Boardman 4:37
I think it’s, it’s critical, really, because how people understand what you’re doing and keeping control of what this is about and stopping people hijacking the message is essential. I think as we as we both know, it shouldn’t be but communication is more important than the product because if you allow this to be I painted as this is going to be terrible, it’s going to ruin business, they’re ripping out disabled parking spaces. If you allow that to become the messaging, then people won’t support. But if you say, this is making space, so your kids can ride and walk to school, these crossings are going to actually enable your kids to go out and play with their mates without you. If you actually keep on message and make sure that people understand what it’s for, then you’ll get support. And the best way to do that is not to do it retrospectively. It’s from the start. So you mentioned Brian Deegan, who is part engineer, part activist, he’s got quite a few different hats. But we when we went to councils, the first thing that Brian wanted to do, which, and it was totally his idea I just adopted it immediately was he gave them the pen, figuratively and literally, and said, Tell me where you can’t go with pram? Or you will you wouldn’t want to walk with your kids? And you said you wouldn’t let them ride a bike? Tell me why not? That’s a really busy road, where would you want to get across it and they draw on the map. And so we we let them tell us what they wanted to be able to change the way they travel. And so it is their network. And then we put it out as a draft for everybody in Greater Manchester online and got 4000 comments in a month saying, and then our biggest complaint was Where’s ours? And I think, if anything has come from the project I’ve been involved with for the last three years that it’s Give, give the pen to the people who live there and let them decide. And that includes the right to do nothing. Because they have to choose what it is that they want. But I’m amazed by people how positive people are, once you give them control, not not phone control of Oh, no, we want to have your opinion. But genuinely, if you don’t want to do this, we don’t do it. People respect that, and then take it seriously. And then it becomes theirs, not yours. And that’s essential.

Carlton Reid 6:59
And how much in cash terms and how much in actual things going in on the ground, are walking, and how much I psyched and kind of had you many times before talking about? Because clearly people recognise you from your previous career and your current career, in fact, and they see you clearly as a cyclist. But then you’ve said and you’ve been gone on record say well, actually, it’s the walking elements that are potentially more transformative, potentially, what are more like to do? So is that something that you absolutely stand by? And how much so the elements how much is walking and how much is cycling?

Chris Boardman 7:38
Well, first of all, we try not to separate them, because they should be happy bedfellows these are activities that require space. And and they should coexist, we get just to clarify, though, we don’t we we very, very rarely found anything that shared space. Because once you get a speed difference, it doesn’t work, then the person on a bike becomes the hostile elements. So we respect the hierarchy, that walking is going to be the most convenient and easy solution for most people. So it’s the most important so of the 55 miles that will be in by next year 100. And we’re going to put hundred and 40 new crossings in and we’re looking at the 20,000 cross side road crossings across the region. As you’ll know, we’re spending half a million pounds doing a study to prove that crossings as used around the rest of the world, outside roads on the desire lines help. And they will reinforce a right that people walking have forgotten that they have because to assert that right they have to walk out in front of the car. So understandably, people don’t do it. So no walking is it’s hard to make it visible. It’s hidden in plain sight every day. But it is more important than riding bikes. Having said that, the thing that’s going to get people out of cars is going to be bikes because that replaces your three to five mile journeys, which is two thirds of all the journeys that are made in the country nevermind Greater Manchester.

Carlton Reid 9:10
So Greater Manchester has excellent public transport. So trains, trams, buses. So how much of the work that you’ve done on the Bee network will take, as you’ve said, talked about there really will take passengers away from them from public transport rather than attract motorists get motorists out of cars?

Chris Boardman 9:29
Well, I think you’ll get some of that. And that’s not a bad thing. In general for Greater Manchester view. If you’re getting people to ride and walk rather than be sedentary, then that then you’ve still got a winner. It’s not as big winners, you’re getting people out of a car. But ultimately if you get people travelling actively, you’ve got a net gain. But I suspect that a lot of the journeys will be part journey. So I’m going to ride into Manchester tomorrow with Andy Burnham on his route and it’s an hour and a half journey for him. And that’s not sustainable. On a daily basis, you just can’t do that. But what he might do is right down to the station, jump on the train, pick up the higher bike at the other end, and leave the last mile or so to the office. So that’s how we see it working. That’s the vision that Andy has. It’s, it’s actually this is part of our network. And, and the intention is in a few years time to have an integrated ticketing system for bike hire, for trams, for trains that’s kept. And so you can use any mode, you can mix and match depending on the day, the weather where you going, and it will be kept for the day. And that’s what’s in train at the moment. And this is a part of it. So the point is to give people a choice, an easy choice not to have to drive. And I think we we kind of have to really, there’s no option to keep driving, it just doesn’t work.

Carlton Reid 10:52
So how far you down the line with with the cycle hire scheme? And even agencies appointed?

Chris Boardman 10:57
first phase will be on the ground next early next year. In the spring. It’s been really hard

Carlton Reid 11:03
who’s doing it? Some of you have you announced who’s doing it, who’s there.

Chris Boardman 11:08
Now down to the last three firms. So we’re doing some work in parallel. So we’re out to tender now. And we have contracts have gone out to firms to to actively bid. So we’ve narrowed it right down to a very small number. And and in the meantime, we know where the parking needs to be we know where all the pickup and drop off points. So all the things about the tedious stuff about planning permission and making sure that the space there. All of that’s happening in tandem, so we can speed up delivery. And we’ll do it we’ll do it in a phased approach, because to do a whole city region is obviously Well, it’s massive, it will be geographically bigger than London. So we’re starting with phase one is in the regional centre, so Salford and Manchester. So to get it going there, and then work outwards.

Carlton Reid 11:58
And where does e-scooters fit into this ecosystem?

Chris Boardman 12:03
E-scooters is something I’m very interested in. But I’m keeping it at arm’s length, to be honest, because the studies that I’ve seen show that they get people off bikes, they don’t get them out of cars, and the potential for conflict. If you didn’t, if you haven’t got if we had lots of cycle lanes now, then that’s where they go. But right now the potential for conflict with pedestrians is high. What I do like about them is they’re a travel disrupter. And they’re another client if you like for bike lanes. So that’s a good thing. But I don’t want to get confused because these scooters, they don’t make you fitter. And they’re not necessarily getting somebody out of a car. So they’re not the highest on my list. What I recognise is that good fun, people are really interested in them, that there may be a client to give for bike lanes that gives more emphasis and more reason to build more bike lanes. So I think it’s quite a good thing, but it’s not directly within my remit. It’s a potential future client.

Carlton Reid 13:09
Okay, and do you know the average car ownership or use stats Greater Manchester?

Chris Boardman 13:16
It is for Greater Manchester. It is a third of households don’t have access to cars in Greater Manchester. And that’s considerably higher. I think it’s over half in Manchester itself.

Carlton Reid 13:28
And what are you doing? So you’re doing some good stuff here, encouraging people to get onto bikes to walk more, what are you doing to discourage motoring physically discouraged motoring?

Chris Boardman 13:41
I think most first and foremost is we have to give people an option to an alternative because once you build this is where I’m a pragmatist on that once you build a car centric society, and you let people build their lives around using cars, you can’t just say, Oh, you can’t do that now until you provide an alternative. So cycling and walking is a solution a viable genuine solution, as you know, for about two thirds of all journeys. And then for the rest, trains and trams need to be integrated and become really regular, particularly in the case of trains, the train service has been dire serving Greater Manchester, the lines of the service is bad, and it needs upgrading. So all of those things need to happen. So by making pavements for people, so tackling anti social parking, on pavements, things that you you couldn’t get a double Boogie Down. So you know, you can’t allow that to happen. So we need to reclaim the pavements and by filtering neighbourhoods, so you’re not stopping people driving, but you you can’t run through a neighbourhood. All of these things make other modes of transport more attractive and more competitive. So I wouldn’t say I’m trying to reduce car use directly. It’s might be semantics. I’m trying to make other options much more viable. Much more competitive and making logical and attractive.

Carlton Reid 15:04
And more. Yeah. What’s being announced? Tomorrow? How much of that has been stymied by COVID? And how much has actually been boosted by COVID?

Chris Boardman 15:17
Well, it’s a good point, I mean, 25 miles of the stuff that we intended to put in is pop up routes that are from low low traffic neighbourhoods through to semi permanent. So you know, using bollards and and what they called condemning ones in orcas. So we’re going to accelerate some stuff. And it’s also, I think, given some confidence that we show the people want to do it. You know, people when you I don’t know if you saw any of the features I did for the BBC or ITV over the last month, but we we effectively turned off traffic globally, and inadvertently started at consultation. And so for whatever reason, be it on board, I’ve got bored kids need to get to work and the buses aren’t running at my shift time, all of those reasons, people showed that if you give them safe space, they’ll ride bikes. And I think that should give everybody a huge amount of confidence that this isn’t all they won’t do it in the UK. Well, they did. And there are lots of different reasons they did. And so if you make this space, people have shown you that they will use it. And that confidence, I think counsellors can take it and are taking to accelerate schemes. Manchester itself is, is doing quite a good job now of accelerating schemes that they had on the books, because they also know that this measures are likely to be in place for several months to come yet. And they don’t want to be locked down completely. So they don’t want people cramming together on buses and drains.

Carlton Reid 16:50
So an awful lot of the funding, not all of the funding, in fact, for pop ups nationally has come from the national Tory government. And yet on the ground, it seems that Tory councils aren’t that keen at implementing Tory policies. And it tends to be labour councils that actually want to implement whatever better word and Tory policies, politics, politics play into all of this?

Chris Boardman 17:21
Well, people are scared to change. And I think for me, I have to put myself in somebody else’s shoes and understand where they’re coming from. I don’t have to agree with them. But I know that if a local counsellor might be a locksmith, or work in a shop, and they’re doing this part time, and somebody is having their life changed, so I’m going to take some parking from outside of your shop. And that person is screaming down my ear saying this is a random, you’re going to ruin my business, I’m already scared to death around COVID. And that counsellor has to see this person where they go and buy their bread day in day out. So I understand that I get it that people don’t necessarily. They don’t get into the details and the facts and why it’s good for the bigger picture. They’ve got to deal with people on the ground. And so not everybody will support everything. But the majority do. And as we found from recent surveys for every person that objects, the six that support, and we need to remember that we need to give that silent majority of voice. And I hope the majority of councils will stand up for the majority.

Carlton Reid 18:27
They do seem to a wavering though that there was this this was tested and a lot of it is faded away and they took schemes and in Manchester, even doing some schemes that look quite ambitious. And then we take

Chris Boardman 18:42
Yeah, the A56 was was scaled back. Actually, it was scaled back. It’s still the longest in the country. But it was scaled back at a point where there was a problem. But most of the problems were actually caused by roadworks that were going on slightly further down. So they amended them. And they took seconds out. But of course it hit the presses. It’s all being ripped out. Well, it wasn’t actually it was just amended. But yeah, and it’s not everybody’s going to support it. Because it’s changed. And it’s scary. And that’s where you need political will. And this is really where we need government to actually step back in and remind people that they are committed to this task, because they’ve gone very quiet since May. So they made some groundbreaking statements and said, we have to do this for our country’s health to protect our public transport to stop having the second lockdown to help people who don’t have cars, which we seem to forget about in the short term. And in the longer term, give us all a chance to try something different that we don’t have to commit to. And then if we like it in six months, we can keep it there’s all of these good reasons, but we need government to support it and to keep showing that ongoing support. Because that really helps counsellors when they have to do something that’s disruptive to the status quo, then that’s pretty scary when it looks like government’s gone silent and hang on a minute. I’m going to be left holding the can hear you’re not going to support me to see it all the way through. So some noise from government right now would be very welcome. Hmm.

Carlton Reid 20:09
Because [Andrew] Gilligan has never really put his head above the parapet, but he was clearly behind a lot of the DFT letters. They had the language of Gilligan, through and through.

Chris Boardman 20:21
Yeah. Again, I think it’s very clear that Andrew Gilligan is a trusted adviser to the Prime Minister. And his writing is very clear, in a lot of the communication with councils, the top the directives that have come out on the forcefulness and clarity of it. Absolutely, his writing is clear. But ultimately, he is an advisor. It’s the ministers that need to stand up for this. And it’d be really good to hear the Health Minister standing up for it as well, to actually get all of the people that will benefit from changes. You really want to protect the NHS, then start clapping for bike lanes, not just the NHS staff themselves, because we can take the strain off it just by changing the way we travel.

Carlton Reid 21:05
You were quoted in the press release the other day for the active travel transport. Active travel agency, what the the Laura Laker thing

Chris Boardman 21:21
press guidelines.

Carlton Reid 21:21
press guidelines. Thank you. So you quoted that in that press release. And then the Daily Mail has, I don’t know if they’ve even looked at the press release, but then or even looked at the guidelines. But they’ve come out with a story, which is basically they assuming that this is a war against the motorists, and that the guidelines want to remove things like like rollouts, I’ve got to be banned, and that kind of stuff, which aren’t actually in the gut. So when do you think that part of the media, which represents, you know, a fair chunk of the public? When will they be on board with walking and cycling changes, but I guess, especially cycling changes?

Chris Boardman 22:04
Well, I can’t speak for people I can understand. I think ultimately we need to make sure as just to double back to something I said earlier that the the six people for everyone that support this, we need to make sure that they’re well represented. And we don’t let other people own and twist a message when what Lori Lightfoot and Martin Porter are asking for is guidelines that say how things should be reported, which is federal is just tell fact, right? Just Just give the facts and use language that portrays that reality? Not your personal view. And I don’t think the newspaper that you’ve just mentioned, has ever been constrained by facts. And is any newspaper that cause High Court judges the enemy of the people, you’ve already made a choice by by reading it, so I can’t really talk to it.

Carlton Reid 23:01
And then last question, Chris, and this is almost an impossible one to answer, I think, or maybe you’ve got very strong views on this. But how long is this project going to take? Does this project ever end? What what’s what’s, what’s the timescale?

Chris Boardman 23:16
That’s quite a good question. Actually, the timescale when I started, it was 10 years. And we said, right, we want to put in a network across Greater Manchester in 10 years, and you need a timeframe, because you need a yardstick that says, How are we doing? And right now, it’s 5055 miles is a great number. It’s meaningful, and it’s large. But it’s quite a small part of 1800 miles. But now we can look at that and say, Can we go faster? How do we go faster? Because we’ve got a destination, eight years time, we have something we want to achieve in a years? How How, how much closer to that can we get? I think if you don’t state a time frame, and I don’t like this, kick it down the road by 2050. Because anybody who’s made those decisions will be accountable. By that point. I want meaningful, relatively short term objectives to meet. I think it’s very healthy to do that. I think it’s going to be very challenging. Now to get it done in eight years. There has been some setbacks with COVID. But mostly because it’s taken us a lot longer to get mobilised than we wanted. But now we’re off. And we have to celebrate that as well. So that’s,

Carlton Reid 24:25
Sorry, I’ve got a supplementary question. So that’s, that’s Manchester Greater Manchester. Hopefully, you would then be a catalyst. And London is also a catalyst here for other parts of the UK. So how long will that project take?

Chris Boardman 24:42
Well, that’s up to a government. You know, this is genuinely anything that’s culture change for a nation, then it has to be government led, or what’s the point of government? You might as well just happy little fiefdoms and you all get together for a conference. This is National change. And so government was lead it and they can choose And the announcements they made in May, if they stick by them, if they reinforce them if they back them up with resources. And also with legislation. I mean, it’s been said that if you, if you don’t do this, then this will count against you for all of your transport funding. I mean, that’s proper, strong language. If they continue with that they can make it happen very quickly. The point of me coming to Greater Manchester was to try and create an example on such a scale it was on ignorable nationally. And that’s still the mission, because that’s what we work well with in the UK examples. We want. We want the fear of missing out to be not having a bike lane and an active neighbourhood rather than not having a motorway. And I think we can make that change. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be wasting my time with it. But it’s not going to be easy. And it will depend very much on government. I think the beauty of some of the things that have been done by this government is whatever denomination is in next, no one’s going to want one pick what they do. So and that’s a good thing.

Carlton Reid 26:06
Thanks to Chris Boardman there. And thanks to you for tuning in for today’s episode via whatever podcasting client you use. The next episode will be uploaded to that client for you real soon. But meanwhile, get out there and ride

_____________________________________

PRESS RELEASE

Cycling and walking building boom: 55 miles of new routes and 140 new crossings to be created across Greater Manchester by December 2021

55 miles of protected routes and 140 new crossings for people on foot and bikes will be created next year


The projects that councils across Greater Manchester plan to deliver total around £85 million, creating world class infrastructure and kick-starting the city-region’s plans for the UK’s largest cycling and walking network – The Bee Network


25 miles of pop-up routes and two low-traffic neighbourhoods will also be delivered
Plans heralded as a “huge step” by Mayor and “the start of a transport revolution” by Commissioner Chris Boardman

Greater Manchester will see a major building boom in cycling and walking routes delivered by next Christmas with 55 miles of new routes and 140 new crossings being created, Mayor Andy Burnham and Commissioner Chris Boardman announced today.

Funded by the Mayor’s Challenge Fund, all of Greater Manchester’s 10 districts will begin to benefit from new routes, also known as beeways, with the first Bee Network signage expected to be installed in Summer 2021.

The Mayor and Chris Boardman marked the news with a 90 minute bike ride into Manchester, taking in Wigan’s Muddy Mile, the first Bee Network route, completed in Summer 2019.

Greater Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham, said: “It’s been years in the making, but GM’s cycling and walking revolution is finally starting. To build the capability and scheme pipeline to deliver a new way of travel for a whole city region has taken us two years, but we are now ready to begin delivery. By next summer we will begin to see the fruits of our labour and the region’s residents will finally have the chance to travel to shops and schools easily and safely without using a car. Today heralds the real start of our cycling and walking story, coincidently aligning with bike to school week.

“Next year is going to be incredibly exciting with spades going in the ground. This is a huge step towards making Greater Manchester a true cycling and walking city-region. Projects like the Chorlton beeway and Bolton’s new junctions are world-class and they are going to open up cycling and walking as a new option for hundreds of thousands of people. Greater Manchester residents have told us that they want safe space to travel on foot and by bike, so this is exactly what we are delivering.”

Greater Manchester’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner, Chris Boardman, said: “We started this mission nearly two years ago and I’m so pleased with the significant work GM’s local authorities have been doing behind the scenes to get this monumental mission underway.

“The Bee Network was a vision, now having completed the planning, paperwork and many consultations, we are ready to start making it a reality. It will create better places to live and work, give those with a car the option to leave it at home and for those who don’t, it will provide them with a reliable, safe and pleasant network to walk or ride to shops, schools and workplaces. This is the beginning of Greater Manchester’s twenty first century transport revolution.”

Around 25 miles of pop-up cycling and walking routes will also be delivered by next Spring, as well as two low-traffic neighbourhoods in Salford and Tameside, using government funds in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Tameside’s pop up active neighbourhood is being launched today.
The news coincides with the publication of an update and forward look report on cycling and walking activities in Greater Manchester which will be officially presented to the Greater Manchester Transport Committee on 9 October.

Completed cycling and walking projects in the last two years include the CYCLOPs junction at Royce Road, the first of its kind in the country, designed by Greater Manchester engineers, as well as Talbot Road in Trafford, Saddle junction in Wigan and Wigan’s Muddy Mile.

The 32 projects that will be delivered across Greater Manchester up to December 2021 are:

GM wide projects
Bee Network crossings – £2.2 million – a series of new and upgraded crossings at locations across Greater Manchester, initial crossings due to be completed during Winter 2020.
GM safety camera digitalisation – £6.1 million
GM Bike Hire – £7.1 million, due to launch in Spring 2021
Bolton
SBNI Manchester Road Gateway – £7m, due to be completed by Winter 2021 – Full junction upgrades to create protected cycle tracks and crossings outside Bolton station on Trinity Street and Bradford Street, and a contra-flow cycle lane on Newport Street.
Bury
Crossing point and junction improvements – £2.2 million – a selection of new and upgraded junctions to improve connectivity and safety for people travelling by foot and bike, expected to be completed by Winter 2021.
Elton beeway – £1.8 million – this scheme will complete a pleasant, direct route from Bury to Radcliffe via the canal towpath and is expected to be completed by Winter 2021.
Manchester
Mancunian Way / Princess Road junction – £3.25 million, due to be completed in Winter 2020 – a full junction upgrade where Mancunian Way meets Princess Road. The existing subways will be removed and protected cycle tracks will be created, as well as pedestrian paths and a signalised crossing.
Manchester to Chorlton beeway (area 2) – £2.2 million – The Upper Chorlton Road section of the Chorlton Cycleway which will create a protected cycle route from Chorlton Park to Manchester city centre. This section completes the cycle link between the Brooks Bar junction and Seymour Grove. The route is due to be completed in Spring 2021.
Manchester to Chorlton beeway (area 3) – £2.2 million, completion date TBC following consultation The Manchester Road to Barlow Moor Road section of the Chorlton Cycleway which will create a protected cycle route from Chorlton Park to Manchester city centre. This section completes the cycle link from Seymour Grove into and through Chorlton district centre with its many bars, shops and cafes.
Manchester to Chorlton beeway (area 4) – £1.8 million – The Barlow Moor Road/Manchester Road section is the most southern part of the Chorlton Cycleway. It connects the Chorlton district centre to the National Cyel Route numbers 6 and 60, the Manchester Cycleway (Fallowfield Loop) and number 62 the Transpenine Trail. The route is due to be completed in Spring 2021.
Beswick active neighbourhood (phase 1) – due to be completed in Summer 2021 – A ‘filtered neighbourhood’ to make roads in the area safer and more pleasant.
Beswick active neighbourhood (phase 2) – £2 million – A ‘filtered neighbourhood’ to make roads in the area safer and more pleasant, subject to consultation.
Route 86: Northern Quarter – Piccadilly to Victoria beeway – £10.5 million – Walking and cycling route through Manchester’s Northern Quarter, connecting Piccadilly and Victoria stations.
Rochdale Canal bridge – £1.3 million, due to be completed in Autumn 2021 – upgrades to the Rochdale canal corridor linking existing and developing communities. This includes improvements to the canal towpaths, improved access under a low bridge at Butler Street and improved accessibility to four sets of steps.
Oldham
Union Street West bridge improvements – £228K due to be completed in early 2021 – The bridge has already been the subject of a partial refurbishment. This project will see the refurbishment completed, providing a replacement bridge deck surface to ensure the best possible level of service for users.
King Street bridge improvements, £452K, due to be completed in early 2021 – Complete refurbishment of an existing pedestrian and cycle bridge, providing a key link into Oldham town centre from a number of residential areas to the south.
Chadderton improvements – £612,000, due to be completed in Autumn 2021 – Updated crossings and walking and cycling routes in Chadderton.
Royton town centre connections – £706,000, due to be completed in Autumn 2021 – Improvements to cycling and walking facilities in and around Royton town centre.
Salford
Swinton Greenway – £4.6 million – This project will deliver a traffic-free, off-road walking and cycling corridor connecting Swinton to Monton, plus lots of other links, connecting communities into the route.
RHS Links – £2.6 million – This scheme will significantly improve the on foot and by bike experience in the area, improving access to the new RHS Bridgewater Garden, Parr Fold Park, Worsley College and Walkden Train Station.
Gore Street connection – £1.1 million, due to be completed in Autumn 2021.
Stockport
Gilbent road crossing – £500K, due to be completed Winter 2020, this scheme provides an enhanced crossing for people travelling by bike and on foot in Cheadle Hulme. It will better connect residential areas, including access to Thorn Grove Primary School.
Offerton to Stockport beeway – £700,000, due to be completed in Autumn 2021 – A continuous cycling and walking route from Offerton to Stockport town centre.
Hazel Grove upgrades – £1.1 million, due to be completed in Autumn 2021 – A number of off-road routes to link communities and encourage walking and cycling.
Ladybrook Valley -£800K, due to be completed Spring 2021 – Scheme to complete a ‘missing link’ of the continuous walking and cycling route through the Ladybrook Valley, connecting previous sections which were delivered by CCAG. The section is around 1.1km long connecting between Ladybridge Road and Bramhall Park Road, with an additional spur to Blenheim Road. The works will provide a surfaced route suitable for cycling, along a route which is currently a grassy footpath.
Heaton Cycle Links – £5 million, due to be completed in 2021 – A package of measures to create a series of quiet routes for pedestrians and cyclists between the Manchester Cycleway (Fallowfield Loop) and the Trans-Pennine Trail at Heaton Mersey.
Cheadle Hulme Crossings Package – £1.2 million, due to be completed in 2021 – The scheme includes three new signal crossings on busy roads in Cheadle Hulme. This will provide access to the wider walking and cycling network and better access to local facilities.
Tameside
Tameside active neighbourhood (phase 1) – Phase one, which is due to be completed in Summer 2021, includes a package of improvements such as creating filtered neighbourhoods where people are prioritised over cars. Upgrades will also be made to traffic free routes and segregated facilities will be provided for bikes on more major roads.
Tameside active neighbourhood (phase 2) – £1.7 million – A package of improvements which will include the creation of more attractive, safer and accessible routes for cyclists.
Trafford
Urmston active neighbourhood – Phase one due to be completed in Autumn 2021, this major active neighbourhood scheme will significantly improve the walking and cycling environment in the Urmston area. Interventions will be community and stakeholder driven and it is expected that they will include segregated cycle routes, new and upgraded crossings, improved signage, parklets, school street treatments and collision reduction measures.
Five junctions on Talbot Road, including the junction with Seymour Grove, due to be completed in Autumn 2021. This project involves upgrading stretches of Talbot Road, enabling a consistent level of service for people travelling by bike or on foot.
Wigan
Standish mineral line – £700,000 – The project will deliver a 1.6 mile long traffic-free path for people travelling on foot or by bike serving new housing developments and providing new connections to link existing cycle schemes to future major segregated routes.
Victoria Street / Warrington Road junction – £1.7 million, due to be completed in Autumn2021 – This scheme extends the innovative Saddle Junction cycle facility, which is under construction, to the southwest with further high quality cycling and walking infrastructure connecting with Alexandra Park.
Leigh town centre to Pennington Park – £800k – the project includes a new bridge across the Bridgewater Canal to connect Leigh town centre at the Loom to new housing development to the south of the canal. There will be a new safe and accessible route to connect from the new bridge to the education, leisure and retail facilities at Leigh Sports Village and beyond to Pennington Flash.

September 13, 2020 / / Blog

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The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

EPISODE 257: What’s the Plural of Moose: Moose, Meese, or Mooses?

Sunday 13th September 2020

SPONSOR: Jenson USA

HOST: Carlton Reid

GUESTS: David Bernstein and Jim Moss

LINKS:

NBC Gold Tour de France

Sturgis rally super-spreader event

Prudhomme positive

Sunday’s Tour de France stage

New doping product?

Anthony McCrossan

Boa fit system

Cycliq

CatEye

SeeSense lights

Apple Watch fall alert

FROM GRAMMARLY: The only correct plural of moose is moose. … Moose derives from Algonquian, a Native American language. It kept the same plural ending it had in its original language instead of adopting the normal S ending of most English plurals.

TRANSCRIPT:

Carlton Reid 0:14
Welcome to Episode 257 of the Spokesmen Cycling Podcast. This show was recorded on Sunday 13th September 2020.

David Bernstein 0:24
The spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast is brought to you by Jenson USA, where you’ll always find a great selection of products at amazing prices with unparalleled customer service. For more information, just go to Jensonusa.com/thespokesmen. Hey everybody, it’s David from the Fredcast cycling podcast at www.Fredcast.com. I’m one of the hosts and producers of the spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast. For shownotes links and all sorts of other information please visit our website at www.the-spokesmen.com. And now here are the spokesman.

Carlton Reid 1:09
Weird, isn’t it — the cyclocross season has just started yet we’re only 2/3rds of the way through the Tour de France. And the Slovenian takeover of the Tour de France is one of the topics for the first half of our show today, recorded seconds after the end of Sunday’s stage from Lyon to Grand Colombier and yet another Slovenian one-two. I’m Carlton Reid and joining me are show regulars David Bernstein and Jim Moss. After chewing through some of the Tour highlights – and low lights – of the first two weeks we talk products which, really, is just David’s way of bringing tips to the show. It is Episode 257 of the spokesmen cycling round table podcast and we’ve got a microphone access for Jim we’ve we’ve improved his sound no end we’ve just been tweaking everything we’ve been tweaking you, Jim. You’re coming across loud and clear. There’s no more edginess to your voice in that was a few pops and squeaks and whistles the last time but now you’re good. So that means Jim, how are you doing?

Jim Moss 2:25
I’m doing great. After wasting 20 minutes your time getting this set up.

Carlton Reid 2:31
But and you’re still refusing you’re refusing to do what we’ve advised you to do. And that’s well, you know, and boy, you

Jim Moss 2:39
Yeah, spend $3,000 and buy a Mac look better than $3,000 in buying another bike. Although, take it into the garage somehow.

Carlton Reid 2:50
Yeah, good answer and the little giggling you heard that is is David David Bernstein. Hi, David. How you doing?

David Bernstein 2:58
I’m good, Carlton. It’s a happy July. I’m enjoying the heat of July. As we enjoy watching the guys go across the roads and mountains of France. Oh wait, it’s September, shoot. I’m just glad there’s a race.

Jim Moss 3:15
Hey, David, did you get the snowfall last week?

David Bernstein 3:18
Yeah. Sorry. Everybody has to get the weather report. Yeah, snowed here. And I know it snowed where you are and it life is good because it’s you know that gonna be back up in the 80s Fahrenheit today. And I’m already I’m already in my Fred cast kit ready to go out for a ride when we’re done.

Carlton Reid 3:35
Sweet, because we are having a mini heatwave here in the UK as well. So it’s kind of weird.

David Bernstein 3:40
You’re probably not getting the smoke that we have though, because we’ve got the smoke from the fires in California, Oregon and Washington. But it’ll get there eventually.

Carlton Reid 3:49
I yeah, I mean, they look dystopian Blade Runner type. Are you getting the Blade Runner effect or is that only in San Francisco and stuff?

David Bernstein 3:58
Yeah, no, I mean like the sunsets here. There’s just this this orange orb in the sky but it’s nothing like what you see in the pictures of San Francisco or my parents. You know, we’re in in Los Angeles, and you just can’t see two or three blocks down the road. It’s it’s dystopian is a good Well, I think dystopian is the word for 2020. So

Carlton Reid 4:17
and dystopian and the golden orb in the sky. I’m going to bring those two together, David because he wants to talk about NBC gold.

David Bernstein 4:25
Yeah, well, okay, so we got we talked about this last time. How I was going to bite the bullet and pay for NBC Sports Gold is 55 bucks or something like that for the year. And that gives you according to NBC commercial free coverage. And I think that NBC I wanted to use the word deceptive my wife told me to say no, just say that they oversold it. The expectation my expectation wise, oh, well, it would be you know, Phil Liggett and Bob Roll, doing their commentary. Fascinating, you know, Phil’s at home in England and Bob’s at home and you know, in New England, and they’re they’re not even in France, but I would expect it was it was gonna be Bob and Phil. And when they would go to a break, that it would just be silent and it would be commercial free and we’d still be able to see Well, that’s not what we’re getting. What we’re getting is Anthony McCrossan and Simon Guerin’s doing, basically doing commentary. I believe they are in France. And they’re doing it over the French television feed. I’m not much of a fan of Anthony’s style of commentating. So it gets by by two weeks in it’s getting a little bit grating, but it’s

Carlton Reid 5:50
Anti-English here?

David Bernstein 5:52
No, no, no, no, no, no, no, not at all. I’m just not a fan of his style period. Full stop. I just it’s just not my Am I right? Was he doing the English commentary at the Giro? When we were there Who was that?

Carlton Reid 6:06
Yeah, no would it be yeah In fact he was because in the in the in the breaks between when he could wander away that I was trying to him so yes he yeah he does these are frequently he’s he’s very often the English commentator lots of races. Yeah, I think I’m gonna take it as in you know, to the crowd who are physically there.

David Bernstein 6:26
Right We don and I, my wife Donna, not the spokesperson Donna, we were comment commenting about you know, an Eliot Viviani would win a sprint in the Giro and he would take Viviani it just, it’s stuck in our mind anyway, we’re no it’s nice to have commercial free it’s nice to be able to turn on the Apple TV or turn on the Roku and boom, you know, it’s just on and it’s it’s constant. So I do appreciate that. And that’s worth some some it’s definitely worth the money because I’m not chasing after my VPN and, and finding different feeds you know, from Australia. Or Belgium or wherever. I just think that NBC what they what they sold they oversold it so I just wanted to mention that I’m curious to hear what our what our listeners what is ad free?

Carlton Reid 7:13
They haven’t mis-sold it.

David Bernstein 7:17
it is correct. It is as it is. It’s exactly what they sold. It’s ad free. You know in that, Jim. are you watching the NBC coverage?

Jim Moss 7:27
No, I’m watching Comcast. Well, yes. NBC coverage on Comcast.

David Bernstein 7:31
Yeah. Watch it because when they when they complete a stage, you know, then they go to the studio and it’s Yeah, oh, shoot. I can’t remember his name. But there’s Christian Vandevelde and Chris Horner.

Jim Moss 7:45
Right. And,

David Bernstein 7:48
yeah, and they’re, of course not in France, either as they normally would be, I believe. Yeah, anyway, it’s I I there’s pluses and minuses to both I just think like I said, NBC oversold it. I got what they promised I got commercial free coverage. I just think that they they oversold it anyway. I’m curious to hear what our what our listeners think so that’s my my comment on NBC Sports gold, but, man, am I happy that the tour is on and that we’ve made it through two weeks and I hope that we continue to have negative COVID tests tomorrow from the peloton.

Jim Moss 8:23
Yeah, I was I would I have been totally caught off guard by how well it is run. And the fact that the vast majority of the spectators are wearing masks. The mean obviously the team the writers, as soon as they can breathe again or or, you know, two minutes after they’ve arrived across the finish line, someone’s putting a mask on them. And and I mean, I just did not expect the tour to even get this far. I figured that the virus would get there be all over and I’m amazed. totally amazed.

Carlton Reid 9:00
What a week one a kind of like a a one week, three week stage race is what I thought it’s going to be. So yeah, that’s pretty important. So David, you’re right, tomorrow is the rest day tomorrow is the day when they will then get tested again. So what do you think about the wiping the slate clean rule change so that was very convenient in that, you know, those four teams with a one strike and you’re out or to strike and you’re out lock against their name, they now haven’t got that they’re back to having nothing and they could stay in it as long as they stay clear. But do you think that that rule change was a bit shifty

David Bernstein 9:45
I don’t know about shifty. I think two things I mean, like with anything, you know, the fact that the that American football has restarted or you know that that American baseball restarted or that soccer restarted or cycling restarted I think with all of these things, there’s there’s several things going on here. One, I think every day that goes by we learn more and more. If we were having this conversation in April, we would, we would say, one thing that would be different from what we might say today. So I think that I think that with this virus and with this situation, we’re learning new things every single day. So, a rule change may or may not be shifted or it just may be the the, the adaptation to new learnings. On the other hand, and this is why I mentioned all those other sports. People need to make a living and people need to get back to work. And so Money Talks. And so when we talk about big money enterprises, like all of the sports I mentioned, including cycling, those, those the governing bodies of those sports and those who put on events are constantly trying to figure out more and more ways to ensure the success of their events and that they they will continue. So, football sorry except for NFL.

Jim Moss 11:13
No college. Oh, well, you know,

Jim Moss 11:19
I was spinning through channels last night and saw the Georgia LSU game with nobody wearing a mask and the stadium full. We’re going to be calling that the new Sturgis rally.

David Bernstein 11:36
And for those who don’t know, Sturgis motorcycle rally in South Dakota, that became a super spreading event. Recently

Jim Moss 11:44
people in eight states with the disease now So

David Bernstein 11:47
yeah, I so so I don’t think it i don’t know i I’m normally cynical in this case. I think that they’re just making adjustments that are necessary for you know, adapt to new learnings and also trying to keep the race on the road, I’m sure I was shocked that none of the riders were positive less last week. I will be shocked if none of the riders were positive this week because especially earlier I think it was this week or maybe it was the end of last week when they were on the climbs and and the spectators were doing what they normally do, which is literally yell right in the faces of the riders as they go up these climbs. And so and there, I’ve seen enough people not in masks that I’m I’m I mean, I’m hopeful that nobody will be positive, but I will not. I will be very surprised if there are no rider positives.

Jim Moss 12:40
Of course, the classic that I saw the first week was a group of people not wearing masks together and one of them had on a USA t shirt. So I thought well, there we go. That’s representing you, idiots.

Carlton Reid 12:54
I mean, we could still get if two strikes happen to Team Tomorrow, they’re still out. Yeah. So it’s just just a few move that you know that. If they had one tomorrow, then they’re out so it could still the we could still see teams go home tomorrow, in effect.

David Bernstein 13:12
I wonder I wonder if after today Ineos is kind of hoping they would love to be sent home?

Carlton Reid 13:19
Yeah, I’ve got I’ve got a question about that late, okay. Okay, coming up for sure. So, um, Prudhomme, of course, famously, was positive. I mean, how ironic is that the actual organiser and he deeply ironic his policies, he had the prime minister in the car with him at the same time, who hasn’t, as far as I know, hasn’t come down with with a positive test so far, but pretty unusual circumstances.

David Bernstein 13:52
I think there was a certain amount of irony to prove I’m having a positive and thankfully asymptomatic you They were they said he was asymptomatic. I well, but I think that it, I think that it, it shows that the times that we’re in. And it was and there was a certain amount of, as I said, irony associated and then, as you said, Carlton, you’re right, you know, the day before he tests positive. He spends the entire day in the lead car with the Prime Minister of France. Now, every every picture that I saw every clip that I saw, they were both wearing masks. So, you know, hopefully the Prime Minister France didn’t didn’t catch whatever prodrome had, but yeah, it was. I think it was surprising that he was the one who had the positive and none of the riders. Mm hmm.

Carlton Reid 14:49
So let’s get into the actual racing itself. And you’ve already mentioned, the woeful what you’ve intimated that have the woeful tour. so far. Any ideas? Do you think? I mean, there’s two parts to this question. So do you think they kind of almost pre planned kit because they thought they knew that you move visma will be the strongest team. So they focus maybe more on prepping for the gyro. But should they have nevertheless still brought Froome and grant Thomas because they’ve been riding in the race to Reto adriatica and Thomas came third in that lap finish today, didn’t it? So they might not have been GC contenders in the tour. Those two but they could have at least helped last year’s winner on the climbs who was absolutely pasted today, but with with better support might not have been.

David Bernstein 15:50
First of all, I want to I want to now Now I have to say something that Anthony McCrossan said and I have to walk back at my previous comments. Yeah today in McCrossan-speak, Bernal was pedaling squares. He just and the look on his face he did not look but then again Quintana didn’t look that great either. It was funny before today funny. Before today I was planning on coming on and saying, Wow, isn’t it amazing that there are four or five Colombians in the top 10 and then a couple of slow I mean, it’s, it’s, it’s crazy. It’s here’s all these new cycling powerhouses in our sport. And you don’t see the Europeans top and you know, or pardon me, you don’t see that the French and the Italians and the and the Americans and the Brits. It’s it’s really it’s a new day. But then today was also a new day because clearly barnaul did not have the legs to keep up with jumbo visma but who does? And and I say this in gym. I’m curious to hear what your thoughts are on this because everybody knows that. at the gym, and I feel slightly differently when it comes to doping in cycling. But when I when I was watching, I’m not making an accusation, okay. It’s just the way my brain works and the way I’ve been conditioned, I watched the guys on the front from jumbo visma did and I thought to myself, Hmm, what are they taking?

Jim Moss 17:16
Yeah, I actually I sort of feel the same way, as long as we have professional, whatever, or high level amateur whatever we’re going to have doping. And so yeah, it’s it’s, what are they taking? But, but I also think there’s another difference in this year’s race. And I see it as coaching. And I know that sounds a little different. But you see so many teams that they set up their, their, their plan for today’s race, you know, and a few of me see the plans are like, well, we think this is going to happen, and this is going to happen with these other teams. And I think that what we’re seeing is is a little bit different in that coaches are more likely to change their plans mid race and reacting to what’s going on and who’s not going on. I mean, and when you I don’t know, it may be team strength or I think a lot of its team strength I don’t see yumbo Yes, but you know there’s no dominant team in the race but I just see things happening that seems to change mid race that make it very different race make it very chin.

Carlton Reid 18:31
Yeah. Jim on that point that that clearly is because the the team managers set on the cars are watching the TV so they can see what’s happening, listen to raise radio, as well of course, and then relaying all of that to their their team, which then says, well, radios, these earpieces are having a massive effect. I mean, it probably You’re right, this tour is probably more noticeable than in previous years, that res radios are having this massive effect. On tactics. So is that a good thing or a bad thing that we have raised radios? I know we’re kind of it’s a given we now have these things. But do you? Would you still prefer to see it? You know, old school?

Jim Moss 19:17
I am. I’m thinking, I’m Yes. Sorry. I’ll audio pause. Um, no. I mean, we make a lot more changes, maybe. But we still would have had a writer whose sole job was to talk to the car, race up and tell all the team riders. You know what the car just said, and drift, you know, and take water bottles. And so the information is probably changing more times, and it’s probably reacting faster, but we always got information to the people in the front who needed the information. We just did it fewer times and less dynamic, I think, and we burnt one guy out. Yeah.

Carlton Reid 20:02
Say, David, are you also in that frame of mind? You’re kind of not doing radios now.

David Bernstein 20:08
Know what my feeling. I mean, what would you ask what we would prefer what I would prefer is old school with no radios having, because I think that that that it’s no different than another sport. Well see okay in American football now quarterbacks have radio so that they can get the plays from the sidelines. But if you think of any other sport, the best you’re going to get is that is the coach yelling from the sidelines and maybe you can hear the coach or when you’re subbed out of the game, you come in the coach talks to you or when there’s a timeout, the coach talks to you. To me, that’s old school and we can do that in cycling as Jim said, you know, the car can pull up and, and maybe give a Domestique a message to give to the leader. And that’s really More like some of those other sports, whether it’s it’s soccer or football or hockey or what have you. So I would prefer that because you get more of the brains and the tactics of each individual in the team as compared to somebody in their ear telling them what to do so I think that it makes for a more well rounded cyclist and a more in some ways, exciting race. That said, I think most people know how I feel about technology, which is if I can solve a problem with tech, even if it costs more to do it. So the technology’s there that the horses have already left the barn. I don’t think we will ever pull back from radios so if I What would I prefer old school do I think we’ll go back to that never and that’s fine with me too.

Jim Moss 21:50
You know, yeah, I

Jim Moss 21:54
hear again, I’m thinking too hard and pausing sorry. I you know, if we don’t advance we Don’t move forward. I mean, in all honesty, if it wasn’t for technology, we’d still be using single speed bikes where you flip the wheel around to get a different speed. So yeah, we if we’re not going forward, we’re not going anywhere. I don’t care what that combination of good, bad or indifferent, it is the, you know, is the race more exciting nowadays? I think it is. I think it’s much more exciting. And I also think that there’s really shoe with T. I think that now, a few more people might understand the whole team concept and cycling. I mean, that’s the that’s the one thing that the non cycling community does and a lot of the cycling community doesn’t understand is why is it called a team sport? You know, in fact that today, one of the announcers said you know, it’s a team sport with one winner. Well, that just doesn’t make sense. Yeah, we have a winner, but you’d never see the team winner in anything except pure cycling magazines. But you’ll see the winner of some years The front page of The Wall Street Journal The New York Times or something. It’s a but it is a team sport and with race radios, I think we get more team out of it.

Carlton Reid 23:12
Are you getting team managers coming on to NBC? Or Comcast wherever you’re watching it, are you? Because I’m on ITV where I’m watching it the other day they went to a team car and they had a very long conversation in fact it was with sargans team so it didn’t actually didn’t make much difference yesterday anyway and that the tactics didn’t didn’t work radio, I know radio, but are you getting you hearing team car tactics?

Jim Moss 23:42
Yes. Now they’re also mean you know, the team cars have sort of, you know, they’re not shooting the straight, they’re, you know, fumbling around. Same thing like a coach does when he’s running into the locker room at halftime. You know, we need to try this a little bit harder. We’re gonna do this but what’s really going on? I don’t think you’re getting but yeah, we’re getting that.

Carlton Reid 24:05
Yeah, I like it when they interview the the managers afterwards and they said, you know, our plan worked perfectly. But probably every single team in there has got it pretty much the same plan. It’s just that that’s the one that’s worked because that’s the one who, who won. But yeah,

Jim Moss 24:20
the right group of writers that were able to pull it off at the right time.

David Bernstein 24:24
The question that bugs me every day you know, before the races they always say, oh, what what are your plans for today? And it’s like, yeah, like we’re going to tell you and then every day you know, we want to win so I hate that but my favourite is when they show the inside of the team car. of the racer of the of the team whose racer won the stage that day that’s my favourite because they’re just going back you know what crazy in their, in their, in their car and I just love that.

Jim Moss 24:57
With the motorcycle comes by and they’re able to shoot in in the backseat, and you see the mechanic sort of crammed through, jump out immediately and solve a problem crap, it takes five minutes to undo, you know, whatever. He’s got wheels and water bottles and sandwiches and whatever else in there along with the toolkit to be able to lead out the window or to jump out and do whatever. worst job in the world. Okay, john, you win today. You’re in the back of the team car.

Jim Moss 25:29
Please.

David Bernstein 25:32
Speaking of that, what, what are your thoughts today? Sorry, Carlton, I have a question today about Sergio Higuita’s crash. And then, you know, essentially, because of the crash being taken out of the race, Carlton, I don’t know if I mean, I’m sure you saw that. What did you think about that?

Carlton Reid 25:53
I thought nothing of that too, because I hadn’t watched it. Now. You’ve told me.

David Bernstein 25:57
Oh, I’m sorry.

Carlton Reid 25:58
No, I watched the last few minutes on the TV every night I watch on highlights. So so

David Bernstein 26:04
so it was it was fairly early in the in the race Bob Jungels goes like essentially pulled out of the front of the, of the group he was with. And he he sort of moved all the way across the road. And when he did that, his rear wheel took out his Higuita’s’ front wheel. Higuita went down, got back somehow on the bike, saw the race doctor, but then he had a problem using he basically had hurt his hand he couldn’t use his brakes. And he ended up having to to abandon the race. But Jim, did you see that because they were showing it on the highlights, you know, during the race today and I thought to myself, I wonder if this is something that young girls would be fined for?

Jim Moss 26:48
Well, I think Bob roll said it best and I really hate quoting Bob Roll that’s a little scary. young young has to go to the team bus and apologise People I’m sure you will. And you know, I think the only thing that showed was who’s who weighs more, because the heavier rider stays up and the lighter rider goes down.

Jim Moss 27:11
I mean, I never get knocked down by anybody.

Jim Moss 27:16
But I mean, you look over your right shoulder when you’re when you’re getting out of the way. Well, sure we do. Because, you know, well, you guys ride with people. But you can also look at as somebody was in the wrong plot space, maybe I don’t. I don’t think it’s a fireable offence because there was no intention. You know, it was it was purely an accident. And I think that, especially here in the US, we have really lost sight of what’s real and what’s an accident and what really deserves to be punished or fined.

David Bernstein 27:53
Oh, that’s a great lead in Carlton, take it.

Carlton Reid 27:56
Well, I’m still thinking about Jim in a bunch sprint. Sagan trying to, to kind of crash into and knock it off and it just bounces off that’s that’s in my mind. So

Carlton Reid 28:14
now what I would like to go to is they just the Slovenia. Slovenia is bossing this race to I mean, 2 million people Slovenia has 2 million people. It’s a city. It’s a big it’s a big city but it’s a city and they have two amazing right and then about anything could happen tomorrow Of course and the whole team could be thrown out. You could be out all sorts of things. However it does. Look at the moment you cannot see any way of of the current leader no longer being the leader in in Paris, please get there. But it’s just amazing that these young riders have come up from a population of only 2 million, so Slovenia is my question. My question is Slovenia question mark. But Jim, I’ll come to you first and when you see Slovenian riders winning a you, are you happy with that?

Jim Moss 29:13
I’m happy with whoever wins is just as you said earlier, what are they on? I know some Slovenia’s from the mountaineering world they’re the toughest climbers you can find you know they learn how to become a mountain near because and they did it the hard way they they had to round up the money and they had to get there and then they just don’t quit. I mean, in all honesty, if you want to get to the summit, follow Sylvania, but you got to be able to reach deeper than anybody in the world at the same time. Cycling has a lot of that into it, but it also just takes some pure skill and ability and I don’t know my, my, my younger, smarter, better looking brother found a new job. issue that he sent me about some new type of haemoglobin oxygen booster. H 7379 or hammy or globin, human, whatever, you know. And and he thinks someone’s doping. And it could be I don’t know, but I know there are tough people when it comes to mountaineering. All of a sudden out of nowhere it could pop up in cycling. They’ve been mountaineering for 70, 80, 100 years. I’ve never seen a Slovenian another cycle race.

David Bernstein 30:41
Well, I don’t think it’s fair to say that pretty much Rogic came out of nowhere. He’s, he’s, you know, this is this is a guy who’s a multi sport athlete who has really come up through whether whether it was ski jumping on or cycling and, and he’s he’s got some pomares. So I don’t think it’s fair to say that he came out of nowhere, Pope Paul gotcha. I don’t know if that’s a new name for me honestly. But when it comes to roglic he’s got the most dominant team in the sport, or at least in this race. And so it’s no surprise to me to see him doing as well as he’s doing. You know, it’s like the Colombians. I mean, if you want to talk about mountains, and you want to talk about being able to climb those mountains, the Colombians have it. And so, you know, yesterday, like I said before, yesterday, I wasn’t really surprised to see rugelach where he was, and I really wasn’t that surprised to see all the Colombians in the in the top 10 of the GCC. I think It’s great. And I think that seeing people from different countries that maybe we hadn’t thought of before as being, you know, some of the best pro cyclist I think it’s awesome.

Unknown Speaker 32:13
And I yeah, but at the same time, the American Sepp Kuss, lives in Durango and if you live in Durango and you want to go ride, you go up for down river and then you climb. And then you know, coming home zz getting out of Durango is tough. mountain biking, road biking, whatever it is. you’re climbing out of Durango. It’s in a river valley surrounded by mountains, some of the most beautiful mountains in the world. But Sepp’s mom, of many people know this is a kick-ass mountain biker who wins all the local races. So there’s more than just living in the mountains. There’s a little bit of genetics or maybe a A lot of genetics, there’s a mountain and road bike community in Durango that’s more active and as big as any other cities that may be the Denver Metro area. I mean, everybody in Durango has a mountain bike and a road bike and they ride. So there’s there’s, I mean, I’ve never seen a group. I’ve never seen a picture of Slovenians you know, writing. I, and I don’t want to I don’t want to denigrate anybody without facts, and I guess I am and more power to ’em, and I hope it works, but

Jim Moss 33:37
it’s still something we’ve got to talk about because it’s

David Bernstein 33:40
okay. But but but but Jim, Sepp is writing in support of Roglic, right?

Jim Moss 33:44
Right. I agree. Yeah. So,

David Bernstein 33:45
so so he’s using his, well, I don’t even know what the right word is DurangIonian bloodline to to be able to Help this guy win the race. So I, and he was up there today and he was taking his pose along with Dimoulin. So

Jim Moss 34:06
yeah, ever, like I said, on the flats, I mean,

David Bernstein 34:12
I just think it’s a really dominant team. And I think that it’s that it’s and and hey, so is Pogacar team so i i think it’s been I think it’s been a it’s been an interesting race and it’s been

Jim Moss 34:26
one of the best races we’ve had in a little while.

David Bernstein 34:28
Yeah, yeah. It’s almost reminds me of a Giro.

Unknown Speaker 34:31
Yeah, look what Sunweb have pulled off. Yeah, no kidding. You know, I mean, their attacking programme the other day was just unreal. They just some rider, after rider,

David Bernstein 34:43
a rider off

Jim Moss 34:44
the front and tore the, you know, the leaders up it was great and

Carlton Reid 34:49
technically very good. Now Slovenia, from Slovenia to Slovakia. Mm hmm. So I know that that absolutely. We can get this mixed up. But we Definitely no. We have a good rider from Slovakia and he’s been around for a good few years now. What do we think as the saint or sinner on that sprint the other day where he got demoted to last place? And is he going to get the green? Is he going to win a couple of stages this in effect sprint into into the lead it’s going to seems quite hard to do now but what do you think?

David Bernstein 35:28
I’m happy to go first. Go for it. And I was glad to see that you put that in our show notes centre centre from my perspective centre. And I will I’ll tell you why. I don’t buy the excuse about whether it was a selfie stick or or a spectator leaning in. What I saw was somebody doing the wrong thing. And if you say if if the The excuse is Oh, there was a spectator there. Here’s a guy who has been a professional for many, many years. A guy who has a lot of experience and knows what he can expect to happen when he gets close to the boards. And he needs to take the consequences for that and not interfere with another writer. And that was and and assuming that that’s the the truth that there was a spectator that was in his way. That’s not what I what I saw what I saw was somebody cheating.

David Bernstein 36:35
I

David Bernstein 36:37
have had a bad feeling about Peter Sagan for many, many years. Yeah, I everybody loves him and thinks he’s great. I remember when he groped to the podium girl. And I and I, I my my opinion about him hasn’t changed since. I think he’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing. That’s my personal opinion. It does. doesn’t reflect the management of this station. I don’t like the guy. And so I hope he doesn’t win green.

Jim Moss 37:06
Have you talked to him? Have you met him? No. I mean, he Yeah. And your wolf in sheep’s clothing idea might be 100% Right on, but I’ve talked to him several times when he’s over here racing. And he’s a very nice, easy going, guys just in the last couple years. He’s even said, Yeah, I can ride. I mean, for then he, he was shy, you had to ask him to be able to take his photograph and he would try and smile. And I think that’s a little bit more than just an

David Bernstein 37:38
act. Well, I admit that I could be completely wrong and if so, Peter, I apologise.

Carlton Reid 37:44
Do you think if he just apologised, you know he did had but he did show the charge? Yeah. That the normal thing to do in that case, would it be inside look, I did this I was wrong. I’m sorry. And like, nobody would have faulted him for that. But you Yeah, just didn’t apologise. Yeah, it was kind of odd. Yeah, that that feeds into your wolf in sheep’s clothing. If that’s what you want to think of him, then that’s gonna feed into that.

David Bernstein 38:10
Well, I noticed I had, I was writing one someplace where he was training and his. And he went by, and he there was not the usual cycling etiquette and I’m just going to leave it at that. Well, and so that that fed into that, that just bolstered my opinion of him. And so I don’t know, again, I could be completely wrong. That’s just my opinion. And my that’s my impression.

Jim Moss 38:41
We have to as also remember that a lot of how he’s responding was based on him getting thrown out of the tour a couple years ago for something he did

David Bernstein 38:49
not do. Yeah, he deserved that too.

Jim Moss 38:52
Holy mackerel,

David Bernstein 38:54
No, really. I think we talked about it then. And I and and yeah, he deserved that too.

Unknown Speaker 39:01
But he everyone admitted and that and even the commissar is the method that he didn’t do anything wrong that that crap who’s the guy that’s had his own autobiography three times and he’s always, you know, actually was not pushed by and did not get hit, tried something stupid and crashed who Cavendish yeah Cavendish Hmm. You know, to Peter Sagan got thrown out of the tour for something that he didn’t do wrong and Cavendish admitted that wasn’t Sagan’s fault. And yet they throw him out of the tour anyway. So I think if I’ve been thrown out of the tour one time, and I would be quiet Also, I’m not so sure I would try and defend myself because he defended himself pretty ferociously back then and bail.

David Bernstein 39:51
Let me ask you this. Do you think that he’s that that has he shown in this tour that he He has the legs to, to to keep to get and keep that green jersey because from what I’ve seen in the Sprint’s he’s not been there as much as he used to be. You can see guy like Caleb Ewan, or a guy like Van Aout I think that an N and crap helped me out Carlton, the Irishman in the green jersey,

Carlton Reid 40:31
Bennett. Sam Bennett.

David Bernstein 40:32
Yes. Thank you. I think I think that they they’re younger riders who are up and coming and I think that Peter is not up to them, at least in this race. I don’t think he’s shown that he’s up to the same level of fitness.

Carlton Reid 40:48
He normally doesn’t have to be because he’s not going for stages as such. He’s going for seconds and thirds.

David Bernstein 40:52
no No, no, no, of course.

Jim Moss 40:54
but he also has had the lead out men. I mean, how many times is up there again? Now, granted, that’s true. In the past, he has been, he is one stages of that lead out, man. I mean, he figures out who to follow. And yeah, as has done that, but I can’t think of a single stage I could be wrong where he’s actually had a lead out me. And sure, being said, by stage five, he had finally written more stages without the green jersey than he’d ever written with the green jersey. I think they announced that he’d only written five stages in the Tour de France wearing without wearing the green jersey. So pretty neat. Hey, Richie Porte made the podium. He’s up on third now.

Carlton Reid 41:46
Richie Porte is 35! Does that not that holds out hope for Froome that holds out hope for us even more 35 is good going for inefficiency. Come back. It’s Yeah, but it’s good to see what to put back. But it’s 35 beats. For nowadays that’s old. You know, if you look at the civilians, you know who are still in nappies. A 35 year old is, is getting on a bit.

David Bernstein 42:15
Well, there’s talk about Valverbe alright?. Who’s 40? I mean, he’s ancient, but he’s keeping up with the young guys.

Jim Moss 42:27
That’s the sixth.

David Bernstein 42:29
Huh? Wow.

Carlton Reid 42:32
So how are we liking the start of the late start? For Le Tour and because it’s now cyclocross season officially, the first cyclocross race was was today in Germany. So, are we liking the fact that it’s so late in the year?

Jim Moss 42:48
No, my schedule does. I have not seen as many races I’ve recorded all the races for the first time ever because I haven’t been able to catch them off my schedule. At this time of year does not allow Be to, you know, take the mornings off. And to you could see at the end of today’s race that the sun had been saying that a lot of places on the race that it was a lot darker than normal. And the commentators made some comments about it, that it you know, it was obvious that it was getting darker earlier because of the time of the year. Now it’s a little bit prettier in some cases, because you can see some trees have already started to change, you know, the fall colours. But I don’t know I sort of semi expects one of these finishes to be in snow. Hmm.

David Bernstein 43:43
I there’s a couple things one, it’s weird. I mean, everything’s weird right now, right? I mean, we’ve got cyclocross. We’ve got the Tour de France. We’ve got Toronto adriatico. We’ve got NFL football, baseball, hockey, basketball, it’s all going on at one so everything is too bizarre. I think for the riders, it’s probably better this time of year. It gets really hot in the Alps in July. And a lot of France in July So, so so moving it to September, probably is better for the riders. Now, with some of them. I think that it’s been hard for them to figure out how to get their fitness just right. You know, there’s some writers who train all year just for the tour. And now that it’s two months later, and there was no racing, you know, for a lot of time leading up to it. I think that it’s probably messed up songwriter. So I think that there’s pluses and minuses,

Jim Moss 44:40
but at the same time, there are a lot of riders that came into the tour and a lot better shape, though. And yeah, you know, now they might not have been as good as shape because they weren’t racing, but at least they weren’t injured. Yeah, you know, we didn’t we didn’t see any no shows based on injury, other than fro basically

David Bernstein 44:59
Carlton may be onto something you know, he may be it may have been, oh, we’re going to use this as an excuse, you know the injury with with from, but maybe they were feeling like well they didn’t quite have what they needed to to to deliver another victory for any of us granted yours and so maybe we’ll move Froome and Thomas over here where maybe we can do a little bit better.

Jim Moss 45:24
At the same time. It was also a little I can’t believe was leave our team we gave you wins there five yellow jerseys hanging on your wall. And now you’re leaving. Yeah, well, you’re not going to get another one with our jersey. I don’t

Carlton Reid 45:42
I don’t think Brailsford thinks like that. Brailsford is just he’s hardwired to win stuff, he will do what he couldn’t care personally. And that’s why he drops Brits and also he doesn’t care. He just wants a winner. So I don’t personally I didn’t think he would be that first about him leaving cuz that is also powerful. and parcel of professional sports, you know, cycle sport.

David Bernstein 46:04
And you got to give it to Sylvan Adams. You know, he is building what is going to be one of the highest profile teams next year. And he’s

Carlton Reid 46:14
got the money to do it. Let’s face Yeah, for sure. He could have the best team if you want it if he wants tomorrow, he got the best team.

Jim Moss 46:21
So So yeah. So here we are. Professional Football, professional basketball, professional baseball, it’s all based on money. And now most people are understanding had professional Cycling is based on money, perhaps even amateur Cycling is based on money. If you get to the right team, you don’t have to worry about your bike being ready, you know, versus you get up an extra hour earlier to check your bike before you get on a race. And it’s all based on who can sell sponsorships all the way up and down the line. Is that the way to race is that showing us who the best cyclists is the best team. We got more money therefore we can buy the right team.

Carlton Reid 47:06
You still got to have the permutations though, isn’t it me cycling isn’t just a money thing. You know, otherwise any of us would would be the best team this year. Probably the best funded team. So it is the mix. And that’s the fascinating thing about Cycling is just the mix of riders and certainly when you’ve got a huge crew that you could pick from, and then getting it right for each individual race and you have got to have, you know, your second tier riders are still doing some major races as we can see with the racer also went on to do today to run it. So that makes it not just money. It’s also savvy.

Jim Moss 47:46
savvy.

David Bernstein 47:48
And, and, and and yeah, Jim, I think it is still you know who’s the best cyclist I think that so many of the younger guys coming up, I’m talking about men cycling now, so many of the younger guys coming up in the sport are getting paid nothing. Literally nothing. Not enough to make a living and and they’re working their butts off to get to the pinnacle of the sport. And that’s how you tell you end up with some of the the people that we’ve seen. Look at the last couple of days with some of these guys who have been winning stages. It’s been really cool to see all these different guys winning and making some really great moves. And it’s because they’ve been coming up in the sport and they’ve been earning their their pomares and they’ve been been been doing the work and now they’re getting rewarded for it. I mean, that’s the way that it is in anything. So of course everything’s about money, don’t I mean?

Jim Moss 48:51
I think we should go look at all the winners in the last 20 years, and how much money their teams had the last 20 years. I bet you more than 70% of the winners were with the most well financed team. Well, of course.

Carlton Reid 49:09
David, talk about money. You can spend money

David Bernstein 49:14
or save money.

Carlton Reid 49:16
Yes. How can cyclists do you think? How could they spend money? And yes and save it at the same time? Do you have any ideas how how listeners to this podcast could go and spend their cash?

David Bernstein 49:29
It’s an excellent question. Imagine if you could spend money and save money and know that what you’re spending your money on was the right thing. That would be that would be cool, wouldn’t it chip?

Jim Moss 49:40
Oh, hey, I went to the website the other day looking for stuff. You did. I did it. The problem is that I’ve been I’ve been not paying attention to the podcast. I could type in the right website address. I was

David Bernstein 49:53
gonna say that to you in that email, you see because Jim wanted to go to JensonUSA, which is the right thing to do. And I told him Jim, you got to go to Jensonusa.com/thespokesmen. And if you go to Jensenusa.com/the spokesmen, first of all, you’re going to be supporting us and we appreciate that. But more importantly, you’re going to be, as Carlton said, saving money and finding a great selection of products. And if there’s something you’re not quite sure whether it’s going to work for you, they have a really, really experienced team of what they call gear advisors, and they’re going to tell you, because they know because they’re cyclists themselves just like you and they, they want to make sure that you get the right thing at the right price and give them a call but be really, really helpful. So Jenson USA is the place where you can get and I’ve said this a long time, pretty much everything that you need for your cycling lifestyle. So you need a new bike, complete bike and it can be a gravel bike, road bike, a mountain bike a kid’s you can find them all at Jenson USA. Plus, you can get components and apparel and as I said virtually everything the You need for your cycling lifestyle. And the selection is is really great from name brands that you know people like Specialized and yes Colnago and just a whole wide variety of all of the best brand names that you already know. So go check them out. It’s a Jensonusa.com/thespokesmen. And we hope that you’ll use that URL because when you do, what it tells them is that you heard about Jenson USA on our show. And what’s really cool when you go to Jensonusa.com/thespokesmen they pick out products on that page that they think that spokesmen listeners might be interested in. So check that out first, and then whatever else it is that you’re looking for, whether it’s a pair of shoes, or jersey or bib shorts, or perhaps I don’t know maybe you just need a new stem or a new headset or tires or whatever it is. They’re going to have it at Jenson USA, so go check them out. Jensonusa.com/Thespokesmen, we really sincerely thank them for their very long term loyal support of this show, the spokesmen, recycling roundtable podcast. And of course, we thank you for your support of Jenson USA. So there you go, Carlton, there’s the answer to your question. You can save money. And you can get the right thing. Oh, and by the way, one last thing, free shipping on all orders over $60. Okay, back to you, Carlton.

Carlton Reid 52:24
Thank you, David. See, I knew you don’t know the answer to that question. Now, you mentioned shoes there, huh? I did. Fantastic segue. Thank you very much for a holdover from the last show. So we should have asked this the last show we didn’t get around to talking about it, even though we had it in the show notes. And I know Jim wanted to talk about it. So I’m guessing he’s a fan of this particular system because it is a system it’s it’s how you fasten your shoes. So I’m going to come to Jim first and cuz he can I mentioned this I mean, you must want to talk about this Jim. So you’re you’re a Velcro. You can even laces Of course or Boa, Boa. Boa. Why why Jim, why are you Boa?

Jim Moss 53:13
Because it’s the ultimate laziness.

David Bernstein 53:20
Jim, I guess

Carlton Reid 53:21
that’s what the guy’s telling things. I

David Bernstein 53:23
guess, Jim any old age home, but he’s like, Oh, I need my shoes to have Bella.

Unknown Speaker 53:28
Right? Hey, I know a few more things. Boa is actually based here in Denver at Outdoor Retailer trade shows you could bring any pair of shoes in and they would have a system on the shoes. And I was thinking, you know, I’d hadn’t done a couple of set of my tennis shoes or whatever else and there was one fun, whatever. But I kept thinking, you know, I should get a set of wingtips with Boas.

Carlton Reid 53:57
They charge you this or the show or it’s just like shows fashion II

Unknown Speaker 54:01
but they quit donate kid yeah they quit going it was it was wonderful but let me tell you why I love Boa. The newest models I got the I have a new set of Lake cycling shoes which I think are wonderful because I have a wide foot I can walk on water and not know where the rocks are. And and you just spin them and they you can tighten them down. You can loosen them mid ride easily tighten them back up again whatever you need to do. And with velcro after about the 15th time you’re aware that it’s you Yang in the It’s same spot. So I’ve done a lot of my mountain bike shoes all at the top and I can’t get them any tighter I can get them looser, but I can’t get them any tighter. You know as the leather stretches or whatever because they stuck in this one Velcro spot. with Boa. You can just so fine tune so easily. Even while you’re on the ride and have the newest models, you reach down and you pull a little bit pop in there loosen those shoes are off. It’s just a wonderful system designed by a guy who used to take these kids out and who would take a half hour to get everyone’s shoes tied.

Carlton Reid 55:18
Oh Hmm. And David, what are you are you a proponent of one or other systems or you your last a fair you you you know, care?

David Bernstein 55:28
Oh, no, no, you know, but I always have an opinion. Um, so I’m not a Boa person. I I am funny. I’m looking at the website of the cycling shoe company that I prefer. And when my shoes wear out, I’m gonna be screwed because I can only get Polo. Now I have been wearing for years and years and years and years northwave shoes for road that I have. I cannot find a pair of cycling shoes. That that fits me just right Feels good other than Northwave. I’ve tried them all. We tried to and I, you know, sorry. Try leg. I will do that. Yeah, no, I definitely try it. So no, I’ve been using Northway forever. They’ve got a buckle, sort of a ratcheting buckle at the top. And then two Velcro straps. I would still be wearing the ones I bought, probably 15 or 18 years ago had a puppy not eating them. And that’s how my family knew that that that dog, that dog could get away with anything because I didn’t get upset. And then I bought another pair of northwave shoes. And I think I’ve had those now for about 12 or 13 years, and I just keep wearing them. They haven’t worn out. I still like them. I look at So Jim, I gotta ask you, and now everybody’s gonna know that I’m just the ultimate Fred. I look at the Boa system and I say that doesn’t look comfortable. It looks like it’s kind of break Tell me why I’m wrong.

Jim Moss 57:02
Well first of all, I’ve never wasted I did have one break after like four years but not on a cycling shoes. It was just on a pair of tennis shoes. So it was and it wasn’t the actual the cables sort of some I can’t believe Niall, it’s got to be steel. It’s so tough, but it it. it compresses over a very wide area. So on my site like cycling shoes, I’ve two up to Boa, one that covers about two inches and one that covers about an inch and a half. So it spreads that tension evenly over that area. I still have a set of Victorias that have the ratchet and the ratchet is wonderful because you can get right to the tightness. But you can’t reach down and loosen it up while you’re riding easily.

Jim Moss 57:52
And as or as easily as I think apologies.

Jim Moss 57:56
And so I think that that it’s great because it was the best For you, it pulls that one three quarter of an inch section and that’s it. Yeah, well it’s very wide. It’s two inches that you know so you and you can you know some days I’ll get a ride out just tighten up the top one and keep the bottom one loose. Although here again now I found some good shoes like you did a Northwave used to have white shoes too. I remember.

David Bernstein 58:22
Yeah. And I think that that’s that’s why I wear them Carlton, what do you prefer?

Carlton Reid 58:27
I as you can imagine, because I get lots and lots of freebies, with my kind of position. And I’ve got all sorts in my cupboard so I can and do use every system and I would say Boa is my favourite on Sony on road shoes. And I do agree with date with Jim on for a mountain bike shoes also because when you’re going into lots and lots of mud, in UK, if you if you’re not going through mud, then you’re You’re just not gonna go out on your mountain bike, then the Velcro does stop working. Where is the Boa? Doesn’t? Three so Boa for me? Yes for their laziness, yes for the width of it tightening down Yes, for the on the fly, on off tightening etc. And yes, for the for the longevity, it is of course more expensive. So if you look at the shoes in most companies ranges, then their bows are going to be more expensive then if you’ve got just one bow, and then some Velcro that’s like a mid level. So clearly the Boa is pitched at premium and is premium. So you’ve got to bear that in mind in that, you know, some price levels, you’re not gonna have a choice anyway, you’ve got to spend good money if you’re gonna be getting Boa, you don’t get cheap Boa in effect. So it is a premium product. So of course it’s going to be better in many respects because it is pitched Priced at that level.

Jim Moss 1:00:02
Remember though, when Velcro was a premium product?

David Bernstein 1:00:07
Well, I’ll give it a try when these were out because apparently I’m not gonna have much of a choice as I’m googling around as we’re all talking, but I’ll give it a try. I’ll see if I like it. But see, that’s, that’s how I I’m guessing that people ride by me and they look down at my shoes and they’re like, yep, he’s afraid.

Carlton Reid 1:00:28
What lights what lights do Freds tend to use then? Because David you’ve had an issue just recently, I believe.

David Bernstein 1:00:36
Jim, what do you use? Do you put your you have you have Fly6. Cycliq on your bike?

Jim Moss 1:00:41
I have a Fly6 in the back. I I opted not to spend the money for the 12 in the front. Well, way overpriced.

David Bernstein 1:00:51
How’s it working for you?

Jim Moss 1:00:53
Well, I’ve never had to use it.

Jim Moss 1:00:57
I mean, no, you know, thankfully.

Jim Moss 1:00:59
Yeah, I did. I did put a little sticker on it says video and clothes because you know I didn’t think that most law enforcement personnel would understand what that was. But it’s a great rear light I’ve yet to have it run out during any my rides. And I like it I also have two of them you know, because I think it’s a great idea but for the front it’s a lot easier just to mount a GoPro and a good light. And so if i if i riding the roads and I think that’s gonna be an issue that day, I just put a GoPro GoPro on the front of the bike.

David Bernstein 1:01:36
Hmm. What would like to have in the front

Jim Moss 1:01:40
depends on the ride. I have it I have all sorts of weather. My favourite light is a helmet light if I’m actually going out in the dark or mountain biking that I got from surface. I mean it blinds people, but it it lights up half mile. Um, I’ve got a couple cat eyes I can’t even tell you which one I like right now about rechargeable Cateye that just does a great job. So starting here another couple of weeks I’ll put it on and keep a charge just in case something goes wrong and I have to ride home in the dark. And why I like it though is is because it’s strong enough to get me home. But it’s easy enough if I have to take it off and use it to fix the tire because it’s so dark. You know I can I can hold it my mouth and shoot it the right angle to find the hole or fix the flat or whatever the problem is.

David Bernstein 1:02:34
Yeah, I am I’ve been using because we’ve we’ve, I think when we were doing tips. I think several of us have probably picked the Fly6 or the Fly12 as our as our picks and I’ve been using a Fly6 for a while and my wife’s got one on her bike and my daughter recently I think I said mentioned that she just bought a road bike and so she’s been riding so I was looking at getting a Fly6 for her, there was about that time that the battery on mine started to not hold up for more than about 45 minutes. And Donna was starting to have problems with hers where it would think that she crashed when she was just riding along, straight and level. And so I went to the to the cyclic website, and I saw that they had a new generation, a third generation, I thought, Oh, that’s great. They probably fixed all these problems that I’ve been having with so it said that they were going to ship in August. And so I placed my order to be in August and August came in when they didn’t ship. And I started emailing them and asking them about it. And I was getting no response. I mean, like for a week or 10 days, and I googled online and people are having this issue and I’m a little bit worried, and I don’t know what other people’s experience has been. So I basically wrote to them and I said, Oh, and then they changed it. They’re gonna ship in October, by which time I would get it in November because they said like middle of October I’d get in November cycling season’s over, it’s not even worth it. So I said just cancel my order. And I understand that they probably had a delay because they’re made in China and we all know you know, it’s been a crazy year when it comes to manufacturing. But I went out and I bought some Bontrager lights, and normally I don’t buy house brand stuff. For people who don’t know Bontrager, it’s Trek’s house brand, but I bought the Bontrager Ion flare. They’re these tiny little lights. And you know, I have one on the front, one on the back. And one of the first of all, they’re, they’re really bright. But one of the things I really love about them is first of all their prices significantly lower than the Cycliq Fly6. One of the things I love is it connects over ANT+ to my Garmin computer so that when I started riding, I press that start button on my my computer, the lights turn on, and when I press stop on my computer, the lights turn off. That’s the coolest thing in the world. Never I mean how many times have you been driving down the road with your car your bike on top of your car? And it’s blinking because you forgot to turn it off?

Carlton Reid 1:05:07
See, I see the ads for these things. I mean, who needs these features? It’s like Fred, David. Okay. Yeah. David has that feature okay.

Jim Moss 1:05:18
I don’t take your shoes

Carlton Reid 1:05:19
Connected to what?

Jim Moss 1:05:23
not that your friend but having your bike on top of your car with the light blinking. I think that’s a guarantee your

David Bernstein 1:05:30
I have done it.

Jim Moss 1:05:36
Interesting.

David Bernstein 1:05:37
Anyway, so I’m curious to see what happens with Cycliq like I I don’t understand, you know, and people on Um, I don’t know if I should be worried about the company or what’s I mean, the fact that it takes 10 days to get an answer to an email. seems strange to me. And a lot of people go out

Carlton Reid 1:05:55
but you went you went buying this and using this light for its light capabilities you’re using it for its video.

David Bernstein 1:06:01
Right. Okay, so that’s a great point and and, and, and I’m, this will be the first time this is the first time that I haven’t a video in the back of my bike in many many years I would love it if for instance Garmin makes a product called the Varia. Very expensive. Yeah very expensive. It’s it’s a but it’s but not as expensive as the sicherlich not as expensive as a fly six. Because in the back of your bike, it’s a it’s a taillight, blink a Blinky light like we all have, but it’s got radar. And so it tells you again on your your Garmin computer, whether or not there’s cars coming up behind you. I would love it. If Garmin and or sicherlich. Like added both of all three of those features in one if I can have a radar, a light and a camera recording on my taillight Here’s my credit card.

Jim Moss 1:07:00
Huh? What’s your what’s that number?

Jim Moss 1:07:06
I remember we found a guy at

Jim Moss 1:07:10
Uh huh. He had created a camera. And you get and I got one of those to looking at the screen and then running into things. Yeah. Which was quite interesting. Um, I’m not sure. I have either new Garmin 1030 I really do like it. And for the first time in in several years, Garmin has screwed up their own software. Although they did big time the other day, no matter wondering who how much money they paid ransomware to get their consistent back $10 million, isn’t it? Yeah. And seriously, Garmin is well known for doing a software upgrade that just crashes your your computer. But this one has a little thing on it that if you crash it sends out Notice to the people that are in there. Um, what I found lately is when I stopped at the end of my ride, it’s sending out a notice that Jim Moss has crashed. Oops.

Carlton Reid 1:08:11
Yeah, it was my Apple Watch does that really? My Apple Watch doesn’t like my bike so

Jim Moss 1:08:19
notice in my garage yesterday, but I did crash I was building a new bike and, and realise that I build everything except breaks in hit my garage.

Carlton Reid 1:08:31
It’s a little sad you the feature has worked on the lights of you if you tested it, it kind of like he crashed and it it texts. Oh,

Jim Moss 1:08:39
no. Yeah, I’ve gotten a phone call from my brother. You know, are you okay? Oh, yeah. Why? Well, I got to notice your Yeah. And I get home and I look at my emails and the three people you know, jail goes, yeah. You said you crashed. I saw you were still rushing. She tracks me on Google Maps. So she says I saw you I’m still moving. So I figured it out. was

David Bernstein 1:09:02
just what your note, Carlton, that we’ve now stealthily put tips into the podcast?

Carlton Reid 1:09:07
Yes, I’ve noticed that my tip was going to be then I would say Yeah. Okay, that feature on your Apple watch because it does work on Yeah, watch. And I mean, I’ve had this one for a good while, I’d forgotten that I’d turn this feature on and I crashed my bike. And lo and behold, it said no, if you don’t turn this off, we’re gonna bring the you know, the emergency services and so I turned it off. But it’s like, yeah, I mean, I have never had any false calls on this. This is just the one time I’ve crashed is the one time I’ve had this this go off so I don’t know what it’s like on I’ve got a set of lights that it does not difficult to use Iuc sense. And it does do that. I’ve never tried it on them. But on the watch it does that work. So my tip would absolutely if you’ve got this tack turn these features on Because Yeah, you will not get false positives. They are incredibly good. Guys we have we have not been going I do think we have to wind up here now we’ve been going for an hour and 1010 minutes. So we’re going to have to do that part of the show where we gladly we do not have tips even though we do have tip. But that’s part of the show where we talk about how people can can find us So Jim first how do we get in touch with Jim?

Jim Moss 1:10:28
recreationlaw on Twitter, recreation-law.com on the web, or recreation.law@gmail.com or if you just Google recreation law, you should find me

Carlton Reid 1:10:43
and if people are interested, finding mooses or what’s the plural for Mrs. Mrs. Mrs. Whatever in gardens, David, where can where can people follow you?

David Bernstein 1:10:54
That was a cool picture though, wasn’t it?

Carlton Reid 1:10:57
I love all your pictures. You have wildlife in your garden.

David Bernstein 1:11:01
Thank you. So yes, um, what was the question?

Carlton Reid 1:11:06
The question is that is the plural of mooses.

David Bernstein 1:11:09
is always at me. Yeah, here we say me, so I’m sure it’s mooses. But you know me sounds better. Um, yeah, best place to find sort of what I’m up to is on Instagram where my handle is Fred cast. If you want to rant and or rave about my controversial thoughts today about Peter Sagan or perhaps the Cycliq fly6, where there was something else I mentioned. Oh, yes. Anthony McCrossan. Feel free to send me an email at the Fred cast@gmail.com and Carlton, thank you for re energising and and getting getting Jim and I back on the show so that we can actually do roundtables again. I it’s fun. I enjoy this and I know that I can tell from from Jim’s voice he does too and I know that You do so thank you for that, Carlton. It’s appreciated.

Carlton Reid 1:12:03
Yeah. Well, thank you. Well, I’m just so glad that we’ve got Jim’s microphone. It’s taken a while, whenever.

David Bernstein 1:12:15
And where can we find you Carlton?

Carlton Reid 1:12:18
Well, I might be doing a Boa story on forbes.com shortly. And I have I’ve got lots and lots of things to go through in a Boa profile is one of the things I’ve got to go through. And I get on forbes.com sometime soon. So you can actually follow me on Forbes on all three. So I’m on all authory.com where you get my Guardian articles, my Forbes articles, all sorts on Twitter, so Carlton Reid, on Twitter. So this has been Episode 257 of the spokesmen Roundtable, as David said, roundtable podcast and thanks for listening for people out there. Listen to today’s show. And thanks also for subscribing and telling your cycling friends and family. I know you do this, about the cycling podcast here from the Spokesmen and the show notes and more can be found on the-spokesmen.com. And this is actually been the third show this this month. I do think it’s the final show this month, however, but we will have people hopefully roundtable back. You know, because of the Tour de France it being in normally in July, I was going to almost say August that as the following month. It’s just throwing everything out of kilter, hasn’t it? But no, it’s next month is actually October. How freaky is that? So but before then, and now, make sure to get out there and ride …

September 4, 2020 / / Blog

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The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast


EPISODE 256: In Conversation with Two Ians


Saturday 5th September 2020


SPONSOR: Jenson USA


HOST: Carlton Reid


GUEST: Environmental psychologist and ultra-endurance cyclist Ian Walker.

LINKS:

Ian Walker’s webpage, drianwalker.com

Strava article on the Transcontinental, which inspired Ian to enter the event.

Holly Seear cycling coach

Ian Walker’s article on parking

TRANSCRIPT

Carlton Reid 0:13
Welcome to Episode 256 of the Spokesmen cycling podcast. This show was engineered on Saturday 5th September 2020.

David Bernstein 0:24
The Spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast is brought to you by JensonUSA, where you’ll always find a great selection of products at amazing prices with unparalleled customer service. For more information, just go to Jensonusa.com/thespokesmen. Hey everybody, it’s David from the Fredcast cycling podcast at www.Fredcast.com. I’m one of the hosts and producers of the Spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast. For shownotes links and all sorts of other information please visit our website at www.the-spokesmen.com. And now here are the spokesmen.

Ian Walker 1:09
Today’s show is a conversation with two blokes called Ian. I’m Carlton Reid and I’ve been talking with record-breaking ultra-endurance cyclist Ian Walker. I’ve also been talking with environmental psychologist Dr. Ian Walker. As you’ll hear they sound awfully similar — the first part of the show delves into close overtakes of cyclists and why motorists park on the infrastructure meant for pedestrians. The second part is a dissection of Ian Walker’s brilliant new book, Endless Perfect Circles. There’s a little bit of psychology in this but it’s mostly and gloriously an account of his surprise discovery that he’s actually quite good at sport, specifically riding very long distances, fast, over multiple days and without support. Ian was a high placed finisher in the Transcontinental Race, won the North Cape 4000 and then, last year, set a new Guiness world record for riding across Europe, north to south. For relaxtion he rides 650 miles around the whole of Wales — in a long weekend. I read Ian’s book and loved it — not only is he a great rider, he’s a great writer, too. The book includes a neat Jedi mind trick that anybody who turns up at hotels with a bike will use for ever more, and we discuss why it works, so here’s my chat with the first of the two Ians. So I have absolutely really really really – as have many people – enjoyed your book.

Ian Walker 2:58
Oh thank you.

Ian Walker 3:00
I absolutely do what I do want to discuss it I do want to I want to I’m actually going to quote loads of things back. Okay? Because it was very funny. I’m going to quote lines back to you and you can even read it out in your own voice so we can hear the lines from you which were quite good but I because of who you are, yes okay so everybody now knows you of course not as your your super intellectual self but your physical self your your long distance endurance amazing feats Ian – we will get on to that, of course, but I want to start with your the intellectual in the brain Ian and how would you tell us what you do for a living when you’re not in that cottage? When you’re at university? What do you actually do?

Ian Walker 3:43
I do research on a whole variety of environmental psychology issues. So there’s, there’s a strand of this that’s probably not very interesting to your listeners, which is, I do work on energy consumption and water consumption and that kind of thing and how we can help people use it [YAWN from Carlton] as predicted. But probably more interesting to you and your listeners is I also do work on travel and transport. I try to encourage healthy, active travel modes. And I do work on traffic safety, especially for vulnerable road user groups like cyclists,

Ian Walker 4:25
So to lots of people and I know you’ve had about 10,000 citations on this. You can tell us how many citations and in fact, I’m sure you know this, but you came to probably my attention to everybody’s attention a long time ago, and you can tell us when that was, but you were wearing a dark wig. You weren’t wearing a blonde wig. So that’s the mistake a lot of people make it was a dark wig. But what were you wearing a dark wig for, Ian?

Ian Walker 4:50
Well, that was part of a series of experiments, trying to get an idea of whether anything you did on a bicycle made a difference. To the people overtaking you in the street. So the thing I was particularly setting out to look at was the riding position. So did it matter how far to the left or to the right, I was riding in terms of how much space I would be left by passing drivers. But as I was doing that, various people suggested other things that I could look at. And so I incorporated all of those into the study. So for example, I incorporated notoriously whether wearing a helmet made any difference to how much space people left and also the really last minute, I think about three people just said, Do you know it’d be really interesting to see if men and women are treated differently, and So sure enough, I went to a local novelty shop and bought this long dark wig and rode around either with or without the wig. Basically, I’d ride to the end of the street. Reach into my pannier, whip this wig out, stick it on, go up and down the street again, hide the wig and I Did this over and over for several days. And sure enough, I’ve got quite a bit more space on average from passing drivers when I had the wig on.

Carlton Reid 6:08
And you put that down to …?

Ian Walker 6:10
Probably something about people’s stereotypes about riders. So, you know, it’s hard to pin down at an absolute hundred percent definitive answer, but it’s probably something to do with people holding, you know, very unfair stereotypes that women riding need more consideration than men

Ian Walker 6:32
And wobbly riders, that kind of thing? So if somebody sees somebody wobbling up ahead, they’ll give them more space?

Ian Walker 6:38
Do you know we’ve never tested wobbly writers specifically, although an interesting development is we’ve got a paper hopefully coming out literally any day now. Which was done with a series of Belgian researchers who got in touch with me. And what we did there was we tested something that a lot of people have anecdotally taught About, we tested child seats, and thankfully, the results went the right way that riding with the child seat led to more consideration from passing drivers, which is the way round I think we all hoped it would be.

Ian Walker 7:15
Yes, so even if you’ve got a rucksack in your your child seat, you haven’t got the child at that moment. So this is this is a safety tactic you could use even without a child and this is just something just put a child seat on your motorcycle pass your wider

Ian Walker 7:31
it certainly appears that way. I mean, maybe sticking a dummy in there might be the best approach of all to really make sure people pay attention.

Ian Walker 7:39
So I’m now imagining “Airplane” with like the inflatable child in the in the back seat all the way back me. So people have replicated your study.

Ian Walker 7:50
Yeah, a lot of people have done similar studies. So one of the things so I’ve done two sort of big studies of overtaking distance and joining The second one of the things that I was able to do was develop a really quite simple, low cost, easy to produce device that you can stick on a bike and measure how much space drivers leave. And that’s all open source that’s just on the web. If you want to make one you can make one, it would cost less than 100 euros. And so that’s been kind of exciting. And what’s been really nice is to see people run with that. So I’ve seen several groups over the last two or three years who’ve taken that and gone further with it. They’ve added extra sensors or ways of gathering additional data points. And so the whole thing has become really quite democratised. It’s very easy for anybody to go out and collect data on how much space they get left.

Ian Walker 8:47
And as that research gone away from the small field of cycling, and then got into transport research in general. So this could actually you know, make real world differences because You know, designed things have been put in place because it’s it got into outside of cycling.

Ian Walker 9:05
Well, it’s interesting you say that. So one of the things that I’ve really come to conclude from quite a lot of years of looking at this issue of how drivers interact with cyclists on the road, is there is nothing that a cyclist can do to guarantee that they will be safe. And that’s a couple of reasons. In particular, it seems there’s always going to be a really difficult minority of drivers who just will not behave safely. So I’ve really come to realise that if there’s only one way to guarantee safety, which is segregation, get the cars off somewhere safe, where they can’t hurt anybody, and let cyclists travel safely without having to mix. Now obviously, there are all sorts of issues with that, like, there will still be places where mixing is necessary. We’re not going to get ad networks have cycleways that go to every single address in the country. So we still need to solve some of these problems of mixing. But ultimately, given that you can never trust motorists to entirely do the right thing all the time, some level of segregation and good quality infrastructure really seems to be necessary. And so that’s why it’s been so exciting. And I’m sure you’ve been part of this as well. It’s been so exciting seeing the UK Government recently issuing quite strong guidance on what Cyber Infrastructure should look like. And I think all of us over here who work in promoting cycling have been quite excited to see central government for the first time saying infrastructure needs to be high quality, it needs to work for everybody. It can’t just start and stop. You can’t just slap a bit of paint on the road and call it infrastructure. And it’s been really exciting to see these developments happening.

Ian Walker 10:58
Well, you mentioned those developments and that’s that’s an immediately made me then think of grant Shapps, which is not something I do all the time I do hasten to add, but he yesterday or a couple of days beforehand, when when we were recording, he announced that the government is now looking at perhaps more closely and I find this very exciting, looking more closely at the issue of sidewalk parking, pavement, parking. And that then brings me on to the next thought trip that I had was, Well, you did this very, very interesting and fascinating blog posting. God knows how long ago a long time ago but I know I always refer to whenever I refer to this issue, I always refer to your excellent excellent blog posting. And that’s where you put a big book you tell us what you did you put a crate on the on the road and why do people do that with cars? So explain that blog

Ian Walker 11:56
posting? Yeah, well, that was actually I think 12 years ago, which is really depressing back when I had dark hair and, and enthusiasm. And yeah, so that was kind of a thought experiment at the time it was, I realised, you know, I was struck by one of the many double standards that we seem to have about motoring, which is, if I had any other item whatsoever, and I had nowhere to store it, I would not be allowed just to dump it in the road and expect it still to be there the next day. And so I use the example of a crate that was you know, sort of two metres by three metres or something like that, but the same dimensions as a car. So if I had a big box or oceti sofa if I had a caravan, you’d have anything at all that I needed to store and I didn’t have space on my own land, and nobody would tolerate me just leaving it in the road blocking traffic, but the moment it is the car, we offer That’s completely acceptable. And so my point there was to try and illustrate that slightly crazy double standard. And the other thing I mentioned it as a little addendum to that essay was, I was struck by another really good example from the world of transport. So quite a few years ago, I lived for a while on a boat on the English canal river system. And what’s interesting there is that they operate a completely opposite system, on the canals, you are not allowed just to just to leave your boat there. You’re only allowed a licence to have a boat, if you solemnly swear to keep moving, and never stay anywhere for any length of time. And, you know, just freeloading by saying, well, I’ve got a boat and I’m just going to store it here in people’s way. is not is specifically not allowed. And yet we do it on the roads. Hmm. So that’s, that’s separate

Ian Walker 13:56
to the pavement parking issue, but it is just this entitlement issue. have Yeah, I’m going to park my my private property where the hell I like and then I when when it comes on to the pavement is you It’s like I’m going to leave it on the place where people are trying to get past with double buggies and guide dogs which we if you might hear in this that later in the show when my guide dog puppy comes back in the house and pedestrians it so motorists just have this many motorists, not all but we must stress that have this entitlement complex that which is a psychological condition in

Ian Walker 14:33
Well, I don’t know because my experience with the motoring side of things is more as an observer. So I you know, asking motorists what they’re thinking is actually really difficult because when you do that, you often find that the answers you’re given are not the right answers. So in it partly because people don’t know why they do what they do. So a big part This is that, and I think any of us who are interested in traffic will appreciate this. What we see in the motoring context is people just unconsciously imitate one another. So, you know, it starts with one person just bumping a couple of wheels up onto the pavement onto the sidewalk, because they’re worried about slowing the flow of traffic. And then, you know, within six months, other people start noticing this and thinking, Oh, yeah, I’ll do that as well. And then, you know, another six months, everyone’s doing it because they imitate one another. And then another six months later, the cars are completely across the pavement. And there is this very strong tendency to just unconsciously imitate one another as social beings. And that’s a big part of what goes on in traffic. But people are not aware of just how much they unconsciously imitate each other. And so what the problem is, as soon as you ask somebody, why have you just done this particular thing? The answer you get is going to be one that’s Often just constructed on the spot as a way of trying to answer the question, but the answer might not be valid because the behaviour was the subconscious imitation of other people or a subconscious and ascertain events entitlements or something like that, rather than a considered decision to behave in a particular way. But the explanation you get when you ask somebody why they did it will be as if it were deliberately considered and chosen. And so the explanation won’t really be the right one for the behaviour.

Ian Walker 16:40
Which might mean if the government – and I’m touching wood here – if the government did actually bring in some more London style, even though it does happen in London, most London style draconian fines, parking on the sidewalk on the pavement that might actually change behaviour of that bulk of the population which are doing it unthinkingly you’re gonna get the radicals are always going to want to park on the pavement. But a good bunch of people are just doing it for the reason you just said they’re just they’re not thinking about it, they’re just doing it.

Ian Walker 17:12
Yeah, absolutely. I think that that’s what we really hope is going to happen. You can see how it how it’s come about that this you know, let’s face it fairly anti social behaviour has become normalised because if you’re in your car, and you need to stop at a shop or a house or something like that, it’s more convenient for you to just bump it up on the pavement, Job done Off you go get about your day. And and if you have essentially been licenced or permitted to do this income, this convenient thing, because everybody else is doing it. And nobody has ever told you not to. Then of course you’re going to do what’s easier and convenience people fundamentally do what is easy and convenient. So clear message from government saying, Okay, look, this is no longer acceptable. This is causing problems for lots of people, especially people in many cases whose lives already have enough problems. The central message is going to show that it’s less acceptable, that should start to eat into the number of people who are doing it. Once it’s less common and normal that eats into that subconscious copying tendency. And hopefully, it will be the small snowball that starts the big change.

Ian Walker 18:35
So I’m not hopeful. There’s there have been many, many reviews into this over the years. There’s there’s all sorts of it’s probably every 10 years, there’s a government review into this and the government, you know, farms it out, and they say, right, we’re going to we’re going to, we’re going to go with recommendations that the panel gives, the panel comes back and says well ban payment Parking them. And the government says, oh, oh, well, yeah, so better not do that. So I’m not terribly hopeful. But it’s it’s kind of like, the signs that it occurred. Some changes could be afoot. So why would grant chaps float these things if he wasn’t going to do some tweaking?

Ian Walker 19:17
Yeah.

Ian Walker 19:19
And you write that and there will be resistance. I mean, when it comes to traffic issues, I keep finding myself coming back to that phrase that’s often used in very different contexts of when all you’ve known is privilege. Equality feels like oppression. And, you know, we see with a lot of motorists that as soon as you say, you’ve got to have some responsibility for your actions. There’s this knee jerk, oh, my god, you’re taking something away from me. Anger approach, and we’re going to see that as we ask people to no longer inconvenience other people for their own convenience because they’re just so used to having the world accommodate them coming first.

Ian Walker 20:02
And what we’re seeing that right now with the Low Traffic Neighbourhoods concept in that I’ve asked on Twitter, for example, genuine examples of people who have been cut off, they can’t motor they can’t get out of their house, they can’t go where they prefer to go. Show me a genuine example of where you are being blocked in into your driveway by a low traffic neighbourhood. And of course, nobody can, because it’s hyperbole. It’s, you know, literally they just got to spend another five minutes maybe going around. But then John Crace the journalist, The Guardian journalist, put in one of his columns last week, the exact same thing that you know, I you know, motorists are now blocked from getting anywhere. And I challenged him and said, Well, can you please show me a map where you are genuinely blocked in by these wonderful phrase, the modal filters, the bollards and stuff, and he hasn’t responded Now assuming it has seen Because there’s an awful lot of first that background kicked up when he said this and what I said that this is what he said, and I’ll probably approach him offline to see if he will say these things because these Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, they’re not genuinely stopping people going anywhere. They just make it slightly more inconvenient if you choose to do a 500 metre journey in a car.

Ian Walker 21:21
Absolutely. And I’m sorry, I can’t remember who said this, but somebody on Twitter made the good point that the percentage difference it will make to your journey is completely related to how long your journey was in the first place. So if you’re leaving your home in a city centre and driving to another town, it’s not going to make any real difference. Whereas if you’re leaving your homeless centre and driving 500 metres to buy a newspaper, it’s as a percentage of your journey time. The hit is going to be quite substantial. But that should be the sign that your journey maybe needed reconsidering in the first place.

Ian Walker 21:56
But you are asking people to in that case, modify their behaviour. Yeah, that’s a psychology. You know, that’s, that’s kind of tough because these are ingrained behaviours.

Ian Walker 22:04
Hmm. It’s true. But one of the things that I’ve really come to realise over the recent years, is fundamentally the geographers had it right all along, and we psychologists didn’t, because if you want to know about why people behave the way they do in travel, it’s mostly about the physical environment, the physical environment, shapes the way we travel more than what we think we might kid ourselves that our travel behaviours are rational, deliberate, considered choices, but really, they’re in much bigger part they’re, in most cases, a response to the built environment of the built environment makes something easy and convenient. People are going to do it. If the built environment makes something difficult and feel dangerous, people are not going to do it. And of course, for those of us who are interested in promoting walking and cycling. What does the built environment do? It makes it difficult, slow and feel dangerous. And right there is the problem.

Ian Walker 23:10
Hmm. So let’s talk about SMIDSY for a second. So, “sorry, mate. I didn’t see you.” But what you were saying before, in effect was there’s another category of Yeah, yeah, I absolutely saw you. Yep. But I want to kill you. So there’s a small subsection of motorists who as as you know, Andy Cox, the superintendent, and West Midlands Police have found out there is an awful lot of people who are doing this deliberately. So, is the only way we can mitigate against that literally. Having cycleways.

Ian Walker 23:50
Oh, good question. I mean, I think on the one hand, just as for context here, it’s another example of The kind of strange double standard that exists in our culture in context of cars. So I did a long ride with a friend this weekend. And we had several instances of people using their vehicles as weapons against us, simply riding along the road, and people swerve their cars utters or screamed abuse at us as they passed for doing nothing wrong whatsoever. Now, as my friend and I were commenting later, I’m sure every single one of those people is perfectly nice in any other context. I’m sure they all think of themselves as perfectly decent people. And I’m sure several of them probably do lovely things like giving to charity or volunteering. And it’s just our culture has this toxic strand, where as long as you’re in a car, all bets are off and it’s certainly okay to behave like this. So for example, the person in the large mistake who flew right pastors was leaning on their horn for no reason whatsoever on an otherwise empty road, I, I can guarantee that when they Next go in a shop and have to stand in a queue, they will not scream at the person in front of them to get out of their way. Whereas that’s what they felt it was perfectly okay to do two guys on bikes. And so we have this very weird, messed up cultural problem with driving that and that condones and encourages and permits otherwise completely normal people to behave in deeply aggressive and dangerous anti social ways. And I’m afraid I’ve forgotten the rest of your question because I was going off on a rant about that.

Ian Walker 25:49
Well, that’s okay. Well, I’ve actually just segue into into what you’ve just said there actually, rather than go backwards. And that is that that behaviour that weird Jekyll and Hyde behaviour that you have when you when you get behind the wheel of course was very much recognised and parodied by Disney 50s 1960s I’m sure you know it the famous storyteller Goofy, Mr. Walker, and Mr. Wheeler. So Mr. Walker is the sweet mannered, lovely pedestrian, which you’ve just kind of mentioned, people are like that in real life. And then as soon as he got behind the wheel of a car, psychologically, Mr. Walker changed into Mr. Wheeler, who was this awful, aggressive character who just said that is that is that what it is? It’s that it’s that trigger? It’s getting behind the wheel of a car and then you feel something different?

Ian Walker 26:45
Well, apparently, yes. I mean, I’ve never personally studied this in detail. And I do have one or two colleagues who do work on driver anger. And your ultimately from what I’ve seen of their work, it is does seem irrational, it seems. Anger in drivers is often triggered by things that in any other context would not be permissible. So for example, a minor delay to your journey is seen as a legitimate cause of becoming angry. And and this is why I think the real explanation doesn’t sit within a person’s head. The real explanations for this sit at the level of our culture. You know, we have a strange cultural, double standard about almost every aspect of motoring. One part of which is it’s perfectly fine to be aggressive and to assault people, as long as you do it with a car.

Ian Walker 27:47
And we are seeing it to absolutely horrific effect in America at the moment, you know, with these big big muscle SUVs going through the city of Portland with the driveers – if As if they’re not aggressive enough, then that Macing people out of the window. And then of course, you’ve got the President saying, well, they’re patriots doing that you think, Oh my god, that behaviour is going to be so cemented in people?

Ian Walker 28:13
Well, I mean, it fits into a slightly wider picture as well, doesn’t it have something that society has wrestled with for literally thousands of years, is how do we reconcile people’s freedoms when they’re not when they’re in conflict with each other? So how do we reconcile my freedom to drive whatever I want, however, I want, with your freedom to be safe from the consequences of that and your freedom to not breathe poisoned air and things like this. And ultimately, the way we’ve addressed that, that conflict between your freedom and my freedom for quite a long time in countries like ours and countries like the United States, has been to say Well, if you’ve bought the car, your freedoms are more important than the person who isn’t in the car. So the person who’s not in the car will be at the edge of the road, in their space at the edge of the road, the person who’s not in the car will pause and wait until the person in the car has got out of the way. before crossing the road, the person who’s not in the car will make a special journey to a designated crossing point, so as not to inconvenience the person in the car. And, and hopefully the various things we’ve been talking about here today, you know, the ideas coming from grant shops, the ltn 120 guidance for promoting active travel. I’d really like to believe that these are the beginning of a swing in the opposite direction where we say, Well, you know, the person who just wants to walk down the street, their freedoms are important to their freedom to make a journey, their freedom to breathe clean air, their freedom to be able to go to the shop without their life being in danger. Hopefully we’re seeing a rebalancing towards those freedoms being taken seriously as the freedom of Yeah, I’m good. I’m doing air quotes here, the freedom to drive what you like.

Carlton Reid 30:13
Oh, well, we’ve now got into not just

Ian Walker 30:17
recent government announced we’ve gone back thousands of years into, into absolutely, how we classify freedom. But at this juncture in I would now like to cut for a commercial break. And we will be back, however, to talk about your absolutely fantastic book.

David Bernstein 30:38
Hey, Carlton, thanks so much. And it’s it’s always my pleasure to talk about our advertiser. This is a long time loyal advertiser. You all know who I’m talking about? It’s Jenson USA at Jenson usa.com/thespokesmen. I’ve been telling you for years now years, that Jenson is the place where you can get a great selection have every kind of product that you need for your cycling lifestyle at amazing prices and what really sets them apart. Because of course, there’s lots of online retailers out there. But what really sets them apart is their unbelievable support. When you call and you’ve got a question about something, you’ll end up talking to one of their gear advisors and these are cyclists. I’ve been there I’ve seen it. These are folks who who ride their bikes to and from work. These are folks who ride at lunch who go out on group rides after work because they just enjoy cycling so much. And, and so you know that when you call, you’ll be talking to somebody who has knowledge of the products that you’re calling about. If you’re looking for a new bike, whether it’s a mountain bike, a road bike, a gravel bike, a fat bike, what are you looking for? Go ahead and check him out. Jenson USA, they are the place where you will find everything you need for your cycling lifestyle. It’s Jensonusa.com/thespokesmen. We thank them so much for their support and we thank you supporting Jenson USA. All right, Carlton, let’s get back to the show.

Ian Walker 32:05
Thanks, David. And we are back with Ian Walker. In the first half of the show, he went through his psychological training and background. And in the second half of this show, we’re going to switch completely different lives. It’s almost as if we’re having like Mr. Wheeler, Mr. Walker conversation here we’ve got two different people we’ve got Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde here in that psychology psychologist in is different to this other guy, this athlete in these these are two different people you would you would think so Ian, you’ve written this brilliant book. It’s called Endless Perfect Circles and I’m gonna be asking you questions that I know the answer to because you’ve written down in your book. I’ve still got to ask them so I will I will come and ask them but but first of all, so this is this is a story about a number of endurance rides you’ve done and and and run system running in there too, but just tell us How did you get into long distance endurance sports in the first place?

Ian Walker 33:08
Well, I basically did it very late. So what I’ve explained at the start of this book is I went to a fairly poor School, where, yeah, most things were not really encouraged. So they certainly weren’t very good at encouraging people to learn. But also in particular, the teachers there had no real ability to push or encourage people to have a good sport. And so basically, the short version is I came out of school 1618 years old, absolutely convinced that I had no ability to do sport whatsoever. And I hung on to that perception for something like 25 years. And then shortly after turning 40 I got encouraged to have a go at long running race, which I did on a spur of the moment decision and yeah, okay, yeah, let’s do it when a friend invited me. And from that point on, I did this first long distance running race, and actually did reasonably well at it. And one of the things that I keep coming back to across the course of this book is how long it took me to go from 25 years of thinking I could not do anything sporty, to realising I was actually reasonably good at certain sports, and just how difficult it was to claw back 25 years of misperception on that count,

Ian Walker 34:41
And you are not just kind of okay at it. You’re a record holder. So you can tell us about that. That the way you you didn’t, you were going to go one way across Europe and they decide to go north south to Europe. will tell us about all the different rides you’ve done. So let’s get into the cycling. Talk about the the record breaking across Europe. But then also tell us about the you know, the trans continental and all the right races that you’ve done and where you came in them, for instance,

Ian Walker 35:12
well it was so I was very, very happily doing long distance running. And I’d found this wonderful world full of amazing, friendly accommodating people, everyone so encouraging. And then I stumbled across a photo essay on the stryver website about a race called the transcontinental race. And this essay just revealed to me a whole new world of scale. So I’d done running races that take, you know, maybe a day or so, and at the time, running for an entire day, feels vast It feels like this huge event. But then I started reading this essay and realise that there was a world of cycling races That went to a whole new level. And that if I was to start riding a bike, I could do events that didn’t last a day, I could do events that maybe lasted two weeks. And I just got absolutely hooked on on this idea of, of just handing myself over just like putting my life on hold for one or two weeks or more, and just taking part in a race that that is your whole world for that period. And so I entered the transcontinental race back in 2017 or 2017, and just threw myself in at the deep end again. Basically, I bought a bike started riding through myself in the race and did a lot better than I thought I would certainly not troubling the winner, but I was sort of fairly high in the field despite having lots and lots of punctures and breakdowns and getting stranded in Romania. And things like this. And so the following year, I decided to have a go at another race of the same sort, which is called the North Cape 4000. That race, it’s similar bikepacking self supported. Hundreds of riders set off from the north of Italy. And it’s a race to the very top of Norway. So the very, very last point in Europe if you’re heading north called North Cape, so it’s about 4300 kilometres. And basically, again, I set out just with a view of, let’s see what happens. And then there was this really astonishing turning points partway through the race, where I realised that if I was bowled, and if I really, really pushed myself, I had a chance to get into the lead of the race. And I’d never done anything like this before. And you’ve got to remember this 25 years of thinking I didn’t do sport, to suddenly find myself in that decision point of interest. Heck, okay, I’m, I’m actually in a position here where I could take the lead in an international race. And to do that, to make that jump, required opening quite a few new doors, it involved partly just pushing myself physically much further than I ever had in the past. But also, it really did involve throwing off this mental baggage of believing that I was a person who could not compete. And so, yeah, taking part in that race just was transformational. Because I made that decision. I made that decision of like, okay, yeah, let’s let’s do this. Let’s just see what happens if I try to win if I try to do sport properly, and so I threw myself in and there was a bother. Well, for an outsider, thrilling, and for me, nerve wracking section of about five days or so, of being in the lead If the race to the finish, and I book I refer to it as the thousand mile breakaway, and it genuinely was 1000 miles of me riding as hard as I possibly could, with the entire rest of the race chasing me down. And I’ve got to say it was so incredibly mentally stressful to spend days being hunted like that. But again, you know, it, the whole thing was just this revelator experience of to discover what it’s like to push myself that hard. And thankfully, I was able to maintain that lead to the finish and, and was able to finish in first place.

Ian Walker 39:42
Which was, which was, as I say, quite revelatory given my background and how I’d for so long carried around the idea I couldn’t do this. And then that brings me on to the final thing, which in many ways is the meat of this book. Which was me saying to myself, Okay, I’ve competed I’ve won this international race. And maybe I am actually okay at this stuff. How can I go further? What’s the next step for me? And the answer I came up with was to try and break the record for cycling across Europe as fast as possible.

Ian Walker 40:20
And how fast did you do it?

Ian Walker 40:24
And so I went from I went back to North Cape at the top of Norway. And I set out there and headed south aiming for to reefer which is the southernmost point in Spain. So it’s from the very top to the very bottom of Europe. And, and I managed to do it in 16 days, 20 hours and 59 minutes. So that was averaging 377 kilometres a day. I was riding for 16 to 18 hours every day. Pretty much a non stop efforts. And then there’s all sorts of Extra challenges involved in this. So for example, because I wanted to do it as a Guinness World Record, they place all sorts of restrictions on what counts as a record attempt. And critically, one of the things is it must be continually overland. So that raises all sorts of extra issues like, you have to go through Russia. There’s no way to get from the north to the south of Europe without going through Russia. And your that raised all sorts of interesting questions about customs and border controls. And frankly, the astonishingly bad standards of St. Petersburg drivers.

Ian Walker 41:41
And then you got through Russia. And you actually got through the checkpoints much quicker than you thought, didn’t you?

Ian Walker 41:48
Yes, sir. I I’d read all sorts of stories about people going through Russian border controls. And in particular, the one that stuck with me was Sean Conway, who at one point broke the record for cycling east to west across Europe. And he’d written about, you know, being made to empty his bags out and wait around for hours. And, you know, it sounds and I’d read various other stories from previous cyclists who talked about just hours and hours of delay and bureaucracy and aggressive border guards and being searched and questioned over and over again. And in the end, I turned up and basically found this young Russian woman who was going through ahead of me, and I just sort of latched on to her and essentially pretended to be her boyfriend without her realising. And whistled through the whole thing in about five minutes, which is fantastic.

Ian Walker 42:45
So you mentioned roads there and then the very different so you go from one border to another border and all of a sudden the road a completely different so where where were the best roads? Where were the worst roads?

Ian Walker 42:55
Oh, there’s a question and probably the best roads I’ve ever written were earlier on the transcontinental race where I would say Austria and Switzerland have some of the greatest roads, just very well constructed really great surfaces. And again, in the transcontinental race, the worst roads by far has been Macedonia. You’ve got really long stretches that are just cobbled roads. And you bear in mind I was hitting these after something like 12 days or sitting on a bicycle saddle, and doing 20 kilometres of cobbled road after you’ve been sat on a bike for two weeks is not much fun. So that they’re the worst on the most recent journey when I did the record for crossing Europe. Probably the, the scariest road so the worst road in terms of the traffic was definitely Russia in going through St. Petersburg. And they just have these vast, vast six eight lane boulevards, full of speeding traffic people literally crashing into one another. Right next to me. It was genuinely terrifying at times to get through there. One of the curious things was that a couple of days later, I found one of the easiest fastest roads, which was in Latvia. And there’s a section there where you’re allowed to cycle on the motorway on the freeway. And, to my surprise, that actually felt much safer than most of the roads, because ultimately, a lot of roads any any kind of reasonably substantial road, the traffic is going that speed Anyway, you know, hundred hundred and 10 kilometres an hour 60, 70 miles an hour. Whereas on a typical road, you’ve got the traffic doing those speeds past you, and you’ve only got a little bit of shoulder at the edge. Whereas on the motorway, you’ve got an entire lane to buffer you from the traffic and the speeds are essentially the Same so the motorway felt incredibly convenient and safe compared to typical roads.

Ian Walker 45:06
And then in Spain you did a long stretch before Seville where there was a like a parallel road so there’s that like a tip would be to find a motorway and then found like an equivalent a road that’s that’s like next to it.

Ian Walker 45:22
Yeah, I did that really deliberately. So I what I did for the whole course, I looked for new motorways, and Spain has had a lot of new motorways built in the last sort of 1015 years. And I found this stretch that went for hundreds of kilometres, where there was the new motorway built directly parallel to the what was the Old Main Road and the old roads are all still there. And it was just unbelievably convenient. Because the roads that have been replaced, they’re still there that well surface they’re good quality roads. They Pass through towns, their shops, there’s petrol stations, there’s motels, all the facilities are still there from when they were main roads, but there’s hardly any traffic on them. So I just spent like three days, gliding along these highways at almost having them to myself with the incredible convenience of being able to stop and get food and water and so on whenever I needed to. So that is an absolute top tip. Look for motorways and look for the roads that they’ve replaced.

Ian Walker 46:30
Another top tip in the book is the what you do when you go into a hotel. So, so describe how you get your, your bike past the receptionist.

Ian Walker 46:41
Well, this is a really good one. And in fact, I mentioned that I was riding this weekend with a friend and we stayed in a couple of hotels this weekend and I was able to demonstrate to him that this works. So what I’ve discovered and I think any of your listeners who’ve gone on cycling trips will probably have experienced this The typical thing when you’re going to a hotel is you come up to the reception desk, and the receptionist will say, okay, you need to leave your bike outside. And what I found that just magically works almost every time is, if you carry your bike in, rather than wheel it in, they almost always let you take it into your room. I think when you wheel your bike in, and you’ve got the clicking free wheel, and it’s making noise, and they see the wheels going across the floor, it starts to make people ask questions and say, Well, look, that thing’s a vehicle that needs to be outside. I don’t want that filthy thing in the room. Whereas if you carry it in, on the one hand, it’s silent. And I think also, it seems to send this message to people of, Oh, well, you know, he’s got it in his hands. It’s just another piece of luggage. I guess it’s fine if it goes to the room. And I i’ve, since I discovered the secret of carrying bikes into hotels, I don’t think I’ve ever been refused. Taking it up to my room, which is just this magical little trick

Ian Walker 48:04
It is a good tip. I mean, even if you’re you’re you with a bike with lots of bags on, you could probably take them off before you go into the hotel and still do the same trick. You don’t have a lightweight bike like you’ve gotten a bike. So yeah, we’re kind of describing your route. in stages here. We’re kind of like we’ve definitely segwayed away, but you’re not you’re now in Spain. You’re on this wonderful motorway or road that’s parallel to the motorway and then you you’re very nearly at the end, but then you have a meeting with with your girlfriend Hmm. And you how many kilometres Have you still got to do I mean, that must have been so so numbing to do that after you’ve met somebody after haven’t seen anybody. For a long time.

Ian Walker 48:49
It was so hard. So something I learnt a year or two earlier in my first big bike packing race was I really learned and I learned this the hard way. I learned that pushing through the night is a bit of a mistake. And yet, you know, just to prove that we’re all capable of being absolute idiots at times, as I came towards the end of the world record crossing, I failed to remember that lesson and decided I was going to push right through the night to get to the finish. So at this point, I’d written something like 300 kilometres, it was another 200 to the finish. And I thought, gar, come

Ian Walker 49:29
on, let’s do this. Let’s just let’s push

Ian Walker 49:31
through the night and get this done. And so I set off and basically, as I should have predicted, I just slowed down and I slowed down, and by my speed plummeted, it became harder and harder, keeping myself focused and going forward became harder, you know, your, your body just wants to shut down at three o’clock in the morning. And so I’m pushing myself through this My girlfriend and our parents heard arrived in Spain the day before. And up to that point, I’d really deliberately said, No, don’t come and meet me. I will meet you at the finish. I wanted to keep myself focused keep myself in this little bubble of just me. And so I thought if I met them, it might almost break the ceiling. And, you know, stop me being able to focus on just keep moving forward. But in the middle of that night, I just cracked it was something like four o’clock in the morning, I was cold, I was hungry. I was really exhausted. I still had quite a long way to get to the finish. I was crawling along to terrible speed on some really hilly roads. And I just cracked and I phoned Louise and said, Did you think maybe you could come meet me after all, and so they came out and we caught it with each other in a A nighttime car parked outside a restaurant. And in some ways that was great. It was really nice to have somebody pat me on the back and tell me I wasn’t far to the finish. But then on the other hand, it did as you alluded to, it was, it was almost mentally hard for them because having that external world reappear, and burst my bubble made me realise how far it was still to the finish. And it was still maybe four more hours of riding to the finish. And that was the longest four hours you can imagine. So it was a really tricky one. It was it was really great to see them and get that, that boost of seeing familiar people. But at the same time, there was an effect of the bubble bursting, and being brought out of my own head, after being in there for 16 days was a really dislocating experience.

Ian Walker 52:00
So a lot of this writing a lot of what you talked about in the book is about what’s in your head. Because clearly humans are capable of these feats of endurance we know that we are physiologically capable of doing amazing things you know that’s that’s just our ancestors and living in the in the forest have given us that and long distance running etc. But then the modern person has then got to get round these in their head. So, a What are you thinking about? And are you using any psychological training is any tips you can give us from your your day job as to how to get through what can often be a grind?

Ian Walker 52:44
It is a grind and yet so to give, give the game away slightly. A really substantial chunk of this book is what I’ve learned along the way about how you deal with difficulty how you deal with keeping yourself moving when you don’t want to. And, you know, I’ve really partly from my own experience, and partly from listening to other people with experience, I’ve managed to capture a whole load of information about ways you can do this. And one of the things that I think is really interesting is how what I’ve been able to do is use endurance sport, as a kind of practice for suffering. And I think other people have had the same experience of how you can, you know, there are times in life when things are hard, and there are times in life when keeping going can be difficult. And endurance sport is a place where you can practice in a fairly safe, comfortable sort of way. The techniques that you need to be able to keep yourself moving when life gets difficult. It’s almost you know, it’s like a dry run for coping with adversity. And a way to test yourself and learn that you are able to keep going, you are capable of pushing on when things are really difficult, that you just need to find the ways that will motivate you and the ways that will keep you going forward. And so what I’ve done here is share all the various things I’ve come across the good ways of keeping myself moving forward. And so sometimes, you know, that’s as simple as breaking down the task ahead of you. So certainly, when you’re travelling a long distance under your own steam, you hundred percent can never, ever allow yourself to think about the destination. If you’re trying to think about the end point, it’s always always too far away. That Thank you thinking about it will never be useful. So it It’s all about breaking down the enormity of the task into tiny little sub goals, because each tiny little sub goal is a victory. And it might be that those sub goals if it’s really tough, those sub goals might be something as simple as getting to the next tree getting to the next road junction, it might be that the sub goal is simply getting 30 metres further up the road, but that’s fine. After that 30 metres, you’ve had a little victory, and you’re further on than you were before. And as long as you can keep yourself just in the moment, and don’t look too far ahead. Just keep yourself in the moment, focus on something tangible and achievable, like reaching the next street sign. And that is amazing for keeping you going. And the other thing that I talked about quite a lot is the importance of acceptance. And this is where there’s some overlap with my more professional, psychological World, one of the things that I’ve really come to value from doing endurance sports is the kind of pleasure or liberation, I’m not quite sure what the right word would be. But the there’s a real joy in accepting difficulty there, putting yourself in a difficult position and saying, This is it, it’s going to be like this for a while, and it becomes pleasurable. At the point you stop fighting the difficulty, if you’re in a situation that can’t get better. So, you know, if I’ve put myself in a position where I’m 200 kilometres from the nearest source of food, and it’s the middle of the night or something like this, and maybe I’m really tired. And, you know, I’m falling asleep, and I just want to stop moving. And there’s nothing to be gained by giving into that by fighting that, you know, if my circumstances are hard, just wishing They were different isn’t going to make life better. Where what I find works for me is to give into it to say, Okay, yeah, I’m in a really tough situation here. Okay, that’s fine. I accept the fact I’m in a tough situation. And that allows me to keep moving. That that acceptance that that giving into it, and frees you up. And as soon as you’re freed from trying to fight your situation, dealing with the situation becomes wildly easier.

Ian Walker 57:32
So I loved the microcosm of life in the book in that if you do something incredibly hard, this then translate into into the real world. I’m gonna give you an anecdote now, if you don’t mind. So I’ve been in my dim and distant past I have been a long distance cycle tourist – I’ve not done it in record breaking times, I took lots of bags and stuff on but I have done you know, cross, Europe and cross continental trips. I’ve also done 24 hour solo mountain biking in the past, so I know that kind of aspect of your book about going through the night again, it’s not 16 days of it, but it’s 24 hours. It’s it’s through the night. But it’s the bit in your book where you talk about this is you know how you can you can treat your life like this, if you do these endurance events. If you could do this, you can do anything in effect. And the anecdote is one of my early tours in the UK long before I did anything across Europe, was going to see my sister in Nottingham, and I was living in Norwich at the time it was only 100 miles. So it wasn’t a huge distance. But I had bags on because I was going touring. It’s so it’s five in the morning. And it was very soon I started having diarrhoea and I then had to go 105 miles with incredibly bad stomach cramps, and that to this day is my worst day ever ride for all the reasons you can imagine, like, you know, disappearing behind you know, haystacks and the just the sheer physical and discomfort of that and, and I didn’t want to stop I was just going to go ahead and do this anyway, I’m not going to turn back. And that was a life lesson for me in that and I’ve always used that that’s always in my head. Whenever there is a I do a tough ride anything tough in life, I always go and this is now 30, 40 years since this happened, but I always go Yeah, it’s not as hard as travelling through the day with with chronic diarrhoea. So there you go. Yeah, that’s that’s, that’s my anecdote on on toughness. Now, in your book, you describe it as a as a textbook, because of what you learned. So it’s absolutely people will who buy this, and I do recommend they buy this book, don’t just take the anecdotes that Ian’s giving you now because they’re far funnier in the book, not that you’re not funny in real life here, but in the book that absolutely fantastic and I just want to get on to now and I’ll read some of the ads because they are they are just laugh out loud funny, some of them and I’ve grouped them all together and maybe you can you can you can describe them in yourself. But it’s the food so clearly a cyclist has got to be fueled. So that’s that’s absolutely top of your mind when when you’re riding is so when my question is what are you thinking of? You’re probably thinking about most of the time. But this for anecdotes that I’ve that I’ve picked out. And I’ve described first and we can we can go into greater depth. So here they are. It’s the 7-Day croissant. It’s the anecdote about seagulls and fish and chips or one seagull probably. I’m hoping it’s just one seagull. Latvia’s one kilo bags of yoghurt, I laughed out loud at that one just imagining you doing this and then the ‘one in one out’ policy. So we’ll go backwards out what is your ‘one in one out’ policy in for saving time?

Ian Walker 1:01:05
Oh, this is horrible. So if you’re eating, I think you should probably put your food down now. And yeah, this was on the record attempt, one of the things that was going to make all the difference was being efficient with my time. You know, that obviously, I trained really hard. But you very quickly realise there’s a point where I, there’s a limit to how fast I can pedal the bike. But there’s no limit to how much time I could waste off the bike. And one of the things I had to do was be really efficient and spend as little time as possible off the bike. Because if I’m on the bike and moving, that’s forward progress, that’s good. That’s getting me towards the goal. And so I had this really strict 30 minutes. rule for myself in the mornings that I woke up, I had to be on the road within 30 minutes of waking up and that might not sound much at the moment. By if that sounds easy, I challenge you to have a go at it, when that includes making breakfast, getting dressed, servicing your bike, and so on and so on. So one of the things I hit upon as a way of trying to get as much done as quickly as possible in the mornings, was I started having breakfast while sitting on the toilet. So that was my one in one out policy was basically shoving food in one end as yesterday’s food came out the other way.

Ian Walker 1:02:29
I don’t know why you mentioned that because that’s just normally. Yeah, that would that was definitely funny. And I can actually recognise that that is that is yes, I won’t I won’t go any further than that. Right. Latvia has one kilo bags of yoghurt. So what did you do to Why are these bags of yoghurt so good. And what do you do with that that made it so special in the book?

Ian Walker 1:02:48
Well, the thing is, when you’re writing these sorts of distances, life just becomes entirely focused on finding calories. So you know, I’m burning through eight hours. And 10,000 calories a day, on top of just whatever’s needed to stay alive. So that is just a hell of a lot of food. And especially after a few days on the road eating junk from petrol stations and stuff like this, you really start to lose taste for food, it becomes hard to make yourself eat after a few days of vast amounts of cheap, nasty food. And one of the things I stumbled across when I crossed Latvia the first time during the North Cape 4000 race was in the supermarkets, they have these kilogramme sacks of yoghurt and ease are intended to last a family for a week. So you know, the idea was to have a little squirt of this on your breakfast in the morning. But this kilogramme of yoghurt it’s something like 1200 or 1500 calories in a bag. And it turns out you can rip the corn off the bag and just fester. Work the whole thing down your face in 10 seconds at While I was able to get something like 1500 calories into me with one big squirt of this bag, the problem is it turns out, people don’t think it looks very good when you’ve got witnesses. So at one point I came out of a soup and chug two week supply of yoghurt in 10 seconds. And there’s basically a village full of people staring at me in disgust. But yeah, I didn’t care. It was it was entirely functional and got the job done.

Carlton Reid 1:04:29
That was wonderful. That worked. That was I’m laughing now and I’m laughing when it was in the book as well. That was great. I’m going to go I’m going to finish with the fish and chip supper anecdote last but first of all, let’s go to the 7-Day croissant – so what’s the 7-Day croissant? Would you eat one now? And why is it so good for the trip?

Ian Walker 1:04:47
Well, the 7-Day croissant is almost like a talisman for long distance European cyclists. So what they are they are these pre packaged croissant that are sold all over eastern Europe. So basically Basically, that used to be, I’m now imagining there used to be hidden behind the Iron Curtain. And but, you know, as the Iron Curtain fell, then the 7-Day croissant were released. So basically you only find them in the old Eastern Bloc. So you know, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia places like that. And they’re basically absolutely foul. But you can buy them in almost every single shop and petrol station, they’re incredibly cheap, and they’ve got a huge amount of calories in them. And you know, they’re just convenient because you can just stuffed them in your jersey pocket and eat them on the move and so on. So they are absolutely rancid. And I just realised I’m not going to get a sponsorship deal this way am I but they taste vile. But they are so incredibly convenient for the fact you can just shove them in a pocket you can buy them every shop, that I ended up eating them the whole time in Eastern Europe on all three trips.

Carlton Reid 1:06:02
Would you eat one now, when you’re away from the bike and away from this trip?

Ian Walker 1:06:05
Well, I have actually eaten one quite recently. So about a month ago, I cycled down to the south coast where one of my friends lives. And yeah, basically there back in a day just to have lunch with him. And as a little surprise, he ran off to the Polish shop the day before, and bought me a triple of 7-Day croissants.

Ian Walker 1:06:28
And so I did eat them on the way home all time.

Carlton Reid 1:06:31
Very good. And then the final anecdote I’d like you to recount and you’re going to recount this cleanly, in that you can’t say the same word you said in the book. You have to have some of the euphemism. Some other way of expressing this, but talk about this is a trip in Wales. And this is a seagull supper, we could say,

Ian Walker 1:06:53
yeah, this was a ride. Actually. Coincidentally, it was a ride I was doing exactly two years ago. today because Google Photos reminded me this morning, so exactly two years ago today, I was doing 1000 kilometre ride with a friend in Wales. And we were, I think two days in at this point. And we’ve had a really tough day of climbing because Wales is a hilly country. And we were in a little town called Bala. Towards the end of the day, we still had maybe five hours or so to go and we stopped to eat and we got to the fish and chip shop in Bala just as it was closing so it was one of those real skin of your teeth moments where you’re thinking I’ve I’ve been here just five minutes later I wouldn’t have been able to have any food. So I got this fish and chips, massive fish and chip dinner. And we were sat on a bench outside and some huge dunking great bird just did the biggest plop across my dinner. And so you can just imagine my faces I’m starving, hungry. I’ve got the Only hot food in town and I’m just watching seagull droppings, erupt across my dinner. But the thing is, and this is one of those things that makes you wonder about long distance cycling, I was so hungry. I just pushed all the plop to one side and carried on eating. And that’s the sort of animal that you become after a couple of days on the road. And that was only going around Wales. That wasn’t like crossing Europe that was just three days in Wales.

Carlton Reid 1:08:31
Okay, so I’m not giving every single part of the book away. There’s still tonnes of people that people will find hilarious and and fascinating in this book. So but yes, that’s a fantastic anecdote and thank you for giving, fleshing that out. And thank you all. So for the the euphemisms for the word. Which actually, I think an Anglo Saxon phrase actually probably makes it funnier. Anyway, yes. That was excellent. Thank you. Now again, I’m going to ask you a question that I know the answer to but let’s talk about it anyway. And that is your coaching. So in previous ride you didn’t have a coach, but in the in the in the record attempt you got coached

Ian Walker 1:09:11
Yeah, it was it was genuinely a sort of a situation of not wanting to have any possible regrets. You know, I knew I was almost certainly only ever going to try something like this once. And I it became really important to me that if if things went wrong if I didn’t manage to break the record, and I didn’t want to have any regrets in the future, I didn’t want to risk looking back on this as an old man and thinking, you know, I reckon I could have broken that record If only I’d done something different. So I decided that the best way to leave no stone unturned was to find an expert and I found a wonderful coach called Holly Seear, who’s a very experienced cycle coach. And she was absolutely wonderful for helping me in all sorts of different ways just get on top of the process, partly just making sure I did enough training of the right type, which of course is exactly what you’d hoped from a coach. And but she was also very good at helping me think about logistics thinking about how much I needed to eat and all those kinds of things. And so she fulfilled the whole role of a whole raft of different roles. Partly just the raw physiological knowledge that’s needed to make a good athlete, but also she was a sounding board she was encouraging. She was a planner and so yeah, I really valued working with her on this.

Carlton Reid 1:10:43
I want to talk about dotwatchers now because I’m sure lots of people who listen to this potentially dotwatch you have said they might have dotwatched other people I’ve certainly dotwatched my son who cycled back from from from China and he want to have one of these Spot GPS devices on so just explain what a dotwatcher is and and why they were very important to you and how you sometimes met them on the road?

Ian Walker 1:11:06
yet, so I think ultra distance cycling does actually have a slightly

Ian Walker 1:11:14
hidden world of spectators. And it’s the thing that makes it slightly unusual is it’s probably the only spectator sport that unfolds even slower than cricket. So you know, cricket fans have got extraordinary patience watching an event unfold over five days, whereas the people who enjoy watching endurance cycling ultra and john cycling, there’ll be watching races unfold over two weeks. And obviously, when the race is unfolding across an entire continent, you can’t televise it, you can’t watch it, and so on. So the way people follow the races is that the riders carry satellite trackers that upload their positions. Every five or 10 minutes through communication satellites, and the race organisers will provide a map of the continent. And you can see exactly where every rider is. And it’s, you know, you’ve obviously had a go at this, I’ve watched other people’s races. And it’s just it’s kind of strangely compelling, fascinating thing to sit at home, at refreshing your web browser every couple of hours and seeing how the race is unfolding, especially when you’ve got some of the races that allow riders to choose a route. So for example, the North Cape 4000 rate that I mentioned earlier that had a fixed route, we all had to follow exactly the same path. Whereas a race like the trans continental, you can go whichever way you want, as long as you hit the checkpoints. And so there’s such an excitement of going, Oh my God, look, she’s gone that way. And he’s gone that way. I wonder who’s going to get there first and you’ll sit there for maybe a day watching these two lines converge on the butor in just thrilling to see, see this thing unfolding such slow motion. And so the people who who spectate on these ultra distance sports, become known as dot watches. And one of the things that I just absolutely loved of the past few years is where you bump into them. So because of course, there’s this real asymmetrical relationship where they know where you are, but you don’t know where they are. And every now and again, you’ll just meet somebody in the streets. So for example, you know, on the transcontinental race, I was riding through a really old Slovenian city called Ptuy, which I think is how you pronounce it. P. T. U. Y., if anyone wants to look it up, it’s really beautiful. And as I’ve rolled into the town, there’s a young woman there, and she just waved and made a sort of stop/stop/stop gesture. And she’d been watching the race and she’d come out and she was greeting everybody who came through that town and similarly other parts of the world. So you know, in Serbia and in Italy and places like this, people would just appear out of nowhere and say, Hey, you must be Ian, I’ve been watching you on the tracker. And it’s just this absolute delight after, you know, maybe you’ve been riding for a week at this point. And you’ve just spent seven days completely inside your own head, focusing on the race, and it’s an absolute joy to have somebody just appear and drag you out of that for a few minutes and be reminded that you’re part of this bigger event. And so the dotwatchers are just one of the most wonderful things about this sport.

Carlton Reid 1:14:40
But you’re also a dotwatcher. Certainly when you’re doing it against other people, because you’re watching where the people who are chasing you are coming with so that’s also a demotivator for you. or perhaps a motivator?

Ian Walker 1:14:53
Yeah, and it’s one of the things I mentioned earlier that’s in the North Cape 4000 race where I was able to take the lead with 1000 miles to go, I became really quite obsessive about checking the tracker, because obviously you can look on your phone and see where the entire rest of the pack is. And it almost became unhealthy just how much I was fixating on where everybody else was, especially because there were one or two riders whose trackers weren’t updating very frequently. And so you the addition, the additional stress was quite considerable. I was in this position where I was pushing myself to the absolute physical limits in a way that I’d never done before. And then to have the additional mental anguish of worrying about where everybody else is and, you know, are they catching me up? Are they going to appear on this next bend without me realising it? Yeah, it became really quite a stressful thing. And in the end, I had to just stop myself looking at all I just said, Look, knowing where people are, cannot change the outcome of this, all I can do is just write as fast as I possibly can. And I just have to put the phone away and devote myself to just writing as fast as possible.

Carlton Reid 1:16:14
Always checking people like that uses battery life, which must be stressful in its own way, because you are not always going to be at hotels you sometimes can be sleeping in, in all sorts of exotic and not so exotic roadside locations where you’re not going to get electricity. So describe how you charge your electronic devices. And I know it’s different in the later races because you’ve now got your own onboard electricity generation. But talk about how you originally did it and then why you went to onboard electricity generation.

Ian Walker 1:16:51
Yeah, so for the first of the two big races for the Transcontinental and the North Cape. I took just a big battery Packer sort of to dead 20,000 milliamp hour USB battery pack, and I’d use that to recharge my bike computer, my phone, my lights, and it works kind of okay, that would be enough power to get me two to three days of autonomous riding. But the problem was, I had a moment on the North Cape 4000 race where it really led me down at a bad moment. So it was maybe 11 o’clock at night, I was quite high in the mountains in czechia. And I just ended up low on power. And so I was forced into a hotel you know, several hours earlier than I would have liked to, just because hotels were the only place you could get a good recharge. And so it really is kind of threw a spanner in my plans for that day. It led to me doing what I knew was a mistake, which is sleeping at altitude, because this was just near the border with Poland. And it’s quite mountainous and the border is up on top of the mountains. And sleeping high up is a mistake, because it means that when you start the next day, you’re descending without doing any physical work in the cold air. So you always get really cold if you sleep altitude. And so having made that mistake and having, you know, been caught out and have had to change my schedule to fit the needs of my battery pack, rather than have the battery pack work for me, I realised I needed to become more autonomous. And so I switched over to a dynamo system. And that has just been absolutely wonderful. It means I can run a headlight on full brightness the whole time, which makes night lighting so much safer and faster. It means I’ve got USB charging facilities so I can charge my computer and my phone and and that autonomy just opens up options and it’s always nice to have options. So even if I do end up sleeping in a hotel or whether I end up sleeping in a bush shelter. I can in principle, I can keep going indefinitely. And just knowing that I’ve got the freedom to go indefinitely if I want to removes a big source of anxiety, and lets you ride much more efficiently.

Carlton Reid 1:19:19
Hmm. So, the final question is I’m going to I’m going to going to come back to the first part of this show and that in and that is, when we’re discussing the, in the first episode we’re talking about how cycleways are the way to go. distracted drivers and all sorts of aggression on the road is not very nice. That’s that in that’s the, that’s the cerebral Ian, and then if we come into this half of the show, where we’re talking about the the athlete Ian, there going across Europe as fast as you can, in that’s an Ian that that that is throwing all that out the window because you’re going on fast roads where you’re going to guaranteed to get these awful drivers to how do you square those two circles, those two different Ian’s?

Ian Walker 1:20:13
Yeah, that’s a very good question. And I don’t know if I do entirely. Certainly, as you’ve alluded to they’re racing for long distances forces you to ask yourself some questions about which roads you will travel on. Because I think, for most people, given a free choice of going from A to B, across a continent like Europe, you would naturally seek out the back roads, the quiet lanes for all sorts of reasons, partly because they’re quieter and safer, but also they’re often more scenic. Whereas something I realised quite early on in my bike racing was, if you want to go fast, that’s not an option. If you want to go fast, you’ve got to take Bigger roads. Now, having said that, one of the things I’ve realised is there are bigger roads and there are bigger roads, and they’re not all the same. And it’s a little bit like with the motorway that I mentioned earlier. I have found that, you know, a good, wide, long, straight road, where there’s plenty of space at the edge, they don’t feel bad, you know, even with trucks going past and, and so on and so on. And lock the drivers, it doesn’t feel particularly dangerous. Probably the thing above all that determines how safer road feels when you’ve got the bigger roads is just the width. So a nice wide road just means everybody’s got some space to coexist. It’s when things get narrow, that it doesn’t feel as safe. But in terms of how I reconcile that with the professional roadside In? I don’t know, I just don’t know what the long term solution could be, I can’t realistically imagine a situation where we’re going to get lovely, safe, efficient, off road cycle facilities that travel long distances across the continents or even across the country. And so, to some extent, the solution will have to be getting drivers in check.

Ian Walker 1:22:27
Absolutely. Now, that’s going to be the end of this show they’re in. So now is the point where we can plug your book with actual details. So I want three things off you on where you can get your book from. Maybe from from yourself, I’m sure because I’ve seen that on Twitter that you have other copies, you’re quite happy to sign them. Secondly, I want to know where people can find you on social media. And then thirdly, websites, and specifically because we talked about the crate on the road. So where can people read if they indeed is still a blog that’s still going on? It’s still fine, double anyway. So those three things in,

Ian Walker 1:23:16
right three things. So first, the book, it’s called Endless Perfect Circles. It has all sorts of things in it. It’s not just anecdotes about crossing Europe. It’s also all the lessons that I’ve taken from doing it, how to cope with adversity, how to deal with difficult situations. And you can get that from pretty much anywhere you’d expect to get books. In reality, the fastest place to get it is Amazon, who have it in stock and can get it to sort of next day, or obviously the Kindle version, you can get instantly anywhere else that sells ebooks will have it so Barnes and Noble nook, all of those other places. They all have it Kobo or have it Immediate download, in principle, any physical bookshop can get a copy that, yeah, because it’s independently published, they might not have it in stock, but they can order it. If you ask. Alternatively, if you can find me on Twitter, where I’m @Ianwalker, I can probably send you a copy directly. But you might be to be honest, especially if you’re not in the UK, you’re probably going to find a bookshop the easier way. So yes, I’ve where I am @IanWalker, on Twitter, or at Iancyclesalot on Instagram. Or everything’s pulled together in one place at my website, which is drIanwalker.com, which has links everywhere. And finally, you do want to find that article about parking. That’s on my old blogspot thing, which I have not updated for a long time but does still exist and it’s bamboo badger.blogspot.com Which was a name that just popped into my head when I had to think of one very quickly. But if you go to bamboobadger.blogspot.com and search back to 2008, then I think you can find that article about parking cars.

Carlton Reid 1:25:13
Yes, or just follow me cuz I certainly send that one out on Twitter quite a lot. I think it’s a very apposite and timely and perennial, sadly perennial piece. Ian Walker, Dr. Ian Walker, thank you ever so much for being on today’s show that has been absolutely fascinating as the book is entertaining and fascinating in equal measure.

Ian Walker 1:25:40
So thank you. Thank you so much. I’ve really enjoyed it.

Carlton Reid 1:25:45
My thanks to the one and only Dr. Ian Walker for taking the time to talk with me there. I hope you enjoyed listening to today’s episode as much as I enjoyed recording it. The next show will probably be a roundtable with our usual suspects, attorney Jim Moss and my co-host David Bernstein. Meanwhile, get out there and ride..