Author: Carlton Reid

June 25, 2022 / / Blog

18th June 2022

The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

EPISODE 301: A Milan-shaped Conversation with Janette Sadik-Khan

SPONSOR: Tern Bicycles

HOST: Carlton Reid

GUEST: Janette Sadik-Khan

TOPICS: The miracle of Milan, with Janette Sadik-Khan.

Sorry, no transcript for now. And there are also problems with the feed so the audio won’t auto download for now.

June 18, 2022 / / Blog

18th June 2022

The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

EPISODE 300: Chef’s Bike Tour of Sardinia

SPONSOR: Tern Bicycles

HOST: Carlton Reid

GUESTS: Tourissimo guides, tour guests and US chef Mary Sue Milliken

TOPICS: 38-minute travelogue of the Chef’s Bike Tour of Sardinia by Tourissimo. Sardinia’s so-called Blue Zone has many locals living robustly into their nineties and beyond, with a much higher than normal concentration of centenarians including Uncle Julio who was still cycling at 104. Show — topped and tailed with Cantu a tenore folk singing — also includes some chomping of Sardinia’s banned-in-the-EU mountain cheese riddled with live maggots.


Tourissimo’s Chef’s Bike Tour of Sardinia

Cantu a tenore folk singing

Maggot-riddled cheese

Mary Sue Milliken attempting to make filendeu pasta with a Sardinian “pasta granny”.


Carlton Reid 0:10
Welcome to Episode 300 of the Spokesmen cycling podcast. This show was published on Saturday 18th of June 2022.

David Bernstein 0:24
The Spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast is brought to you by Tern bicycles. The good people at Tern are committed to building bikes that are useful enough to ride every day, and dependable enough to carry the people you love. In other words, they make the kind of bikes that they want to ride. Tern has e bikes for every type of rider. Whether you’re commuting, taking your kids to school, or even caring another adult, visit www.tern That’s t e r n to learn more.

Carlton Reid 1:04
Hey there, I’m Carlton Reid and along with my fellow podcasting dinosaur David Bernstein we’ve been bringing you this Spokesmen cycling podcast since 2006. Episode 200 in September 2018 had clips from 12 years of narrowcasting and now that we’ve reached the giddy heights of 300 episodes over 16 years it’s time for another diversion from our usual format. So, instead of a guest interview or a roundtable chat recorded over Zoom this episode was recorded in situ, in Sardinia, and it’s all about good food, cycling and living longer. It’s a travelogue of my recent trip to the Italian island, where it was discovered that the diet, daily exercise, and communal conviviality in Sardinia’s so-called Blue Zone contributed to many locals living robustly into their nineties and beyond, with a much higher than normal concentration of folks blowing out 100 or more candles on their birthday cakes. You’ll hear about Uncle Julio, still cycling at 104, and you’ll maybe recoil in horror as I chomp down on some specially-procured, banned-in-the-EU mountain cheese riddled with live maggots. Back in the day, mountain shepherds had to eat some pretty ripe old stuff. I was on a Chef’s bike tour, a foodie special from Italian cycle travel company Tourissmo. This was the company’s fifth such tour, but the first in Sardinia. We were accompanied by American chef Mary Sue Millican who I interviewed as we cycled uphill so, yes, there will be some panting in this show. And, as you may have already gathered, this isn’t our usual theme music. Instead, it’s a traditional Sardinian folk song and you can listen to a full and amazing seven minutes of another traditional song from an all-male quartet at the end of the show. Meanwhile, here’s my from-the-saddle intro as I pedal away from the Su Gogolone hotel, trying to catch up with the 12 guests and three guides also on this Chef’s tour of Sardinia …

Well, welcome to episode 300 of the spokesmen cycling podcast. On a Tourissmo holiday, bike holiday, chef’s bike tour in Sardinia. I got here by Tern folding like, two ferries and five trains and I’m now on a climb, beautiful asphalt road, that’s been resurfaced.

There’s the odd car coming past; the scenery is stunning; which you kind of get expect I guess when you’re coming to Sardinia but we are on the borders of the Blue Zone and the Blue Zone is that area that was kind of discovered 30, 40 years ago where there’s a bunch of people living here they realise in this tiny geographical area in the mountains of Sardinia are living longer than most of the people around the world. So, the highest concentration of centenarians, the highest concentration of people who are 100 years old and plus,

Renato Matta 5:06
We are now in the core of the Blue Zone. We are in the municipality of Baunei. And precisely this is called the plateau of the Colgo, which is a limestone plateau about 700 metres on the sea level, the macro region is the Ogliastra is called, okay, the blue zone area is a small part of this small region.

Carlton Reid 5:29
That’s Renato Matta, a former accountant and one of our Sardinian tour guides. I asked him to tell me about Uncle Julio.

Renato Matta 5:40
Unfortunately, he died two years ago at the age of one hundred and five years old, so not that bad. But the beautiful thing is, he is my idol is my idol. Because every day I saw him cycling his bike till the age of 104. And what happened, happened that he fell off fell off the bike. So the ambulance arrived soon, he didn’t have any anything. But you know, considering the age, of course, they were worried. They called the daughter. And the daughter asked, please tell me what kind of medicine he is getting medicine. Nothing, he doesn’t need anything, he is perfect. And yeah, he was very healthy, no glasses. So absolutely no glasses, all the teeth in place. Unbelievable. And I remember this fantastic character. Because I remember one day I was waiting for the doctor and the doctor was late so I time to chat with him outside. And he was telling this you know, it was complaining about the song because the song is too lazy, he’s wasting his life watching TV all day long, sitting on the couch doing nothing. And a certain point I realised but, sorry uncle Julio, but how old is your son? He is 80!

Carlton Reid 7:02
If the secret to living longer is to be content with your lot then Renato is an example of how switching careers can boost happiness,

Renato Matta 7:12
This is what I call my second life. My first life after my secondary school, I went to university I have a degree in economics. So I started doing accountancy for about 10 years. In the meantime, I was doing tours for a British tour operator, but once a once a year, so a week here or two weeks a year, it was the here I start in the 1999 then the business start growing a lot. So in a certain point they told me okay you know what, we need a full time person here working with us because the business has grown a lot. You are the most expert now because you know we started with you. So if you like to change you know completely your your job we will appreciate that so I spoke with my wife about that time, she said well go for that go for that you won’t survive doing accountancy. We can have less money, no problem but a better life. And believe me that’s what I realised what I realised more quality my life less money a bit less. But definitely the quality. And I do what I like to do, you know.

Carlton Reid 8:33
And here comes more food.

Renato Matta 8:35
Oh my God. We are going now straight to the water fountain which is down the road on the right leaving the hotel on the right. Okay. The big cog in the front you mean the cog just push this to go down to the smallest one and you’re approaching the climb? Like this?

Yeah. Okay what what is it dropping? This it? Let me check No, no, no too much

Ay-yo is in Sardinia the probably the most used word, means let’s go. Aye-yo means what are you ****ing saying. The culture, it’s part of the culture. 14. One four. Kms. Less than 10 miles.

Massimo Carboni 9:47
Minor roads. Countryside roads. And we’re going to see also old Roman bridge

Carlton Reid 9:55
I rode to catch up with our embedded chef. According to Wikipedia, Mary Sue Milliken is an American chef restauranteur, cookbook author, and radio and TV personality. She’s also, and this is not in Wikipedia, she is also a strong rider opting for a carbon road bike rather than an electric flatbar bike. She cooked for us a couple of times on the tour. And she also decorated our tables with wildflowers picked from the roadside.

So as you’re riding along are you thinking menus? What are you thinking? Thinking? I want to pick that plant there. I’m going to put that in.

Mary Sue Milliken 10:35
Well, I do you have a wandering eye for plants?

Carlton Reid 10:39
I’ve seen I’ve noticed.

Mary Sue Milliken 10:40
Especially wildflowers.

Carlton Reid 10:41
Yeah, that’s also a good excuse to stop.

Mary Sue Milliken 10:44

Carlton Reid 10:46
Just happens to be a wildflower.

Mary Sue Milliken 10:48
Well, every day I pick a different colour. Yesterday was purple. Today I’m deciding between white and pink. Or maybe yellow. But I don’t usually collect until the second half of the ride. Which today is gonna be all downhill. I didn’t like to get too married to any one idea. Till I’ve seen the entire palette. Yeah, and then I can.

Carlton Reid 11:11
So I’m working here, but you’re working here too. So this evening, you’re going to be cooking for us?

Mary Sue Milliken 11:16
Oh, yeah.

But I’m not cooking the whole meal.

Carlton Reid 11:21
So you’re cooking like the signature sauce?

Mary Sue Milliken 11:24
No, I totally thought I was cooking but now okay, I’ve learned that I can do anything I want with the panna carasau.

Carlton Reid 11:32
So, incredibly fine. thin bread, right?

Mary Sue Milliken 11:37
They also call it carta de musica because you can read a piece of sheet music through the dough which is cool. So I could make a lasagna with that for example. Yeah. So who knows?

Carlton Reid 11:52
Maybe dips?

Mary Sue Milliken 11:53
Yep, maybe

dips. Although I didn’t see anything in the garden to

Carlton Reid 11:58
You’re gonna be looking in the garden in the hotel. I already Yeah,

Mary Sue Milliken 12:00
I already checked it out. tonnes of herbs, few tomatoes. Lots of fennel, eggplant’s not there yet just flowers. What else? Chard, a lot of swiss chard. Like I said it’s all in there percolating. And something will come out.

Carlton Reid 12:24
When not cooking, Mary Sue would learn some local culinary technique or other. On this particular evening she would be helping to make filendeu, or the wire of god, a very thin pasta that only a handful of people still know how to make. We were to get a demonstration from a pasta granny, and then follow Mary Sue by trying to make some. I failed, by the way.

Mary Sue Milliken 12:53
I want to learn how to make it. Okay, you can watch me learn but I’m dying to learn how to make the fin der lay you. How do you call it fin de lou?

Massimo Carboni 13:04

Mary Sue Milliken 13:04
The pasta is called fin delay you?

Massimo Carboni 13:08

Mary Sue Milliken 13:09

Massimo Carboni 13:10
It means the Wire of God.

Mary Sue Milliken 13:12
the white?

Massimo Carboni 13:14
The wire of God

Mary Sue Milliken 13:16
the wire

Massimo Carboni 13:16
of God

Mary Sue Milliken 13:17
of God

Massimo Carboni 13:18
Finden lay you.

Fil is wire. Deu is God.

Mary Sue Milliken 13:19

Filen … sorry, sorry.

Liz Cheshire 13:26
Fille is wire in Italian and then

Massimo Carboni 13:37
Si, filendeu in Sardinian.

Mary Sue Milliken 13:39
Filler day you. Filendeu. Wow.

Massimo Carboni 13:45
I think they’re ready. The lady’s coming by now to prepare the pasta.

the mother in law was the only one who could do this in the world. she passed the tradition to her so her mother in law taught to her and to the other daughter in law. Yeah. So at the end, the pasta will be cooked with the land meat soup and pecorino cheese. Pecorino cheese, and pecorino cheese a little bit acid.

Mary Sue Milliken 14:38
Old? Aged?

Beppe Salerno 14:49
Firmer and elastic.

Mary Sue Milliken 14:51
Firm and elastic. She makes it look so easy, mine just breaks. If I have just maybe a little more water

Carlton Reid 15:15
We didn’t just get demonstrations of how to make the local delicacies that have helped the locals live so long we also heard from experts, such as Spanish dietitian, Anna Maria Canelada who gained her PhD after studying Sardinian centenarians. Incidentally, she told me about her time sharing an apartment in Malaga with actor Antonio Banderas and film director Pedro Almodovar but I quizzed her first about the Blue Zone diet, especially the wonderful cheeses

Anna Maria Canelada 15:50
Casu Axedu cheese is like a yoghurt but this acidophilus is a type of yoghurt is not exactly as yoghurt said that different type of fermentation is very light it’s very fresh and it’s not salted does it have any salt except from the natural salt that the milk has a nice very protect[ive functions] because it has the whey and the whey is the most perfect protein and they will drink it together with a bread, the pistoccu. Pistoccu was a little bit thicker than the carta de musica and it will preserve even longer for more than six months and it’s very variable it’s very nutritious and it was made with barley, part wheat part barley, which barley has all these properties because it’s it’s very good for the microbiome is very good also for the glycemic index that doesn’t raise it so much as wheat and and together with the protein and also the cheese was full [fat] cheese, not ricotta. The Casu Axedu was complete fat so it was perfect for the morning. In the evening they will eat ricotta that which is deprived of fat and it’s lighter for the night or they will drink a glass of milk but they will always use sheep or goat milk. They didn’t … why the children in Sardinia are they are the healthiest in Italy with the the lower max index of all Italy. And because they follow the tradition they the families have the responsibility to explain they would have is not not only the way of living but also the way of eating so they learn how to cook with their grandmothers. They know how to do their …

Carlton Reid 17:49
And one of grandmother’s favourite cheeses might have been Casu Martzu. It’s a Sardinian exotic, exotic because the sale of it is banned by the EU. Guinness World Records says it’s the “world’s most dangerous cheese.” Why? Casu Martzu is riddled with live maggots, and we got to try some …

Village voices 18:19
Look, there are lots of worms inside. A lot a lot a lot. Look at this one. Maggots yeah ready yeah shame no just don’t have any flavour, maggots don’t have any flavour.

Carlton Reid 19:00
I’m getting a maggot.

Michael Dimaggio 19:06
Okay, get this.

Carlton Reid 19:07
It’s tasty!

Michael Dimaggio 19:16
Keep chewing, keep chewing.

David Bernstein 19:17
Hey, all you spokesmen listeners, I hope you’ll excuse the interruption. But this is David from the Fred cast and the spokesman. And I want to take a few minutes out of the show to talk to you about our sponsor Tern bicycles at www.tern That’s t e r n, like the bird Tern are committed to building bikes that are useful enough to ride every day, and dependable enough to carry the people you love. Now, last time, I told you about Tern’s Quick haul ebike but today I want to talk to you about a sibling to the Quick haul. And that is the Short haul compact cargo bike. The Short haul is a practically priced wait till the end for the price. You’re gonna love it cargo bike that’s been designed to get a rider plus an extra passenger and cargo from home to work, to school, and everywhere in between. And I think that when you see a Short haul, you’ll realise that it may be unlike any cargo or city bike you’ve ever seen. That’s because most cargo bikes are big and unwieldy. And most city bikes while they’re easy enough to handle well, they’re just they’re just not able to carry much cargo. And that I think is why Tern designed the short haul. The Short haul is shorter than a regular city bike making it nimble and yeah fun to ride. But it was also designed with an extra long wheelbase and low centre of gravity then that gives you a stable ride even when you’re carrying heavy loads. In other words, the Short haul offers the best of both worlds packing a sturdy build and a hefty cargo capacity into a compact package that just simply rides better. With a mass Max gross vehicle weight of 140 kilos or just under 310 pounds. The short haul can easily carry an extra passenger and plenty of cargo. It’s got extra long extra strong rear rack and that is rated to carry a hefty 50 kilos or about 110 pounds. And it can be configured to carry a child and a child seat, an older kid, a small adult, maybe even a dog. In addition to its rear cargo capacity, it can also carry up to 20 kilos or about 44 pounds with an optional front mounted rack. Oh. And the Short haul accepts a wide range of Tern accessories, frankly to many dimension here, so that you can carry everything from a yoga mat to fishing poles to an ice chest or as I said before, even the family dog, and because of its size, you can easily manoeuvre in crowded or small places, including buses and trains plus like the quick haul, the short haul includes Tern’s vertical parking feature, so you can roll the bike into an elevator and park it in a corner of your apartment. Now, like I said before, safety is a core value at Tern. So that’s why the Short haul was designed and independently tested to ensure rider safety and that’s also why they use respected independent testing labs and why every turn bike undergoes rigorous testing to ensure that every bike meets or exceeds comprehensive safety standards. Oh and did I mention the price before we’ll get this at a suggested retail of $1,099 or 1249 euros. The Short haul is turned most affordable cargo bike yet. Bikes are scheduled to start arriving in stores in q3 of 2022. So start getting your orders in now. And for more information about the short haul or any of terms wide range of bikes, just head on over to tern That’s t e r n We thank turned for their sponsorship of the spokesmen podcast. And we thank you for your support of Tern. Also, thanks for allowing this brief interruption, everyone. And now back to Carlton and the spokesmen.

Carlton Reid 23:20
Thanks David, and yes, before the break, that was me eating maggoty cheese. The trick was to chew the cheese really well so no maggots got swallowed live. You can imagine the results if some survive. Now, we weren’t just being treated to some unique foodie experiences we were also staying in some spectacular hotels en route. Here’s Tourismo’s co-founder Beppe Salerno descrbing one of our stopovers …

Beppe Salerno 23:51
We are in resort. It’s called Su Gogolone. Su Gogolone is the name of the river down in this valley and this is a beautiful hotel, which was started by a lady who had this vision to to to run the first hotel that delivers experiences and not only offers rooms, quite unique when when she when she started over 30 years ago. Beautiful setting. You will see how beautifully decorated the rooms are and their reception is really unique.

Trevor Ward 24:30
Shows the, er …

Massimo Carboni 24:31
The profile, so 56 kilometre, that means about 32 miles 1000 metre of total ascent mainly in the morning before lunch. This means 3000 feet is correct.

Trevor Ward 24:43
How many metres?

Massimo Carboni 24:44

Trevor Ward 24:45
1000 metres

Massimo Carboni 24:46
Total ascent.

Carlton Reid 24:47
That’s Cycling Weekly’s Trevor Ward asking guide Massimo Carboni what’s coming up on the ride.

Massimo Carboni 24:56
So as you can see, mainly up in the morning with I’m down here, countryside, no traffic. But the tarmac is not very good because it’s a countryside road. Sometimes there is gravel in the afternoon is mainly down. The tarmac is much better. Okay, but no traffic at all as well, with the village of Orgosolo is here on the top. We are having the workshop and the lunch here. And we are going to see the murals here.

Trevor Ward 25:20

Massimo Carboni 25:21
And we are supposed to be here about 3, 3.30. So you have time to enjoy the swimming pool.

Trevor Ward 25:26

Carlton Reid 25:41
At the end of the trip I asked one of the guests for his thoughts. Michael DiMaggio — yes, he’s related to the baseball icon — had tested positive for covid the day before so we were masked up and muffled.

You’ve come down with Covid, right at the end. So your last final day, you haven’t been able to, to get up and ride with us. But the days when you were riding with us, what are your highlights? What’s what’s going to stick in the mind in the next 10 years?

Michael Dimaggio 26:16
I think the views, like, you know, coming into the small villages, being able to continue to finish a climb, and then be able to like just land these small little villages where you just don’t know what to expect. When

Carlton Reid 26:28
Did you come in here eyes wide open. Were you like have you trained for this was cycling is the distances what you’re expecting that kind of aspect of the trip?

Michael Dimaggio 26:38
Yeah, I think for the most part they were you know, nothing can prepare you for the and I think that was a little bit unexpected to be you know, that long. And I like you know, riding going uphill and then the heat, I think a little bit more surprising. I was expecting to deal with a cooler.

Carlton Reid 26:56
So were you coming on this for a cycling trip or a foodie trip?

Michael Dimaggio 26:59
I think it’s an active trip. I mean, I don’t like a combination of being able to do something, whatever vacation to do something active. So that you can add in food and wine and activities, I think is how I like to vacation.

Carlton Reid 27:11
And how did you actually find it in the first place? Had you done Tourissmo trips before?

Michael Dimaggio 27:17
Yeah, I did. I did one before my partner was hit by a car a few years ago. And to get her over to get her out. Again, we wanted to do something active to get her overcome that that hesitation that she had and being out in public again. And so we said hey, we found this trip and I was a chef to her and I come across Mary Sue Milliken being from California. So we should do that we should, you know train for that. And it gave us a goal and something to train for. And we went to Sicily back in 2018. And so that a lot, we got bikes for December and then rode all the way up until the trip, which allowed us to feel fairly prepared for the trip. The first trip with Tourissimo.

Carlton Reid 27:56
And you feeling strong now, like best part of a week of cycling, do you feel feel physically different or is all that food that we’ve been given that’s kind of countermanded what you’ve been doing on the bike?

Michael Dimaggio 28:08
Well, we did eat a lot. I mean, I don’t I don’t you know, I think we whatever we work off and riding we make up and eating and then some. So I did I extra it’s so hard to manage the intake. Because they just keep bringing the food. I think at toward the end of the trip, we learned to balance that better. Because they certainly don’t they just keep going Yeah,

Carlton Reid 28:33
yeah. And have you picked up any tips for like living longer because clearly we were in the blue zone, we were meeting experts on nutrition on the centenarians we’ve lived for 100 years plus here picked up anything that you think oh, I’ll take that through and try and live a bit longer?

Michael Dimaggio 28:51
I think moving more, you know, I’m you know, it’s so easy to be sedentary once you get back into your regular life. I think making time, commitment, to move. Community I think is a big thing. I mean, and then just putting yourself in a place where you’re surrounded by other people where you’re part of something

Carlton Reid 29:08
Amen to that, Michael. And that includes this trip, because we were part of something, for sure. Our small group really gelled and I was most taken by the three hour lunches where we learned a great deal about the Sardinia’s distinctive culture of community. We learned about the blue zone, ate some great food, and had a few bottles of local wine and let the conviviality wash over us. Now and again we also did a bit of cycling … The Chef’s Bike Tour of Sardinia is a seven-night trip and costs a touch under $5,000 per person, staying in boutique hotels with all food, drink and education included. Daily rides never exceed 50 or 60 kilometres but keenies can join the super-fit Massimo for an extra loop at the end of each day. More details on Thanks for listening to episode 300 of the Spokesmen cycling podcast and, as promised, we’ll end not with our normal theme tune but with a deeply resonant Sardinian folk song but first here’s Renato describing what you’re about to hear …

Renato Matta 30:32
Because, you know, it’s something very unique in Sardinia, and I think big parts of the world that you can find anything like this is a special kind of singing way of singing. It’s called cantu cappella, because they stay facing each other. And they are four singers with different voices, there is a storyteller, which is you know, the voice that start singing there is a bass which is really bass, but in a special way, I mean, is it’s not bass because it’s a natural bass voice, but it’s bass because it’s a technique developing the hears, you know, normally they start training to be based at the age of 12. So when you know, the hormones in the body they are growing so they can literally develop this kind of ability, which is just an ability, you know, a vibrational thing vibrational technique, so that the vibration can do this very bass and vibrating song sound. Then there is the what they call the half voice. Which is very important because it’s the voice that gets the rhythm to that the song, okay. Which is the other voice is big because it’s between the tenor and the bass. And then there is another voice which is same about a half tone, but they call it another way. Don’t remember now because it’s a Sardinian word. But is it Sardinian word from the centre of the island which is different from my studying and because I’m I’m from the south. Anyway, the beautiful thing is if you hear the voices okay one by one doesn’t sound so nice actually. But when they start singing together and melting the sounds together, there is an incredible melody which is unique.

June 1, 2022 / / Blog

1st June 2022

The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

EPISODE 299: In conversation with Marco te Brömmelstroet

SPONSOR: Tern Bicycles

HOST: Carlton Reid

GUEST: Fietsprofessor Marco te Brömmelstroet of University of Amsterdam’s Urban Cycling Institute

TOPICS: This show is a conversation with Fietsprofessor Marco te Brömmelstroet of University of Amsterdam’s Urban Cycling Institute


Movement,” by Thalia Verkade and Marco te Brömmelstroet.

Marco te Brömmelstroet, pic by Christa Romp.
Thalia Verkade, pic by Jesaja Hizkia.


Carlton Reid 0:10
Welcome to Episode 299 of the spokesmen cycling podcast. This show was released on Wednesday, first of June 2022.

David Bernstein 0:22
The spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast is brought to you by Tern bicycles. The good people at Tern are committed to building bikes that are useful enough to ride every day, and dependable enough to carry the people you love. In other words, they make the kind of bikes that they want to ride. Tern has e bikes for every type of rider. Whether you’re commuting, taking your kids to school, or even caring another adult, visit www.tern That’s t e r n to learn more.

Carlton Reid 1:00
Thanks, David. I’m Carlton Reid, and welcome to the spokesmen. This episode is a conversation with “fietsprofesspr” Marco te Brömmelstroet of the University of Amsterdam’s Urban Cycling Institute. I started by asking Marco about an award given to the Dutch language version of the book.

Marco 1:22
Yeah, that’s that’s one of the things that makes me maybe makes me the most proud of the book. It’s seen by many as a transportation book, that we’ve written it as a general interest book, and it won a prize for best journalists book of The Netherlands in 2021. So there was a great sort of recognition that what we’ve written here is not only sort of a technical book about mobility, but actually touches upon important discussions that we want to have in the wider societal debate.

Carlton Reid 2:00
Yes. Now your co author here is and I’m hoping getting pronunciation right is Thalia Verkade.,

Marco 2:06
Thalia Verkade.

Carlton Reid 2:09
thank you. But she also she writes for The Correspondent, I mean, what is she? How well is she known in the Netherlands?

Marco 2:19
Well, she’s she’s known as a good journalist. That’s also how we crossed paths. So we, we met in, in a conversation that she came as a journalist for the correspondent, and she came to my my office at the time, academic researcher on cycling. And I had very high hopes, because I had already many conversations with journalists about cycling, but very often, they didn’t really take off beyond the point that cycling is nice, sustainable, cheap, or whatever. And I was really hoping because she was working for the correspondent, which is in the Netherlands, known as a platform for journalism Beyond The Beyond the daily fast journalism that really wants to go deeper. So I was really hoping that she would come by and we could finally have a conversation that I would find more important about what the street is what mobilities for and so on.

Carlton Reid 3:17
So what’s what’s the book called in Dutch in English, it’s movement. What’s it in Dutch,

Marco 3:22
Dutch, it’s had read from this Nelson, which would try and translate directly as the right of the fastest, or the winner, the winner takes all. Who comes first, first, first come first serve. But it’s sort of a pun on in touch, the actual statement is a threat for the statics to the right of the strongest or the right of the fittest. So it’s it’s abundant refers to the notion that in our public space on our streets, speed, has become the dominant indicator for designing the streets and for thinking about the streets. So we just take for granted that the right of the fast trumps all the all the all the other potential rights that we could also use to think about the street.

Carlton Reid 4:15
And as the book talks about is that also involves cyclists going travelling too fast as well?

Marco 4:21
Well, yeah, exactly. Yeah. So it is, in the sense that was already started that Toyota came to my office to talk about how I have cycling could solve all the mobility issues that we are facing a position we we see a lot of course in bicycle activism. And I started to ask her exactly those questions. So because for me, it really depends on what type of cycling what kind of cycling. What What’s that cycling symbolises? And I started asking her questions about if cycling would also represent the same notion of speed and going fast from A to B but now no longer on four wheels and in a cocoon, but on a slightly different version of them. Is that actually a better world or not? Are we then actually taking back the public spaces that our streets once were? Or are we just replacing the one of the problems with with a new one? So two that brought us to that notion that it’s not a question about bikes versus cars, it’s actually a question about the fundamental fundamental underlying notions such as speed is speed, dominating public space, if that is the case, then most other use of that public space can no longer no longer happen. And that applies both on cars but also on on bikes.

Carlton Reid 5:48
In the in the in the preamble to the book, Talia describes it, but it mentions the fact that you’re the cycling professor. And she said that was obviously a something that she was very, very interested in. And, and, and amused by, but then she says, In describing your name, and you can actually pronounce your name on tape here, because you said it. That second professor is a handy moniker for a man with a tricky surname. So even even Dutch people think your surname is tricky.

Marco 6:18
Like if it I think it’s tricky. Yeah, that was the one that was once the reason. So my name is Dutch Marco te Brömmelstroet., which is already a bit of a tongue breaker. And also has this strange, strange letters in it, that seems very confusing for people. So it was once the reason to call myself online on Twitter to use the handle fietsprofessor because the need it’s much easier to use and to, to remember. So that was also the the reason for her to come by.

Carlton Reid 6:57
So I’m glad it’s not just me that okay. Let’s, before we get into the book, and and and I’ve read it, and it’s fascinating as as as as I’d expect, I guess. Let’s talk about you, because I’ve come across you. And I’ve certainly put recordings on this this podcast of your summer school, and the University of Amsterdam. So just describe your work, including, you know, how you’ve, you’ve exported yourself through that summer school and getting international students coming to Amsterdam.

Marco 7:38
Yeah, so it started out with being an academic, I was working on very abstract concepts of use of knowledge by letters, I guess. And at a certain point in my career, I really wanted to focus more on on a topic that that was less abstract and more, more more tangible to work on. And I can at that time, I came to the conclusion that in the Netherlands, we have this crazy phenomena, known internationally the cycling culture, but in academic circles, nobody is known. I would say, by that time I was I was, my position was that nobody’s doing academic research on that. And I found out quite quickly that that’s not the case. But many people are doing research on cycling, but they don’t. They don’t make that an explicit point of the research. So there are many transport economists, transport historians, for instance, they do research that includes cycling, but they don’t call themselves the cycling historian or whatever. So at that point, I started to think about what could be the role of somebody who would take that symbolic notion of cycling, more central, in this case, the cycling professor. And one of the products that that immediately came out of that was this summer school, the notion that we could sort of put a ribbon around all this great and fascinating research that’s going on in the Netherlands, for foreigners recognisable as something that is about the cycling culture that they want to understand. But for all the researchers themselves, not something they would they put themselves on the podium for.

Carlton Reid 9:26
And it’s the summer school. How long has it been going for? Because I came to the first one, didn’t I?

Marco 9:31
Yes, yeah. So it’s, we are now going to run the six instal. But there were two years COVID years of course, no travelling salsa, no summer schools, because the summer school is why it’s very international 30 students every year waiting list of about 60 and we select based on on diversity of discipline, discipline, disciplinary background, but also geographical backgrounds. So brings together the world for three weeks in Amsterdam, and the whole notion and that became central in the the further work that I started to do around cycling, the whole notion is to get to get more confused on a higher level. So you come in expecting to, at least some students expect to learn the tricks of how to get cycling exported to their own context. But on day one, we already start to question why they why they should be interested in cycling, what questions can you ask about cycling? Why is cycling? So such a strong and relevant symbol? But also, what kind of mistakes could you make in sort of uncritically copying this notion of how cycling was implemented in the Netherlands? Because then you could you could also, if you take a more critical perspective, you could really question if, if you could start all new by introducing a cycling culture is then the way that the Dutch did it? Is that really the best possible example to do it? So it starts to question that in three weeks, the students get confused and a higher level, they go back to their own context. And that’s also where we now see, five, six years after the first cohorts is that they really become quite powerful advocates, but also political leaders and players that are asking those questions to actually make better policies.

Carlton Reid 11:30
Because the people who went to those first ones, you know, they’re often doing master’s degrees and PhDs and stuff, they’ve probably never finished those academic studies they have moved into into the world of power, I guess you could put it you are seeing the fruits of that, then you’re seeing that the first people who who joined and now actually, certainly starting to have their hands and the levers of power.

Marco 11:59
Yeah, exactly. Yeah. So did they, of course, have developed an international network that was really powerful, especially in the beginning, where they kept looking for each other, kept asking each other’s support when they were doing things, because the first thing that we noticed is that many of these quite activist players are researchers. Also, sometimes already policymakers, they felt quite lonely in their own context, fighting for something, not being aware that there was sort of a bigger international network. And now suddenly, knowing how big that network is, gives them a lot of, of power and leverage to go back. But also this this, the ability to ask different questions to link up to different players as well to to learn that cycling isn’t isn’t only a different form of traffic engineering, but it’s but it also is connected to issues of health or loneliness, or opportunities for children. So starting to talk to completely different different players.

Carlton Reid 13:06
You’ve touched on people there, and that’s actually on my next question, because an awful lot of cycling and transport is put into the category of you know, that that’s, that’s a science that’s, you know, you design roads, you designed streets, etc, etc. And that’s quite an abstract or very, very, not nice at all. But what what you’re doing what you’re doing, because you’re a social scientist, so you’re focusing not on the buildings or streets, you’re focusing on the people.

Marco 13:35
Yeah, and then and then to fold. And that’s also what I hope to bring back in the book. So on one hand, it’s indeed those spaces that we create, then serve people. So the question is, who do they serve? And who do they not serve? The Justice elements of that? How do people behave in those spaces? How do they interact with each other? It’s sort of the relatively straightforward, I would say, social, scientific questions that you can ask about how streets function as public spaces. But the second, the second element of where humans come in is how, how humans actually design create an engineered space, that’s also a human element, an element of what kind of knowledge do you use? What kind of language do you use to understand that those streets basically the streets that we know now have been created by decades of, of groups of people working on it, and that that is what makes the Netherlands for instance as a, as a context, very different from the UK. So I also want to understand how those processes work how humans come to decide to make certain things happen in certain contexts.

Carlton Reid 14:47
So you focus on people, but then on on, on on video, and in the book. There’s this concept which you like and cyclists, Two starlings, two beds, and that’s the flow. So can you tell our listeners here? What is the flow?

Marco 15:11
Pool? Well, that’s a tough one, it that’s one of those things that you actually I think, have to experience to understand that. So all the listeners should should come to the Netherlands and really experience that, of course, but it so the notion starts and I think that’s important to realise that both for me, starlings flow are examples of different types of concepts, narratives, language that you can use. So they are, for me really examples that help us to ask different questions. So if you look at the traffic, or at a busy intersection, and you use a different metaphor, different lens, in this case, the flocking behaviour of starlings, you start to see different things happening there. And you start to see different problems and also different solutions. So with the starling metaphor, you start to see that cyclists, for instance, especially when their speed is relatively low. They are very good in organising themselves and in self organising space in such a way that they don’t collide. That they are flowing themselves through that space, but also allowing others to, to use that as well, which is a notion which is almost contrary to how we engineer and organise those spaces we organise in traffic engineering, the holy grail of intersection is that it’s conflict free, that the technology and the design creates an intersection where people do not have to interact with each other. Because interaction is almost by definition, a conflict. Because people are egoistic. And they want to basically, they want to, they want to behave like a goose and not like Starling, they want to go fast, long distance, I don’t want to get interference of others. So this whole different notion of allowing the starlings to show their swarming behaviour in Amsterdam, in the end led to a complete overhaul of the way that we started to design intersections. So instead of putting cyclists into the, into the the norms that we had the design guidelines, we started to teach traffic engineers to observe how cyclists actually behave on an intersection or use their behaviour as a starting point. So that’s the starlings. The flow element is also an example of a flow, we’re trying to sort of to reappropriate that term from the traffic engineers, because flow in general is the amount of traffic that you can push through a street, but flow in, in positive psychology. It’s a concept developed by [….]. And it’s all about how we how our brains are wired to look for moments of flow. But flow in that sense are really that the moments that we have feel, as human beings feel optimal, that we that the amount of challenges that we face, meets our needs for the skills that we have. And those moments, I think we all know them, playing music, or having having this great afternoon at work, where time flies, basically, those moments, that’s what we crave for. And again, if you use that concept, you start seeing why. In the case of Amsterdam, again, cyclists are not always are very seldomly following the logic of traffic engineering of the shortest route from A to B. But they are optimising their route based on the amount of challenges that they want to face. So sometimes you go through the park, because you want to have easy going round. But sometimes you actually want the hustle and bustle of the busy streets, you see that cycling again allows the cyclists to really go for the optimal personal conditions, where they really look to to be challenged,

Carlton Reid 19:11
and don’t want to get into too many technical aspects. There isn’t that many in the book, it’s very much a people book, but then there is one that’s mentioned. So the flow is is is carried out at least two or three pages. But then there’s also this other one called chip cone. So can you describe what Chip cone is and whether that’s, that can be explored internationally?

Marco 19:35
It’s an it’s a fascinating example of how you translate the book. Because in Dutch it was it was a new term that is introduced exactly because of the traffic engineers started to observe the behaviour of cyclists and they found out that in the guidelines for how to design a good intersection, you basically draw straight lines from one side to the net to to the other, where cyclists can cross. And when it gets very busy in the case of Amsterdam, we started to see that that the amount of space that that creates for cyclists to wait for the for for the green light was was not sufficient, and they started to behave erratically. So then one thing you can do is to, to start behavioural campaigns and tell cyclists that they should still stay within that space, they should learn how to how to cue, they cannot use the Contraflow lane, because it’s dangerous. But instead, the traffic engineer started to, to do together with us and a group of sociology students to do observational studies. And through video analysis, they found that cyclists actually showed behaviour that allowed them to use the intersection much with a much higher capacity than you would ever have following the design guidelines. And the Chipko is the is the example that comes out of that the Chipko basically uses the logic of the Swarm, which allows on the site where cyclists are waiting, you give them more space in width, then the opposite direction. And then while crossing you, you slowly limit the width to the other side. So the line in the middle of the of the bidirectional bicycle path is no longer straight. But it’s, it’s, it’s with an angle, which allows the cyclist to go from six metre wide bicycle path in the duration of crossing the road to a two metre wide counterflow path. And that suddenly gives the whole vibe, the whole feeling of that intersection, it fits much better with the actual behaviour of the cyclists. And by doing that it’s sort of the traffic engineers of Amsterdam, one innovation price with that simple innovation. And it’s now applied across across the Netherlands and now even last week, so that they are now they are now transferring that knowledge to an intersection in Oslo.

Carlton Reid 22:13
Many, many road infrastructure for cars do this, it was all similar. There’s one in fact quite close to me in Newcastle, where it’s the time tunnel and maybe other roads under under the river tunnels do this as well, where they have credibly wide area for the cars to go through. Because we’ve got to get through all of the gates for the for the money, but then it then filters it into subject and pretty wide. And then it filters it down to this this narrow section. But what it kind of tend to do is people go very fast to kind of get into that. The bottleneck part. So what what what prevents or maybe actually facilitates? Do the faster cyclists, you know, go incredibly fast to get through and the slow ones just dogged along Is it is it is this the chip cone, it allows everybody to go at the speed they want to go at?

Marco 23:11
Well, I would say that it’s indeed an example that in touch is called Ritzer, or supercute. What is used it also well described by Tom Vanderbilt in his book traffic. It’s this notion that indeed you you, you funnel and in that process, you organise the funnelling and there’s all this science about what is the best thing to do, but what really makes a difference. And what I find so fascinating is that, in the case of if you do this in as car drivers in individual cars, you become competitors with each other will start to behave also competitively. You want to be in front of the others. I also noticed that myself if I’m in a car, well, this cyclists and also because they are much more able to organise in a very fluid way. It it gives much more the appearance of not not competition, but cooperation. So it’s much more a process where indeed almost automatically if you’re a fast cyclists, without having to tell that to anybody, you already positioning yourself in such a way that you will have an optimal flow yourself, but you are also not in the way of others. So you create the space for also altruistic behaviour where people that need protection are on the inside. And people that want to go faster, I want to take a bit more risk on the outside and that you don’t even have to teach people to do that. They do that automatically and lead function much better. That’s one of the big things that we found out in the in the in the chip code design, according to the standard conflict measurement tools that traffic engineers had the intersection functions less well because they were more conflicts according to that model. But what they actually found out when they asked the cyclist they I experienced much lower levels of stress because the whole design of the intersection fitted much better with how they already behaved.

Carlton Reid 25:07
Let’s talk toys. Because one of the things that jumped out to me from the book was and I have seen the campaign on social media to get Lego to redesign it streets. But then there’s just this this this little factory which was which was fascinating where cars are now taking up more space in Lego. So they are now a Lego car is now six studs wide, whereas it used to be four studs wide in the 1980s. That’s fascinating how how the real world has has been miniaturised in the toy world. Crazy.

Marco 25:45
And also the road plates we found out is that the standard road plates that basically we gave our children to develop their creativity with and they build cities still still with that, we found out that the amount of studs on the side so the sidewalks basically, disciples of the road plates went from eight to five studs. So they because to basically allocate the wider cars, you need wider roads. And there were actually discussions that still open. By the way, some people say that aren’t in the 80s on the road plates, there were a bicycle lanes, it’s open for interpretation, I guess. But it’s clearly no longer there. So the current road plates are really row plates where six stud wide cars, take all the space in the space goes away from from other things. And indeed, that’s what is so fascinating is that it has a two way relationship with reality. So first of all, it is indeed a better representation of what also happened in the real world in from the 1980s. To now that more and more space of our streets had to be allocated for bigger and bigger vehicles. But also it works the other way around is that if this is the creativity, if this is the the visual language that we give our children, when they start to think about their future cities on early age, it is really strange that we we are not thinking about alternatives for that, but we don’t give them any options to really think differently than then this way of streets. So they literally Lego in Dutch also says that with Lego you can make everything right, it’s really about reshaping the world. But it isn’t because we basically give our children not the option to develop it to design the city where streets are completely have a completely different role like a playground or so, we started to develop that together with partial statement and he went to the 3d official route. And in the meantime, also, because the book came out in the Netherlands, after that we have started to to 3d print our own plates, we now developed our own Dutch bone F Lego road plates, but also a roundabout and a bicycle streets and typical bicycle and separated bicycle paths road plates, again, to show that not that is not one ideal different version of the road. But that there are many possibilities if you think about the road as a as a public space.

Carlton Reid 28:25
And as Lego following up on that the real Lego

Marco 28:29
hardly hardly. So they they were sort of forced their hand by in the design, they have this desire Lego design ideas. And so we sort of Marshall Stein, man who’s in the book, he presented that idea to them, and then you had to collect 10,000 support statements, which was easily done because people really recognise why this should be lightweight. This was a fight worth fighting. But in the end, they decided not to take it into production. So we decided to make our own 3d version. And also the whole design is open source so people can now basically print their own road plates. But what really was fascinating also to find out is that there are many other toy makers. One example in the Netherlands, it’s called way to play. And they were also coming to the conclusion through reading the book that their own road plates that they were getting to Chile. We’re also very much monopolised that by the notion that roads were black asphalt, places for cars and they started to develop a cardboard version of their of their road plates and those cardboard versions had two amazing things. One was that they they now offer a downtown play version where children can already play with adding parks, doing all kinds of other stuff with the street the left side of the carport streets are empty. And this is really where the creativity of the children comes to the fore, they can really design their own streets that can fit their their own creativity. And I think that said, that’s the whole point here is that, that will start the creativity that we need. If we really want to have a transformational change to how our streets are designed in the coming decades.

Carlton Reid 30:24
The Jesuit idiom isn’t the you know, give me a child, you know, up to the age of seven, and I will give you the man. So it’s very important to get to get kids. I mean, we there’s not a child this thing this is this is actually very important to get kids thinking very early on that yes, roads are not just strips of black asphalt, they can be movement, isn’t the only thing a road is for? Yes,

Marco 30:49
no. And that requires that requires movements of people to also people themselves to become aware of that. So that’s that’s the also the notion in the in the book, Talia came to me to talk about bicycles, and I basically started to ask her questions about all the things she took for granted already. And that’s also what we heard back from a lot of readers in the Netherlands that the books would have opened their eyes to the things they took for granted that many people just see the street as something that’s just theirs, it has been designed by experts, there’s thought about that. And that’s that they’re not really happy with it. But they also don’t see it as something that you could fight for. And we show them that there’s, there’s there’s a need to fight for it, because it’s public space. And we have a lot of important societal problems that require space to be taken away from the street as we know it. But it’s also possible to do it, but the possibility that the notion that you can actually challenge that idea that the road is a, it’s a black asphalt space between buildings, challenging the notion and showing all these examples, that streets can also be places where children can develop their own autonomy, or where neighbours can meet each other. Where trees can can grow, where all kinds of things are, are possible. I think showing that to people creates the potential for transformational change for people that are then stepping up and creating their own personal or local movement.

Carlton Reid 32:25
And you also in the book, it describes the campaign you had where you did make some changes to your your child’s school. So there was a plan. But you tell me what was that what was the original plan for your child’s school and what did the eventual plan create,

Marco 32:43
that start with the notion that the school was presented in the middle of a neighbourhood, a new school, in an old factory building and then to the neighbours. The match was shown that there will be a school here, this is how the school yard will be designed. And many experts have thought about this. So this is really sort of the best that we can come up with. And that was presented in such a way to the neighbours. But when you looked at the map, it showed that our children would get less than three square metres of playground per child, which was just according to the norm, but only just and the reason why this was so limited was an I immediately spotted that but most people didn’t. But was that there was a huge case, right facility. So there was a school yard was 600 square metres and the case arrived was 1100 square metres, the kids arrived, we then allow parents to drop off their kids school drop off zone for for car drivers. And again, this whole thing showed to all the stakeholders involved. It was presented as you have to take this for granted. This is what the experts thought about this is how they put the puzzle together. This is what you get. So even the director of the school said, Well, this plan meets all the norms, but it doesn’t allow us any dreams. But we have to take it for granted. This is what we get. And we basically went there as a group of neighbours and said no, we don’t have to take that for granted. We can we can challenge it because the experts came with this notion because they followed the norms and the models. But those models are not they are not they are not law, they are not given. They aren’t they are also created with a certain purpose, we can challenge them, and we should develop alternatives. So we developed an alternative where we basically told the school asked the parents to not come by car, and even to a certain extent forced them to not come by car. And if you succeed in doing that, we are going to ask the municipality to from day one, reclaim this drop of zone as an addition to the school yard. And that addition to the school yard we now we now are basically one because we shown we’ve shown to the traffic engineers that the world didn’t collapse if you don’t allow car drive I wish to come close to school. And we also show to the to the children and to the to their parents and to the neighbours. What quality you can get back. It’s not only about not having cars around school, but suddenly you have 1100 extra square metres for children to grow for, for greenery. For the autonomous development of children, they have a much more space much more diversity of playgrounds now. And that quality was not it wasn’t on the table. It was not that somebody was against it was just not at the table. The radical monopoly, the whole notion that we have to design the school environment first and foremost, for for safe car traffic. That notion and the fact that you can challenge that was so new to all the people involved.

Carlton Reid 35:48
So it’s a movement the book has before and after photographs of that of your child’s school, so people can actually look at that and see the after one is much, much better. No, Marco, I’m going to we’re going to stop here. We’re going to have a brief commercial interlude. But I want to come back and talk about the liability law.

David Bernstein 36:12
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Carlton Reid 40:16
Thanks, David. And thanks for the message from Tern. Now, I spoke before about the liability law because the movement, the book by Thalia Verkade and my guest today Marco te Brömmelstroet. Did I get that even partially correct?

Marco 40:37
That was recognisable. It was.

Carlton Reid 40:39
Thank you. So I’ll stick to mark it all fietsProfessor even that’s difficult for cycling professor.

Marco 40:44
Just just calling Marco.

Carlton Reid 40:47
Marco is much easier. Thank you. So Marco, the book has got lots of history in there. Which which I’m fascinated by. So So Thalia has gone back into archives and dug into stuff. And then there’s one bit which which I hadn’t realised the history went back quite so far on this. And that’s, you know, all the way back to 1924. The liability law. Now, whenever you mention this concept in the UK, you get a lot of kickback from bicycle advocates who say this, this law isn’t that important. It’s all to do with hard infrastructure we forget, forget all of these different laws, all we need are bypass. But the book is describing how this liability law has a very, very important psychological impact, nevermind, you know, a physical impact on reducing speeds, etc, etc. So just describe the Dutch liability law and how it is actually quite potentially more important than people might imagine.

Marco 41:55
First of all, it’s indeed important in Dutch there that these terms overlap much more I think, than than English. But it’s really indeed not about blame. The law is really about and also not about responsibility, but about liability. So it’s really about who, who’s basically paying in the end of the day, if there is a collision between two partners. And what I think he did a lot does it, it shows that everything you do in organising in designing the street, but also in organising the way that people interact in public space, everything you do is by definition, a choice in first principles. So you cannot come up with a way of organising that in, let’s say, an objective way. You always have to make, you always have to solve dilemmas. And what the history also of this slide shows is that if you make that explicit, it at least becomes something that you can you could then start talking about. So who is liable? Who is bringing in the danger on the street? And why is that so important? I do think that it’s it’s it has been watered down a lot that discussion, and I think it should be brought back more to the front, it became sort of an organising principle that’s in the backgrounds. And for men, it’s often also the Dutch discussions, mostly by by car drivers, or the organisations that that support them, is brought in the notion that Dutch cyclists also are now just throwing themselves in front of cars, because they don’t have any liability anyway. So it became a bit of a strange discussion here as well. So the current discussion still, I think deserves in all countries, but also in the Netherlands, to have the discussion again, about what are the first principles that are are behind that. And that leads also to the notion we also discuss in the book about why are we talking about, for instance, traffic safety, all across the world, also in the Netherlands, as as a matter of statistics that are talking about the victims? So why are we calling something a bicycle crash? Is it somebody on a bicycle is hit by a car driver? And all these elements also, they come back again, to that notion? What are the first principles that underlie this? What Why are we talking about safety? Why are we not talking about the danger itself, the liability law. And that’s also showing me that there’s discussion it wasn’t clear cut that there was a lot of discussion, and it was really one person fighting for that. But it was in the end. Also, for the person it was about this first principle to put the onus on those that bring in Danger on the street and not those that make a mistake.

Carlton Reid 45:03
In the book, there is a very painful episode that I haven’t heard discussed by you before. And I believe in a book that actually says that you may not have wanted to discuss it openly before, because then people might assume that this is why you advocate and you you study what you do. But do you want to describe what happened to you? Or what happened to a friend of yours, I should say, really, as a nine year old?

Marco 45:34
Yeah, when I was nine, I was, I was very close witness to my best friend being killed in front of my eyes, through a collision with a with a car driver. And yet we found out actually during its during the process of writing the book, Talia and I were talking a lot, of course with each other. And we sort of had this feeling that was more and more, I wanted to talk about the justice element and the fact that our streets have been designed as places that are now dangerous for, for, for basically, for everybody, but especially for children, and how unfair and unjust that was, so we more and more moved in that direction. So we started to talk about mobility innovations, electrical cars, bicycle highways, and more and more, we went deeper and deeper into the underlying questions, the questions of what kind of principles do we use to design that streets, but also what is even underneath that, so we were going deeper and deeper into into the rabbit hole, until we came to the point where I actually wanted to go from the start to discuss not how we could solve traffic congestion. But how we could make our streets more just, we started to discuss and develop ideas around how people were actually experiencing traffic crashes, how people that were losing their loved ones, were proceeding that how newspaper and media were playing a role in that. And more and more, it became clear to tell you that I had this personal experience. But it was also not easy to talk about that. And that’s, that’s because that became actually also a part of the book where we discuss that sort of process of opening up and I learned during the process to talk with other people that were involved. And actually, actually, through that process, we learned how important it is for society, but also for individuals, in this case, me to talk about those tragic events, and, and see them right in the face instead of ignoring them for years as a way to cope with the pain or to not have to discuss it, and also not have to discuss the consequences of it. For me personally, it was it was much better to, to basically it was painful, but I came to the conclusion that it was much better for me personally to to have that conversation openly with all the players involved, also the car driver herself. And that could that made us also draw the conclusion that that might also be important for society that we tend to not really talk about the the drama that happens every day, multiple times on the roads in the UK, and but also in the Netherlands, that we don’t really talk about that we sort of put it in, in terms that we don’t really have to face the fact that we actually are hurting and killing each other on a daily basis. And we think that we do need to have that conversation because that would lead to to a much healthier societal debate.

Carlton Reid 48:49
So when I was roughly that, that age, probably a bit younger, in fact, I think was probably seven, one of my best friends was also killed by motorist when I was living in New Castle, my auntie was killed in a motorway Smash. So, you know, virtually everybody on the planet knows somebody or has has witnessed like you You witnessed a road fatality. And yet, as you say it’s it’s just not really discussed. So when when I when I see a family torn apart by a fatality I kind of clear mind exercise and just think, well, that family would they rather that motoring, which has caused most of these fatalities, would they rather motoring just never existed and that their their family member would still be with them. If cars had not been invented it Do you think that’s a fair exercise to play? I always suggest we actually design these things out by, you know, autonomous vehicles or whatever. So what should we be looking at here never having the utility of a motor car dependent society, or just moving to a Vision Zero, where we have no crashes in the future?

Marco 50:19
Well, first of all, I’m so sorry to hear that, that it also affected affected you. And indeed, that’s one of the things that we’ve also learned by putting this story explicitly in the book, how many people suddenly become aware of the fact how close how people close to them, had that experience and basically, we, if you count the numbers, it’s indeed everybody knows somebody at least close by that’s that that lost somebody or we’re not even. It’s even unfathomable, how many people get severely injured. But also those all those people around all the even the first aid workers, but also, and I think that’s, that’s one of the one of the key points here, if we want to discuss it openly a society also the people that that that caused it, right, or that, at least we’re behind the wheel of a car, when this has happened, this the systemic nature of the violence, the systemic nature of how we do so it’s not even blaming, it’s not about blame, it’s that the whole system is designed in such a way that if you make one small error, basically, I think, another great book recently out by Peter Norton Autorama, he described it very nicely. It’s not human error, it’s species error. So we know that people are actually humans are not able to, to operate those machines in a safe way that it’s just you we are just, we are just clearly incapable of that. So we shouldn’t design and allow people to use those machines in such a way that they can so easily harm and kill each other. So which vision not which future we should go, I think that’s not for me to discuss. But I think we need to discuss it, I think we need to have much more open discussions by our policymakers and politicians that go beyond the notion that traffic safety is something that we have to teach your children that works traffic safety, that is something that is currently is a systemic feature of the of our streets, and it shouldn’t be, or at least it there’s also an option that it isn’t. And we use different logic. So in the 1920s, when the car came to our streets, we talked about this in terms of justice, now we talk talk about it in terms of effectiveness or efficiency. So traffic crashes are mostly discussed in the media as a nuisance, because they will they lead to closed roads, or congestion for X amount of people. And we are not talking about the deep, traumatic experience that whole families go through every day, every day. It’s amazing. And that’s on both sides. I think the main point is also people die, everybody dies in the end in one way or another. So we should opt for Vision Zero in terms of zero people are allowed to die in a way. If you if you can, for instance, in the Netherlands cycle to a very old age, you have so many health benefits, but you also of course then run the risk of dying while you’re exercising on a bike. It is really about the notion that we are killing each other. The notion is not that people are dying, the division 00 should be about zero people should kill each other I think.

Carlton Reid 53:52
So. Peter Norton’s book which you mentioned, Pete has been a frequent guest on this show. So his latest book Autonoroma is all about the perils of Magical Thinking really over autonomous vehicles, driverless cars, and in your book, yours intaglios book you have a black and that you describe it as a Black Mirror style. Well, it’s not a utopia dystopia where driverless cars you know, feature and the downsides of driverless cars. Absolutely feature. So where do you stand on on driverless cars and how that isn’t going to be quite as rosy a future as people tend to be told by the mass media.

Marco 54:45
Well, where does that so what my take on all those things is that we are also with with any mobility, innovation and almost any mobility discussion we are we are blind to or take for granted the underlying narrative If that’s being told, and with driverless cars, the notion that’s really strong, but it’s actually strong, I would say in almost any mobility innovation. And that is basically also the notion that led to the streets as we know them today, we have been working as society for decades spent a lot of money to create mobility systems with that same narrative. But that’s the narrative that we, as individuals want to go as fast and easy and comfortable as possible from A to B. And that’s, of course, partly what we want. But it’s, it is never the full picture. Because if you ask that as two citizens and you confront them, with the, with the ups and downs of that way of designing streets, we would have a much more adult conversation, I would say about all the different values that we that we want to be included when we, when we design the streets, and we are perfectly willing, most of most of us at least, were perfectly willing to sacrifice, going a bit slower from A to B, if that also adds much more quality to the street and the driverless car is for me just a logical next step in that sort of an uncritical acceptance of the notion that going fast from A to B is the key thing for an individual to do. And only for that reason already, we should be more wary about that. Because those notions as you say correctly, they almost by definition, lead to dystopia. By following one indicator that guides uncritically guides us towards a certain future, that future will, will become dystopian, almost, by, by default.

Carlton Reid 56:45
So I know that is one of the dark messages to was fewer autonomous cars, more autonomous children.

Marco 56:53
Yeah, or we don’t need driverless cars. We need carless drivers. But But that’s, that’s also it’s a position. And I would, I would argue that my my key point also is academic year is it’s not about which of these positions is perceived better. What we want to show in the book is that they are positions and you are by definition, taking a position. And it’s not sort of the future is given or technological innovations will come and we have to deal with them. No, you take by definition as a politician, as a policymaker, as a parent, as a as a consumer, as a citizen, you are taking a position and we want to show to people that they should be more aware and more reflexive on that position by showing that there’s also a future where we could design our cities as places that are not where people are not dependent on vehicles and technology to bring them to valuable activities, that that is actually a possibility, then you open the realm of choices, you also show to people that they can actually fight for one on one or the other. So one of the notions that I’ve found amazing is the book in The Netherlands is used a lot by politicians. These days, we just had the municipal elections. And we see that in many of the current coalition agreements, the book plays a role, which is really cool to see. But it’s still remarkable how little how little divergence or difference there is in the mobility paragraphs of different political parties. It’s almost like they don’t see that there’s really fundamental principle choices to be made. So the discussions, the mobility discussions in the end are about what kind of technology you favour. Do you favour transit? As long as it’s electric or green? Do you favour electrical cars? Or are you a bicycle enthusiast? Well, the discussion I think, should be much more about what to what kind of future do these technologies lead? What kind of public spaces do we want? What kind of engagement with our fellow citizens do we aspire to as a society? And there’s, there’s there are very few contexts where I see that happening.

Carlton Reid 59:08
It’s good to hear that your book is it’s been used by politicians, that’s good, even if they may be missing the point sometimes. So let’s talk about your book in where people can get it, who is published by all that kind of information? So people have been fascinated by this conversation, and they’ll be fascinated by your book, where can they get it?

Marco 59:30
Well, the book is published by Scribe publishers in the UK for now and for those that are listening from outside of the UK, it can be ordered through to Blackwell publishers or Blackwell bookstores, and they ship it across across the world.

Carlton Reid 59:53
Okay, and well where can people here I mean, we’ve already talked talked about fietprofessor, so that we now we’ve got your social media hand No, but where can people find out about the summer school?

Marco 1:00:05
The summer school is it’s actually, it’s a programme by the University of Amsterdam. So you should go to Google in this case. And if you Google planning the cycling city, or University of Amsterdam, you can you can sign up for the diversion of next year, because this year is already full. Sadly, for those that will still want to come, but what we do also offer since since we found through the summer school, the enormous amount of, of craving that there is for disguise of knowledge, but also this kind of confusion, I would say, we also offer these programmes as open online courses, so you can find them on Coursera Coursera, you can follow the course unravelling the cycling city, it’s a four week course, for free. And we also put up a new a new one, which is called getting smart about cycling futures, that really takes you by the hands through thinking about especially cycling innovations, and thinking critically about what kind of cycling futures we are creating with different types of of innovations. So that’s, I think, the go to if you really want to go deeper into this rabbit hole.

Carlton Reid 1:01:16
Okay, thank you. And also another go to, which is mentioned, because the back of the book has got loads of action plans with the here’s what you can do, here’s what you can read, etc, etc. And one of the things it says is Go follow the people or go for the things that aren’t the lab of So what’s the lab of thought Marco with the

Marco 1:01:35
lab of thought we are creating a foundation, where we bring together in first, the first instalment of the foundation, we bring together law, large mobility innovators and policymakers. So a number of international cities, but also a number of international mobility innovation companies. And with the lack of thought what we are going to develop together with them is increased what we call cognitive leniency. So we together with them, we teach them to become more reflexive about what narratives what language, what kinds of images, or imaginaries do they use when they think about the future that then in turn solidify into their innovation? So what kind of future are they basically creating? And what happens if you start questioning those what what happens with with the products of those companies if you start developing them from an alternative, imaginary, and what that directly leads to, hopefully, and that’s what we’re going to find out in the coming months, is all kinds of alternatives, prototyping. So one of the prototypes that we’re currently working on is redevelopment basically, of the standard traffic safety school programmes that are being used across the world. We found out that the imaginary the narrative that they use is traffic safety is a responsibility of our children, and they have to learn at a very early age to cross the road safely. And what we are developing as sort of a prototype counter narrative for that is that we teach that active citizenship we teach the children are from an early age that they can actually go to places and fight for safer streets so that their safety is guaranteed. That’s an example of a prototype of a very different mobility innovation, that that hopefully leads to a very different mobility future.

Carlton Reid 1:03:35
Thanks to Marco te Brömmelstroet there. This has been episode 299 of the spokesmen cycling podcast brought to you in association with Tern Bicycle. Thanks for listening and watch out for the next Sardinian-themed episode popping up in your feed real soo. Meanwhile, get out there and ride!

May 28, 2022 / / Blog

28th May 2022

The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

EPISODE 298: Why are Dutch children cycling less? Ask BYCS

SPONSOR: Tern Bicycles

HOST: Carlton Reid

GUESTS: Aya Achaboun, Simón Alvarez Belon, Lucas Boer and Maud de Vries

TOPICS: BYCS, bicycle mayors and why a Dutch NGO felt the need to create a program to stop the drop in child cyclist numbers in … the Netherlands.

OTHER LINKS: DFDS ferry. Eye Cafe, Amsterdam. Tourissmo’s Chef’s bike tour of Sardinia. World Bicycle Day, June 3rd. Are cyclist numbers dropping? These official stats say not; ANWB says yes.


Carlton Reid 0:09
Welcome to Episode 298 of the Spokesmen cycling podcast. This show was released on Saturday 28th of May 2022.

David Bernstein 0:22
The Spokesman cycling roundtable podcast is brought to you by Tern Bicycles. The good people at Tern are committed to building bikes that are useful enough to ride every day and dependable enough to carry the people you love. In other words, they make the kind of bikes that they want to ride. Tern has e-bikes for every type of rider. Whether you’re commuting, taking your kids to school or even caring another adult, visit That’s t e r n to learn more.

Carlton Reid 1:00
Thanks, David. I’m Carlton Reid and welcome to the Spokesmen. This episode is 40 minutes or so with Maud de Vries, the co founder of BYCS, the Dutch NGO that recognised cyclists numbers were dropping in the Netherlands so in 2016, it created the now global Bicycle Mayors programme. Now, if you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know I’m on the road at the moment travelling to Sardinia with the help of one Tern folding bike, two ferries and five trains. I’m now in Cagliari on Tourissmo’s Chef’s bike tour of Sardinia. But the day after leaving Newcastle on a DFDS ferry North Shields, I landed in Amsterdam and met with Maud along with the coordinator of the Bicycle Mauors programme and two of the junior Mayors we met for coffee, sparkling water and iced tea at a scenic cafe, where I asked Maud to describe what we were looking at across the river.

Maud de Vries 2:16
Right now we’re looking at Central Station at the at the shared space, which is an awesome area, I think in Amsterdam, where there’s also a lot of water, you have the [ferries] taking people from the centre of Amsterdam to north. And then yeah, there’s a shared space, which has been has been working perfectly for years now. And actually they’re building another shared space and a big a very large, cycle park under the water here. I’m going to show you around later, Carlton.

And then you said there’s also going to because we’re going to the ferries going to and fro you said there’s going to be a bridge a bicycle bridge. Is that going across here?

Yeah, the bridge over the Ij, as they call it. And it’s amazing. Because also you saw the cruise ships coming here. They’re quite large. And still, they will be able to go here. So I think there has been a fight over this for a long time. Some people thought the cyclists should go under the tunnels, and some other thought it would be good to have the [ferries] and not change anything or have like the cable. Had I heard it called Yeah, the cable the cable? Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. Which would be fun, of course, as well. But now finally, they’ve taken the decision to upgrade is that gonna happen? I think he’s gonna happen in likely, let’s say three to six years, something like that.

There’s a hug amount of bicycle traffic. I mean, every single ferry is full and they go every few minutes.

Yeah, they do. And it’s an amazing ride. I liked that ride as well. But of course people just don’t want to wait. And I think that’s the reason for building that bridge. And it’s also a good connection to actually connect the North in which there they develop a lot of land right now and the city centre so I really also like the bridge a lot but but you know as it is right now it’s very enjoyable tour to go from the city centre to north.

So now tell me because we’re not here alone, but we should say where we are actually. What’s What’s this place this this beautiful little cafe we’re big a cafe, not a little cafe, big cafe,

very big cafe and it’s beautiful. It’s called the Eye film theatre. And basically it’s yeah, it’s an arthouse movie centre setup basically by the by the city of Amsterdam,

But we’re not here just me and you, Maud. So introduce around the tables, we have some bicycle mayirs here we do we do we have a course of the bikes programme but first let’s go to the bicycle mayors. So who have we got here, Maud?

we get the first bicycle mayor or junior bicycle mayor, not the first actually I have to say but Lucas, you’re the first older Junior bicycle mayor in Amsterdam because actually, we had two before Lucas already and they were a bit younger, but then we felt like it would be really good to have During your bicycle mayor that will be a bit older to also get around a bit more easy and also to be able to put a to put the kids voice on the table a bit better, you know, so and I think Lucas is doing a really great job. You have been around for for almost a year. Have you?

Lucas Boer 5:17
Yeah, a little bit more than a year now, I think since November 2020, 2020, 2020. Yeah, one and a half near years now. Yeah. Something like that. Yeah.

Maud de Vries 5:27
Yeah. And it’s been really great. So Lucas was able to work also with adults. Adults, you know, you’re another year so now almost.

Lucas Boer 5:36
January, I’m 18. So I’m okay.

Maud de Vries 5:38
I’m officially you’re an adult now

You’ll be chucked out. You’ll be you’ll be thrown out programme. To Junior.

Yeah, so definitely, we’re going to find a new No, not yet.

We have in the in the right?

and we have Aya on the right hand side. You’re pretty fresh, because I think it’s three months now that you have to do new bicycle mayor for the Hague. And I think that’s pretty amazing as well. We have a new bike mayor in The Hague, as well. And at the same moment, if you got elected as the junior bicycle, Mayor of The Hague,

so I what do you what do you do compared to what the the adult bicycle mayor does? What what are the differences?

Aya Achaboun 6:23
It’s my job to look at what the kids want and need. And I think the seniors look more at the whole picture. And I narrowed it down to just what kids want.

Maud de Vries 6:34
What do what did kids need? Generally?

Aya Achaboun 6:37
I think in my opinion, kids need free bikes, because a lot of my friends, I know they don’t go to school with a bike because they don’t have one, or there’s is broken. So I think they need bikes and safer roads, to schools.

Maud de Vries 6:56
So even here, even in this country, where you are so many light years ahead of virtually everywhere else, you’ve still got to have a junior bicycle mayor telling people, kids need these things. Why do you need this in this country?

Aya Achaboun 7:15
Well, that’s a good question I think every country has has its imperfections. And we can always move things we should always try to set.

Maud de Vries 7:28
So perfection, perfect perfection. Because we I come across here, and I’ve got to come up with a boat. And I’ve just been straight onto amazing wide bike paths. And then to think that you’re gonna be trying to improve us how can you improve that?

Well, actually, something really bad is happening in the Netherlands right now. And, and we have to talk about this. And it’s happening to the children. Because years and years now less children are getting on bikes in the Netherlands. And that’s a big problem, because we’re actually losing the cycling culture that we

Is that they’re going into scooters instead, or they’re going in cars, where were they going?

Yeah, it’s like when they’re really young, you know, the parents feel like it’s less safe for a kid to be on the bike, which is not true, but they feel like that. So that is a big problem, I think. And the second thing is also cargo bikes. So lots of parents travelling, getting cargo bikes, and they then are a bit older, when they get to learn how to ride themselves, which is maybe not a good thing. And then also still to a lot of kids, especially in the retail, parents, especially reason taking the kids to school by car, which is a problem. So we have this fight for school streets, as well as other countries. But I think in the Netherlands, it’s like in Amsterdam, 25% of the kids can’t even bike and in the Netherlands as a whole a third of all children is not cycling

So for the future that’s bad. That’s

Exactly, it’s a whole generation had that’s not cycling, and if it’s declining, yet then we’re stuck because it will if all the people then like in 10 years or 15 years from now are gonna go to work by car then what do we do? It’s not possible. So then what’s happening next week on World Bicycle Day that were with all the bicycle mayors to junior bicycle mayors, but also the Dutch bicycle mayors are going to be offering a manifesto to the ministers in the Netherlands saying you know, this has to stop because we’re really worried and so are also a lot of organisations in the Netherlands that we have been talking to about this. So it’s important I think what I as opposed to saying is to put kids voice on the table as well you know, because so many ideas on how to improve things and and maybe Aya you can talk for example about your own idea. You know, I about like kids, the so in the Netherlands we teach the kids in school, how to ride a bike, but we don’t really do that because schools don’t have the time you know, and I think that lessons we learned and now are not the most the nicest lessons. And that’s the idea that you sort of that struck us when he went to become a junior bicycle, maybe maybe you can elaborate a little bit more on that.

Aya Achaboun 10:13
So we spend a lot of our day at or at schools. And afterwards, we don’t really have enough time, or our parents don’t have enough time to teach us how to ride a bike. Correct. So I thought, why aren’t we thought this ad was cool, because we have gymnastics, physical education. But learning how to bike is a class that has given given inside of gymnastics, but it should,

Maud de Vries 10:41
is that not also because it’s expected that you’re going to be you’re gonna be a cyclist here. Because you know, the old adage of it’s, like Dutch people’s DNA. I know, it’s not quite like that. But is that the reason? It’s just so normal here? In why would we have it in school? And you’re kind of like telling them something that’s, they find? Well, why would we do that? Is that is that the reaction you get?

Aya Achaboun 11:04
Yeah, I get that. But we’re now seeing that it’s declining. So there, it should be. There should be more focused on it. Now. Because we have like modes we have already we have had this bicycle culture for so many years. But now it’s declining. And it’s a problem that is really being ignored.

Maud de Vries 11:25
And we haven’t introduced somebody here, who is at the table and is listening intently here. So you do the kind of the bikes programme you can get onto the bike system. In fact, from instead of asking mode, what were the the bikes programme is, you can tell me who you are and what the bikes programme is, and we’re gonna say it BYCS, yes. So tell me what, who are you? And what is the bike programme?

Simón Alvarez Belon 11:45
So my name is Simón, and I’m the bicycle network coordinator. So I get to coordinate and manage this really inspiring and energetic network of cycling leaders that we have now in 138. cities more or less. And also, of course, the the network of junior bicycle mayors, which is really great. It’s a network goes, yeah, a lot of people trying to bring change in the cities and make the cities healthier and more sustainable through the bicycle. But I think what’s really unique is that because we value kind of the local knowledge and their voice, they’re very, they offer solutions that are tailored to their city. And those can be shared across the network, which is Yeah, it’s really inspiring to see and, and not only are our lessons shared, but also I think there’s a really strong sense of solidarity among the the networking that keeps everyone inspired and keeps everyone working towards the same goal of 50 by 30.

Maud de Vries 12:38
And do you meet up? I mean, how do you inspire each other? How are you? Is it like a WhatsApp group? Where you’re all in? What how do you how do you talk to each other?

Simón Alvarez Belon 12:46
Yeah, well, there’s a lot of things we definitely have communication platforms on WhatsApp, where people share what they’re doing, or a lot of people ask for resources or hey, you know, Does, does anyone know how to best implement a bike share system or how to best introduce bicycle parking, for example. But also, we have regional calls, which are really, really powerful where bicycle Mayor’s, for example, in Europe or in North America will meet up and discuss maybe an initiative that they want to tackle or they just share what they’ve been working on in the last three months and lessons that they’ve learned in Latin America. For example, last year, we had a regional call where everyone there, the angle Latin America is really focused on the climate crisis, and making raising awareness about how the bicycle is zero emission transport. And so for Earth Day, through that regional call all the bicycle ministers together organised an awareness campaign. Where, yeah, on Twitter on Earth Day, they all share, you know, what a united message of why we need to hop on bikes, to save the planet. And now we have the juniors as well which, which are doing the same thing.

Maud de Vries 13:52
Perfect. And Maud, tell me where this started. Because I mean, it did start from just you know, the odd wasn’t the Dutch it was. I mean, I was there when you Yes. When you when you were appointed? I sort of asked me back, Well, you tell me when, when what I remember this, when you tell me when was this? And what was the idea behind it? Yeah, and how has it gone? How is it as a how has it worked?

So it’s 2016, I believe, when we were starting this organisation called BYCS, an NGO. And we wanted, we wanted to transform cities, and we were thinking, you know, you could do that in different ways. And one way is to sort of leverage the voice of, of the changemakers that are already there in cities, you know, and also see the effect of benefits, the benefits between global and local, so have people being there in the city 24/7 knowing everything that’s going on, you know, and then for them, being able to raise their voice in that city. You know, we thought that might be a good idea. So then we started with one bicycle mayor in Amsterdam, which was at that time, and Anna Luten

And Anna worked for Giant?

Yeah. And then eventually she moved to New York as well. But it was great. She worked for Giant, but it had nothing to do with the work for Giant because basically she started because she had a fall on her bike a couple years before she became a bicycle mayor. And by then she realised, you know, instead of, you know, thinking about never going to be I’m gonna have a good fall. Yeah, somebody’s dropping. Yeah, it’s not Anna. I’m happy to say she saved. But you know, and then it wasn’t about that. But it was basically about she said, The bicycle is changing my life and actually want to do something with it to make Amsterdam, you know, fun and better, again, using the bicycle. But then yeah, some things happen in life, you know. So she moved, and then Katelijne Boerma came on in Amsterdam. And she really saw the transformation happening where she saw a lot of kids with obesity, still in Amsterdam, that road cycling, and then that was also related to the work she’s doing. So she was talking about how can we be seated and invites people and children to cycle more, you know, or to exercise more. It’s not only about cycling as an end goal, it’s a means to this end goal. And then, you know, building on that, I think in a year time, we had 11 Bicycle mayors, we organised the summit in Mexico City. And it was really awesome, because by then we start, we started to see the first results of that. And right now, the Mexican bicycle Mayor Areli Carreón, she was there at the beginning, she’s still with us. She’s transferring her role to somebody else as well. But what they have been doing is amazing, because right now, they changed a big law in Mexico, around safety, which was a big fight against the car industry as well. And finally, after years of fighting, they’ve won that. And this is something they this is a good example for multiple cities in Latin America. And they’re trying to spread that and the second thing she and her group at Decker’s and also lots of other groups are working on as well is to inspire single moms to have a bicycle, they have bicycles, electric bikes, they share with these moms, they can use that they are trained to use it for years, so they can feed the kids, they can take them to school, they can find a job somewhere and come out of poverty and also depression most of the time. So we have so many inspiring stories. For example, Satya in Bangalore, we have had a crazy explosion in India as well, where we now have I think, Simon, 47, bicycle mayor, something like that. It’s amazing. I’ll be going to India again in a week time, because it’s like, it’s really hard. What happens in India right now is that there’s a lot of air pollution, Delhi is a good example 50% of of the air pollution is caused by road transportation in Delhi, you know, what if we can take at least half of the trips, and get people out of the car. So onto the bicycles. So you know, and Satya, for example, is a good example. He inspired other bicycle mayors in India during COVID with relief riders, so what they did was use the bikes to bring goods and medication to people. And then other bicycle mayors took that on and then there was, there were a lot of volunteers working with them as well. So that’s some of the stories we get from the bicycle meyors. We’ve grown from 11 cities to 100. And what do you say? 38. Now, almost 150 Yeah, so sometimes it goes up a bit, and then it

Is the bicycle mayor programme the biggest part of BYCS?. And you won’t really do what else do you do?

Yeah. So we’re, after the success of the bicycle Mayor network, we also thought this is so strong, you know, building these movements. So we have started the citizens network last year. And that is really successful as well. What else we do is also we help organisations consulting, for example, we work with the UN and we are helping the World Bank in Latin America, set up a platform which is called PLAMOBI. That is a really good thing as well. We help we are helping organisations in India. So what we do is sort of build coalitions as well, organisations and policy institutes, companies, etc. To to go and bring the change. That’s basically what we want to be doing.

And have you found something that fit BYCS yet or is it still bikes doesn’t mean anything. It just means

it just mean but have mean? Means bikes, too, as simple as that. Yeah.

You’ve got to come up with something No, bicycles give you.

Yeah, I bet it was actually. It was a bit men by because we started off as cycle space. It was by cycle space. And then it also said BYCS, so we thought, This is really good. And it’s so short. So yeah. overdue. yours have really, I really felt like, this is so good. I really liked this. But yeah, you can say whatever you want?

And how is it funded?

Basically, we’re self funded until now, let’s say and so now we’re trying to get in a bit more partners that can also help in a different way. So now, for example, we got a nice grant to build on the junior bicycle mayor network. And I think that is really good. So in the, in the past, the work that we have been doing in consultancy, and lab stuff in the Netherlands has, you know, it really helped us enough to COVID that stop because we couldn’t organise any events, we couldn’t do that. So then it all dried up. Because the money we that comes into our house, we just spent that on the networks and all the other things. So we were a bit like, Okay, well, what are we going to do, so we had to shift the model. And now that really helped us to work and collaborate with all the amazing organisations had, like I was just talking about. So now for example, UMI which is the Rockefeller Foundation, for example, is helping us building on with a junior bicycle mayor network who doesn’t only mean they fund us, but it also means that they help us with other organisations that have done this, you know, how do you how do you do that? So we’re a small organisation, and we have we need help as well. And this is I think, the perfect way forward.

David Bernstein 21:28
Hey, everyone, Excuse the interruption, but this is David from the Fredcast and the spokesmen. Just want to take a few moments out of the show to talk to you about our sponsor, Tern bicycles at That’s t e r n, like the bird, Tern are committed to building bikes that are useful enough to ride every day, and dependable enough to carry the people you love. And today, I want to tell you about their new Quick haul ebike. The Quick haul is a compact ebike and it’s it’s optimised to make life in the city just a little bit easier, a little bit more convenient, and a lot more fun. It’s a compact ebike and it’s kind of handle most of your daily trips around town, it’s rated to a hefty 150 kilos, or for those of us Americans 330 pound Max gross vehicle weight. And it’s got an ecosystem of modular accessories. This is really cool, by the way, so that it can be customised for any job. different setups are going to help you carry a load of cargo, maybe an extra passenger, and that could be a small adult, a child or even your dog or cat. Now despite its longer wheelbase, and its hefty cargo capacity, it’s shorter than a regular bike. It’s a compact design, plus it’s got 20 inch wheels, and that makes the Quick haul easier to manoeuvre on urban streets, or maybe even in transit hubs like train stations or bus depots or even ferry terminals. It also includes turns vertical perchick parking feature which is really cool, so that you can just roll the bike into a small elevator or pocket in a corner of your apartment. Now, the Quick haul is also shareable by literally everyone in the family. It’s equipped with an adjustable seat post and stem so that it can fit riders from 160 to 195 centimetres or five foot three to six foot five but it also fits riders 145 to 180 centimetres which is for nine to five foot 11 When you put on the shorter seat post now Josh Hon, who is Tern’s team captain and also somebody both Carlton and I have known personally for a very long time. Don’t ask me and Josh how long we’ve known each other. Josh is serious about ensuring the safety of Tern’s bikes and its riders. So that’s why he and his team ensure that every Tern bike is designed and independently tested to ensure rider safety. That’s why they use respected independent testing labs and why they sourced their motors, their drive trains and their batteries from German industrial powerhouse Bosch. It just doesn’t get much better than that. So for more information about the Quick haul, or any of Tern’s wide range of bikes, just head on over to That’s t e r n We thank turn for their sponsorship of the spokesmen podcast and we thank you for your support of Tern and also for allowing this brief interruption of the show. Now back to Carlton, and the spokesmen.

Carlton Reid 24:53
Wherever you come from so 2016 When the bicycle mayor programme started, when was BYCS founded on where How’d you get into this space? Of course, you’re Dutch. So you’re in this space naturally. But where did you come from?

Maud de Vries 25:07
Yeah, basically, it was just so I have another co founder, and he’s from Canada. And when he came here to live in Amsterdam with his family, it was basically because Amsterdam and the bike culture that we have, you know, said, I wanted to live in a city that is silence that is clean, and it’s nice and social, and people feel healthy. And he was like, Amsterdam is the perfect start. And when I met him, he was like, you know, we have to give this presents to other cities as well. And that’s basically I think that was the basic thought behind what we wanted to do. We just wanted to share the gift that Amsterdam has to give, but in a different way. We don’t think every city or every country should be like Amsterdam, or the Netherlands, you know, but there are so many opportunities. So that’s why we started off actually with the bicycle mayor, network. And you know, start it started off being a Knowledge Centre for international organisations that wanted to know more about how do I do this? What can we do? And then we started to work with other organisations as well. That’s basically where we came from. Yeah.

Carlton Reid 26:14
It’s obvious that you’re gonna go to things like Velo-city. So I’ve definitely been have interviewed you before. Yeah. And the Dublin Velo-City, in fact, and then previous bike shows. But then, of course, you also go into things like COP. So yeah, I’ve been Glasgow and the COP that’s coming up in Egypt, we are perhaps you’re going to that. So how is fitting into into a climate change agenda?

Maud de Vries 26:38
Yeah, it’s like, I think mobility is actually the largest thing we can, you know, influence on to get to the targets as quick as possible. And like in COP last year, we were talking about, you know, maybe how we should change the cars and get a battery in there. But if we talk about active transportation, I think that has that would have the the largest effect on on climate change. And it’s hard for people to see it, you know, so it’s the solution that’s already in the shed that say, you know, you can write it today. So we don’t need, we can transform all the cars that are in the world right now. And put a lithium battery inside, you know, we can’t do that. It’s just impossible, not only for climate, but also because it’s just not feasible. And this is such a feasible and human solution. We have to, we don’t have to, we should not focus on technology, we should not focus on all these other. That’s not the future. We have the future already here.

Talk about the future. We have some young people. Yeah. We’re not the future. We are the way apparently, yeah. So we are here sitting with us, I’ll come to you. How much of what you’re doing. And what you’re doing with that, with the programme has been inspired. And I’m gonna ask, the same question has been inspired by climate change, or how much of it is it’s why I like it. I like cycling, I think other people should be, you know, like cycling too. So. So try and split that into percentage terms, even

Lucas Boer 28:11
in the moment are in the past one and a half years, I didn’t really have the climates aspect as one of my points to focus on. I mean, true. It’s a very important aspect. I mean, we have a future and I want the livable world in 10, 20 years, where I can

Carlton Reid 28:29
Maud, we will still be there 10, 20 years.

Maud de Vries 28:36
We will do our best.

Lucas Boer 28:36
I don’t know. That will be strange. Yeah, I want

to wake with my bike to somewhere in a nice world that I’m in I think gets with this my primary targets. The first thing gets, I mean, it gets a toddler of five years or three years, it’s not the first thing without further think about is the climate, you know, so then it’s important to fix it.

Carlton Reid 29:03
And same question for you, Aya, but also, maybe because because because it was talked about like young kids there. When you’re talking to maybe teams, is the climate aspect, much more important to them? Is it part of what you’re talking to them about? Or again, is it is it you’ve got to keep it fun? Because the kids don’t want politics. They don’t want the future? They just want they just want fun. So how much are they again, same question, but just maybe slightly older kids?

Aya Achaboun 29:30
Well, I wasn’t really focused on the climate part either. When I saw the numbers, I was shocked because of how many kids don’t use the bike to go to school anymore and don’t use it at all. I was shocked because for me going to school with a bike changed my ability to concentrate on my work, and it just made me feel better and less tired than if I went with the trim or the bus. So I wanted to focus on that if you go with a bike, you might think oh Oh no, it takes, it takes a lot of effort and I will get tired. But at the end of the day, it makes you feel better than if you were to go with the bus or the train to school. That was what I wanted.

Carlton Reid 30:10
How old are you, Aya?

Aya Achaboun 30:11
I’m 17.

Carlton Reid 30:15
Does this programme that you’re doing? And many of them? Does it take some of the time away from your schoolwork? Or how do you how do you marry those two things, and maybe what your parents think why you’re doing this?

Aya Achaboun 30:28
Well, I was used to finding what I do. Because I have been volunteering for quite some time now. But what I really liked about bikes is any we can choose ourselves what we do when we do it, and how much time we put into it. So when I’m busy with school, I obviously don’t do a lot. I don’t think about a lot of ideas, I just focus on ways. And when I have free time, I can decide, okay, now I want I know I have time for bikes now I tried to, you know, get some ideas and make some plans. And my parents, they, they really loved it that I did this, how do I say?

Maud de Vries 31:11
You became a junior [mayor].

Aya Achaboun 31:12
Yeah, I became a junior Because they all see how important it is for us to use bikes more regularly.

Simón Alvarez Belon 31:19
It’s ust so important that they are doing the work that they’re doing to influence their peers at a young age and, you know, get cyclists that are teenagers. And I also think it’s amazing, right? We have this focus on climates. And I think a lot of teenagers do as well. But we also seen in Aya and Lucas, they have you know, very specific examples of why they want to get more people on on bikes. Aya wants to focus more on maybe, you know, this is a perspective that I would have never really come up with. So it’s wonderful to have their voices on the table to be able to learn why and how we can get people there on two wheels.

Maud de Vries 31:52
Totally. Yeah. And I think also Lucas would you came up with in so we have a green deals fiets, means cycling. And so basically, what you came up with was this timeline between for kids between zero and 20 or so when they get off on the bike and off a bike and how we could come up with interventions, you know, for that to see, you know, when you learn so what we see in the pilot that Lucas was referring to, so the two to four years old, it was it’s really funny, because they’re teaching each other actually. So instead of the parents like pushing them, I’ve been pushing my kids, you know, for half a year, I think before they could fit away themselves. But what happens in the in here is that if one kids starts to pedal, then the other ones do it as well, you know, so and I think if we were able to sort of do this in every leg, this experience is an experience for life. And I think both of you are also referring to the fact that it’s maybe not climate change or health or another angle, we’re not You’re not thinking about angles maybe all the time, or you’re just thinking about the fun or the the nice things cycling can bring to you. And I think that’s also a really good thing about cycling.

Carlton Reid 33:02
So I think people listening to this will be quite shocked. Because if they’re say listening to this in America, they would say, Well, of course that’s you’re describing our society, of course, people aren’t getting on bikes, we need to encourage them on bikes. And cars. Look at the Netherlands that everybody’s on bikes, and what you’re saying and what Lucas says it’s going to those experiences. No, even in the Netherlands, you have to encourage people, you don’t have to encourage people in cars now but go in cars. You’ve got to encourage people even in and I’m not going to bang the table here. Even in the Netherlands, you have to encourage people out, does that not say that’s an inherent weakness of the mode that you are promoting that you have to encourage them you do not have to encourage your fellow 17 year olds to get in a car they probably want to get in a car and fellow 18 year olds they probably want to get in a car because it’s I mean air quotes here the adult thing to do. So my point here is just well my jaw is on the floor. Basically that’s like I am in the Netherlands and you are telling me how difficult it is to get people on bikes and it’s like metaphorical head banging on on table that’s really shocking.

Maud de Vries 34:21
No, but it is all about the car. I have to say you know if we keep on pushing people into the cars, so what we’re doing is subsidising fuel, what we’re doing is subsidising the space where we people are parking the cars, all these things. If we keep on doing that we’re basically pushing them into a car and then being aware of like, oh, people are stuck at the highways, we need to build my highways. What is the future we want? You know, so I think the government’s are they need to make this change, you know, and that’s why it’s still hard for us to get the kids on the bike. But it should be the other way around in the Netherlands right now. They put two point Have a billion euros into this tax law helping the people that already maybe even have the money to drive a car, even if it’s expensive to still drive the car. They give them money. Why? You know, what did they do that they need this money? I’m shocked by that if we spent that two point a billion, it would mean 2800 euros per kid in the Netherlands, which is like a million kids that are not cycling. If we spend that only on kids, to give them a bike to make sure they have safe roads to handle that, then we would build on a generation, you know, that doesn’t need the car anymore, then we would build on a good city with a high quality of life. It is so easy.

Carlton Reid 35:43
Let’s let’s come back to Lucas. Because when I said there about driving and your age, and I have the same, and you that was an ironic nod you gave me it was like Yeah, yeah. So is that a problem? So on your timeline, for instance, is the world that’s the age that you know, your kid is going to basically want to, if not drive, at least want to learn to drive and watch and learn to drive into our insurance, you suddenly become Oh, I’m gonna drive all of a sudden. So is that when you think you will lose people? So you’ve done all this fantastic programme? You can’t? How old? Is it yet? 17. When you can drive in the Netherlands?

Maud de Vries 36:20
17 you can start to learn.

Carlton Reid 36:23
Yeah, okay, so 17 in the UK, but 18 across here. So you could now drive you can’t drive yet. But you can now

Lucas Boer 36:29
drive when I have a licence with I don’t have a licence. So but

Carlton Reid 36:32
is that on your timeline? That’s like, okay, 18. And we’re gonna lose so many people at 18. Not.

Lucas Boer 36:39
I mean, for me, personally, I’m not thinking about getting a driver’s licence. But there are a lot of people who are, I mean, the first step is getting a scooter at the age of 16. No, then you can go with a scooter to school. And then that’s the first point where you lose some. And then when you get 17, or 18, they start driving lessons, I think all with a car, I can go to there and there. And when people get the car, then you lose a lot of people. It’s a lot of people also feel for Uber, a car is a little bit more expensive than I thought it thought it’s an insurance, gas and the car itself. It’s not cheap. So that’s also something that’s causes people that causes people to get back from the car with a lot of people. Yeah, we lose in the car. And I also think we did some, nothing my timeline anymore. I think later, some things, something later, you get back from the car. And I mean, some hope or I think at some point, people realise this owner of that car, I don’t want to drive the car, the rest of my life, I will go by bike to my work or something. I mean, my father, he could drive to work, but it’s an Amsterdam, and then he takes the bike. The car is standing still in front of the house. So I think there’s also a point in life where we get something to the effect but that’s not really my thing to focus on because he or not juniors anymore and do it are not it is not the my top guy and so yeah, but yeah.

Carlton Reid 38:12
Okay. And Aya same same question to you that really

are you in visiting when you become a driving age do you do do envisage getting a driver’s licence? Or your peers? Also thinking about getting driving licences? Do you think you’ll lose lots of people to driving when, when they get to that magic age of 18?

Aya Achaboun 38:35
Well, almost all my friends have either started their driving lessons or are going to in the near future, and everybody’s talking about it, like going with the car to school. It’s just cool, I guess you could say for that age. So I do think we’re going to do that now going to school with like growth with a car

Carlton Reid 38:56
and have it male female, is there more of your female friends thinking that way? And maybe the guys don’t? Do you? I mean, in the UK, there’s a huge drop off of teen girls. You know, teen girls is when you lose, you know, people, you know, you can you can very much have a girl cycling up to the age of 14, and then it becomes incredibly uncool. To start and I know that from having from from teen girls, they’d come back, but for a few years for good three, four years, it was very uncommon for them to to be on a bike. How do you find that in the Netherlands? Do you find that similar?

Aya Achaboun 39:35
I think so. Yeah. Because two years ago, we did research for a project. And we researched how many kids go to school with the bikes and with with the bike and we saw that all the boys in my year went to school with the bike. And with the girls that was like 50, 50. So that was an interesting, yeah.

Carlton Reid 39:55
So how old were they? What was that that the age group? That cohort It’s

Aya Achaboun 40:00
14 to 16.

Maud de Vries 40:03
It’s very interesting because something similar happened in your school remember, with the girls saying they felt safer. And around? Also same age, I think 14, 15 years of age.

Carlton Reid 40:13
Yeah. So that you’re you’re having the same problems that we have in the UK. So even having it in the network, again, I’m banging your head against the table, even having it in the Netherlands. That’s, that’s quite shocking. And I’m, it’s common to me, it’s like, of course that happens. But here’s like, it shouldn’t happen now, because you have all these bike paths. So how is that happening?

Maud de Vries 40:32
With the bike paths you mean? Well, yeah, we have bike paths.

Carlton Reid 40:36
you’ve got, you’ve deployed in other countries in America, in the UK, but you’ve got the things that we are clamouring for. And yet, you’re losing cyclists? How come?

Maud de Vries 40:47
I think the government is still pushing on the wrong things, you know, if we don’t make it safe for girls, let’s say 14, 15 years old, to go to, let’s say hockey or soccer at night, and come back home, you know, then they won’t cycle because the parents just tell them not to do it. For example, if they don’t learn the rules, for example, or if the car drivers don’t take notice, like what happened in your area, for example, then then people will, and girls especially they will feel afraid, and they will they will not be on the bike anymore. And that’s a terrible thing. I think. I think it’s very simple. Actually, you know, if we think about I’m not against the car, but but in a way I am against the car, because that is, you know, causing so many problems for people to get on the bike. So we should make it an easy job for people to get on the bikes. And, you know, by by designing more with the bicycle in mind, you know, that’s very important. I think.

Simón Alvarez Belon 41:44
So yeah, absolutely. Yeah, I think it’s really interesting, because, you know, you’re seeing here in the Netherlands, you have all this incredible cycling infrastructure, which we do. But I think an interesting angle that bikes takes is human infrastructure. So we’ll talk about the importance of soft factors, which is kind of what Maud was just talking about, with her examples, teaching people how to ride bikes, like, like I had talked about, or, you know, giving people free bikes, when they don’t have access to other kinds of cultural aspects that bikes really works on that are crucial. So in many places, you know, you can implement great bicycle lanes, which is a very crucial first step. But you also have to build a second culture around that to make sure that those bike things get used property. And so I think it’s not that people don’t want to go on the bicycle, but we’re also counteracting forces, you know, like Maud said, thr government from the economy that that wants to get more people on cars, and creates a car culture, we also have to create a bicycle culture. That’s what

Maud de Vries 42:41
great addition, I think that’s very important. And I think eventually, you know, building the lanes is important having the bicycle city is important, but to get to this point where you know, where you can see more cycling is human infrastructure that’s making a difference.

Carlton Reid 42:57
So what you’re saying to me and it says come up very clear in this is that the the bicycle mayor or the junior bicycle mayors programme, is is a critical component. Totally so it’s not like a cutesy add on, you know, look, we’ve got we’ve got bike little what’s going on and of course, we’ve got Junior, it’s something that’s really really important to because you will lose so many people if we don’t have the programmes that you are you two, and your and your your fellow junior bicycle mayors are, are putting in place?

Maud de Vries 43:29
Totally, we were just talking about the impact that they have when they do something and I think that’s grounds you know, so it’s not only putting the kids voice on the table, but actually making a difference.

Carlton Reid 43:40
Thanks to Aya Achaboun, Simón Alvarez Belon, Lucas Boer and Maud de Vries. This has been episode 298 of the Spokesmen cycling podcast brought to you in association with Tern Bicycle. Thanks to you for listening and watch out for the next Dutch-themed episode popping up in your feed real soon … meanwhile, get out there and ride.

May 23, 2022 / / Blog

23rd May 2022

The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

EPISODE 297: Stop motorways, remove parking, boost bicycling, says Sweden’s Climate Law Inquiry

SPONSOR: Tern Bicycles

HOST: Carlton Reid

GUESTS: Anders Roth

TOPICS: This show is a 37 minute conversation with the secretary of Sweden’s Climate Law Inquiry. 44 page English-language summary starts on p. 41 of this PDF.


Carlton Reid 0:09
Welcome to Episode 297 of the spokesmen cycling podcast. This show was recorded on Monday 23rd of May 2022.

David Bernstein 0:22
The Spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast is brought to you by Tern Bicycles. The good people at Tern committed to building bikes that are useful enough to ride every day, and dependable enough to carry the people you love. In other words, they make the kind of bikes that they want to ride. Tern has e-bikes for every type of rider. Whether you’re commuting, taking your kids to school, or even carrying another adult, visit That’s t e r n to learn more.

Carlton Reid 1:00
Thanks, David. I’m Carlton Reid and welcome to the spokesmen. This episode is 35 minutes or so with Anders Roth of the Swedish Environmental Institute. He has just handed the Swedish government with recommendations from the Climate Law Inquiry. Now Anders was Secretary of that inquiry and worked with a team of six on the radical for some recommendations, including boosting, bicycling and critically reducing car use through the removal of parking spaces. And the radical, definitely radical for some pruning back of national road building. I began by asking Anders to introduce himself.

Anders Roth 1:48
Well, I’m a mobility expert at the IVL, the Swedish Environmental Research Organisation, or Institute. So and I have been part time working for the this climate law inquiry for since last autumn.

Carlton Reid 2:06
So when when they appointed you wouldn’t they know pretty much what you’re going to say?

Anders Roth 2:13
Yeah, I think so. Because me and my colleague, we wrote them a report of suggestions for what they could focus on for the next part of their inquiry. And apparently, they found that quite good, because then they asked me to join them. So I guess they knew pretty much what I was going to focus on.

Carlton Reid 2:37
So it’s no it’s no surprise what you’ve what you’ve come up with.

Anders Roth 2:41
No surprise at all. Also, it’s I must say that this is the part of the investigation. We are a team and it’s not really my suggestions. It’s the person that leads the investigation, the inquiry, and that was the former head of the what’d you say last to loosen the lungs served in Swedish.

Carlton Reid 3:06
But is that Anders Danielsson?

Anders Roth 3:08
Yeah, that’s right.

Carlton Reid 3:10
Right. So he was the governor of Västra Götaland yeah?

Anders Roth 3:15
Yeah, that’s right.

Carlton Reid 3:16
So you’re basically the Secretariat, you’re the person behind the thing.

Anders Roth 3:21
We were six of us doing the work in different fields here.

Carlton Reid 3:26
And the million dollar question is you’ve come up with these recommendations. But does the government have to implement them?

Anders Roth 3:34
No, they don’t. They can do whatever they want. And and also, this inquiry was really, what do you say? They asked for this inquiry, when their government look different when we have different parties or political parties in the government. So this government, we are not sure if they are fond of all the suggestions. Of course, you never know that. Because the procedure is that you, the government send this inquiry for out to a lot of other organisations and companies for to hear their view. And when they get their answers, they decide what to do with the suggestions that we come up with. That’s the normal procedure for inquiries i Sweden.

Carlton Reid 4:23
You said that, that the complexion of the politics has changed in Sweden, but when it was originally brought in, it was seven out of eight parties agreed on this, to have this inquiry.

Anders Roth 4:35
Well, I guess that that was seven of eight. Yeah, I guess you’re right.

Carlton Reid 4:39
Can you give me a brief introduction to your main findings and what you say Sweden is going to have to do if it’s going to be carbon neutral.

Anders Roth 4:51
I’ve been focused on transport issue. So that’s what I’m going to tell you here. But the main point of our inquiries that

We have to focus stronger on on steering towards transport efficient society. Today, we have a lot of politics and measures for introducing electric vehicles. And that’s important. We also have strong measures for biofuels into the transport sector. And that’s also important, but that’s not enough. And if you tried to introduce too much of biofuels, you will do that in non what you say, it won’t be good enough on a global scale, you will have a lot of sustainable problems with that. So you have to have a no a policy that takes down the need of, of fuels in the beginning. And that’s what’s lacking. I would say in Sweden, for a long time, we need better policies for transport efficient society with measures that takes down the, say, the demand for for transport in the first place.

Carlton Reid 6:05
So in other countries, and I’m guessing in Sweden also, there’s there’s been over the last 5, 10 years, there’s been a big push to get bike lanes to get, you know, better walking facilities put in. But in your in your view, do you think that almost no good, unless you also stop motoring being quite so efficient. So if if you if you build loads of bike paths, and if you build loads of pedestrian infrastructure, that that seems to be fantastic. But if you don’t also, at the same time, reduce the amount of motoring the facilities you build, for active travel will not work?

Anders Roth 6:50
Well, they will not work as good as you think. So you often need what do you say a package of measures where you have both carrot and stick? And that is something that the would you say the transport research is quite a lot of result that points on that. And that’s what we point out. Also in our inquiry, for example, we have this with extended urban environmental agreements where we think this could work Excellent. Where you have you state go sing with money and support, as you say, public transport and bike lanes and other things that enables people to change travel mode. But on the same hand, you need also restriction measures for car traffic, otherwise, you won’t get the same effect from it. So that’s a main measure. What do you say? Point from our inquiry also, you need both stick and carrot. And therefore, it’s important that we have national measures. And that we have goals that says that it’s not okay for car traffic to to increase all the time. And we shouldn’t plan for that. That’s what we do today. And that’s, that’s wrong to do that.

Carlton Reid 8:13
And what about road building? Where does road building come into that?

Anders Roth 8:18
Well, if you plan for car traffic, and also lorry traffic to increase all the time, then it will be more economical viable from economic from what you say, socio economical view to build more roads. And therefore, ways if, as we suggest in the inquiry that you shouldn’t plan for that you should plan for a decrease in traffic instead, you won’t get as many road projects.

They won’t get beneficial from a society point of view anymore. So you won’t build them. You will and you.

You have money that you could do other things for instead, that will be better for the climate.

Carlton Reid 9:05
Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t Sweden have lots of private roads, and communities

own their roads? And they can they can do things with their roads that in other countries they couldn’t do Is that correct?

Anders Roth 9:19
That’s small roads really. And so that’s not

that’s not a big thing. The big roads are really controlled and build and so maintained by the state.

Carlton Reid 9:31
The big roads have to be fed into by the little roads. So could there be more small communities? For instance? Yeah, maybe take the recommendations you’re making and actually restrict on that. Do you see any future for restrictions on not just the national major roads, but also, the more local roads?

Anders Roth 9:53
Er, no, I don’t think so. I think this will, on the other hand, be an opportunity for smaller roads.

They can get more money for,

for measures that could be beneficial. For more active travel, for example, we have roads, on the countryside that are quite dangerous to bike on, because there are no side space for bikes or walking. So it’s It feels very unsecure to bike or walk there. And if you then build them, you take money from the big roads to the small roads, you could, you could improve the possibilities for active travel on the countryside. So I see, on the other hand, a better future for small roads here. And I think that’s important also, from an acceptance point of view. Because often you end up with measures in the cities, and you perhaps forget, tend to forget the countryside, and then you get the big problems when you when energy prices go up, and fuel will get more expensive.

You get sort of the yellow [jackets] you know, problems with the acceptance among people living on the countryside.

Carlton Reid 11:09
Because because Sweden does have a very high number of electric cars, yeah?

Anders Roth 11:14
Well, we have a high number of new sales of electric cars, but still, the total number of electric cars is low. And that’s also what we say, even if we

have a high sale, new sale of electric cars still in, in 2013, most of the vehicle kilometres driven will be non electric.

That’s why the well, we have to do all things to get sustainable here.

Carlton Reid 11:46
Now, I know this is an almost an impossible question for you to answer politically. But because you kind of mentioned beginning there that that there has been this change in, in political complexion in Sweden. However, in your gut, what do you think will happen with your recommendations? Do you think they will be put into law and actually carried out?

Anders Roth 12:12
Well, of course, I hope they will. Because otherwise, I am me. And my colleagues wouldn’t be involved in this inquiry. But really, I don’t know, we’re going for an election year this year. So I think at least I hope there will be a good debate and discussion about that, because we need this to get sustainable. We can’t just go on on two legs for the transition. We we need the transport efficiency scientists well.

Carlton Reid 12:44
So do you think that the climate law inquiry will be very difficult for politicians to argue against? Or could they just not argue against it, but just completely ignore it? And like sweep it under the carpet?

Anders Roth 12:59
Well, that could be a case, but I hope not it will happen. But really, I don’t know. We will see. And then we’ll I will try and my colleagues will try to discuss this and try to explain why we have this recommendations. And I know they’re still other researchers and organisations as well that that have wanted this suggestions for a long time. And at least I think that are some suggestions here in our inquiry that are perhaps have a broader one set acceptance to be and that perhaps is helpful, I think,

Carlton Reid 13:39
Would it be correct in saying that because of the kind of energy that you have in Sweden, that transport may be compared to other countries actually more important component of of reducing

carbon emissions then then other sectors?

Anders Roth 13:56
So in Sweden, this is much more important than perhaps in other countries? Yeah, I think you’re right there because we transport stands for a big part of our climate

emissions in Sweden, so therefore, it’s much in focus.

Carlton Reid 14:13
How big a part, Anders?

Anders Roth 14:15
I beg your pardon?

Carlton Reid 14:17
What’s the percentage how important?

Anders Roth 14:20
It’s about 1/3 of the climate emissions comes from transport or a little bit more even.

Carlton Reid 14:28
Putting it putting your your sucking your finger and putting it up in the air to see you know, where the winds blowing from? Do you see this being popular? Do you see the climate law inquiries findings? To be something that most people in Sweden will say yes,

we should be doing this I mean, I’m thinking of things like you know, the the flight shame, you know, movement which which which which started with you and and has spread around the world and you

had to get more long distance train travel instead of flying. So it, I’m assuming that these measures are probably going to be more likely to be popular in Sweden than perhaps in other places again, is that is that? Is that fair to say that? Am I putting words in your mouth there?

Anders Roth 15:15
No, I’m not sure about that. Because so far we haven’t seen the same movement about car travel as we had with flight shame. So I think the still could be pot. Well, it’s not that easy to implement such measures. But on the other hand, I know when when we see

when when we ask people in different cities in Sweden, what they think about car restrictions, generally they are not there is a majority for car restrictions if you just do them in a proper way. But the debate tends to sometimes be dominated about for from interests that are perhaps not that general.

So it’s it’s an important measures for the politics to have measures that are would you say

Pro that are reflecting all of the people even the those that are not here in the debate, I would say

so you don’t see a movement just yet for car shame you’ve had flight shame was very successful. You don’t see car shame low. I haven’t seen that yet. Well, I’m not sure you need really need the car shame movement, either. But you need a better understanding for why actually, we can’t just drive more, and think that’s okay.

Carlton Reid 16:53
But why? Why why wouldn’t there be a movement for car shame? Why Why would flight shame

take off, in effect take off? So well, compared to what why is that crazy? Why is Why is thinking car shame? is crazy. Whereas flight shame isn’t crazy.

Anders Roth 17:10
Well, actually, we have talked a lot about driving less for I would say 30 years since we we have campaigns about this different cities, her work this. So it’s if you ask people, is it good for environment to drive less? I think most say yes. But on the other hand, to to point back to yourself and say, Well, should I do it as well? Well, that’s step two. And we are not really

at that stage yet. But perhaps we will soon. And I really don’t know.

Carlton Reid 17:49
Let’s, let’s circle back to you again, Anders, where we came in, so your mobility expert, what is your your research being about what would explain explain your research background?

Anders Roth 18:02
Well, we have done and May, I have been involved also in a lot of projects, for example, about parking, and the importance of parking policies to steer traffic and to promote mobility services, such as public transport done, and also car sharing. So that is one of my field. Also, my colleagues have been quite into infrastructure planning and why infrastructure planning from the national level is often in to say, coalition with the local planning and local goals from Citizen municipalities. So that is two fields. And I used to be also the environmental manager for the second city for the Traffic Authority in the second city in Sweden. So I’ve been responsible for, for example, a congestion charging scheme in Gothenburg in parking policy scheme, environmental service scheme and some other works as well. And I’ve worked a lot with also environmental vehicles, biofuels, and so on. So well I have a quite a broad field of experience, I would say from 33 years of of this in this field now.

David Bernstein 19:28
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Anders Roth

Carlton Reid 22:53
The other cities are catching up, maybe to your experience, like Paris, famously, is now catching up. And one of their biggest ways of catching up is restricting parking spaces. Yeah. Do you see that as something that that will be successful? If you restrict parking, all the other modes go up?

Anders Roth 23:12
Yeah, parking is definitely one of the most important tools that you have as a city, you have a

would you say your mandate is big on parking for most cities. And it has a great potential to really shift modes if you do it in a good way. And also, it’s not just shifting modes, you could also take down the the ownership of cars in the series. And that is also important from an environmental point of view and also from a city point of view, to use the this to say the space in the city in a better way. And actually we have new new actors in this. It’s not just the municipality that works with this, but also property owners that see that they understand that parking is something that could be beneficial for they if they not have to build too many expensive parking lots.

Carlton Reid 24:15
Mm hmm. And what about bike lanes? What what Sweden doing in the building of hard infrastructure for cyclists,

Anders Roth 24:25
mostly in cities, I would say and some cities working quite well with this. We have for example, Uppsala and Malama. That is good biking series in Sweden. So

I would say that biking is on

not perhaps steep but nevertheless up going trend.

Carlton Reid 24:49
Is has been very pro cycling for many years. Yeah, that’s like it’s laced with cycleways Uppsala.

Anders Roth 24:55
Yeah, they are good. They are working on this but also you see that

The general trend that junk people tend not to bike that much anymore.

And so well, you have good result in some cities, but also on the countryside, perhaps you see that people bike less? So? Well, it’s not something that is happening just by itself all over Sweden.

Carlton Reid 25:25
Is that is that partially because of I mean, you’ve you’ve you’ve obviously got a slightly more severe climate than as in weather.

Certainly compared to the UK, so a car is comfortable has a roof, air conditioning, you know, you’re comfortable year round, public transport. Also you have a roof, climate conditions around bicycling and walking, you’re open to the elements. So is that one of the reasons why it’s not popular? Just maybe the weather?

Anders Roth 25:55
Well, it could be one reason, but it’s not all of the answer. Because if you look at different cities, where the different circumstances as were there, we can find both cities in Sweden and Finland that has a very tough climate, but still a good promote a good share of people that to taking the bike. So it’s other factors that really will make the difference. If you do it attractive enough.

Carlton Reid 26:27
The Netherlands doesn’t really have a car industry. You know, there are no major car manufacturers in the Netherlands. And that’s that’s often touted as perhaps one of the reasons why

they’ve been able to have a relatively successful a very successful bicycling culture. And whereas Sweden does have a car industry, very famous car industry, how much of the recommendations that you’re making,

will actually get a kickback from the car industry? Mentioning no names in Sweden? Well,

Anders Roth 27:07
I don’t know that remains to be seen still from from our suggestions, but well, it they are the car industry in Sweden, they have a strong influence of the national politics. No doubt about that. But still, I think many cities and municipalities, they are not that affected of the car industry. So they could they are free and could will do their own policies without being affected by the car industry. So it’s more into I would say what the local politics in cities really decide that matters.

Carlton Reid 27:50
Hmm. Yeah, I’ve talked to lots of people in your kind of position around the world in which that that’s a very frequent

point in that, you know, we often talk about national policies. Yeah, in fact, it’s municipal policies, which are the thing that makes the difference. However, I always bring it back. And we have to, we did kind of touch on this earlier is, that always leaves the countryside, the rural areas out, because they tend to be much more conservative, much more car focused. And you can’t, then you can you can cycle you can walk, you can have good public transport in cities, which is great for people who live in cities. But you go outside of those cities, and the conditions become incredibly bad very quickly. So how can how can local local areas benefit from what cities are very much now at the forefront of?

Anders Roth 28:47
Well, I think we have some projects at my work where we try to implement different mobility service on the countryside in connection with the public transport. Because it’s expensive to have public transport services on the countryside where not many people travel. But if you can do that in a more efficient way, and at the same time to give people better possibilities. I think that could be one way. And as I described earlier, we had this with extended urban environment agreements, we have a project where we try and try to have something that we called

Rural environmental agreements instead of where we try to focus on both mobility services, but also like having your distant office promoted in a way that gives you a chance to have a better way to have handle your day to day go to work situation and local services.

So I fully agree we have to do projects and make steps forward on the country. So

might as well, otherwise there will be a big problem for general policies as well. And what I said about the car industry, of course, we had policies that have been affected by the car industry, for example, we have the would you say, Well, you could have a company car with the tax deductions we. And that has been beneficial, of course, for the car industry. But that has recently been.

Actually, they change that in from the environmental point of view, good way in the latest year, so it’s not that beneficial anymore.

But But still, you could have countries without car industry that have policies that promote owning and driving cars. And Norway’s a good example of that, where we have enormous of money put into if you buy an electric car. And actually there are investigations done that shows that before 2018 1/3, of electrical cars bought in Norway, it wasn’t replacing diesel or gasoline car, they were just increasing the to say, the car ownership in Norway. So instead of sitting in the bus, you bought an electric car and use the bus lane, with you electrical car making problems for the bus that you used to travel with. So that is GM, something that we tried to

talk about and make research about that you you have to think of policies that that could both stimulate new technology introduction, but without having those negative effects of increasing car demand.

That’s a problem for the politics to have those two minds are two things in mind at the same time.

Carlton Reid 32:00
How about stimulating electric bikes and electric cargo bikes? That’s that seems to be working in many places around the world, when you when you give the same kind of incentives as you give to E cars, electric cars to E bikes, that leads to basically the program’s very quickly

reaching a capacity because people really, really want these things.

Anders Roth 32:22
Yeah, we are I agree. And we seen that in Sweden, also from the research that actually, you do, you have quite astonishing results where you, you have a new travel with electrical bike, and you replace car travel. But some years ago, we had a premiere for that in Sweden, actually, and that was a big political debate. And there was a lot of discussion about this was really useless money.

And I think that could be something actually, deep below the Swedish I don’t really know. But there was a strange debate, I think, anyway, because there wasn’t any results that this was bad.

So it was more like an instinct to the debate, I would say you can’t really give cyclists money for biking. That’s ridiculous. Many people thought that. And I thought that debate was strange. Is the recommendation in your report to have electric bike subsidy? We haven’t gone into that. Actually. We have just some questions that we focus on. But do well. We do that recommendation. In other words, you say suggestions and reports.

Carlton Reid 33:49
Okay, so the inquiry had to make its recommendations about a week ago. Is that right? Yeah. And that now it goes it basically gets presented to the government. And they then they officially publish it and say this is our policy or is what what’s the progress for it after and after it was handed in?

Anders Roth 34:10
Yeah, well, we’ve handed in to the climate and environmental

Secretariat last week, they will look at it and I think they will wait for another inquiry as well. That also touches on the same subjects, not transport issues, but other issues that we had on in our inquiry, and then there will sound this arch. I don’t know we call it remise and Sweden. They will send it out to a lot of other organisations to hear what the broader society in Sweden thinks our suggestions and after that, they will

they will look at the answers and they will decide what will happen what

Carlton Reid 35:00
suggestions they will put in for the parliament for a new laws and Anders how, how radical are your recommendations?

Anders Roth 35:12
Well, I think on a scale from one to 10, I would say seven eight, perhaps some of the recommendations are, I would say quite radical to the policy that we

have today, but they are not. They have been long discussed among people working with this. So they are not too radical from, I would say, the the general discussion among

scientists and people working with this, but they are quite changing the policy that we have today. So, in that case, you could call them a bit radical, perhaps, perhaps not radical. That’s not I don’t know if that’s the right word, but they are changing the policy of that we have in in a quite distinct way I would say thanks.

Carlton Reid 36:08
Thanks to Anders Roth there. For an English language summary of the recommendations Anders and his crew made in the Swedish climate law inquiry, go to and this has been episode 297 of the spokesmen cycling podcast brought to you in association with Tern Bicycle. Thanks for listening. And watch out for the next two Dutch-themed episodes popping up in your feed real soon. Meanwhile, get out there and ride …

May 8, 2022 / / Blog

8th May 2022

The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

EPISODE 296: Explore Your Boundaries

SPONSOR: Tern Bicycles

HOST: Carlton Reid

GUESTS: Marcus Stitz and Mark Beaumont

TOPICS: This show is 45 minutes with round the world cyclists Marcus Stitz and Mark Beaumont discussing their “explore your boundaries” bike-boat-ferry tour of Argyll, Scotland.


Carlton Reid 0:05
Welcome to Episode 296 of the Spokesmen cycling podcast. This show was engineered on Sunday, eighth of May 2022.

David Bernstein 0:21
The Spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast is brought to you by Tern Bicycles. Good people at Tern committed to building bikes that are useful enough to ride every day, and dependable enough to carry the people you love. In other words, they make the kinds of bikes that they want to ride. Tern has e-bikes for every type of rider. Whether you’re commuting, taking your kids to school or even carrying another adult, visit That’s t-e-r-n to learn more.

Carlton Reid 0:56
Thanks, David for that intro with our new sponsor, and welcome to the show, which is 40 minutes or so. With round the world cyclists, Marcus Stitz and Mark Beaumont. I’m Carlton Reid and I met with Marcus and Mark in Oban, Scotland before they set off on a week by boat and ferry trip around Argyll I was in town after my own little tour around the region, which Marcus helped organise. Thanks Marcus. And as you can tell from the clinking of cutlery, and a little bit of muzak we met for breakfast in a cafe — so where are we? Cafe Shore in Oban andyou’re about to head off you to on a bit of a wee trip whereabouts are you going yhis morning and you getting a boat that I hear yes sir physically can not ferry a boat.

Mark Beaumont 2:03
Yeah, really sorry to go it’s hard to go far. And I got all the hours without going on a boat. I mean, the mainland is beautiful. But you know, by by school it’s always just amazing when you when you when you go across to to the islands especially smaller islands which are you know, I guess less often explored by bike and when they are it’s often by Roubaix adding double bikes like we’ve got for this trip, you know, lasers to you know, really explore the, the complete range of terrain and I you know, I absolutely love as part of the world my my first memories were in a guy my dad was a, you know, a dairyman further down on the mainland. So my first memories were looking over to the isle of Gigha. And, you know, whilst they then grew up in other parts of Scotland, it’s it’s always pretty special to come back.

Carlton Reid 2:59
And then how long as this trend, so describe netting markets and markets describe what exactly are you doing from today? Because this is you doing this over a number of months only there’s not like,

Marcus Stitz 3:09
yeah, so we’re doing it over like it’s it’s nine days in total. The distance roughly is about 900 kilometres with like, a few bits and let’s and so this first part of the tour will take us we’re taking a boat, the charter boat, but actually which is also available to other people won’t be doing the same. We’re just wandering over from Quinn and harbour to the northern end of Juba. And then we’ll be staying recycling across Juba. And then we’re staying on Isla tonight. And then tomorrow we’ll be taking a ferry from Port askaig on Isla, over Caliente to open and then we’re taking another ferry over to Mo and then we’ll be cycling tilba mui. And then we’ll have a few votes on Sunday from Toba Mali to the Isle of coal. And then another ferry journey to Tyree from coal and then another boat trip back to

Carlton Reid 4:08
small boat trips on this then says there’s possibly definitely more

Marcus Stitz 4:11
because more and more kilometres and on peviot. But like, it’s interesting, because when I design as when we had to look at it, so the Argyll boundary is actually even more extensive because there’s so many little islands so you know, if you would want to add any of those in there, you’ll possibly spend 30 year cycling, boating around. But the idea behind creating the route is that it’s it’s accessible to most people. So the 72 private charters we have and, and the other parts of the world are quite interesting as well. So I’m going to be doing another three days of filming with Jenny Graham, which will involve kayaking across Loch Lomond and taking the Highland explorer train for shore journey as well. And then the last bit I will be mostly on the bike actually, that’s going to be where we’ve been mostly cycling. And we kayak journey over back to the moon.

Carlton Reid 5:08
So you’re really showcasing the region by doing everything you can.

Mark Beaumont 5:13
Yeah, I mean, the genesis for this project came out two years ago. Now, when Marcus and I are both living in Edinburgh, in the heart of lockdown, wanting to explore that concept to live by, you could go while staying close to home. So they explore your boundaries concept started on the second of January when we did a ener, D deep snow sort of an epic sort of ride slash pushing our bikes through the Pentlands and around the fact before, and it was quite cool that concept to an area that I know very well, Marcus may as well. But see if they are in unfamiliar ways. When When, when locked down was at its sort of feet, you know, we weren’t allowed to cross our council boundaries, and nobody really knows where their council boundary is. I mean, you might notice that the bins change colour, but you know, it’s not normally a thing unless you’re a counsellor. Well, actually, we’re recording this, on the sixth of May. So maybe today, people do care about where their council boundaries are, because it’s been the council elections being have been, but normally, it’s not really a thing. And so, Marcus, and I got all the GPX routes for the council boundaries in Scotland, and I just started to quietly encourage people to, you know, stay local, but, you know, go on adventures. And I think there’s something wonderful by giving a narrative, rather than just going on a bike ride, you’re, you’re actually instead of forcing yourself to stick to a line or to create a route, and then explore your boundaries, there’s more than metaphor than just a physical route, there was very much about sort of pushing yourself and having a great adventure. And that series,

checklist included, was not the only thing that you’ve got to move on.

So they say the first, the first four or five, explore your boundaries were all in central banks of Scotland. And the more we did, the more people seem to sort of latch on to that concept. And he posted the roots and commute and encourage people to explore their own areas. But the council bind us in the central belt of Scotland are all day lights or two day rides and most when you start to consider birth share, or, you know, I guess or our guy on the aisles or the high end, these are, these are much, much bigger challenges. And so when the Argyle is an area that I’ve explored last Marcus has explored law, but to take that concept of exploring your boundaries, and to try and come up with a route or a concept which would hopefully inspire other people to go on adventures was a bit more challenging and that’s where Marcus comes into his own. He’s an absolute sort of genius when it comes to to route setting and we’ve brought Jenny into this project. I think it’s fantastic that you know, we can split it into basically three 3d explorers and I think that’s more realistic for how people actually go on their adventures. You know, we’ve just taken Friday’s off and I adventure all days and then Sunday and you can go back to your job on a Monday having had this you know, extraordinary adventure across lots of islands and terrain. So this this will be our most challenging explore your boundaries yet for sure. It’s been challenging to even plan it and Marcus has done the heavy lifting on that but it’s it’s gonna be a tonne of fun, but it is it is continuing the series that is continuing this required dictate that idea I mean, people you know, Baglan rose people, you know, want to swim in every laugh. And, you know, I think for a gravel bike rider this concept and started are plenty three routes around, around around around each boundaries. It’s quite tantalising because uh, you end up taking your bike to parts of Scotland and the country that you wouldn’t normally have residency

Carlton Reid 9:26
and you’re gonna need fuel for this ride. Don’t let me stop listening to people going to work and this is your would I be right in thinking you both do this? This is your living. This is what you do. You ride your bike and you get painted

some of the time some of the town’s

clean have you guys make your money?

Mark Beaumont 10:00
Marcus, you go first.

Marcus Stitz 10:06
I guess for me, it’s, it does change. But I think the core concept of what I’m doing so I do three things, which is bike packing in Scotland, then my own stuff, which is under my own name. And then I want events as well, but they don’t really call it to come into this one. But I think most of my book is, has to work with, I think the overarching theme behind it is to get more people out on bikes, and also to offer them sustainable tourism alternatives, but really give people the tools to do it, because I think it is really important to, to, yeah, have offers for people so they can, they can get around the country in a different way. And so that’s the overarching thing about it. There’s, it’s a mixture of, I do a fair bit of filmmaking. So this this project is, is a good example of where I’m kind of jointly doing the filming, I’m doing the editing. Then I do, I do write and photograph as well. And then I’ve just written the book as well. And I think parts of this route is going to come into a new book I’m working on at the moment. And then there’s also a few companies I’ve worked with on a regular basis. So Schwalbe has been supporting us for quite a number of going go

Carlton Reid 11:28
check tires, knew the exact tire I was riding on my Brompton.

Marcus Stitz 11:31
Exactly, yeah, yes. Possibly, possibly like I’ve seen. But so they’ve been super helpful. I, I I only work with with partners from the industry where I think I’ve got a good feeling but loganair so swell, but it’s quite an interesting thing. What I really like is their ethos of sustainability. So as a company they’re trying as much as possible. And the other thing for me as I speak German to my portfolio of companies I work with is sometimes also companies which obviously

Carlton Reid 12:07
Mark is eating his porridge.

Mark Beaumont 12:15
yeah, so I was talking in Leeds when he a business I’ve worked for him for 17 years going from here to there. And that’s partly where

Carlton Reid 12:24
the money from so like you’ve gotten things on CDs and then get told to them to like to inspire.

Mark Beaumont 12:29
I love I love the opportunity to do events and talks, but it’s not it’s not my bread and butter. So you know, there’s a lot of a lot of athletes who do spend their lives but I don’t I run a early stage investment firm. So my my background and if you feel that people knew me as I was a bike rider, you know, it’s like learning the planet twice. Not there’s worse things to be known for but, and why I spend my time doing is as an athlete. I work for GCN I made a documentary recycling network. And these days that really accounts for one or two big projects a year major documentaries and then filmmaking with workers and you know, markets under sells himself there. His real skill debt is the exacting filmmaking you know, he’s a one man immediate shelter insofar as he can do the stills, the photography, the filming was wrong, you know, on the FBI, she has an extraordinary skill set when I was racing GB Judo last year, you know, he built that beautifully and ended the day. So, you know, to have that, to have that skill set to capture and share stories is amazing. I can’t I can’t do that. But but the other side of my life, which is just as important as writing mics is on the partner, an investment firm, and we we are impact investors, we focus on climate change solutions, clean technology, food and water security. You know, I’m a farmer’s son, and you know, I’m interested in the stuff I want to talk to my kids about are the big challenges in the world and trying to back science and technology, which is, you know, creating, creating creating solutions, global solutions for you know, stuff that keeps me up at night. We’ve also got some some healthcare lights thrown in there. So I realised sort of, we’re mixing two very different sides of my life, but I don’t I would I ride the bike because for a decade, right, a very fulfilling and successful career. You know, as an adventure athlete, I enjoy making training great each year and break records and do worldfirst I will always be an A, I love riding my bike. I love having the ability to push myself and hopefully inform and inspire others to go there and push their abilities. But it’s not it’s not my me work. I We do it if we do it by, or nothing from it, because I absolutely love adventure. You know, I absolutely love adventure. And this is a very meaningful part of my life, but in the next 20 years of my career, you know, will be different to the last 20 years of my career. And if I can, if I can back, if I can back up all ecosystems, businesses that are making a positive impact in the world, then that’s just as meaningful, as, you know, adventures like, you know, exploring wildlife.

Carlton Reid 15:31
What difference that may have until, to your to both

of those aspects of your life,

Mark Beaumont 15:37
I think the biggest difference was I didn’t want to be travelling. So if you think, I mean, I’m

Carlton Reid 15:46
Aborad? Here is OK?

Mark Beaumont 15:50
just mean time and time away. I don’t mean, I don’t mean where I mean, in my 20s, I would do expeditions that weren’t six, nine months. And, you know, we’ve been away with the BBC and filmmaking all over the planet for long periods is a completely different equation to get to help. And so, you, the racism projects I take on now all tend to be a month, as opposed to, you know, the last time I was away for a month on in was during the world media days, five years ago. So yeah, I still, I still feel like their confusion itself as hard as ever. As and in terms of my if you get geeky, like my numbers, my view tonight, my, my, my performance on the bike now, you know, I’m arguably a stronger rider, and I was gonna wait when I say drive the world, but I’m training for different thing. I’m going faster, but I’m not, I’m not going eating Vegas. In the summer, I’ll be doing Race Across America. And, you know, we’re, so I’m doing things on the ground. But when I don’t travel by nourishing yourself in different directions, as an athlete, I’m still learning I wish I’d known in my 20s Why No, no, you know, nearly 40 I love that. But, you know, my priorities are very different with, you know, two beautiful daughters to, you know, a different work life

balance. And also,

I’m not, I’m not, I’m not a freelancer in the sense that I can just go and ride my bike every day, you know, I’ve got a business to run. And I am in love with bands, I get balanced out with great adventure. And you’re

Carlton Reid 17:26
going to be when you’re running around with Marcus, or you’re going to be doing business deals on your phone

half way up a mountain.

Mark Beaumont 17:34
Marcus is pretty understandingly, Marcus has a great idea. And we’ve done so many projects over the years. So he doesn’t understand that, you know, I’m often chatting about, you know, because Because to be fair to market mark is massively interested in. He’s incredibly well read and very interested in the science, the technology, the innovation, you know, the things that we’re addressing, so we often end up riding our bikes talking about, you know, sustainability, talking about, you know, innovation in businesses and, you know, behaviour and all these things, which are absolutely what we’re trying to do at yields, which is the rest of my kind of my work. So I’m not, I’m not one of these people who’s entirely distracted the whole time and, you know, trying to go do me milk when you’re riding your bicycle, but I do see it as the same. The same thing. You know, when I’m on my bike, I often think I don’t meditate, but I do ride a bike, when I’m riding my bike, I’ve got time to think I’ve got time to talk to friends, I’ve got to really come up with ideas. Make connections. So it’s not like I draw a line, then I leave my laptop and go, Well, you know, I’m not doing that. And, you know, I’m very passionate about what I do on the investment side and very passionate about what I do on that adventure side. And thankfully, my guess is it’s very liquidy to conversations about where it’s going to be so he’s not yet hit the big red button and said sharp marks they’ll start talking about innovation.

Carlton Reid 19:03
Right? So Marcus has now quit with the information they’re polished up that breakfast is already great. For now Mark has got so we’re gonna we’re gonna

like we’re shuffling between each other. They’re not I want to come to

you though, and then just talk about and come either you’ve adopted Scott or Scott was adopted you What have you learned in Scotland? Where’s your background? Obviously, you cycled around the world

on a singletrack bike

what point did Scotland impact on your life?

Marcus Stitz 19:43
There were two points. So I came to Scotland over Sunderland actually, I studied how the year in Sunderland and others using using the train connection from Newcastle up to Edinburgh a number of times just to visit Scotland because it’s such a beautiful place and then I did an internship In 2005, in New York and had basically had a month to spare. So 2005, okay. And having been up to Edinburgh, I knew about the fringe, and afford like this quite opportunity I was at university back then create opportunity to get a summer job in Edinburgh and see what it’s like. And yeah, so I did a managing a box office in 2005, doing the bridge. Loved it, it was great. And I think this is kind of really shaped my view of Edinburgh as well, because it’s such an international town, very open minded, it’s like it’s, but it’s also traditional at the same time. It’s fairly Scottish. So, and then I kept coming back for years doing pretty much the same. Either being at university, or then I worked in New Zealand for a while. And then after, after living in New Zealand, for a while, I decided I’m going to go come back to Europe. And as, as I’ve been to Edinburgh, beforehand, for a few summers, I have, it’s just a natural choice. And yeah, this is how I ended up in Edinburgh, worked in the arts for quite a while. And then I had a bit of a career change in 2012. And started as Head of Marketing at Scottish swimming. And that was very much I think, part of the the session behind it was also, how can I use my skills based in the arts to work somewhere else was that they do something for a long, long time? Haven’t you become a bit tunnel vision. And the other reason was also, I just just wanted, yeah, it was just a theatre, it’s just change up that general life change a little bit. And the good thing about that job was it was it always has, it was a two month, a two year contract. Initially, I wanted something that has a limited timeframe, because I had this idea of cycling around the world in my head. And so that gave me the opportunity to say I’m going to do this, I’m really going to focus on that Korea pilot. For two and a half, it ended up being a little bit more than two years. But then there’s a break. And that point, it’s going to be cycling around the world. And then I’ll do whatever I’m going to do afterwards. I didn’t really think about that before I left so and and that’s kind of our ended up and which was interesting. So it’s been 34,000 kilometres cycling around the world. And there was very much with a focus already. I knew I wanted to do something different afterwards. And I was literally looking at houses safely managed in different countries. What’s the attitude just slightly? How do different countries use cycling as a tourism as a, as a travel alternative? countries like New Zealand are very interesting, for example, when it comes to that. And so when I came back from the Vanderbilts group, and this is why this trip was really interesting, I ended up in Fort Ellyn on Isla, there was the first part of Scotland as because I took a real ferry over from Northern Ireland. And the last four days cycling and Scotland really caught home the idea this is an amazing country, like we’ve got so much opportunity here. And we’re just picking it just, it just needs us and it needs fresh ideas and needs. And it’s people behind that really, that really pioneer ideas. And that’s kind of where the idea of bike packing started and all the work I’m doing why now?

Carlton Reid 23:22
And does it work? Does the

Tourist Board think wow, this has really boosted our numbers? Or is it something very niche? Where do you think it fits into the


Marcus Stitz 23:32
It has a big it was very niche when I started doing it has massively, or at least noted, notably changed in the last two years in the pandemic? I think beforehand, and then also with the whole discussion about sustainability. I think people now do realise things need to change and they also realised that they haven’t changed quick enough. Still, I think the ecosystem in which we’re operating now is a very different one. I think we’re still I just did a destination Leadership Programme at the university to kind of backup my my my skills a little bit. And it was really interesting. I think there is a there is a real there. But there’s a very significant lack of acknowledging that people don’t know what cyclists want to his business don’t don’t have an idea. And I always think if you tell them that and you make it very clear to them, they’re really receptive. I’m yet to find any business whatever, we don’t want any cyclists to visit us because they you know, they arrive late and leave early they eat loads of brilliant light from from, you know, from from what people actually spend the community and the way how would they expect it? It’s just I could not think of anything better for our community.

Carlton Reid 24:53
They don’t really know busing me in loads of food. Are you in a big camper van? No, you’re basically by If you’re good to the local economy

Marcus Stitz 25:02
yeah and you don’t need even your infrastructure is minimal what you need when you don’t need any parking spaces for people overnight. Thanks for like this. So and I think this and this also like, I think people cycling in terms of food, they can only take so much alibi if I recognise that I’m around the world for three days if you’re doing it self support, that is the maximum you can take. So, you know, you’ll end up buying your stuff in local shops, and which I think is a really nice thing to do. So yeah,

David Bernstein 25:31
hey, everyone, Excuse the interruption, but this is David from the Fred cast and the spokesman. I just want to take a few moments out of the show to talk to you about our sponsor, turn bicycles at That’s t e r n, like the bird turn. Tern are committed to building bikes that are useful enough to ride every day, and dependable enough to carry the people you love. And today, I want to tell you about their new quick haul ebike. The Quick-haul is a compact ebike and it’s it’s optimised to make life in the city just a little bit easier, a little bit more convenient, and a lot more fun. It’s a compact ebike. And it’s kind of handle most of your daily trips around town, it’s rated to a hefty 150 kilos, or for those of us Americans 330 pound Max gross vehicle weight. And it’s got an ecosystem of modular accessories. This is really cool, by the way, so that it can be customised for any job. different setups are going to help you carry a load of cargo, maybe an extra passenger, and that could be a small adult, a child or even your dog or cat. Now despite its longer wheelbase, and its hefty cargo capacity, it’s shorter than a regular bike. It’s a compact design, plus it’s got 20 inch wheels. And that makes the quick haul easier to manoeuvre on urban streets, or maybe even in transit hubs like train stations or bus depots or even ferry terminals. It also includes turns vertical parking parking feature, which is really cool, so that you can just roll the bike into a small elevator or pocketed a quarter of your apartment. Now, the quick haul is also shareable by literally everyone in the family. It’s equipped with an adjustable seat post and stem so that it can fit riders from 160 to 195 centimetres or five foot three to six foot five, but it also fits riders 145 to 180 centimetres, which is four nine to five foot 11 When you put on the shorter seat posts now Josh Hon, who is Tern’s team captain, and also somebody both Carlton, and I have known personally for a very long time, don’t ask me and Josh how long we’ve known each other. Josh is serious about ensuring the safety of Tern’s bikes and its riders. So that’s why he and his team ensure that every turn bike is designed and independently tested to ensure rider safety. That’s why they use respected independent testing labs, and why they sourced their motors, their drive trains and their batteries from German industrial powerhouse, Bosch, it just doesn’t get much better than that. So for more information about the Quick haul, or any of Tern’s wide range of bikes, just head on over to That’s t e r n We thank turn for their sponsorship of the Spokesmen podcast. And we thank you for your support of Tern, and also for allowing this brief interruption of the show. Now back to Carlton and the spokesmen.

Mark Beaumont 28:55
A big a big part of a conversation is about how do you get good information out that allows people to know how to access these areas. I mean, it’s nearly 10 years since the wildfire Gao so you know we’re sitting here and open. Wildfire, Gao started, Karen Toobin came up with that sort of project with myself and others and I spent 12 days exploring this beautiful area, but a big conversation that came up. It’s a real case of you know, build it and they’ll come because until you build a narrative, give it a brand. You know, we’ve seen that in other parts of Scotland. I mean, here’s, you know, the adventure coast up in the north coast of Scotland then see 500 You know, these, the putting putting locations on the map, and then giving people credible information in terms of how to get there. So it’s one thing saying that the islands on the west coast of Scotland are beautiful, but you’ve actually got to help people in terms of how to get there with their bikes. So you know, during the connections with you know, the trains from London for example, you can get sleeper train up on a Thursday night or a Friday night and wake up and you’re you’re ready Did you go? Or how did you get the bus with? You know, with bike spaces on it, you know, how do you go from Glasgow, to central belt of Scotland, you know, to these parts, you know, what’s the ferry network, like, it’s not rocket science, but equally, it’s not. It’s not information you’re born with. So a lot of the narrative over the last sort of 10 years has been paid up a credible information, which is not just picture postcard, this is a great place to, you know, take your bicycle and communities that you want to explore. But, you know, what’s the toolkit? How do you do it, and when I say build it, and they’ll come, when we started the, you know, the wild about a girl project, you know, 10 years ago, it then got picked up by Visit Scotland and amplified. And I think we knew, and we needed to start creating content, we needed to start, you know, putting out infant information before, you know, other organisations went, Oh, this is great. It fits our it fits our agenda as well. And it’s, you know, it’s very clear whether you’re talking about, you know, public support through, you know, destination tourism, whether you’re talking about businesses, you know, whether you’re talking, there’s the rising tide floats, many boats, there’s a lot of interest, but I think it’s leadership is having people who actually have the idea is to get people together and put out credible information.

Carlton Reid 31:17
You guys have got to go, you’ve got a boat to catch it. And that’s your own boat.

Mark Beaumont 31:21
I don’t know, this is quite fun, I could go on a bit longer.

Carlton Reid 31:25
Well, you need to plug your stuff now. Sounds good on Marcus, and you’ve got a book we have close to actually physically coming out is your book and tell us about your book.

Marcus Stitz 31:33
Oh, it’s actually in the printer, which is great. So there’s no changes any longer, which is a fabulous thing. So it will be coming out on the seventh of July as the publishing rate. And the books called Great British travel rights. And the idea behind that this is again, what Mark’s just been saying, I think you’d like whoever whiting’s been such a fast growing thing, sport, whatever you want to call it, especially in the UK. And my idea was like to write a guide. But I also want to portray to people who are behind the voice of thought and clever, clever avoiding if you if you take a very poor definition has been a long it’s been around since people have written their bikes. And cars, they’ve always been started travel books, and then we had tonic. So I portrayed 25 people and their favourite routes with them.

Carlton Reid 32:26
And Jo Burt.

Marcus Stitz 32:28
Yeah, we’ve got Jo Burt. So this like marks and as well, Jenny, then Amelia McKenna. She’s a, she lives in the borders, and she’s really a champion when it comes to like their favourite rides. Is that pretty much? Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So it’s, and most of them, most of them are where the people look for as well. So it is in their own path.

Carlton Reid 32:49
Similar to this, you’re doing so it’s like it’s more your boundaries, but gravel rides close to home?

Marcus Stitz 32:53
much. Yeah. And there was a very, very interesting theme that came, which I didn’t really think about at the beginning when I started researching it, but it came to very, very well that the reason why a lot of people picked up quell bikes in the UK, this was during lockdown, because those are the bikes do, you can write them from your front door, and they’ll get you anywhere, pretty much, you know, they’re kind of a good alternative between a road bike and a mountain bike. So you can you know, you can do the odd bit awkward to it. So, ya know, there’s of quite, quite BowTech, then there’ll be a documentary about this as well. So I basically filmed and photographed those roots, and all the pictures, selection of the pictures made it into the book. And now I’m working on the film, which is we must, hopefully a really nice portrayal of how diverse and how interesting the prevalence scene is. And there’s two things about the book as well as so the sustainability theme is in there as well, I, I often thought that a lot of white books are very much focused on costs. So I did the research and most of the data accessible by public transport. But some of them people need to avoid a little bit longer to get to the start point. But that was one of the key ideas. And it’s also there’s a 60 or 58/42 ratio of men and women and because I always felt like cycling is such a male dominated sport, especially how it is portrayed in the media. And I really want to navic That’s the huge opportunity of gravel riding because I think it’s huge. It has started from from a very different starting point. So and I’ve got two women of colour in there as well. It’s just I’ve tried to try to portray, I think cycling is really diverse. And it’s a really interesting activity because it is really accessible. You can you can write, you know, you can buy you can buy a bike for 200 pounds, and you can have fun, avoid some of the routes on it. And that was the idea behind it. So yeah I’m really looking forward to it.

Carlton Reid 34:49
And where can people preorder who’s, who’s the publisher basically?

Unknown Speaker 34:53
Ao the publisher’s Vertebrate. They can pre order it on Adventure or through us Without let’s they’ll be available on

Carlton Reid 35:02
And just standard plug your social media. So where can people I’m sure they do follow you anyway.

Marcus Stitz 35:06
yeah, that’s, which is a Yeah. So they can follow me. I think it’s like Twitter and Instagram, which are the two main channels, it’s quite cool to have, which is a bit that thing long back to my German data sets, I said Kult loanee Was that I never saw. It was basically a name, I’d given myself myself and acquainted with each eight in Germany I did for 12 years. And that was our DJ name. So it was so nice. I think there must have been the first time when I used to return via Instagram wasn’t born by then. But then I kind of adopted that handle across all channels, and the authority just by typing in markers sticks. Yeah, there’s easy and if they are single speed to this Google Search still very clearly binary,

Carlton Reid 35:51
excellent. And coming for us to know where What do you want to plug in the name of projects you’ve been doing that you want to just talk about all your social media would want to

Mark Beaumont 36:01
Buy Marcus’s book? Well, what have I got going on? There’s Race Across America happening in June, I’m not sure when you’re going to put out this, this conversation. But that’s going to be an interesting race. So with GCN, my I’m doing as a pair, and my race partners, a guy called Jonathan Schubert, who’s a time trial specialist. So that’s been a lot of focus and training this year, and the epic coast to coast and we hope to break the record, from West Coast East Coast going just south of Los Angeles to Baltimore, we’ll hope to get across America in about six and a half, seven days. And that’s not self supported. You’ve got a truck behind you. Yeah, that’s that’s an absolute all a race. It’s absolutely at the sharp end of performance very, very different to these, these these backpacking adventures. And that’s the GCN film I’ve got, I’ve got a book coming out in the summer, all about sports psychology, cycling psychology. So I wrote a book a couple of years ago with Laura Penhold, my performance manager called endurance, which was kind of all the frequently asked questions I’ve been asked over the last 20 years about how to go further. And the chapter that I think I enjoyed the most. And I felt there was a lot lot more to say was psychology and mindset. And one of my key contributors for that was a San Francisco based sports psych, called Dr. Jim Taylor. So when the when the when the insurance book did well. The publishers came back and said, What would you write about next? And I said, Well, could we take that chapter and really develop it? So we’ve just finished writing, writing that and we all know that to be a good bike rider, you need to train physically. And we all know that. Mindset, emotions, identity, are a huge important part in terms of our performance as well. But even though we know that we don’t really do anything about it, it’s just sort of are you born with it? Is it just experience, but there’s no, there’s no way to train that really the way you train physically. So Jim brought a huge amount of knowledge, having worked with top flight, US teams in skiing, and cycling and triathlon. And I brought my life of experience. And it was really interesting working with somebody who could bring, you know, a language and a way of describing what I’m very interested in, you know, I’ve always felt like my ability as a bike rider is not because of who I am physically, is actually your ability to think your way through the task and, you know, endure in the simplest sense, so yeah, looking forward to that command in summer.

Carlton Reid 38:46
So that’s in July, August. It’s actually meant to time as

Mark Beaumont 38:50
so yeah, I’ll probably come out just after Marcus’s book, publisher GCN GCM. Publishing. Yep. Okay. Yeah, my first books were all Penguin Random House. So the ones which are the expedition books, but my last two which are more How To books information, books are published through GCN.

Carlton Reid 39:08
And then Twitter it’s MrMarkBeaumont.

Mark Beaumont 39:11
yep, I’m dead easy to find. Just like Walmart. There is a mark Beaumont who paints horses and there’s a mark Beaumon, who’s a music journalist, I often get tweets. I often get tweets from people really annoyed that I’ve slagged off their rock band. And that’s not me.

Carlton Reid 39:28
What’s that on your arm?

Unknown Speaker 39:30
So Supersapien. So super Sapien. So it’s a glucose monitor.

Carlton Reid 39:34
And so that’s normally for diabetics?

Mark Beaumont 39:37
Yeah, it was born out of people with type 1.

Carlton Reid 39:39
My wife went and she’s not diabetic, which is a diabetic doctor. So she often wears stuff like that. Yeah. This is now the tech for athletes to wear.

Unknown Speaker 39:47
Yeah, exaclty. you can see my croissant and porridge is kicking in at the moment. So I was when I met you this morning. I was actually very low. And for everyone listening we’re looking at graph right now. I’m, and there’s a massive spike as I’ve fueled now. And whilst I’m in sort of a passive recovery mode here, that’s all fine. But if I was to go into a performance mode, this is exactly the same graph, but with a different range on it. And I’m now in a space where I should get on my bike and start pedalling. But if I’d done that an hour ago, under fueled, my performance would have been suboptimal. So yeah, no, so it’s called a super sapien, it’s, it’s very much about, you know, 15 years ago, people geeked out on heart rate, and then people geeked out on power. And, you know, layering on top of that, and understanding of what’s happening with your, you know, your energy systems is super dressed for that,

Carlton Reid 40:36
well, you’ve had some breakfast, you know, go right.

Why would you do that? You geeking out on the graph there when when the human physiology which is full of off? Well, you think,

Mark Beaumont 40:47
yeah, I mean, there’s an intuition about it, there’s a there’s a common sense element. But we’re not as objective as you might hope we are like, when you’re when you’re shattered, when you’re sleep deprived, when you’re pushing yourself through ultra endurance. You know, if you have a physiological bonk, if you hit the wall, it’s normally correspondent with a nutritional crash. And people don’t feel because their legs feel people feel because their gut feels normally. So the psychology and the nutritional side of cycling. Cyclists just want to cycle and they think it’s all about how strong their muscles are. But actually, they take care of themselves if the mindset and the nutritionist is correct. So I don’t think we are, I don’t think we’re as good as you’re suggesting we are at knowing ourselves. And I think we should never, we should never rely on data to the point where we lose sort of the ability to sort of listen to our own body. But it’s very, very, it’s very, very useful and helpful to have some science behind that. I know when I’m racing. In a ram, I’ll need about 110 grammes of carbohydrates an hour to be able to sit at 260 watts. You know, I know, I know, my numbers. And so it’s pretty clear, then backing that up if I’m under fueling. And so yeah, maybe that would kill the fun for some people, but I’m in the business of, and I have been for my whole career of trying to break down barriers, like people, you know, criticise me for ruining a good bike ride by going too fast. But I’ve always been trying to not just break records, but create leaps in performance. I try to do stuff that’s not been done before, not because I’m trying to beat other people, but because I’m very, very interested in what’s possible what my personal best is. And so data data is really helpful. And sort of, you know, I genuinely do wish I’d known some of this. When I first cycled around the world 17 years ago, I mean, back then I really was a wild man adventurer, and I trained much better than than I did 1520 years ago, but so part of the evolution

Carlton Reid 43:00
Thanks to Marcus Stitz and Mark Beaumont there. And thanks also to you for listening to Episode 296 of the Spokesmen cycling podcast now brought to you in association with Tern Bicycle. Watch out for the next episode popping up in your feed real soon. But meanwhile, get out there and ride.

April 21, 2022 / / Blog

21st April 2022

The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

EPISODE 295: The best electric car is a bicycle — in conversation with sustainability scientist Kim Nicholas

SPONSOR: Tern Bicycles

HOST: Carlton Reid

GUEST: Professor Kim Nicholas

TOPICS: This show is a little under an hour with Professor Kim Nicholas, an American sustainability scientist based in Lund, Sweden. She’s co-author of a new study which ranks the 12 best ways to reduce car dependence in cities.


Carlton Reid 0:13
Welcome to Episode 295 of The Spokesmen cycling podcast. This show was engineered on 21st of April 2022.

David Bernstein 0:24
Hey everybody, it’s David from the Fredcast. And of course, I’m one of the hosts and producers of The Spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast since 2006. For shownotes links and other information, check out our website at And now, here’s my fellow host and producer Carlton Reid and the Spokesmen.

Carlton Reid 0:51
Thanks, David. And welcome to the show, which is a little under an hour with Professor Kim Nicholas, an American sustainability scientist based right now in Lund, Sweden. But before we get into this great episode, I have some thanks to give, and a welcome to make. Those of you who have listened to the show for a wee while will know that our long term sponsor has been the American online retailer, Jenson USA. Amazingly, they’ve been our title sponsor since 2008, two years after the show started. Now, 14 years is a long time to retain the same sponsor. And we are so grateful — that’s me and David — for Jenson USA’s support over those years. But all good things must come to an end and Jensen is now taking its leave. But we’re not. And I am thrilled to report that we have a new title, sponsor in Tern Bicycles. You’ll know Tern, of course, from the GSD electric cargo bike and other modern classics. Tern is a longtime friend of the show — co-founder, Josh Hon has been a guest several times — and so it’s a great fit. Tern’s support will enable us to continue producing the Spokesmen podcast. We’ll be working with Tern on intros and audio bumpers, and all the other things that podcasts do with their partners but, for now, let’s get started with today’s show, which is my conversation with Professor Kim Nicholas co author of a new study, which ranks the 12 best ways to reduce car dependence in cities. Before we get into the paper that you you’ve co authored with, with Paula Cuss, I first came upon you, because you had this viral placard-stroke-poster because you’re a climate scientist. So tell me what that that placsrd-stroke-poster said.

Kim Nicholas 3:30
That was from my first climate protest in 2014. It’s based on a framework I’ve been teaching for a long time, and it’s almost a haiku of everything you need to know about climate change boiled down to five statements. So “It’s warming. It’s us. We’re sure. It’s bad. We can fix it.”

Carlton Reid 3:51
Yes. And then you’ve you’ve taken that haiku. And you then made a book out of it in effect. So under the sky we make as your latest book. So is that would I be right in thinking that is an expansion upon that, that that number of linked very short sentences? Is that is that the expansion of it?

Kim 4:12
Yes, I do use that framework in Under the sky We Make. I also organise the book by facts, feelings, and action. Those are the three secret ingredients we need to actually tackle climate change. And I talked about the facts of how we know that it’s warming, and it’s us and that scientists are sure I deal with some of the emotional impacts in the feelings because it is really bad. And that’s something that’s tough to face. And we need coping skills and ways to face it in order to do the work and find purpose and meaning and doing the work. And then the majority of the book is focused on evidence based action. So what does research show actually works to make a fast and fair transition to a fossil free world and how can all of us be a part of making that happen?

Carlton Reid 4:59
I think I don’t think I’m totally out of the ballpark here. But it just seems that in the last six months, perhaps a year, perhaps even after, don’t look up the movie, we’ve seen more climate scientists actually taking quite direct action. Would you say that’s right? Is it something is that? Is that a sign of desperation that more climate scientists are not just saying, you know, yes, here we can fix it. And and this is the yes, it’s we’re sure, elements of your hatred, but also, the but we can fix it part has been ignored.

Kim Nicholas 5:37
I think it’s fair to say there’s increasing frustration and even desperation among climate scientists and climate experts, we’ve really had the scientific knowledge that we need to tackle this problem since almost my whole lifetime, or before I was born. And the fact that we’ve done so much additional research and crossed all the T’s and dotted all the I’s and gotten the error bars down to these tiny margins, and done what science can do to point out the problem, which is basically burning fossil fuels and destroying nature. Point out the solutions, which are getting on clean and renewable energy and transforming to a sustainable system of food production. We know how to do those things, but governments and people in power are not making them happen. And it’s really increasingly terrifying to feel like we’re standing by and watching those warnings, and that evidence being ignored. So I think that people are getting really compelled to speak up and take more direct and personal action so that we can try to sleep at night and say, Look, we didn’t just stand by and, you know, let society failed to act when we knew what to do. So I think you’re right that people scientists are getting more directly involved.

Carlton Reid 6:54
Now I’m gonna be this — normally I’m a smug cyclist, but I’m actually gonna be a smug motorist here now. So right this second in time on my driveway is an electric car. It has been charged from the solar panels on my roof. So I’m incredibly smug in that, you know, I’m not powering that the car from from dinosaur trees, I’m absolutely just going from the perfect renewable, the sun. So that’s why I’m kind of smug here. However, if if people like me and the millions of people like me, actually just thought, well, we’re going to solve the climate crisis by doing what I’m doing here. Now, that’s actually going to lead to another problem. And that is, you know, mass car use if everybody starts driving around because they think that being friendly to the to the planet, by being smug and having an electric car with a solar power, charging it, all that does is actually lead to other problems. So how can you square that circle as a climate scientist?

Kim Nicholas 8:03
So your electric car being charged by solar panels on your roof is the second best kind of car. It’s definitely better than a fossil powered car. But the best kind of car is actually car free. So this is what our new study is focused on. With Pollack, who’s you know, we start from the the understanding that, actually to meet climate and health goals and to reduce inequalities and to make cities safer and more livable, and more beautiful. We actually need to reduce cars themselves, electric cars are a big step forward from a climate perspective, compared with fossil cars. And all cars need to be fossil free. But actually, the biggest benefits and gains will come from reducing unnecessary cars as much as possible. So that was the focus of our new study.

Carlton Reid 8:52
So let’s, let’s talk about your new study. This bubbled up for me. I know two, three days ago, I know you’ve had a you’ve had the paper, then there was a conversation piece. And then as a guardian piece. So this is bubbling up in many different places. And this is me, this was me, that’s going to bubble up for people to this total points, you’ve got that I would like to go through that like point by point and let’s let’s go backwards until we get to V key ones that you think what cities should be, should be doing. But first of all, yeah, one of the kind of overriding things. And this perhaps is counterintuitive to too many people is it’s not so much what national governments do. Most of the work on climate is actually being done, or reducing cars for it. Most certainly is being done by local governments by municipal governments. So is that a good thing or a bad thing? Is that a neutral? Should there be more national government stuff anyway? Where do you where do you sit on that particular angle?

Kim Nicholas 9:56
Well, we definitely need much more National Climate Action, we know that government’s current pledges are most likely not sufficient. And if they are barely sufficient with the most optimistic assumptions to meet the agreement of the Paris Agreement, so are to meet the climate targets in the Paris Agreement. So, countries are not doing enough, especially historically high emitting countries like the UK and the US. Those national governments need to do much more, there are about 20 countries who have been slowly reducing their greenhouse gas emission. So that is good news. But that needs to be stepped up much more. At the same time, there are several 100 cities more than 300 cities who have been reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. So just by the numbers, we see that cities are actually doing a better job of putting policies and practices in place to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. And it doesn’t let national governments off the hook. But it shows that there are important climate actions to be taken at every level of government and really in every place, because ultimately, to stop climate change, we have to humans have to completely stop emitting carbon dioxide and adding it to the atmosphere. So to do that, every city has to do that every sector, every industry, every country, so it’s a lot. It’s a big job. And we do need everybody to help out.

Carlton Reid 11:17
I might be wrong on this, globally, but from a UK perspective, it seems that cities are able to do this, because they have leaders in the UK, it’s kind of these these effects voted in members, so elected members who some of their biggest portfolios are transport. So that’s why cities are quite progressive on this, because the things that that mares tend to have control over is, you know, things like getting cars out of their cities, is that a fair reflection globally? Or is that just Am I just looking at purely as a UK thing.

Kim Nicholas 11:57
So our study focused on Europe, which, in the EU, we have a mission to deliver 100 Climate Neutral cities by 2030. And that is very soon as you know, it is less than eight years away. So it’s a big job. And there are many cities that are interested and have signed up. But basically no city that is on track to do it yet, or is has all the policies or practices in place to make it happen. So it is the case, though, that our study found in Europe that local governments were key in implementing these policies that actually did work to reduce car use. So what we studied was, where has car use actually been measurably reduced already in practice? So not just models or projections, but actually, where has this already worked on the ground? And we found that more than three quarters of these cases, the initiatives were led by local governments.

Carlton Reid 12:56
I kind of mentioned globally there and you brought absolutely back to the focus of your study, which is a you But let’s actually geographically ground you here. So where are you talking from today? And where did you originally come from? Because your accent is not we’re you’re speaking from?

Kim Nicholas 13:15
Fair enough. I grew up in California in a town called Sonoma, which is about an hour north of San Francisco. And my PhD was actually about the impact of climate change on the wine industry, which is the lifeblood of that region and connection for my family and part of that landscape and history. Then in 2010, I moved to loon Sweden, which is where I’m speaking to from today. So I’m a sustainability scientist at Lund University.

Carlton Reid 13:41
I know Sonoma I have cycled in in the Sonoma Valley. So yes, it’s a beautiful part of the world. Let’s, let’s talk about your study now from it from a slightly different angle in that when there was a tweet, I don’t know if you’ve answered this or not. But in one of the tweet threads where you mentioned your study, and you gave the link to the original paper, Henk Swarttouw of the European Cyclists’ Federation, said, yeah, they’re all great. All those those, that those those 12 things you’re talking about, but you’ve missed one. And what you’ve missed is cycleway networks is bike infrastructure, basically. And it’s either you or somebody else. I can’t remember who kind of then kicked back on that and said, well, actually, so we didn’t if it was you who entered that, but can you enter it now? I mean, is the number 13, 14 Whatever is it, you know, get more people on bikes?

Kim Nicholas 14:37
No, it’s not. And I did answer that tweet. And I think it’s a really important finding from our study, which is that the most effective thing we can do to reduce cars in cities is to focus on that outcome directly and to use both carrots and sticks to reduce car use and increased public transport, walking and cycling. So there’s been a lot of focus, and especially policymakers and elected officials really like to focus on carrots on more good stuff. Here’s more bus routes, here’s more cycling lanes, pedestrianised streets, those are all wonderful. And those did feature in many of our top strategies, which I know we’ll get into more in a minute. But the important point is that those carrots alone are not sufficient to overcome the entrenched infrastructure and incentives, which today favours car use. So to really move the needle and to get people out of cars, and using other forms of transport, which is what we actually have to do to reduce emissions for climate change, to protect public health to make cities and streets safer and more livable, we have to actually reduce car use along with increasing sustainable mobility. And to do that you need to tackle both of those at the same time.

Carlton Reid 15:54
So I know this is tough, but let me just think about the percent terms of how big a carrot versus how big a stick. So in percentage terms, what are the different sizes there between those two tools?

Kim Nicholas 16:09
Let’s see. I’m just looking at the table. Now. I mean, I think it’s quite hard to make an apples to apples comparison, not least because so we screened nearly 800 studies and cases to look for initiatives that had already attempted and succeeded to reduce car use. And we ended up finding 12 different ways to do it, and almost as many different ways of measuring the reduction in car use. So one, you know, kind of wonky conclusion from our study, which is relevant for researchers and people planning interventions. So city planners and policymakers is, please, please, for the love of all that is good and holy measure kilometres travelled per person per day in these different modes, because that is what we can actually convert into emissions. And we can talk about health and climate savings. A lot of these studies measure things like one that we’ll talk about was about using an app for sustainable mobility. And they said that a very large percent of people who use the app reported in the app that they had reduced their car use, but they did not report by how much and you know, if they skipped one, you know, five minute trip to the store down the street versus a year of long car commutes? That’s a very, very different impact for, for climate and for traffic. But we can’t tell from the data. So I guess I’m hedging and not really answering your question.

Carlton Reid 17:47
Oh, cuz I was I was wondering like a 20%, carrot, 80 percents. But you’re, you’re you’re being you’re being a scientist, and you’re giving giving very complex?

Kim Nicholas 17:59
I’m kind of I’m kind of opting out of that one, because our data, unfortunately, don’t really let us say so. Well, I mean, maybe it will be more obvious when we get into talking about each measure. Because, um, I mean, one, one carrot that is really effective as a carrot is mobility services for universities, or commuters. So basically giving free transport passes and linking transport with shuttles for students at a university or for commuters at a workplace that is quite effective.

Carlton Reid 18:33
So that’s been done in sort of interrupting them, but when that’s done, and when that was done in Davis, California, you know, the very, very good bike network that was in use, you know, since the late 1960s. In Davis, very well used over many years, when, when they introduced a free bus service for for academics, I believe, even for people who live in the town or the city. Bike use just, you know, just got cut off by the knees. So it’s that sort of thing. So your mind, you know, think you’re doing great by, you know, making public transport for free. But then that actually cuts out a helpful form of transport. So how do you again, how do you square that circle?

Kim Nicholas 19:21
Well, I think you’re just reinforcing my point, Carlton, which is to beg researchers to please actually report the kilometres travelled by mode share, because as you say, if an initiative it succeeds in getting people off of bikes and walking, which is an even healthier and lower emission form of travel than public transport, which is also very good. But you know, if you’re switching a cyclist to a bus rider, as opposed and you haven’t reduced driving and all you really haven’t done anything for climate or health, so we really need to be able to measure those directly. But I mean, what I can’t say from our study is that we identified these 12 have measures that have demonstrably worked to reduce cars. And were able to report that in some quantifiable way. The metrics vary between studies, but they’re clear that they do work to actually produce cars. And again, the most effective ones that reduce cars the most for the largest population are for the largest proportion of the city are those that combine carrots to make sustainable mobility, walking and biking and public transport cheaper and easier and more accessible, and simultaneously use sticks to restrict and charge for driving and parking.

Carlton Reid 20:36
So you mentioned their apps for sustainable mobility. That’s actually number 12. So we’re gonna do like a pop countdown here. So in at number 12, is apps for sustainable mobility. And you mentioned there belanja that had a developed an app that bang, bang, got people out of cars, but only a slight amount, I mean, these things, because it’s not the be all and end all. It’s just partly, in many cities actually doing just one or two of these things. And if a city did all 12 of what you’re saying, if we just reduce car use overnight,

Kim Nicholas 21:17
I would love to visit the city that implements all 12 of these measures. That would be amazing. I mean, yes, I think it would be you know, the more we know from previous research that policy bundles are more effective. So in other words, having a comprehensive approach, taking combining different measures. So for example, including something to do with prices, so that you’re steering people towards the healthy and sustainable choice with prices, it shouldn’t be the cheapest option to do something that pollutes, simultaneously having information campaigns and public goods and services to provide alternatives like safe and attractive walking and cycling and public transit. Those are what really works.

Carlton Reid 22:02
And on that note, we could go straight into personalised travel plans. Because that definitely involves some of that. I know that from from Sustrans in the UK has has done these very successfully done them. But they’re phenomenally expensive, because you are literally going to one put one on your one on one. And then you know saying to them, Look, did you realise there’s a bus right outside your door? That kind of granularity, but that’s phenomenally expensive to do that one on one?

Kim Nicholas 22:34
Yes, so we looked at several different kinds of travel planning. And the number 11 was personalised travel planning, which you just mentioned. And number 10 was school travel planning, for example. And those are carrot only measures. So they’re making it cheaper and easier to use public transport and offering advice on how to walk bike or take public transit to school or work or wherever you’re going for the personal use. So those the personalised travel planning reduced, car use about six to 12%. And pretty similar for the school travel planning that was five to 11% in less cars used to drive kids to school. So that’s substantial and worthwhile. But again, I think those measures and we don’t have an example that perfectly compares to this, but combining that with restrictions to discourage car use, while providing good alternatives would make those much more powerful.

Carlton Reid 23:36
So that’s, that’s the level and 10 Nine is car sharing. I know. I’ve talked to a number of people who are bike advocates, in fact, who have gone on to found car sharing clubs and what and one of the ones that was basically 70s and 80s, which is quite as quite successful Claire Morrisette of Montreal, who … the main cycleway through through Montreal is named for her. And she founded a car club. And she did that exactly even as a bike advocate. She was doing that to reduce reduced cars and then a number of other people I know have done it in more modern times. But is that what you mean by car sharing? So car clubs, you know rental cars, is that what you mean?

Kim Nicholas 24:27
Exactly as a car sharing would be a scheme where members can easily rent a car that’s nearby for a few hours, there would be a car let’s say on the street or in a parking garage, maybe a few blocks from your house. And as a member, you could use an app to unlock it and rent it and borrow for a few hours. So maybe you’re going to IKEA or doing a big shop or you need to take a special trip or whatever. So the idea would be that it helps helps people that when it is good for them producing cars. It’s when people actually had their own cars and choose to get rid of them because they don’t need them anymore. And they only use the car when they really need it from a car sharing service. So if that’s the case, then we found that can have a big impact. So the the places that have done that are Bremen, Germany, and Genoa, Italy. And there, they found that having a car sharing car replaced 12 to 15 private cars. So that’s obviously really good news for space in cities. And that’s something that often gets left out of the discussion. But, you know, the This is one reason that electric cars are not the answer to sustainable mobility, because there’s still cars and cars are still pretty inefficient ways to get people around, they spend about 95% of their time parked on the street, and or wherever they’re parked, they’re taking up that space. In Sweden, the estimate is that a car uses 100 square metres of city space. And when you think, okay, that’s an apartment size, we could certainly find a more beautiful and you know, beneficial use for 100 square metres than some parking garages and parking spaces on streets. So the parking issue I mean, car sharing can really help if it’s actually reducing the total number of cars. The issue with our sharing, though, is that there’s some other research suggesting that it has the potential at least and may induce the opposite effect. In other words, it might induce people who don’t have cars to start using cars more because there is a car in the neighbourhood that’s so easy and frictionless to use. So to reduce emissions and to reduce car use. Overall, we have to be sure that we’re designing programmes that effectively do that and encourage people to replace their previous cars with a car sharing car.

Carlton Reid 26:51
And extrapolating forward. The same could be said for autonomous cars, in that that could actually lead to a huge uptick in the number of car journeys. If you if you if you make a car use frictionless, which which autonomous driving would do, then you just massively increased driving.

Kim Nicholas 27:09
Yes, we didn’t look at autonomous cars in this study. But other studies have, indeed found that and there was a study in the last year on the ride hailing services Uber and Lyft. In the US that found that cities car use increased in cities that had Uber and Lyft. Especially in particular, with higher income households, it tended to replace transit. So unfortunately, those ride hailing services seem to be increasing card use and increasing emissions rather than reducing them.

Carlton Reid 27:44
So number eight, we’ve kind of discussed this already in the example you give it and here is Catania. So this is mobility services for university where they they’ve given a transport public transport pass to to students who we talked about that. But then why is university travel planning which is in at number seven? Why is that different to personalised travel planning and school travel planning?

Kim Nicholas 28:12
Well, it seemed to work better that seems to be the reason it was different. So number seven, and eight were both to do with university as you said, and providing students with a free public transport pass and shuttle connection reduced car commuting by 24%. And they combined stick and carrot of reduced parking on campus, and then discounts and improvements to transit and cycling and infrastructure and advice on how to use them reduced car commuters, by the whole university populations of staff and students by up to 27%. There were several different places that that combined those initiatives.

Carlton Reid 28:53
Hmm. Yeah, so University of Bristol did rather well there. Six workplace travel planning, is that in with number seven there, or was that gonna be a bit different?

Kim Nicholas 29:08
It’s a similar idea. So removing parking, and that’s the stick and then combined with making it easier and cheaper to use public transport and cycling. So with physical infrastructure, cycle lanes and infrastructure, better public transit, and also advice on how to use those things. They’re the studies that looked at that site up to an 18% drop in car use.

Carlton Reid 29:36
Number five is a one that I’m quite familiar with in that when I cycle in Nottingham on the very nice wide cycleways when I use one of the rental bikes in Nottingham ditto, it’s all been paid for by this method. So in at number five is workplace parking charges.

Kim Nicholas 29:56
And it’s interesting that you are actually benefiting from that That’s nice to hear and Mmm, yeah, exactly. So the most successful was in Rotterdam in the Netherlands. So they reduced card commutes by employees 20 to 25%. Where I mean, basically a number of studies have shown this, that it is just really nonsensical to provide free parking for workplaces, that that’s a basically a subsidy to driving. And when you price those parking spaces are often worth 1000s of dollars per year. And because City’s space is limited and precious and could be used for other things, and it really makes a lot more sense for to charge, you know, the cost for those parking spaces. One different study that we didn’t look at here, but previously has shown that you don’t only have to, I mean, something that works very well is to make the full cost visible. And for example, you can cash out employees, I mean, people, unsurprisingly, don’t like the idea of having to pay for something that they’ve previously always gotten for free, and suddenly it cost them 1000s of dollars. I mean, often what blocks climate action is a small group of outraged, very vocal, sorry, often middle aged men, our research shows is often the group that does that. So you can reduce a opposition to climate policies, by for example, offering people to cash out, so instead of saying, Okay, we’re not going to charge you, you know, $2,000 a year for this parking space, for example, you could say, we’ll give you $2,000 a year if you don’t use this parking space. And, or we’ll give you a credit equivalent value, or we’ll give you free public transit, if you don’t use your parking space, or a credit towards which you could use to buy a nice commuter bicycle and save storage and showers at work. So there are different ways you can structure this so that it would be politically popular and also effective.

Carlton Reid 32:00
Yes, politically popular is the holy grail there, because these things very often aren’t politically popular. how familiar you are with UK internal politics on the NHS. But when about two, three weeks ago, free parking for members of the NHS, who were obviously worked very hard during the pandemic was removed. So doctors and nurses had their free car parking removed, and there’s a huge fuss about how terrible this was, and how all political parties that there was, this wasn’t a, you know, a left or right thing, all political parties were pretty much in favour of giving doctors and nurses free car parking. And so I made, you know, a cynical comment at the time saying, Well, okay, where are the free bus passes? And where are the free bikes? And nobody can understand that. It’s like, well, you would, it’s just obvious to give doctors and my wife is a doctor to give doctors free parking. But nobody, as in I suppose in the in the cashing out equivalent that you said, nobody is saying we should give people free bus passes or very, very infrequently. Give them free bus passes, and free bicycles to doctors that that just doesn’t come up as conversation because it’s, it’s politically just doesn’t register. So that politically unpopular thing, how can you make something that’s incredibly politically unpopular popular?

Kim Nicholas 33:33
Yeah, great question. I mean, I think there’s a really important discussions to be having, because we know that we have to reduce over dependence on cars in order to meet climate targets and health targets. And then we do need to be having these discussions of okay, well, what is a valid use of a car? Who gets to drive and what should we prioritise? I think there’s a very strong argument that people who are dependent on cars for mobility and social inclusion, so those who have disabilities, for example, that require a car, I think that’s a very valid use case for a car. And I can understand if there are doctors and nurses and other essential workers who have to be at work, you know, before public transit is running or work long shifts, maybe that is a good use for a car, but then I think we should be having those conversations explicitly. And you’re absolutely right, that there are ways to incentivize sustainable mobility that could actually improve health which last time I checked, doctors and nurses are very keen on doing. We know that active transport is much better for people’s both physical and mental health. And to actually, you know, move more is one of the key ways to address a lot of the health issues that we have today. So I think there’s a lot of scope for making those improvements.

Carlton Reid 34:52
And for the record my wife cycle to work today despite having this we’re despite having smug solar power panels charged In her electric car, it is really her car. She still cycled to, to work. So it is possible, even if you are in many other respects potentially being a doctor being normally assumed to be car dependent. So

Kim Nicholas 35:15
to her, I approve. Yes,

Carlton Reid 35:18
yeah, thank you. I think she’s doing for fitness to tell the truth, I don’t think climate comes into it. It’s very much a fitness and health anyway. mobility service for commuters that sounds like this is number four. That sounds very much like travel planning.

Kim Nicholas 35:36
Yeah, the difference there that made it even more effective is that it was a collaboration between local government and private companies to provide free public transport passes to their employees, and to connect those transit stops to the workplace directly with private shuttles. So they made it really seamless and then promoted it. And that actually was quite a big reduction, 37% reduction in this year of commuters driving,

Carlton Reid 36:03
you add all these percentages up, and that they’re getting to be like 200%. Three, we need we need a city to do every one of these. And then you have minus cars, it’d be great.

Kim Nicholas 36:15
It’d be wonderful. I mean, this is the issue that, you know, some studies measured employees as a population and measured school, children’s and measured University, either staff or students or both. So measured geographically who’s coming in and out of the city. So there are different metrics. But I agree that I mean, this also shows there’s a lot of scope for, for example, employers and schools and universities and hospitals, to engage and to lead these initiatives and to collaborate with local government and other stakeholders to actually put these things into place. So we don’t have to wait for someone else to do these things. There are opportunities already today.

Carlton Reid 36:55
Hmm. Right. And here, you’re coming to be a bit more radical. And this is definitely politically unpopular. And that is when you it’s you’ve said it limited traffic zones, which is a software of saying banned cars, basically, and used Rome as one of the examples there. So why Rome.

Kim Nicholas 37:15
So Rome was the case that we found that is actually implemented this and reduced traffic 20%. During so basically, the design of their policy was to restrict car entry in certain times and certain parts of the city centre only to residents. So you can’t drive a car as a way of getting from point A to point B through the centre of Rome. And that worked to reduce cars by 20% through in that whole city centre area during those times. And it also worked, even when it wasn’t in place. So even during the hours where that wasn’t the case, it was still 10% less cars and less traffic. So that was quite effective.

Carlton Reid 37:55
So we’re restricted how with automatic camera recognition that number plates with barriers, what worked in Rome, and what what do you suggest cities should do?

Kim Nicholas 38:10
Oh, good question actually don’t have the answer to that, at the top of my head. The specifics of how they implemented I think one part of the equation that was important for Rome was that they use the violation fines to finance their public transport system. So again, coupling, the stick to the carrot is a really important way of gaining public acceptance, because I think cities need to make the case. And I mean, the the piece that I wrote for the conversation, my editor called an evidence based rant against cars. So there’s plenty of evidence of you know, why is it that cars are a problem? What is it that’s unequal and unfair about the way that cars are used, especially in cities today? So we have that evidence. And I think people in positions of power need to use it to make these arguments of look, you know, the current system is really unfair, that it’s generally a small number of people who drive the most, and those tend to be the wealthiest. So it’s increasing inequity, the way to make things better is to reduce over driving by those who drive the most and use the funds that that raises, to make sustainable mobility more affordable and more accessible and better for everyone

Carlton Reid 39:25
that you’ve mentioned that Rome there, and then I’ll just do a quick search there because I can’t find Paris. So Paris is normally used by lots of people, including myself as like the poster child. For a lot of these policies, like the moving car parking places and stuff, and that, you know, the 15 Minute city, but you haven’t got Paris, so why haven’t you got Paris?

Kim Nicholas 39:47
No, I agree. I’m also a bit surprised. I think it’s a function because I think the 15 Minute City is a brilliant idea and it’s very effective. And it’s a way of integrating many of these different instruments and policies that we have Talk about these car reduction strategies. And I think the only reason it didn’t come up is that it didn’t fit our search term. So to screen these 800 cases and papers, we looked for studies that had specifically set out to reduce car use as an objective, and combine that with something demonstrating measured effect of how successfully they did that. So it must have you know, there wasn’t something published in English, after the year 2010 That specifically said it aimed to reduce car use and measure that reduction, or else we would have caught it in our study. So somehow Paris slipped through the cracks there.

Carlton Reid 40:39
Hmm. So we need some more studies done on Paris because they do seem to be doing many of the things which you’ve which you’ve, you’ve mentioned, they’re certainly they’re doing very well on certainly planning to remove car parking spaces and then de mer and held algo saying that this has to do with with equity reasons, and female equity reasons, and all sorts of stuff like that. Whereas mostly it’s men who are doing the bulk of the of the driving in Paris, and she wants to, you know, make a fairer transport system. So yes, we need more studies from Paris, or France to No, no, no Paris to come in. So we’ve mentioned parking there for Paris, but that isn’t number two. For you, so parking and traffic controls, why is parking such a, an emotive issue for a start? Because that does seem to if you look at, you know, local newspaper, I don’t know what it’s like in Lund, Sweden, but it’s sent if you look in local newspapers in the UK, you know, parking does seem to be one of the major stories, you know, for for local newspapers, you know, you remove somebody’s parking, and that’s, you know, three weeks of solid news for some newspapers, because it leads to incredible friction. So, so talk me through parking and how that can be parking and traffic controls and how that can be done and and politically managed.

Kim Nicholas 42:08
Right? Well, I think a lot of it comes back to the equity issues that you were mentioning a study by Felix Kritsa, and others found that in Berlin, car, users use three and a half times more city space than non car users. And a lot of that is through on street parking. So basically, it really is an equity issue, that the parking spaces for people who are over using cars, takes away limited space that others also need and deserve. And what Oslo did, which is the the example for this number two parking and traffic control was remove parking spaces that were formerly in the city centre and alter traffic routes. And replacing this space that had been dedicated to cars to car free streets, bike lanes and walkways. And that was really successful. So it reduced car use 19%.

Carlton Reid 43:02
But going back

to where I started with on that, in that is you’re touching the third rail, you know, you’re touching a live wire, basically, by removing parking, so so maybe looking at maybe just not so much something you’ve studied, but how Paris is doing and just the way that they’re doing it, you know, incrementally so they’re not doing it, you know, overnight, removing every single parking space, but they’ve got a goal to remove parking space. Is that the way to do it? Do you think to do it almost by stealth? Because if you actually said we’re going to remove, you know, half the parking spaces in this city, it would just be politically unpalatable.

Kim Nicholas 43:43
I think it’s actually important to make the case publicly and to share the data on how unequally distributed driving is in the UK 40% of the lowest income households don’t have a car, whereas almost 90% of the highest income households do. So privileging driving is really privileging those who already are the most privileged. And I think that’s a very tough case to make.

Carlton Reid 44:09
You’re right. But I mean, you even though you’re right, when when that comes into the letters in the pages, and it comes into the like the shock jocks talking about this, it always, you know, said people, you know, hard working motorists. And when you point out to these people, actually, you know, the poorest people really are not in cars. It almost as though they haven’t actually thought about that. It’s never really they’ve already figured that out that the very poorest in society really aren’t in cars.

Kim Nicholas 44:42
Yeah, that’s right. And I mean, we see from the data that when you reduce over auto mobilisation when you free cities from unnecessary cars, they become nicer places to live and work and they become actually better for everyone there. The air is easier to breathe. There’s More conviviality and interaction on the streets, people actually get to know their neighbours and use the outside space because it’s not given over to cars. I think something that really struck me, a good friend of mine actually bicycled from Stanford where we were studying to the southern tip of South America over two years. And he had an incredible journey and met so many people along the way, and was hosted by people and gave talks along the way. And when he did that same when he crossed the US by bike, he said he could never find people because they were never visible, they were always in their cars, the only place he could actually meet people and talk to people was either at gas stations or grocery stores. So I mean, when you think about the way that cars divide society and separate people from their neighbours, they actually have a lot of really negative effects. And the cities that have succeeded in reducing cars report really positive benefits from the way that the streets look and feel from the business that are thriving, they’re from the way that actually space is used in a much more inspiring and beautiful way. And the way people have more time to do the things they want, because they’re not stuck behind the wheel of a car,

Carlton Reid 46:17
not just behind the wheel of a car stuck behind the wheel of a car with a roof on. And with Windows and with air conditioning and with your own music and etc. It’s that you’re enclosed, you’re in a you’re in a little bubble, which is perhaps one of the reasons why your friend didn’t see people because they’re they’re inside an enclosed space. But might in the beer an argument. I’m not being totally serious here. But might there be an argument for in effect, going back to the original motorcars, which were ruthless, and you could then talk to people? Okay, they were doing 90 miles an hour, so maybe you can’t but but it’s that it’s that enclosure of motoring. That’s one of the big problems. And we actually if you if you remove the roof, and you made all cars into convertibles, in effect, that might actually that might actually be a social good. Outcome helped me out how serious Am I

Kim Nicholas 47:17
I’ve got it, let’s remove the roof of ours, let’s shrink them so that instead of 95% of the weight of the car being the car itself, rather than the person you’re transporting, so let’s make the majority of the vehicle actually the person themselves. And let’s make them run on your energy so that you’re actually exercising at the same time. You know what we’ve just invented the bicycle, the bicycle is the perfect car. In all seriousness, and something we didn’t look at, in this study that didn’t come up in our in our search terms, but that other studies have found is really effective is electric bikes, those can really replace cars. And the research has shown that people do tend to use them to replace cars rather than just avid cyclist cycling more, for example. But having an electric bike can make it more feasible for someone who lives a bit further from work, or maybe who has a family and needs to pick up kids and groceries that might be difficult by car, or sorry, excuse me by bike, it can really extend the capacity of what a bike can do. And then you also have the social benefits of you know, being actually physically present on the street and able to talk to your neighbours.

Carlton Reid 48:32
Mm hmm. Yes, I wasn’t mean totally serious, I guess. Because yeah, you’re right. A bicycle is a much more convivial tool, and then even the nicest of convertible sports cars. So now let’s get on to number one. And I’ve used an example. And that is London has come on in leaps and bounds with they have got very, very good protected bikeways we’ve got a very good city bike share scheme, there’s all sorts of things you know, a lot of the roads in London are now you know, majority of them actually cyclists whereas used to be majority of them were motorists. It a lot of it, I think you can absolutely tie down to your number one thing here and that is a congestion charge, charge motorists for coming into cities.

Kim Nicholas 49:25
Yes, make the cost of driving visible because at the moment, a lot of the costs are hidden. Society pays a lot of the costs of driving in the form of pollution and traffic and delays and accidents and health and climate change. Whereas we really need to make it more visible that the polluters should be paying for using this polluting technology of a car. And when you do that, like in congestion charges, London reduced centre city traffic by 33%. So that was by far the most effective of intervention in our whole study, because that was for the entire region, the entire geographical area of the city. So not just a certain population of workers or university staff or so on, but for the whole city.

Carlton Reid 50:13
So that also answers Henk Swarttouw’s point of do you need to put bike lanes in everywhere? Well, yes, maybe, but potentially have more use is actually just reduce the amount of driving by making sure the polluter pays.

Kim Nicholas 50:33
Yeah. So again, this was an example of linking carrots and sticks. So the majority of the funds raised from the congestion charge in London has been used to fund public transport investments. So again, that’s the kind of thing that really makes it possible to gain political support because people recognise that is fair, okay, if we’re charging for polluting transport, we want to make it easier and cheaper and more accessible to use non polluting transport. So directly linking the fees from one to support reducing the cost of another is something that increases legitimacy because people perceive, understand that connection there.

Carlton Reid 51:15
But many cities actually give you discounts, or perhaps even a don’t charge at all if you’re an electric car. So that’s not the polluter isn’t paying there at all, because they’re not polluting that source. So you think electric cars should also be charged here, because they’re their car shaped object.

Kim Nicholas 51:34
They want to be bicycles, right? They’re just on the journey to bicycles. Well, I mean, that’s a little bit of a separate issue, those congestion, the incentives to make it cheaper to use electric cars are designed to speed up and incentivize the transition, which doesn’t need to happen to make all cars fossil free. So I think it does make sense to have to make it economically advantageous to drive an electric car because we need to turn over the fleet of cars. The problem is that that is happening far too slowly at the moment to make a big dent in emissions, especially by 2030. And we know from science that we globally have to cut greenhouse gas emissions about in half, by 2030, to avoid catastrophic climate change, so we actually need to retire fossil fuel infrastructure early in order to do that. That means closing down power plants and pipelines and cars and things that run on fossil fuels ahead of their planned lifetime. So I do think it makes sense to have incentives to switch to Fossil Free cars. But we also need to be thinking the best car is actually a bicycle or a bus or a train or walking or not a car at all. And how do we prioritise people, not cars at the centre of cities?

Carlton Reid 52:50
Hmm, yes. And that’s, that’s a good note to stop. Actually, I do like that definitely prioritise people and the car. The best kind of car is a bicycle. Yes. So where can people find this paper? Like I’ll in the show notes, I’ll give the links to everything. But let’s give an audio one. So right now. So where can people find the paper? And then if you could also tell us where people can find you?

Kim Nicholas 53:17
Sure. Well, I’ve been tweeting an awful lot about it. So you can certainly find it on my Twitter. I’m ka_Nicholas, on Twitter. I’ll be writing about this paper in my monthly climate advice column, which is called we can fix it and you can subscribe over on substack. Those are probably the best places to find me. Okay, and the paper itself, or the paper itself is published in case studies in transport research and the conversation UK has the piece that’s called the 12 best ways to get cars out of cities, ranked by new research, and then the Guardian ran a condensed version of that over the weekend. Yes.

Carlton Reid 53:58
And we are now looking for a city to implement at least 10 of

Kim Nicholas 54:07
you are going to I will ride my bicycle there from Luna, if it’s anywhere in Europe, and I would love to see it. So please, please cities. I would tell me if you’re doing this and I would love to visit

Carlton Reid 54:20
Thanks to Professor Kim Nicholas there aand thanks also to you for listening to episode 295 of the Spokesmen cycling podcast now brought to you in association with Tern Bicycles. Watch out for the next episode popping up in your feed real soon. But meanwhile, get out there and ride

March 27, 2022 / / Blog

27th March 2022

The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

EPISODE 294: Building a Better World — an Activist Planner’s Network Analysis of Bike Lanes in Paris


HOST: Carlton Reid

GUEST: Marcel Moran

TOPICS: This is a show about network analysis, specifically of the coronapistes of Paris but also how the University of Californina Berkeley has a strong history of what’s known as “activist planning” where there is an acknowledgement that scholars will want to build a better world. With Marcel Moran, a PhD Candidate at the Department of City & Regional Planning University of California, Berkeley

LINKS: Marcel’s study on Paris. Marcel on Google Scholar. Marcel’s website.

Marcel Moran in Paris.


Carlton Reid 0:13
Welcome to Episode 294 of the spokesmen cycling podcast. This show was engineered on 27th of March 2022.

David Bernstein 0:25
The spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast is brought to you by Jenson USA Jenson USA, where you will find a great selection of products at unbeatable prices with unparalleled customer service. Check them out at Hey everybody, it’s David from the Fredcast. And of course, I’m one of the hosts and producers of The spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast since 2006. For shownotes links and other information, check out our website at And now, here’s my fellow host and producer Carlton Reid and the spokesmen.

Carlton Reid 1:10
Thanks, David. And welcome to the show, which is a cerebral hour with Marcel Moran of the University of California at Berkeley in San Francisco. Marcel has a new study just out on the bike lanes of Paris, especially those which popped up during the Coronavirus lockdown. Remember that, at least became known as Corona beasts. And critically, they’re still active and are still boosting bicycling in the French capital. We also talk about network analysis, which is a lot more interesting than it sounds, and a whole bunch of other bike advocacy stuff, including how UC Berkeley has a strong interest in the activist planner, and acknowledgement that scholars will want to build a better world.

So Marcel, thank you ever so much for talking to me today. And I know today is also as you’ve just told me, this is the ICO publication day. So congratulations on your publication. So So tell me what we’re going to be talking about here because this is about Corona V. PC. Yes,

Marcel Moran 2:28
yeah, no, thanks for having me on. Today, my paper came out in the journal transport findings. And it’s called treating COVID with bike lanes. And what I wanted to do was I wanted to put Paris’s kind of growing network of, of bike lanes, and particularly how they short circuited their process for it in the context of COVID to kind of rapidly expand it. I wanted to put that into spatial context, I wanted to understand the quality of those new lanes and how they relate to the network that existed before the pandemic.

Carlton Reid 2:57
So why, why Paris? I mean, obviously, I know why Paris because Paris was was the poster child, for these pop ups during COVID. It was one of the first to really go for it. But by the same token, you’re not in Paris. So why Paris,

Unknown Speaker 3:14
unitary, I’m based in Northern California, although I moved, I moved to Paris for the project. So the reason why Paris, Paris has been getting a lot of press under the leadership of Mayor Hidalgo in terms of over the last five years or so really increasing their standard bike lanes outside of the pandemic, why find Paris to be such a useful case study is because Copenhagen and Amsterdam and German cities have been kind of studied to an extreme degree in terms of their very effective bike infrastructure. But Paris is actually you know, not really considered or hasn’t been considered a bicycle Haven, and anyone who bike there, you know, prior to 2015 would would never categorise it as such. And so I think Paris is such a useful case for other planners and urbanists around the world, because its rate of change has been so dramatic, and it’s starting place not that long ago, is quite similar, actually, to where many cities find themselves where there’s some level of bike infrastructure, but many, many gaps and many, many shortcomings. And so it’s actually much more relatable, no one can turn into Amsterdam in a period of five years, but what Paris has done in five or six years actually is much more attainable for the rest of the kind of transportation audience. And I also I find that you have this kind of interesting social construction changing to where per regions are now presented with this new kind of streetscape. And you’re just seeing the growth and ridership take off as well. Hmm.

Carlton Reid 4:47
Now in your in your paper, which I have, which I have read because it’s quite a short paper. It is yeah. Yeah. It’s short and sweet. But it’s fascinating and and what I liked about your Paper was you’re absolutely talking about, you know, the network capabilities here that the way that plugging gaps with with some of these routes, and you kind of you talk about the, again, the Dutch style network approach, but just explain that, but it’s not just about working in some great bikeways on, you know, really Rivoli, you’ve got to have bikeways, where you’re not going to be expecting loads of people, because you’ve got to fill in those gaps. So explain that, that that network approach that is the key to all of this. This is

Marcel Moran 5:34
this is a nuanced part of bike planning, and what I really wanted to shine a light on in this paper. So there’s increasing evidence that what matters to riders in terms of their willingness to bike in a city is not the overall length of a bike network, it’s not the overall amount of kilometres of a bike lane. But it’s how interconnected each lane is, meaning how many lanes overlap with other lanes, which then provide cyclists with a continuous path to reach their destination, where the greatest percentage of it is within bike lanes. And for big key at intersections, they can transition from one bike lane to another bike lane. And so when I was reading about before I moved to Paris, I was reading about Paris, increasing the length of its network. But the question I had was, but how is it changing the density of its network? How are the number of connections changing? And so what I did was, Paris has a very robust public data platform where they share information. And so going back to 2005, I looked 2005 to 2020. For every single lane segment that was installed, I calculated how many other lanes that connected to at the time it was installed. So you’re making this kind of time specific calculations, you say, okay, in 2006, how many other lanes were available that could connect to in 2007? Exactly, you know, etc. And what I find is that there’s this increasing trend of connectivity in Paris’s network that’s completely accelerated by their Corona, bike lanes, or what they call Corona piece days. And so the bike lanes that came in during the pandemic are not just protected to a greater extent, that was another thing I found, they’re not just more bi directional to a greater extent, but they connect to a hot they average a higher number of interconnections with other lanes. And that’s really going to kind of supercharge the benefit you’re going to give to prison cyclists.

Carlton Reid 7:36
So given that Deeth, it’s a loaded question him, but do you think that really thought about this? Because I’m gonna, I’m gonna, I’m gonna frame that question a little bit. Because here in the UK, and I guess in other places, there were some pretty daft bike lanes put in. Yeah, you know, why even? Why did you do that? It’s almost as though they were, you know, some local authorities, certainly in the UK, were almost just ticking boxes, and just putting a bike lane in which pretty much just annoyed motorists in many respects, I know it annoys motorists where you know, where you put them in? A really strategic roads, where you probably didn’t expect any cyclists would put us in there because there wouldn’t be the network connection there anyway, it will just annoy people. And also you just think they probably haven’t thought this through and then the rip them out. So the question is given given that as a as a preamble, do you think Paris actually got it? Right? Because they were thinking in network terms? Do you think when they put those bike lanes in, they were the right places?

Marcel Moran 8:39
It’s such a great question. And so I would say yes, and the way I answered that question was, because I know the year in which every single bike lane was installed, I could map how the network changed and grew over time. And so what I do is I create for these for different time periods, 2005, to 2009 2010 2014 2015 2019, and then 2020. And what you see is, you see the spatial decision making of Paris’s bicycle planners changing where their first decision spatially was to create this kind of ring of lanes around the periphery of the city. But what’s so interesting is the second time period, they’re actually doing exactly what you’re describing in England, they’re just doing a number of very short lanes. They’re not interconnected, really at all. And they’re not necessarily primary routes. And what’s so gratifying about looking at the 2020 map, is they really focused or you can tell I mean, what’s so interesting is, you could spend three months interviewing planners, or you could spend three months mapping it like I did, and you’re, you’re, you’re revealing the decision making that they did. And what happened in 2020 was they made all of these connections from Paris’s periphery to the city centre, doing long connected bike lanes that then filled really meaningful gaps. And there’s also there’s another I spent November in England, and there’s so there’s another important thing difference I found between London’s bike lanes and Paris is that so much of the bike planning in London emphasises these kind of quiet ways. Were explicitly choosing non busy commercial streets to kind of build up the cycleways. And what’s so fascinating about Paris and which I think is works better is Paris emphasise its grandest boulevards, which are full of destinations that cyclists want to reach. So the challenge I had in London was, you’re diverting cyclists, basically away from the kind of commercial civic and other destinations they’re trying to reach. But Paris said, we’re going to choose our primary streets, a that are the most direct pass between major points of interest, but be they’re also giving cyclists the kind of, they’re giving cyclists kind of the grand real estate that cars otherwise have enjoyed unfettered. And so I think Paris really, really thread the needle in terms of the kind of spatial thought thought process. And you can just see it in the map that it’s all these key routes from the outer Paris to the centre along the sand from major destinations, like Ray publique. And plus the Concorde. And really the left the Left Bank got a number of important north to south routes as well.

Carlton Reid 11:17
So this is this is textbook how you do it, then.

Marcel Moran 11:20
Mm hmm. Yeah, I mean, it’s really this is, again, why I think Paris is such a great case study is because they’re, they’re, they’re improving the network in an incremental fashion. And they’re there, they’re starting to benefit from this increased network effect over time, where because they laid the groundwork, starting in 2005. In that decade, they’d laid the groundwork for this kind of initial network that was starting to have some network coherence. In the last 10, the last seven years or so, they’ve really, basically looked hard at this and emphasised quality, connection, and location. So that’s the challenge when I hear when I read articles, or hear people or your cities boasting about the length of their network, the length doesn’t tell you that much. Right. And so you’ll see this a lot like Milan has this ambitious new plan for a bike network. But I don’t want to just know the length of it, I want to know where it’s taking, it can take cyclists to what level of comfort it provides to riders, and how each lane relates to the pre existing lanes. It’s the same way like we what we have to do and sometimes bike planners and bike scholars don’t think about this, is we have to think about this, how you would think about a road network, right? A road network that was very disconnected from itself, and full of dead ends and cold attacks and gaps would be really non functional. And sometimes we don’t apply that scrutiny to bike networks.

Carlton Reid 12:53
Absolutely. Bingo with a capital B, absolutely. With a capital A. at now, do you think do you have strong confidence that because of all that, what you’ve just said there, that these are the pop ups and the ones that in the previous years will last the distance? And again, I’ll kind of frame that by the UK example in that a lot of them did disappear, possibly because the motorists were moaning. So the council’s just, you know, they, they just they just lost faith and they just didn’t have the guts to keep going. But also because potentially they were actually not in the most brightest of, of places anyway. But nothing as far as I know, nothing has actually been removed from Paris. So Paris is unique in that it hasn’t taken these things away after the the the lockdowns have been over. So did you do you have confidence that they will stay around?

Marcel Moran 13:53
You know, it’s so interesting because Persians are not are not foreign to protesting by any by any regard. So I think there’s a few things happening that that bode well for Corona P stays in Paris. One is that mer Hidalgo, in her first term, doing really bold action in terms of sustainable transportation was handily reelected. And so she’s now serving in her second term. And since then, she had her administration has released an even more ambitious plan, a cycling plan for for Paris to be finished by 2026. And by 2026, the idea is that basically any major street in the entire city should be bikable should have some kind of bike infrastructure. So you have the political kind of leadership of Paris behind us and she has a wonderful team of planners. The other thing that’s happening is that per regions are taking to cycling like these, these facilities are being used in great number and so there’s a number of different ways you can measure this there are there are electric electronic counters. People that use apps like Strava, actually, or pat Harris, and Google Maps are having their data kind of passively collected and aggregated. Apple is doing things like this where they’re aggregating, transportation by mode. So we can see that cycling is increasing. And I think from a lot of evidence is getting more demographically diverse. The other thing is that, unlike the kind of London situation, this is a really key difference. So in London, the boroughs have much greater control over the bike lanes. And so if you’re biking from one borough to the next in London, you can kind of see a difference not only in the amount of sight of bike lanes, but in the quality. And so you can see that some are broad and well painted and protected, and others are slivers that give cyclists, hardly, hardly anything. And the difference is that in Paris, it’s been a centralised programme. And so if you’re in the left bank, or you’re in Bellevue, Bellevue, or you’re, you’re over by the Eiffel Tower, or wherever you are, the bike lanes are much more uniform and consistent. And so you’re not having this kind of patchwork level of quality. They’re not entirely can they’re not entirely consistent in terms of penetrance. For every neighbourhood, there’s some very wealthy neighbourhoods in the west side of the city that don’t have as much coverage. But there’s a more kind of uniform standardised approach that lends itself less to localised politicians at the neighbourhood level kind of creating problems or having those removed like you’re seeing it in the at the borough scale. I think the I think the final reason I don’t see them being removed is that since 2021, ended, Paris has actually gone back to its standard construction processes for bike lanes, and ploughed forward. So one of the things I noted in my paper is that the corona piece days are different in terms of construction. And so the the basic difference is that pre pandemic parents would use these long stone slabs to protect a bike lane to create it will be called vertical barrier. And that took heavy construction, you had to saw open the concrete place those in RE, you know, saw open the asphalt and so you would have this kind of big construction scene. And so the important difference for the corona pieces was they could be installed in a matter of hours, where they were staggered, concrete blocks placed on the sidewalk, not not cut on the road, not cut into it and kind of sealed and then you had plastic posts. But what gives me confidence that Paris is going to plough forward is that once the corona pee stay phase ended, and we realise we’re in this endemic kind of situation with COVID. They’ve kept going with the standard construction processes, bike lanes and and all 2022. So far, we’re in late March, they’ve been increasing the kind of standard construction bike lane. And so I don’t think there’s any signal either politically in terms of the bike activity, or in terms of the planning process. I don’t see any slow slowing down, particularly with the Olympics coming up.

Carlton Reid 18:09
Yeah, good point. I guess cyclists and and and prisons in general, have got Baron Haussmann to thank for many of these these as Coronavirus, because Paris does have some pretty mammoth li wide roads, it’s almost American in there. They’re weird, they are really sharp elisee that you can fit in, you could fit in Olympic sized bike lanes on that road and not take any way any real genuine space away from pedestrians or motorists. So you’ve got some pretty stonkingly wide roads in Paris. Does that help that you do have the space? If if you have the political will? You absolutely have got the space in Paris?

Marcel Moran 18:56
No, it’s absolutely true. And you can think of Ave de la opera as another prime example. I mean, it’s a massively wide street. And yeah, and this goes back to the to the kind of period between the 1850s in the 1880s, where you have this house musician of Paris with these broad avenues and the standard row row construction. The benefit is, is that there’s more room for the city to work with in terms of adding bicycle infrastructure without removing all of the car centric infrastructure out. That said, one of the things I was able to do with historical street images is asked the question, what are these Corona PCE days replacing? Because that’s another thing that’s sometimes left out of our conversation about bike lanes, you could say we’re adding in 47 kilometres of current pieces, which was my count based on public data and some observation, but the question is, what did those 47 Come in the place of where did we just take a painted bike lane and add a barrier? Or did we make a new bike lane? And so what I found was you had to street uses being replaced on street parking and mixed traffic. And so what’s interesting is Paris is not doing this painlessly in terms of motorists. They’re not just saying, Well, we have so much room, we can, we can keep all of the street uses equivalent. And so what’s interesting is there’s a scholar who, who talked about like, we’re at what he calls a mobility stalemate, that in a big dense city, to give any one mode of transportation space, you have to inherently take it away from a different mode, right, we have this kind of stalemate. And Paris is no different even with the really broad avenues. And so one way you could think about the corona PhD project, and the broader kind of bike bike lane project in Paris is that it’s the largest parking removal project in the city’s history. And what’s interesting about Hidalgo is administration is there actually don’t shy away from that rhetoric in terms of explicitly noting that there part of their work is to remove parking every year. And there are Scandinavian cities that have emphasised that explicitly, that’s harder to do in American cities. I think that’s true in the UK as well to kind of have this explicitly thing. But what parents has done it, I just want to make sure to get the numbers right here. So half of the corona pee stays replaced traffic lanes. So you’re taking away a lane that was used by cars, by taxis, by by trucks, and then a third replaced on street parking. And then there’s a kind of remaining 18% That just narrowed the other existing lanes, but half so half of these are removing car lanes for travel. And so it’s not, it’s not true that there’s been no kind of driver opposition or resistance. There. Certainly there have been some mass press articles, like in The New York Times, have been quoted with with certainly dissent towards these because they’re not just because the streets are wide doesn’t mean someone’s not losing out. Now, I think that the challenge, of course, is this becomes much harder on a narrower Street. And obviously Paris is full of narrow, narrow streets as well, that are that are on the sides of these grand avenues. And so what you’re seeing what the corona peace days is that they emphasise the grand avenues, where there’s actually more room to work with, although a number of them occur on smaller streets and they removed basically, there was a an on street parking lane and a traffic lane. And that the traffic the on street parking lane was completely removed for long sections of these lanes. So they’re, they’re doing the work and not shying away from the thorniest parts of bike planning.

Carlton Reid 22:39
See, I’m imagining some very, very angry French people on shock jock style radio stations, calling it an absolutely going ballistic over that. Can I know exactly what what happened? Yes. I mean, you take the slightest, you know, Breath of a liver of some space away from a motorist in the UK. And I’m guessing pretty much in the same it perhaps even worse in the US. Yes. And you will get a metric tonne of abuse from partly from the standard people who would you know, naturally come down on you anyway. But there’s just mass media would would also come down on anything like this. So this is always the difficulty for planners in the UK is interesting, be interesting to see how that how you think they’ve done it in Paris, is the abuse that plans will get death threats, they will get genuinely they have to call the police and because people will be out to genuinely kill them. So how do you think Paris? Maybe they have gone through that and they’ve just they’re just toughing it out? Or is there something else that’s happening in Paris that that they’re there, Hidalgo administration is able to just ignore that, or maybe doesn’t get it? So what happened? exactly have they managed to do it?

Marcel Moran 23:59
It’s so interesting. And, you know, every weekend i i stayed in Paris for last fall, and every single weekend, there were mass protests. But then we have the yellow vest movement. But by the time I was in Paris, the protests were all about COVID. And they’re about vaccine mandates and the and that they had this kind of passing Utair, this digital pass that you had to keep on your phone to enter into cafes and bars and those types of things. And that that was drawing the bulk of the ire from from protesting prisons at that point. So it’s a little interesting, I think, in some ways, because the COVID politics became so inflamed, in some ways, the bike infrastructure kind of had a smoother path, I think. I mean, right, exactly a little under. There’s a few things I think Paris has done strategically during this rollout that in some ways can mollify the worst criticism. One thing is that they’ve emphasised low delivery loading zones. And so one of the things you could see with the fresh Paint on Parisian streets that had had these Corona pieces installed is that somewhere on the street designated delivery loading zones have been installed. And that that can be one of the biggest critics of removing on street parking, or all the deliveries that have to take place. Obviously Paris is known around the world for it’s mixed use street life. Every street has a cafe and a bar and a restaurant and a store and those types of things. And so urban freight deliveries are a constant kind of piece of a Parisian Street. And so I think, taking that street use very seriously and not removing that the same way that kind of personal on street parking was removed. I think that was a key piece. The other thing that Hidalgo has said in her interviews around a lot of her policies is she makes this very interesting gendered argument. And she says, if you look at who owns cars in Paris, and who travels by other means, particularly transit, it’s the it’s largely men who own cars. And it’s largely it’s a majority of Parisian transit riders are women. And so in some ways, she has felt comfortable making these changes, because she knows what constituency she is fighting for, and fighting for the rights of non car travellers, who very often we know are lower income, more often minority and more often women. And so it’s been interesting to see her not shy away from that criticism and reframe it in a way of providing more transportation equity. Now, certainly, there’s no, it’s not criticism has not been absent. I think what’s been interesting is, I think the timing of her reelection, the release of the 2026 Bike plan, and the continuation of the standard bike lanes following this Corona peace day period, indicate to me resolve in City Hall to keep going. And I think what’s also happening is, you’re seeing the kind of this 15 minutes city idea come to life, which is that you’re seeing many more parents use cargo bikes, and they’re dropping off their kids to school in these and shopping for groceries and these. And you’re seeing you’re kind of seeing Parisian culture slowly embraces infrastructure, if you’re in some neighbourhoods in the morning, for the morning commute, the morning rush, these bike lanes are full, and there’s real traffic, if you’re so there’s a Sebastopol, which is the kind of major North South route in the right bank of Paris, which basically goes from the river sand to Garda Nord, the main northern train station. And that’s this wonderful long protected bike lane. I mean, there’s real there’s real traffic in that lane of all types and groups of people using that to commute to get to work to get to school to get to their errands. And so I think she had doggo is counting on the support and use of these lanes as drowning out the the smaller level of criticism.

Carlton Reid 28:02
Hmm. And you’ve talked about protected bike lanes, but you’ve also got protection by or separation by time. So going back to the the deliveries, so HGVs trucks that I’ve got to make deliveries, isn’t there some form of they brought in, you know that deliveries have to be done at a certain time. So it’s separation by time of day, is that something at work?

Marcel Moran 28:31
This varies by street, but you’re absolutely right. So there’s a number of neighbourhoods that have pedestrianised sections. But the timing in which that they are pedestrianised, either by signage, or by physical barriers, generally, is basically mid afternoon through the evening. And so mornings are when the streets are allowed to be used by Dubai delivery vehicles. And so in the right bank, there’s a number of these kinds of wonderful, like, right by Sondre Pompidou, there’s this wonderful corridor of restaurants and bars and shops and all these types of things, that’s pedestrian eyes in the evenings. But if you bike through in the morning, as I would have to do to get down to the centre of the city, you would see that full of these kind of delivery good trucks. And so that’s one of the things that I think American cities never do as well is saying, we can modify street uses by time of day and not just by not make a 24/7 rule. We in the US, we tend to have this kind of all or nothing approach where like time squares now pedestrianised in New York City, but it’s pedestrianised 24/7 This large chunk of it. But of course we could do this with much more nimbly, if we use the if we use the time of day to our advantage. And San Francisco is actually starting to do this with with these kind of major commercial districts where you’re pedestrian using it from lunch basically, or 4pm. Excuse me onward through the evening, which means It’s access for goods delivery during the day. Parents is doing that more often for pedestrians less often in terms of bike lane, no bike lane by time.

Carlton Reid 30:12
Mm hmm. Okay. Now, I’m sure there’s there’s there’s, you can explain this but data nodes I’m presuming here. Again, I’m going to go back to connectivity here. data nodes are going to have some sort of mechanism or quote in some some way of working out network connectivity. So the work that you’ve done, there isn’t just, you know, there’s lots and lots of lines on maps, yes, is on your PDF. But the must be quite apart from just a whole bunch of, you know, squiggly lines, there must be some sort of programme there. Data knows, like you use to say, this is a percentage or whatever, however you measure it connected, a road network, the motorist, you know, okay, that’s 100% connected, right? So is there such a quote that you use? And tell me about it?

Marcel Moran 31:04
Yeah, absolutely. I hope this study can be kind of a case that others could apply the same methodology to cities they live in, should the data be available. And even if the city doesn’t provide this data, there’s a wealth of data from sources like OpenStreetMap, that you could export and do this type of analysis. So network analysis is a scientific field on its own, that, that others and I’d followed in their path, I certainly not the first to do this, and others have tried to adapt to transportation planning, and particularly bike planning. So there’s actually a range of network statistics that you can run on a bike network, there are these things called small world networks, where you’re looking at actually like, how lanes, how lanes interconnected and more kind of complex way, like which lanes have the most connections to every other lane, that type of thing. And sometimes in a city like Paris, you could, the simple way to think of this is if there’s a grand avenue that has a bike lane, and then you have lots of little bike lanes that branch off of it, you can kind of realise that that Grand Avenue is the key and link and that entire network. So there’s many ways to kind of do this, the software I use very specifically, is I used ArcMap, which is a which is a private company called ESRI that builds this, but most people that have some kind of university subscription or access can use it. There’s also there’s QGIS, which is open source and very popular among the kind of GIS academic community. So there, you certainly don’t have to pay for this if you don’t want to. So the question I was doing was, I tried to make it as simple and replicable as possible. And the key thing I did was time. So what happens with most analyses of bioclean networks that I wanted to, I wanted to change slightly is most networks are analysed at one point in time. So you would look at the bike network and 2020. And you would say, how interconnected is it? Or you could say, what’s the average length? Or how, what’s the branching logic, those types of things, what I wanted to do was actually create a statistic for that for each year, so you could get the longitudinal change in that. So basically, the key number for me was a year of installation. And then from there, what I did was I basically turned back the clock to the very beginning. And so for each year, I’m creating a time specific connectivity. Figure, and very specifically, it’s for each lane segment, how many other lanes it intersects with. And so that’s as complicated as it gets. And then what the what I’m able to show is that over time, the number of lanes that have a higher number of connections that share keeps growing, and the number of lanes that have zero or just one connection, that share keeps shrinking. So that’s as complicated as I did it. There are certainly much deeper network analyses approaches. What but the key for me with this entire paper is I always want to create, I always want to do statistics that are legible to the general public and actionable to planners. And so if you’re a planner in a different city, trying to wrap your head around the connectivity of your network, it’s not more much more complicated to how many lanes is each lane connecting to which then is going to create this system that gives riders the most continuous path from their destination. And we know that that tends to really matter when you survey riders about what they’re looking for is that they want protected bike lanes, and they want interconnected by clans. And so that’s I use ArcMap I use carto a bit I did not use QGIS but that’s certainly available for those who want for free platform. And these were all shapefiles that I that I downloaded from Paris’s open data platform, they’re available to everybody to I never want to use proprietary data that other researchers can’t get their hands on.

Carlton Reid 35:12
So any planet in any city, worth their salt could fire up all these different software platforms could analyse their own city, and you know, without, you know, press the Where do I put bike lanes button, they could get the same information out, and then it comes down to well, they probably know where they’ve got to put these in this isn’t rocket science, right? It becomes down to you know, what do you value? That is what you you spend the money on? So you know, its budget, and its its political will? Yeah, it really is. It’s not it’s not it’s not geographical? These aren’t problems of where do we put these things in? I think people would probably know and then certainly the tools that you know how to put them in, it’s just we can’t get them in for the very well known reason. That’s That’s

Marcel Moran 36:00
absolutely right. And there’s this interesting kind of thing that happens, where there’s been a lot of work thinking about where should bike lanes go and trying to determine that based on where ridership is the highest. There’s a this counterintuitive problem without logic. In the end, the phrase goes, you don’t build a bridge based on where you see lots of people swimming. And so the idea is that we may want to build bike lanes where we’re already seeing lots of people biking, because we believe there’s some kind of latent demand to bike in that place. But we may also want to build bike lanes, where we don’t see lots of people biking, because they’re not biking there because they don’t have a protected way to do so. And so sometimes planners can walk themselves into the trap of only providing bike lanes on these kind of lower traffic streets where cyclists already are. But the idea is the planner can actually intervene on the highest traffic streets where actually there’s probably the most benefit to cyclists the same way the motorists are getting the most benefit. And so there’s a little bit it’s exactly what you said, there’s little question where bike lane should go. And a simple way to think about it is the bike network should be equivalent to the road network, right? Like we should not have this huge distinction between the road network and the bike network. People want to reach all destinations of a city safely have be a bicycle the same way people in cars want to be able to reach all destinations of the city. And so in some ways, the challenge and this is what Paris is proposing for 2026. And I’m really excited to track this. The challenge is to Say not Where should bike cleanse, go and bike infrastructure. But where Shouldn’t it be? And that’s it that there really are very few places we shouldn’t have safe bike infrastructure. And so the idea is to say like, let’s make these two networks closer and closer to equivalence.

Carlton Reid 37:50
Now, the digital twin concept, where you construct a basically a version of your city, in in a computer, and then you run the various models. I mean, presumably, that that can also you can you can build a bike network overnight. If it’s just in your in your computer, but the problem comes down to Yeah, it’s actually physically putting them in that that tends to be a problem again, so I’m kind of giving planners a lead out here. planners know what you got to do. This is not a planning problem. This is always a political problem.

Marcel Moran 38:32
Yeah, it tends, it tends to be a budget and political problem. What I would say is, there’s some really interesting data being leveraged in the transit planning field right now that I think is applicable also to bike planning. And so there’s there are these cool platforms. Remix is one example. Where it allows and a digital and a browser based platform, it allows transit planners to pilot a new bus route, just as an example on their screen. And then the the, the software pulls in all this interesting information in terms of density and demographics and population. And so it says, Okay, if you build the bus, let the bus route here, you have 100,000 people within a quarter mile radius, and this would really serve low income riders in those types of things. And you could do the exact same thing with your bike planning. You could say, Okay, we want bike planning, actually to be built in a really progressive way. We want to emphasise because we know car ownership is lower among lower income residents. We want to emphasise bike planning, right in our poor neighbourhoods, and we want to link them to employment centres into libraries into universities and all the types of things that a person wants for full, full civic participation. And so they’re certainly in large cities, there certainly are decision points for planners to make and they can think in terms of bike lanes, because they’re not going to have a full network, a full network that’s equivalent to the street network overnight. So I understand there’s a need to prioritise. And, and, and I’m, I’m the person sitting in the audience Maxine, you know, kind of charting this, but I understand the realities of being in the trenches and the difficulty of neighbourhood opposition. I don’t want to I don’t want to minimise that at all. And so I think the challenge for planners is, what what are you going to prioritise? Who are you going to prioritise everywhere and their decision, their decision points you can use to aid that process. And I think, I think kind of income is a huge one, I think, air pollution and so you seeing a lot of European cities, they’re very explicit that their bike plans are about curbing air pollution. You don’t see that as much in American cities where the idea is about cutting traffic and, and and climate change and those types of things. But local air pollution can really can really be one way to approach this. And so I think planners have a kind of range of options and ways in which ways to prioritise this. It’s exciting to see Paris, do this at a scale that is bringing the entire city

Carlton Reid 40:58
with it. Hmm. So Paris, that must be a pretty exciting place to go. I mean, presumably, you got funding? Did you get funding for this? Yeah, I’m

Marcel Moran 41:08
really lucky. So I’m a PhD student at the University of California, Berkeley. And I have I’ve, I have funding from my university, which has been really generous. Berkeley also has given them a shout out this wonderful Institute for European Studies. And I’ve been really fortunate to receive their grants. Before this trip, I did a research project in Vienna, Austria, and this year, I’ll be travelling to Stockholm, Sweden, with grants from from that institution. So only good things to say about my research support at Berkeley.

Carlton Reid 41:39
So you weren’t like a like a 19th century artist in a you know, starving in a garret somewhere. You were funded. Second, but you had an exciting time, fantastic place here for you to be but also kind of an awkward time to be there too, because you’re obviously studying, you know, infrastructure that’s put in place during COVID. But you’re there during COVID. So it was also an awkward time to be there. Yeah,

Marcel Moran 42:02
I mean, the fall of 2021. I was very lucky to thread the needle between searches and these COVID waves. And so the time the three months I was there. The past any tear system was present. And basically all destinations were open, I could go to the museums, I could go to restaurants, I could go to office buildings, I could rent co working space. I could travel on public transit, there were no kind of curfews there is no, I mean, I will say the Parisian lock downs from what how they were described, which does sound quite terrible. And people really were kind of scarred from the, you know, the limited access they had. And they were, they had to hold these notes and show notes to police officers that they want to go to the grocery store, that type of thing. I think what was so interesting is there are a few other pieces of Paris’s kind of transportation COVID response that aren’t in my paper that I certainly experienced. So one is that they expanded a lot of sidewalks for the benefit of pedestrians. So in the shopping district of Monterey, you had you didn’t have Nessus there were some new bike lanes. But you had these kind of bald plastic bollards that were allowing sidewalk traffic to spill into the street for these kinds of really dense shopping districts. You also had a lot of pedestrianisation new pedestrianisation and it was called this kind of Paris programme respira or clean air brief. And so in mind where I lived in a neighbourhood, there were a number of streets that had metal fencing that closed off a lot of side streets and number of streets that schools were on that completely closed off those streets to automobile traffic. And so you’re kind of seeing these streets returned to cafes, and children could play on them and parents could wait there to pick up their children. And so it was a multi prong approach obviously I dug into the bike side but that wasn’t all there was also there they’re increasing tree planting I mean there’s it’s a really kind of all of the above strategy in terms of tackling carbon emissions air pollution and what we call Vision Zero which is trying to reduce pedestrian and bicyclist and road fatalities and so it’s all working together. I think for those who have not been to Paris in a while and are interested in the kind of cycling experience you will be blown away by by your cycling experience there it’s certainly there is room for improvement and the city has has noted that in its new plans I mean they have they have a ways to go but it’s so satisfying to see it in motion.

Carlton Reid 44:42
What about scooters because because Paris does have it’s not just bikes and it’s not just they’re relieved the Bikeshare which I think was almost the catalyst for a lot of this you know believe when they put that in. I you know I was there from the beginning when I when I first started using believers and then just I’ve definitely Seeing the blossoming of that scheme has been fantastic. Very similar to London in many ways in that you’ve got bike sharing, and certainly, certainly a certain demographic, it’s certainly I would say Paris, it seems to be more tourists than it is in London. But anyway, so you’ve got scooters, yeah, as well.

Marcel Moran 45:20
Just watching it, rather than scooter. But so there’s a few things happening. And what I think what you’re seeing is, you’re seeing a number of different what we call micro mobility devices, shared bikes and scooters, you’re seeing them at different price points and vehicle form factors. So there’s valiev, which is yeah, the world’s basic one of the first real large municipal Bike Share systems. And then you have a number of electric dockless bikes. So lime has a really large presence in Paris, where you can rent these, these dockless bikes, then you have scooters, you have some scooters, that have shocks and and better brakes, and all these types of things. The the quality of the equipment on the scooter side has really improved since those launched a few years ago. And what I think what’s wonderful, the way I would describe it is you have this positive feedback loop, where you have an increasing number of options for people to travel not in the cars, that’s bringing a number of people into the fold into the biking tent, what I would say, it’s also giving them the point of view of taking a good hard look at the bike infrastructure. And so that’s creating a bigger and bigger constituency that is going to be supportive of more bike lanes, and then more bike lanes are going to draw more people into non car modes. Do you have one other Paris feature that’s actually supercharging people’s interest in bikes or to others, I would say one is strikes on transit. And so there is this period, where during the during COVID, where you had a really large transit strike, and you had more ridership of shared bikes and scooters than has ever happened in Paris, because these you know, these private firms track their ridership. And so you had this explosion of, of transit usage. I had friends in Paris who said this is my first time taking it but I have to get to work and Paris Metro isn’t running, you have to imagine a number of those riders were first time riders that are otherwise now going to be interested in using this. And the other thing you have happening besides the transit strike is that France also created a COVID benefit around a bike repairs. And so there was a voucher effectively or a rebate you can get I don’t I don’t want to miss the number of I think something like 40 or 50 euros. And you could you could have that paid by the government to fix up your bike. And so people that had long had bikes kind of wasting away in their basement or garage or hallway, could take those and get those fixed. And so you have all these types of things, bringing more people into the bike world, they’re going to be more sensitive to and demanding of bike infrastructure, more bike lanes are going to bring more people into that fold. And so, I mean, it’s just I needed to get there last year, because I just knew the timing was so unique in terms of this major world city, on its way to becoming a major biking city. And it’s, it’s thrilling, it really is. And it’s you know, it’s wonderful for all the other reasons Paris is wonderful.

Carlton Reid 48:20
Your academic, so you shouldn’t be saying it’s wonderful, it should be you should be measuring this, who cares, whether it’s one or not, you know, you’re you’re passionate, you’re totally, totally

Marcel Moran 48:31

Carlton Reid 48:34
But this is what I want to get onto because I have read your CV, your your academic CV, you are clearly you know, this is not our you know, one time a bit of research you’ve done and you’re going to go on to you know, completely different sectors, you are invested in this space, it’d be fair to say and we’re at the end of this conversation and when you’re new give your I’ll put the CV and the nose so people can see the breadth of stuff that you’ve done in this in effect this this you know, micro mobility and in Bike Share and and bicycles basically, and some pedestrian stuff that you’ve you’ve done. However, when you as I picked you up with when you said you know how wonderful this is and that maybe you’re a little bit too much invested in this fear. So how much of your your your academic rigour is actually maybe influenced by the fact that you’re really passionate about this. So my question is, how removed Are you from this academically when you are clearly very passionate about this and it’s almost the you know, the academic versus the activist, but that also means you may be not quite so dispassionate as somebody who is isn’t interested in this at all, and can look at it from that point of view. So describe the activism versus academic aspects of your work and your outlook.

Marcel Moran 50:10
It’s a really fantastic question. And I will, I will 100% say that I bike and take transit everywhere, both in Paris and wherever I’ve lived. I’ve always thankfully, I’ve been lucky to live in large cities with ample transit, Boston, DC, Chicago, San Francisco, Vienna, Paris. And so there, there are two answers I have to that. One is that Berkeley, where I’m based, UC Berkeley has a strong history of what we call the activist planner, and the advocate and advocacy planning, where there is a there’s an acknowledgement of the drive of the scholar to build a better world. And that motivation featuring into an influencing the scholarship. And so it’s not something that I shy away from. And the way I would describe, there are two ways I would kind of turn that on its head to, I think, make it sound more logical one is that if you take if you take what I’m doing, and we compare it to some other discipline of study, let’s say I was studying hunger, I was studying food food insecurity in the world, no one would be surprised to say that I was anti hunger and pro food security, right, that would say, I’m studying this, I want to study this, you know, deliberately and logically. But of course, my goal is for there to be less hunger and therefore be to be more food security. And so in the realm of transportation, what I see is I see a car centric transportation system in the United States and in some European cities, that has led to corrosive air pollution that has led to runaway climate change and carbon emissions and has led to, you know, scores, unreasonable levels of pedestrian fatalities. And so I don’t look at that dispassionately, I look at that as as alarming trends that need to be solved and need to be improved. And so that is a driving core of my work. I think of my work is ABC, anything but cars, because I see cars as specifically responsible and and central to what ails a lot of city life. So the other way I would I would put it is that this happens a lot sometimes in public meetings where you have someone say you have someone on a Board of Transportation arguing in favour of a bike lane and someone say, well, aren’t aren’t you a cyclist? Don’t you have some kind of conflict of interest fighting for this bike lane? And the way to always turn that around to say, well, are the rest of you car owners? Like do you car do car owners have this kind of conflict of interest, that we would say it’s a little suspect for a car owner, to be arguing against a bike lane because it serves their interests. So in some ways, people seem to be a bit more, a bit more sensitive to someone having a kind of sustainable transportation ethic, and then then wearing that that muddies the research where we worry less about someone who’s, you know, driving a polluting SUV having any kind of ethics, so So I don’t shy away from I’m a bike advocate in San Francisco and a member of the San Francisco bike coalition, I appear at city hall in favour of bike infrastructure. So I see the advocacy and the scholarship being beneficial to both that said, it’s really important to me that the work the academic work, and this is not my first paper, it’s really important me that the academic work stands on its own. And so I tried to be incredibly explicit about the methods, the materials I’m using, the conclusions I’m reaching, they’re they’re quantitative, they’re replicable. For many projects I’ve done, I’ve posted my original datasets on my website so that other scholars can download that I’m always willing to share the data. And I always source where I get it. And so I don’t ever want the work to have any type of Asterix next to it. And I don’t believe it does. My work, thankfully has been cited so far by other scholars, which is, which is always a really nice piece of validation. And I’ve worked with with planners and communicated my findings to planners. That said, I think that any dispassionate view of transportation systems in the United States would take some level of alarm around the status quo and believe that status quo to be unsustainable, so that’s my position.

Carlton Reid 54:30
Hmm. So on that topic, tell us how people can read your academic work, hopefully, free, so they can they can click into some of your papers that doesn’t have to have an academic subscription, and also, on this particular paper, so can people get this particular paper that you’ve written on Paris? In a free form?

Marcel Moran 54:57
Absolutely. Yeah. So um, and this paper also This paper is open access. So anyone can read the full text, they can download the figures, they can see the citations I’m citing, all for free, there’s no subscription needed. It’s, it’s in the journal transport findings. If you go to findings, that’ll take you to the journal page. And this article is called treating COVID with bike lanes, design, spatial and network analysis of pop up bike lanes in Paris. A simple way you can find this is just going to my website, it’s www dot Marcelle That’s my first name last, where I have all my articles all available to read without any library subscription, I have all the PDFs, anyone, anyone can read those. And so Berkeley has worked hard to help it scholars publish in an open access way. So there’s actually a library fund I take advantage of and that fund can pay for the open access fee that journals require. And then so I can make sure my work is available to the general public. This is all available. Marcel My email is provided on my website. It’s always fantastic to have people reach out that have questions or they want to do a similar study where they live. I’m thrilled to hear that tip thing. I have a profile on Google Scholar, you can just Google my name on Google Scholar Marcel Moran. And you can see everything, everything I’ve written. So it’s all available for free without any barriers.

Carlton Reid 56:26
Excellent. And that’s very comprehensive. Thank you. However, one more last thing, how can people because we reached out to me on Twitter, so how do people contact you? via other social networks? Specifically Twitter? Yes.

Marcel Moran 56:39
Yep. So I’m on Twitter. It’s Mark at Marcel E. Moran, ma RC e l e m o ra n. That’s my Twitter profile. I’m on LinkedIn as well. I have a UC Berkeley email address that’s on my website. You can contact me via email, Twitter, Twitter’s totally fine. You can send me a direct message. And I’d be happy to talk to planners, advocates, researchers and everybody in between.

Carlton Reid 57:07
Thanks to Marcel Moran, and thanks also to you for listening to Episode 294 of the spokesmen cycling podcast brought to you in association, as always, with Jenson USA. Watch out for the next episode popping up in your feed real soon but meanwhile, get out and run

February 28, 2022 / / Blog

28th February 2022

The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

EPISODE 293: Beacons with Kevin Mayne


HOST: Carlton Reid

GUEST: Kevin Mayne, Chief Executive, Cycling Industries Europe

TOPICS: 40 minutes or so with Brussels-based Kevin Mayne the Chief Executive of Cycling Industries Europe, the bike industry advocacy group. We talked beacons. You know, the detection or connection tech I’ve been banging on about since 2018, and which potentially has ethical and safety ramifications for all forms of cycling, and just getting about as a pedestrian for that matter. Kevin puts my mind at rest, at least from an advisory groups point of view. I’m still not too sure the bike industry is fully cognisant of the concerns myself and others have got but hopefully the industry’s enthusiasm for the latest tech will be the tempered by those who have the interests of ALL cyclists at heart, not just those who can afford to sport detection tech.

Previous episodes on beacons:

2018: Historian Peter Norton – author of “Fighting Traffic” – discusses the historical, ethical and mobility-centre issues that such a call raises.

2018: Roger Geffen of Cycling UK
Chris Star of Australia’s 3CR community radio station
Technology writer Max Glaskin
Lloyd Alter of
Caspar Hughes of Stop Killing Cyclists.

2020: Cyclist Detection Tech With Tome Software CEO Jake Sigal And History of Road Equity With Historian Peter Norton

March Bike Sale


Carlton Reid 0:14
Welcome to Episode 293 of the spokesmen cycling podcast. This show was engineered on 28th February 2022.

David Bernstein 0:25
The spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast is brought to you by Jenson USA, Jenson USA, where you will find a great selection of products at unbeatable prices with unparalleled customer service. Check them out at Hey everybody, it’s David from the Fredcast. And of course, I’m one of the hosts and producers of The spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast since 2006. For shownotes links and other information, check out our website at And now, here’s my fellow host and producer Carlton Reid and the spokesmen.

Carlton Reid 1:11
Thanks, David, and welcome to the show, which is 40 minutes or so with Brussels based Kevin Mayne, the chief executive of Cycling Industries Europe, the bike industry advocacy group. Wwe talked beacons, you know, that detection or connection tech, I’ve been banging on aoutt since 2018. And which potentially has ethical and safety ramifications for all forms of cycling, and just getting about as pedestrian for that matter. Kevin does put my mind at rest, at least from an advisory group’s point of view, I’m still not too sure the bike industry is fully cognizant of the concerns myself and others have got but hopefully, the industry enthusiasm for the latest tech – which I sometimes share – will be tempered by those who have the interests of ALL cyclists at heart and not just those who can afford to sport detection tech. Not everybody’s got an iPhone, or can stump up for helmets or bikes or whatever else that now or in the very near future may broadcast positional info, so you don’t get squished by inattentive motorists. This is now the fourth podcast I’ve devoted to this underreported topic, go check out the others, including with transport historian Peter Norton. And Tome Software’s Jake Seagal. I’ll link to those previous episodes in the show notes at the But here’s Kevin Mayne, he starts out by explaining why he reached out to me.

Kevin Mayne 3:01
I reached out because I’ve seen all the chat and social media. And I’ve seen some of your own commentary. And I’ve seen a kind of narrative developing that everything around kind of beacons on bikes feels negative, and almost feels as if certain people in the bicycle industry have been somehow selling out some advocacy and safety values. And that deeply disturbed me. Because not not too much beacons on bikes, but the general and broad principles of connected bike the many things we can do with connected by including connecting to other vehicles, but also infrastructure and and to each other things that I’ve been battling to get on the cycling agenda for six or seven years now. And see many many positives. But I also see that as being in the room, when the sort of automated and connected vehicles conversations happen, is the biggest safety net our industry and our community could possibly have. Because certainly from the European work and a bit from the kind of us work I see this is happening in a kind of research bubble. Policymakers are desperately relying on kind of research and proof of concept and case. And just to give an example, I mean, the US last budget for this space was 162 million euros. And at the start of this programme, there wasn’t a single vote, cyclists voice in that conversation. And if that bubble develops its own narrative on what’s needed for cycling to be safe. Or in their terminology, vulnerable road users, which is a term that I hate, then we are at great, great risk. So my concern and I reached out to you because I know you’re one of the people that’s got to report it on this is to say it Just think we’ve got the tone wrong on this. And I think we need to balance our concerns with also what the opportunity is.

Carlton Reid 5:09
I understand that, and I understand absolutely the logic of feet under the table, just the fact that you’re in the same room where it’s happening, kind of thing. Totally understandable. But using that same logic, you’re you’re around the conference table with all these automotive concerns with the big pot of cash. That’s also one side of the table. Could not the cyclists voice at that table? Eventually say, Yeah, we’re here. We are in the same room with you at the same table. But we don’t think this will work. And here are the reasons why. So you’re at the table you’re being listened to. But you actually say, Yeah, but guys ain’t gonna work.

Kevin Mayne 5:57
Yeah, I mean, we, we run the risk of being an irritating kind of mosquito in that room. And that we are the voice of doubt. But if you take the other approach regard this as kind of, I know, we need a kind of code on sanitaire where we don’t touch this stuff, then we’re not even the mosquito. And the key thing about properly structured research is that the voices in the room have a certain degree of equality. It isn’t just the ones who bring the big bucks. But there is a need even to be in that room to kind of be willing to say, look, we’re we’re having a technology discussion. And what I found in the past was, you know, the conversation would go along those lines. Yeah, yeah, there’s a role vulnerable road users, we don’t want to run you over. But this is a tech session. What have you got? What can you bring? And what is your kind of technological agenda. And we might agree that our technological agenda is to make sure that nothing really really dumb happens. But we do need a passport. And in reality, there are some good things happening on kind of connected bike and connected tech, that are not all about beacons on bikes and some potential mandatory thing further on downstream. We’re in a fantastic project called the bicycles 90 s project, with OTS standing for intelligent transport systems. And for example, we’re looking at a lot of passive systems in the Netherlands and Denmark, where, you know, what historically would have been a bicycle counter, could now be a bicycle trigger. So as you approach the traffic lights, the traffic lights, no, there’s a cyclist, great in the Netherlands, Denmark, Flanders, okay, if you’ve got brilliant bike lanes and those kinds of facts, but there are potential future applications of those things on camera detection, a lot of very, very good artificial intelligence, Nova and develop that can clearly identify a cyclist from background traffic. And we can, we can bring a lot of that content to play. Without a lot of the kind of what I will call the red lines, we will not Crus around mandatary beacons, or you weren’t in the right place. We can also use an awful lot of detection and data and connected bike to improve the quality of infrastructure. And, you know, the infrastructure is going to be fundamental to the automated cars as well. Because basically the text not going to work. So there is there will be a battle for certain pieces of infrastructure maybe to be dedicated, or to be automated or to contain certain loops, or even have restrictions on them. And so we have to be part of the infrastructure conversation. Currently, the infrastructure conversation is going on away, because urban access restrictions are actually not saying bring automated cars, they’re saying bring no cars. Hmm. And someone has to bring that conversation into the room as well going wait a minute, we just talked to 100 cities 100 cities want less cars, they don’t want automated cars. And so we have to be that foil. And the big difference to where we were perhaps five years ago is you know, our industry is currently pretty hot in terms of policymaking, both in the US but particularly in Europe. We have access like we’ve never had before. And that puts us in a lot of platforms where we’ve never been before. Not you know we don’t have a quality with the car industry but we’ve we’ve moved an awful long way.

Carlton Reid 9:49
Kevin who’s we?

Kevin Mayne 9:52
I mean, first off, you know the association’s carry that voice but what we you know what we read present for the first time, maybe in 200 years, is we represent happening technologies that are regarded as extraordinarily useful. Step one, the E bike, very popular, a lot less intrusive than the E car cheaper, more accessible, and you know, outselling the cars by multiples of 10 to one in some countries, etc. We have the cargo bike. Now that logistics future of Europe is a complete and utter mess. If we don’t shift freight from its current structure, cities can’t take the trucks. There is not an EU policy document on urban mobility in the last five or six years, there hasn’t been a reference to cargo bikes. So and cities, as cities bring in urban access controls to solve safety, air quality congestion, those issues. The bikes are the vehicles that slip through the net.

Carlton Reid 11:01
What are pedestrian organisations? Do they have a seat at this table?

Kevin Mayne 11:07
Not that I can see. And I think that worries me a lot. But but they’re even perhaps worse than we were a few years ago, where if you ask the question, what tech Have you got? You know, there isn’t a product development process there that acts as a passport. And I think certainly I feel a very strong moral obligation to kind of represent, you know, the non motorised. I hate the phrase railroad users What the How to be, to some extent the voice of the others.

Carlton Reid 11:39
Isn’t that potentially a good reason why pedestrians aren’t there, because we’re all pedestrians, very often not seen as a user group in their own right, even though there are of course, pedestrian associations that that do lobby for these kind of thing. But might might the pedestrian element not be there, I’m gonna ask them this, but out of choice, and that they don’t want to be there for the reasons of that I might be quite cynical.

Kevin Mayne 12:08
Yeah. And possibly, I mean, I haven’t chatted to people. I was 21 about this recently, because I’ve been, you know, to some extent managing our own agenda. But there is equally I think, in some sectors, there has been a sense of almost where, again, parts of our sector where they’re going, this is nasty, it’s corporatism, you know, might we be selling out if we enter those routes? And, you know, I respect those views. My own view from cycling point of view is, that’s not the best choice for us. But we have to respect that to a certain extent.

Carlton Reid 12:46
So I cannot I do absolutely understand that if you’re not in the the room where the decisions are made, where the decisions that then get passed on to the policymakers, and they get rubber stamped, then you just don’t exist, you know, you do not exist as an entity. Yep. And pedestrians absolutely have long fallen down on that and similar extent, but to a lesser extent, cyclists, also. So I do understand that. But do you also not appreciate that? Yeah, I understand your talk about E bikes, and cargo bikes, etc. These are expensive products. Whereas the simplicity of being a pedestrian, the simplicity of being a cyclist on an incredibly simple, cheap machine is you don’t need that tech, you don’t have to have your phone connected. So you can see the speed on your, you know, your your, your lovely $2,000 machine, etc, etc, etc. So it’s the very simplicity yes, that might be a problem, but it’s also an absolute beauty of the simplicity.

Kevin Mayne 13:55
And, you know, the key point is the mature advocates and we have to, we have to bring the best of it. You know, these are tough environments. We have to bring the best and most professional of our community into some of these spaces to get maximum impact. You know, people are good speakers who have good knowledge, good knowledge of the data and the arguments. But in bringing those people in the room, they speak for our whole community. You know, I sit in some of these sessions wearing the bicycle industry badge. But I have talked this all through with our colleagues at European cyclists Federation where I used to work I have my own roots in cycling UK are never going to let that go. If we start sending people who are so in love with the tech they forget where we are, then we have Yes, we are a risk to our own community. And we’ve agreed amongst us and also including canopy others. There are some red lines that we all share. Not all companies share that they may want to sell the tech and they have great ambition and they see customers but as representatives of our sector, we’re very clear, no additional obligations. So no obligation to carry a mobile phone obligation to be chipped. And we have an absolute killer argument, which is children. We’re not like drivers in cars where you would let you, you know, any parent who has ever tried to stay in touch with their teenager via mobile phone, and knows how many times that’s not possible because of battery, I turned it off, I dropped it in the palm data that knows that this tech is not reliable in the hands of children. So

Carlton Reid 15:38
forget five year olds cycling on public roads, and obviously not four year olds three years.

Kevin Mayne 15:43
We’re not going to chip children or pets or animals in order to allow the car the cars to drive all over us.

Carlton Reid 15:52
So these are these red lines, I guess stems as though we are talking on pretty much on the same wavelength. And my red lines,

Kevin Mayne 16:00
no, but I mean, I’ve got two others I’ll share with you. Second one is location. I mean, a lot of automated driving other techniques will have a sense of it, it’ll work perfectly if you’re all in the right place. We know 101 reasons why a cyclist may not be in the right place. And the big red flag of race was when there was a tech one of the early Tesla deaths in the States. And the police report said the woman was not crossing the road at an approved crossing point. And anybody who’s sensitive to this throws their hands up and goes no, no, that’s that’s absolutely right. We were not going to recreate the circumstances under which jaywalking came into existence to support car safety. And there are many reasons why are even more so in countries with poor infrastructure, why the cyclist might not be in a convenient by blame. And the third thing we will not accept is any obligation to retrofit you know, there are multi millions of bikes in the system now that are never ever, ever going to be tech and I think use brushed it well and emotionally about the kind of love of cycling. But it’s it’s also the love and simplicity of that equipment. So where we’re, we’re absolutely in line with the concerns we think. And we see other people like League of American wheelman have done some publications around their own sort of red guidance on what’s acceptable and what isn’t. And I think it is better that we step up and tell the world very, very broadly what we can and can’t accept. So the red lines

Carlton Reid 17:40
that we we we talked about, and it sounds as though we kind of agree on do not risk going into the room going and getting your feet under the table. And then you’re accused of being you know, the 1930s phrase of cyclists being prima donnas, and disparaged. Because official cycling officialdom is seen as not to be terribly helpful.

Kevin Mayne 18:10
Yeah. I mean, I think we were, I mean, we move on, we’re, we’re not walking around rooms, we’ve been invited into making posturing speeches, were in there, and others are in there, and colleagues and colleagues in the US are in the opportunity to be in research environments, where you are there, but you have a you know, if you’re good at your job, you have a sensitivity and a subtleness and ability to get your points on the table. But you’ve always got escalation. So now I can always walk out of a research process or take my team out and go to people at the European Commission, Drug Safety Unit or other areas and go look I’m sorry, I have to whistle blow. What is happening in here is unacceptable. And that was when maybe we always have to have a nuclear option where you really are not a good player. Right now we’re nowhere near that. Right now. We are in conversations where to be brutally honest, say on automated driving, that the technology and the programmes are. Some are let loose under very poor regulatory regime in the States. But in Europe, they’re at baby steps. And, you know, we’re more able to say things like, you know, what, you Yeah, intelligence speed adaption so that people don’t speed is acceptable to everyone. Now you have the technology now. We could save X 1000 lives a year now. We’re quite keen on those parts of your technology. When can we have them? And you know, there is a almost a very, very experienced road safety expert quietly whispered in my ear after I said, you’re bound but this is schizophrenic You know, you have people sitting on one side of the room on behalf of major motoring companies saying, AV AV need the research, this is going to be kind of game changing. And when when they’re asked, Well, why don’t you release kind of level one, level two, now, the marketing head comes on and goes, is not ready yet. And there is of the parts of that industry is absolutely tying itself in knots. And there’s very, very little evidence that that technology is ready to be released into the wild, even in terms of very controlled pilots. So you know, we’ve got a long period ahead of us 10 years plus maybe 15, where we could be inside conversations about what is acceptable and what isn’t, but also challenging the kind of benchmark assumptions, because what happens in these research bubbles is, you know that there’s a drive to get the tech tested. The people from more of a policy background can say, Yeah, but what’s the comparison? Could we for the same amount of money? Could we get mode shift? For the same amount of kind of for less policy implementation? Could we do something on speed limits. And so we can be passed in very mature conversations. And we don’t have to slap people in the face with a kind of set of red lights. And I’m happy with this new record it it goes out there to certain extent, I want to give people confidence, the kind of cycling sector doesn’t need to sell out in order to be part of this conversation. Hmm, we do. I think we, you know, on a beragam, we do know what we’re doing. Naively wandering into this space, this has been a concerted effort by a serious group of people in the lobby space to say, we should be on the inside track of this conversation, not shouting from outside.

Carlton Reid 22:05
So the lobby space, as you intimated earlier, is different to the industry space. And as you intimated, also earlier is the industry wants to sell stuff. If you’re the maker of a very high end bicycle, you kind of got you got a fairly good interest to want to keep that owner alive. And you want to market that tech to that owner. Yeah, yeah, all you know, futuristic tech probably gets sold to very rich people to begin with and classify anybody you can afford a 2000 Euro dollar bicycle, as as intrinsically rich, then you’re going to want to introduce that technology, you’re probably going to want to sidestep, you know, fuddy duddy officials like you and go straight to Ford as as tome software has done and get this tech out there. And then it’s taken away from from people like you, or is that not the case, as the industry got less power than we might imagine?

Kevin Mayne 23:07
No, I think actually, I mean, what’s important is, to some extent, how this is regulated. And I’m particularly interested in how the car space is regulated and how the vehicle car interaction is, is regulated. I still believe the products are going to come. I have enough people now that I’m talking to some of whom are members who’ve got fairly advanced vehicle to x technology, as the jargon calls it and believe confidently, they can do bicycle car interaction to a high level of accuracy. Equally the conversations we’re having with them, they’re saying, Yeah, but you understand what our kind of policy positions are. And they’re like, Of course we do. That’s why we joined. That’s why we’re in this conversation. And we if we don’t understand we need you to explain it to us. Do I believe that there are no Tesla equivalents on the car side or people in the bike world that go out there? Well, we’ve already seen on E bikes, there were a group of companies that were happily willing to allow American speed bikes inside the European regulatory regime. And it caused us a lot of embarrassment with the regulators. But we doesn’t mean that our kind of position on this stuff wasn’t I think, right? Just because they were people pushing the boundaries. And we with the broader industry, when if suddenly you look at CIA’s membership, but when I look at the community, we work with economy, and I look at the national associations in many countries. Now that these are not cowboys. They take their industry very seriously and they take the reputation of the industry very seriously. And keen to get things right. But I do know, I mean, just as we might say, on helmets, or on bicycle lights, or on other tools on the bikes, there are people who, like the certain gadgets, they like certain accessories, it makes a big difference to them to feel safer. And I would give an example, very purely myself, that I would say, I 100% agree, for example, with all the conversations that we have around the world on the role of highways, it just so happens, I’ve lived for the last 30 years in rural areas. And when I ride a bike in rural areas, I’m often in the dark without street lamps, I choose to wear have high vis, it makes me feel safer. That doesn’t mean for one moment I’ve ever advocated for mandatory IVs. And I’ve ever wished to overstate the kind of actually what it achieves. It just makes me feel safer. And I have friends who have said, you know, can’t you guys come up with something we can put on our bikes, so the cars don’t run us over? Because they know I work in the industry.

Carlton Reid 26:01
So in the garage there, I’ve got a brand new month old Cannondale, that kind of cone let me have and it’s got a radar on the back. Yeah, it’s got all sorts of daylight running light, it’s got low, it’s bristling with tech. In other words, that cycling Weekly put it on its front cover, as you know, this is the bike of the future, etc, etc. So this this clearly this connected bike, you know, with all equipment on is kind of what consumers high end consumers at least, and certainly large parts of the industry think of as, as the future you know, you can you can you can make more money by having an equipped bike, etc. But is this not just also, you know, it’s only for one kind of cyclists, it’s for the high end cyclists, and yes, there’ll be some trickle down. But we were talking about, you know, these kind of cyclists, people like maybe me and you, and others who probably listened to, you know, podcasts, etc, and read the cycling literature, or just get a tiny 1% of the actual number of cyclists out there. And by actually, looking at this tech, and, and adopting this tech, there’s actually a danger, you know, 1015 years hence, of, we’ve made too much tech. And we’ve kind of taken away from what bicycling actually is for the majority of people, and we’re actually harming what the majority people want to do with their bicycles. Yeah.

Kevin Mayne 27:38
I think that’s classic kind of journalistic fallacy. Because you we live and some of us live, and I bet they’re in a world where we are presented with the products at the leading edge, we are talking to the brands and the companies about the things that excite them. And clearly, there’s a degree of you know, pro endorsement or whatever else, then you go and actually study your industry figures and your sales figures. And you study the consumer research that says, you know, a high proportion of consumers in many countries don’t even know the brand of their bike, that they are buying a usefulness, they are buying a lot of the basic values. And we’ve just done some consumer research not just released yet, but really implies that the bicycle boom of 2020 2021 was trembled by the simple pleasure of riding a bike. Some of those people chose to ride to buy ebikes and there’s been some price inflation, partly about supply chain, but a lot of people went back and refresh their mechanical bikes at the same time. And if you move away from where we’re exposed, you know the high end brands with their kind of tech that’s very focused at the kind of more sportive cyclist you know, some of the nicest connected technology I’ve seen has been in for example, in Sweden, you can buy a bicycle which has a whole load of connected technology for riding around on but it does things like connect you to your insurance company in detects the same you know, is your bike moved? That is someone tried to force your lock. You’ve done a few 1000 kilometres is about time you had some new tires. And it’s doing some stuff that yeah, it’s it’s more high end, but it’s actually promoting convenience and reliability. And we know convenience and reliability have a big impact on people’s perception of cycling just a bit difficult. Now, bicycles have punctures bicycles, if you have to repair your own bike or find a special shop that doesn’t happen a car so we can do more. You know, the, you know, the last 20 years we’ve seen you know, really good reliable puncture proof ties, for example, which take away a lot of consumer protection. auctions where the bicycle is just a basic daily utility, much like a family car run around. And that’s even more important when people go for car free families or when they for use technology like cargo bikes. So I think, you know, it’s really important that the brains excite a certain part of the community with a certain, the lightest, the fastest. The shiny is the ones that wins the most races. And I totally love what many of our members do in that space. And you know, you’re the brands are obviously there and the visible. But I see for the development of more cycling, we can be really, really excited about some of the just very easy facilitation of cycling. That’s also possible now that wasn’t there a generation ago.

Carlton Reid 30:51
Kevin, I also get excited by by this technology. And I can see that it can actually also bring people into cycling, if for instance, they feel as they’re going to be safer. If they’ve got tech, they’re going to come into cycling. I absolutely recognise that. However, when you have that, that that technology, and it sounds fantastic. I’m probably in the market for that. It’s like yeah, great. Why wouldn’t I want to be bristling with as much in effect radars and beacons. So, you know, I personally never get hit fantastic. For me, as a rich, privileged cyclist, however, does that not bring further and greater risks to the people who are not rich, privileged cyclists, that’s what I’m trying to get at is, people will never have this technology, but they are the bulk of the people out there cycling.

Kevin Mayne 31:49
That is the whole point of this conversation, is that we are inside technology conversations at European or international or global level. So that we can defend the interests of every single person who not only rides a bike today, but might want to ride a bike in is to skate. And dumb things happen in techno bubbles, when technologists are not challenged at the point of development, and they’re not offered up these perspectives. And that person on a horrible bike is also someone like me, with a bike I buy on eBay, and I buy a new another one every two or three years for leaving stations, because I’m afraid it’s going to get stolen. And I’d like maybe that to be better. But those bikes are as much part of the world even if some experienced cyclists, or people who would spend a lot of money as they are of the people, you talk about the high end. And I really worry that there’s some kind of caricature that the thinking people in the biking in his industry, have no love for that space. If you look at what cycling industries, policy positions are on any subject, we start with, what does it take to get more people cycling, number one, safe conditions, more infrastructure? When we go in our lobby to the European Union, we say look, there’s some interesting things can happen on tech. But by the way, we want you to spend 10 billion backing up member governments on building safe cycling infrastructure. So we are absolutely categorically clear that conditions on the ground lead. And then we ask ourselves, how can we help. And we can help in two ways. One is we might have some tech that makes people more confident or make cycling more accessible. Or we might have some financial models like bike sharing that make cycling more affordable. So that’s one part so we can help get people on bikes and more of them. And we also have a really important role to defend. There are other industrial sectors who are, you know, if if we get it wrong, they’re not our friend. And there we have a role to speak for this whole community. Some of the cycling citizens groups, the advocates, the more traditional groups, some of us is in industrial able to see him for the first time ever, really, we’re bringing an industrial voice to these conversations. So I can put the CEO of a large bicycle Corporation in a room with policy makers and have him or her say what I’m telling you now that this is we understand what it takes to deliver more cycling in Europe. Hmm.

Carlton Reid 34:47
Philip crease has a very pithy phrase when I’ve interviewed him about that subject and that is detected, not connected. So is that is that what Would that be something that the kind of the phrase that it almost sounds as though that’s where you’re coming from detached

Kevin Mayne 35:07
homes, on this stuff? I mean, we’ve done a few Villo cities together on the kind of where’s the smart tech taking us? And, you know, I think we’re pretty much in consensus. And the detected is interesting, because again, it doesn’t require entirely cars, there’s, there’s good things you can do with infrastructure and cameras and other technologies. And I mean, one of the examples I use is, you know, if you’re not counted, you don’t count. We can’t actually say, on a European level, how many kilometres are done in Europe by bikes, we can make estimates of how many Europeans cycle from consumer surveys and censuses and those kinds of things. And, you know, we’ve been bold and now extrapolating those figures and saying, Look, we think these are our numbers. And, and I’ve ever speech from people in our CIA summits saying back to us, wow, thank God, the last two years you brought data. That’s what we need. And with that data, we can make arguments and we can make economics. And thank you for coming and doing that.

Carlton Reid 36:17
So you talked about infrastructure a minute ago, and we obviously talked about the whole of this half now, we’ve been talking, we’ve been talking about the tech side, give me a like a potential percentage of how important these things are in your world. So how important is tech compared to how important is a physical curb separated? cycleway? So what how much time would you devote to these elements?

Kevin Mayne 36:50
Right, well, we just to clarify, I mean, we also partner with ECF, and others in the advocacy community, but we would, I mean, I did an estimate for our board and said that, you know, probably, even in kind of revenue terms, 70 80% of our work is on what will make cycling grow. Then within that, when we get the chance to make the arguments, you know, we lead every time with better infrastructure, better infrastructure, better infrastructure, and even our work on the European recovery programme. And when we, we asked for minimum, you know, billions to be spent on infrastructure, versus now a little bit on purchase premiums, and a little bit on innovation. But it was, you know, it’s you’re talking about kind of five to one or more in terms of the kind of ratios, and that’s just European stimulus funding, most money and infrastructure spent by national governments. So you know, we’re really, totally clear that it’s infrastructure first. And all the work that I did in the last two years on European recovery from COVID, huge proportion of that was on, let’s preserve the cycling streets, let’s preserve the pocket bike lanes, let’s get them made permanent, let’s get them segregated. Let’s get them high quality. And it’s a constant thread, totally backed by our industry.

Carlton Reid 38:22
So you don’t the kind of the corollary to that is you don’t think that, or if this did happen, you you have an immediate pushback to this, you don’t think that say the automotive interests will just say, well, forget bike lanes, we don’t need them, you know, forget all of these things. Because if we’re going to have connectivity, we’re going to have detection, you no longer have to worry in the future about motorists hitting you as a cyclist. Because we’re gonna have this tech, you’re still gonna be saying? No, that first and then maybe.

Kevin Mayne 38:53
I mean, the interesting one is you take the Dutch cyclestreets concept. Interestingly, not some countries feel uncomfortable with it, but it’s kind of 20 kilometres an hour, dedicated streets. Cyclists get priority, motorists are treated as guests. And in some urban cores, you’ve even got smaller you know, you go down to sort of 10 kilometres now cars are allowed access for access only and safely pedestrians and cars can all mingle. And if that is done well, you can gain enormous amounts of not quite dedicated infrastructure very, very fast because the implementation costs are very low. And you look what’s happened in Paris with say Rivoli in Rue Rivoli has effectively been clean of cars. So, gaining streets whole streets is a huge opportunity for us. And what’s interesting in the kind of automated vehicle discussions is I don’t think it’s a question of any but I think the least likely solution is the car industry comes and says we can all mingle happen No, I think our bigger worry is they will actually be saying you’ve all got to get off. Because many governments are not yet ready to allocate the space that’s needed for cycling and pedestrians and public transport. And the kind of dedicated AV lines, worrying me more. And also a lot of what’s happening on very small scale logistics, which is these kind of mobile pods, which are currently being put on to cycle lanes and on pavements as kind of tests and the things are adept. I mean, I feel sorry for you with your guide dog, you know, faced by something that looks like an AR two d two from Star Wars coming down the pavement, carrying a package for a logistics company, an absolute nightmare, but because these things don’t work in the road space and because they kind of embryonic tech, governments kind of go well let’s test it on a few pavements. And yeah, we genuinely we and the pedestrian movement and others, you know, we’ve got that, because again, we can say, actually, let’s look at the cost effectiveness and safety and reliability as compared to for example, cargo bikes. And the cargo by wins absolutely every time. Every time non negotiable. It works on speed, it works on safety, it works on volume, works on health, and we can win every single argument compared to those kinds of tech.

Carlton Reid 41:34
Thanks to Kevin Mayne there and thanks also to you for listening to Episode 293 of the Spokesmen cycling podcast brought to you in association as always with Jenson USA. Watch out for the next episode popping up in your feed next month. But meanwhile, get out there and ride …

February 5, 2022 / / Blog

5th February 2022

The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

EPISODE 292: What Would Jesus Ride? An Audience with the Pedaling Pastor


HOST: Carlton Reid

GUEST: G. Travis Norvell

TOPICS: Travis Norvell is the pastor of Judson Memorial Baptist Church in Minneapolis, MN. On twitter he’s the @pedalingpastor. We talk about cars, parking lots, what Jesus would ride and Travis’ new book Church on the Move.


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Carlton Reid 0:14
Welcome to Episode 292 of the Spokesmen cycling podcast. This show was engineered on the 5th of February 2022.

David Bernstein 0:25
The Spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast is brought to you by Jenson, USA Jenson USA, where you will find a great selection of products at unbeatable prices with unparalleled customer service. Check them out at spokesman. Hey everybody, it’s David from the Fredcast. And of course, I’m one of the hosts and producers of The Spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast since 2006. For shownotes links and other information, check out our website at And now, here’s my fellow host and producer Carlton Reid and the spokesmen.

Carlton Reid 1:09
Thanks, David. And welcome to the show, which is just over half an hour with Travis Norvell of Minneapolis, Minnesota. He’s the @pedalingpastor on Twitter, as in pastor in church, not pasta in Italy. And we talk cars, parking lots, and what Jesus would ride. We also chatted about Travis’s great new book, Church on the Move. You’re not religious? No worries. The book is evangelical mostly about bicycling, walking, and public transit. So Travis, you’ve been the pastor of Judson Memorial Baptist Church in Minneapolis for 10 years. And your Twitter handle kind of gives it away in that it’s @pedalingpastor even though you’ve got one too few, many Ls. But anyway, pedalling, pedalling. Has anybody wants to follow you, and you’re from England. Don’t put an extra L yet you won’t get Travis. So @pedalingpastor kind of explains why we’re going to be gonna be talking today. But you’ve written a book, and I’ve read that book. But before we go, to talk about that excellent book, tell me about the weather where you are right now because my, my understanding is it kind of gets cold there.

Travis Norvell 2:31
Oh, yeah. I mean, today, it’s right now it’s negative two Fahrenheit, and a windshield will be negative 20 throughout the day, so it gets pretty cold. Yeah,

Carlton Reid 2:39
yeah. And I’ve seen photographs on your social media of you been wrapped up pretty warm, and you know, full on, you know, gloves on the handlebars and and you’ve got to have spike tires, all this kind of stuff. So you’re gonna be riding year round. Yeah.

Travis Norvell 2:56
Yeah, me year round writer. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. It’s, it’s, it’s it’s fun, though. It’s fun. Once you get started, you know, your body creates enough body heat, you get warmed up pretty quick. Yeah,

Carlton Reid 3:08
You’re part of Minneapolis, cos you’re only a couple of miles from where George Floyd was murdered aren’t you?

Travis Norvell 3:16
Yeah, yeah. George Floyd. The murder site is about about a mile and a half north of where I live, and about two miles east of where the churche is, yeah.

Carlton Reid 3:26
Mm hmm. Are you riding from your home to your church every day? Is that is that kind of what you’re using your bike for? You’re using your bike for everything?

Travis Norvell 3:35
I use my bike for everything. Yeah, when we first moved here, I had a Volkswagen and I loved it. But the heater in it went caput, and I was tired of putting money in it. So I sold it. And the story is, you know that, that it’s happened on a Sunday that the heater went out? And I was preaching a sermon. It was basically on how do people? How do you sacrifice something so other people can experience joy for the common good. And my daughter who was 12 at the time, I went to tell her good night. And she said, Hey, Dad, I was listening, thinking about your sermon today, which is, you know, totally unusual for a 12 year old, I understand. But she said, you know, what are you willing to sacrifice so others can experience joy? And that just that just floored me? I felt like a complete phoney. And I said, you know, honey, I don’t know, but I’ll have an answer for you in the morning. So the heater in the car went out. And I decided I was just gonna start biking, walking, taking public transit full time. And that was you know, that was nine years ago. So I use my bike for everything. You know, go to the store, go to the Good work, good library entertainment. My wife and I we go out on dates. We ride our bikes. Yeah. It’s it’s kind of endeavour.

Carlton Reid 4:47
That’s kind of a preview of your first chapter because you mentioned that that’s that’s how your book begins about that. Yeah, yeah. Here we go. Tada. Now another thing that’s in that first chapter, which tickled me and which I’ve told you I’d tickle me when we’re emailing this. And it kind of describes your your community as well. And so I’ll just I’ll just quote it back to you. You’ll know of course very well. But you’ve got to explain what you mean by this because I love it. So you say your congregation of mostly quirky people who live at the intersection of the television shows the Vicar of Dibley and Northern Exposure. What do you mean by that?

Travis Norvell 5:25
Well, you know, every meeting that wherever in, I keep a little journal, and I’m like, when do we cross the Vicar of Dibley line. And last night, we had a weird a two hour meeting, and we made it all the way to an hour and 23 minutes before we crossed it. So we it, you know, it’s hard to really pinpoint, but there’s always some point where we segue into like, over these minute details, that don’t really mean anything except to us. And we start, you know, not bickering, but having these deep conversations on. How, what is the sentence of this motion going to actually look like? You just kind of devolve into it, or you know, you’re sitting in the middle of a meeting. And someone just comes up with the most off the wall question. And then it feels like you’re in an episode of Northern Exposure, like somebody just walked through the door. And, you know, like, they you know, that all they have is a pair of shorts, one and nothing else, it just feels one of those kind of weird meeting. So that’s what I was talking about the congregation that way, it’s, you never know what’s going to happen. There’s always going to be somebody that’s going to have some kind of off the wall, comment to say, but then they’re also going to be this, you know, kind of loving, compassionate people at the same time. So it just makes for a very interesting day at work. Yeah,

Carlton Reid 6:36
Yeah coz both those programmes, they’re they’re definitely quirky, the people involved, but there is absolutely tonnes and tonnes of warm heartedness in both shows, isn’t that right?

Travis Norvell 6:46
Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Yeah, this is the kind of beauty of everyday people, you know, kind of, in the midst of bizarre circumstances, but then also just common everyday things you see,

Carlton Reid 6:59
As I said, you’ve written a book, titled Church on the Move, a practical guide for ministry, in the community. And I do want to ask you in a minute about, you know who that book is for. But first of all, tell us about your personal journey. So in the book, you talk about in your college years being hit, you’re running a bike, getting around, and you were hit by a beer bottle, thrown by some, some yield, and then you kind of said, I’m never going to get on a bike again. And then, you know, fast forward a few years, and you’re actually at a funeral, give giving the funeral. And then you said the person you were, you were eulogising, at this burial service was a lifetime cyclist, and that kind of got you inspired again, so tell me about that journey.

Travis Norvell 7:50
Yeah, you know, I grew up in a on a, on top of a mountain in a country on a, you know, in the middle of country on a dirt road. And I loved riding bikes. But to get to the nearest place to ride a bike safely, you know, had to go off the mountain and then down to town. And, and I just loved riding bikes. I just, you know, as a kid, I just, it was something I love to do. But there wasn’t like a real, there wasn’t a biking community in my hometown. And there wasn’t really a safe place to really ride. I mean, I don’t know how many times almost got hit, as a kid, just people taking corners too fast and running through stop signs and such. And then when I was in sixth grade, though, our patrols you know, there’s the there’s the people at public schools, who stand is crossing guards for people across the street into the school. Our patrol group, we went to Washington DC for spring trip. So we got on a bus and we drove eight hours to DC. Everyone else is looking at the, you know, the DC, all the monuments in Washington, DC, but I was amazed, because that was the first time I ever saw a separated bike lane. And, you know, I was 12 years old. And that’s all I wanted to talk about. And I came home and my parents like, what do you think a DC I was like, Mom, dad, they have these bike lanes that are that are separate from the road and people ride on them. And they can go all over town and and they were they were just like, Yeah, but did you go the Washington Monument? Yes, yes. But there were these bike lanes, and they just kind of rolled their eyes at me. So I’ve always had this as a dream to be in someplace like this. But it just never would work out. And then I’m at the I’m doing the funeral. And one of the family members is talking about this guy. And he said, you know, he was a really kind of bizarre person. He rode his bike year round to Providence, Rhode Island, and he would ride it in the winter and he had these special tires. And everyone just kind of chuckled at him being you know, centric person. And I’m sitting there going, you can ride you around your bike and you don’t have you don’t have to have a bike lane. So that that just started then I was off after that. And I kept trying. And I just couldn’t but just never did work out when we moved to New Orleans. I thought I finally found that you know, this, this city, it’s flat, it’s compact, it’s easy to ride around. It’ll be no problem at all. And then I started riding but the one thing I didn’t think about New Orleans is a subtropical climate. So every day at four o’clock, it rains pretty much, and I would get stuck in these rainstorms unprepared. And there was a real boundary that was crossed, because it’s so hot and humid there, I would I would go into a parishioners house, and I would just be covered in sweat. And one time I go to visit and and the person that I’m visiting says, Can I get you an extra shirt? It just felt like a really odd boundary to be in, not to say, you know, kind of an odd place. So I said, Can I just sit by the fan instead? So So, so I kept trying it there. And then when we finally came to Minneapolis, you know, that’s when my daughter preached a sermon. But there’s also this great biking community in Minneapolis, and they were just a lot of people, the people that bike shop, when I told him the perennial bike shop, when I told him what I was wanting to do. They just, you know, took about a half hour and walked me through how you’re going to do winter biking, the, the gear you need, the problems you’re going to have and here’s, you know, Blessings for your ride. So it was just a, it’s been a very supportive place.

Carlton Reid 11:15
In those two years that you’ve spent in Minneapolis in your community. You’ve used that many of those anecdotes in this, this this book church in the loop. So it’s this book for your community is this book for and it could have been for the Vicar of Dibley equivalent in the UK, you know, vicars who are wanting to, you know, ride around their parishes who this book is for?

Travis Norvell 11:41
Yeah, I mean, the primary audience is, you know, pastors and vicars and priests. That’s the primary … that’s who I wrote it for. But the other part of his is, I think a lot of other people can find some inspiration from it. But just because it’s just a way for people to get to know their neighbourhood, by riding your bike by walking by taking public transit. If you take that way of transportation, you’re just exposing yourself to so much more in the community. You’re making yourself open for new relationships. So even though it is geared specifically for parish priests, and pastors, it has a broader appeal in a lot of ways. So I’m hearing from community organisers. Also, just hearing from from people, nonprofits, you know, how do we get to know our community better? Well, here’s, here’s a great way to do it.

Carlton Reid 12:37
Now there’s a whole chapter in the book about parking lots. And how to depend I mean, this is for me, as a as a UK resident, I don’t get this quite so much, but we don’t Yeah. And I know that you get that in America, and basically how auto dependent churches have become. Tell me why being automobile dependent, isn’t good for a church. And, and I know you do mention many anecdotes in the book about but so what can be done with parking lots instead. And this is, of course, a parable for everybody, not just for churches, but just describe your thinking around that.

Travis Norvell 13:20
Yeah, you know, parking lots. They enable … well, first, I should say, you know, most churches in America, city churches in America before WWI they were all built around our being accessible for walkers, bicyclists, and people that took the streetcar so that none of these churches had parking lots. And for you know, think churches for 1,900 years did not have parking lots. This is a recent phenomenon. And then what happened when churches became auto centric, and in parking lot dependent, they became disembodied from the neighbourhoods that they serve. So before you had everybody within probably a 20 minute drive, or walk or streetcar, ride, attending church, but a car enables you to drive 45 minutes to an hour. I’ve heard from some people that that right into church, so rather than a neighbourhood church, you become a church that’s in the neighbourhood, but nobody from the neighbourhood attends. And so it just becomes this kind of vacuous place, and then a parking lot just increases that. So you tear down houses in the middle of neighbourhoods. So you can have parking, which is a parking lot, just a temporary storage of an automobile at maximum a few hours a week. And it just creates these barriers between the church and the community. And it enables people to just kind of slip into the church community for an hour or two a week and then slip back home to their house. wherever they reside, but there’s also kind of some psychological and I would say spiritual parts of this as well, let’s say that you count the number of churches that you pass on your way driving to church, the number is going to be here in America is going to be quite large, regardless where you are. And let’s say that you’re the church that you’re at, you kind of get in a disagreement with someone, it’s so easy with a car to say, You know what, I’m just going to go to the next one, I don’t have to worry about it. But if you are walking, biking, taking a bus, to a place, you’re kind of committed to it, you’re gonna have to work out through workout some of those feelings and emotions. And you’re gonna have to learn how to get around, get along with people that you don’t really maybe you wouldn’t invest your time with. If you’re in a car, it just creates a little bit ease of way of getting out of relationships. And I think that’s a that’s a bad move for churches for faith communities for any kind of, you know, neighbourhood organisation. Hmm. So, so that’s why I think parking lots, you know, are not exactly the best investment of space and money for faith communities. But I think there’s things you can’t let’s say you have like a gigantic parking lot, there’s things you can do. You know, here here in Minnesota, somebody started what’s called the straw bale gardening movement, where you just basically grow vegetables in a straw bale that has some fertiliser, and it’s just some nitrogen really … in one parking spot, you can grow enough to feed a family of four for an entire year. Or my thought is like, don’t think of ’em as church parking lots, think of them as church plazas. In a way that’s just more than just temporary storage of automobiles, but it’s a place where people can gather, you can have farmer’s markets, you can have basketball courts, you can have soccer pitches, you can have arts, marketing, just there’s so many things you can do other than just store a car.

Carlton Reid 17:03
You know, look, you talk about how one parking lot of a church where there was some hoops, basketball hoops, yeah, put up. And then that was deemed by the church elders or by whoever, as Oh, that’s, that’s just not good use of this space. And then they came along and and chopped it down and how unChristian, that is when you’ve got a lot of kids there. And people using this as a community space. And then you you take that away again, that’s that’s kind of unChristian.

Travis Norvell 17:36
It is it’s totally and you know, that was the that was one of the highlights of my youth was at basketball court. We loved going there, we spent so much time there. And they it this was a perfect place to a parking lot was for people from the outside of the community to drive into park their cars, go to worship and to get in their cars and leave. But the parking lot for us was a basketball court. And we all lived in the community. And it was our place to go and hang out. And rather than try to see how these two could be combined the church and in the basketball court, the church only saw it the only imagination they had was this is only for cars and cars only. And it’s it’s disturbing. Our Sunday morning worship. So once one day we were out playing and as we were leaving, we saw a guy come with a blowtorch and cut the basketball poles down and we just you know we just started crying it was it was terrible. Yeah. I just thought that was a poor imagination on their part. Hmm.

Carlton Reid 18:40
So cycling, I mean, your book it majors on cycling, but there’s definitely tonnes of walking in there. And and transit is in there a lot too. So all of those ways of getting around not in cars. Good way, as we know, of really seeing and experiencing a locality. Now driving can be doesn’t have to be but certainly saved a lot of times is quite selfish. It’s even. And you mentioned a poster that you put up the seven deadly sins. You could say driving everywhere actually has quite a few of the seven deadly sins. So you’ve got sloth, obviously. Yeah, there’s some envy in there plenty of times when you’re looking at the you know, the other car and you want to upgrade and stuff. Definitely a lot of pride in that. So again, we’re coming on to the unChristian stuff about driving here. I’m not trying to put too much in your mouth, but anyway. So my question is, What would Jesus drive?

Travis Norvell 19:45
There’s a whole campaign about this. Maybe 10 years ago, there was a minister who came up with an idea what would Jesus drive and you know, obviously, they came up with a, a Prius at the time, some kind of, you know, hybrid vehicle, but you know, I don’t I think Jesus would drive it all. You know, I think that he would, obviously he liked he loved to walk. We read the gospels, but I think Jesus would be out there on a bike. I think Jesus would be walking, I think Jesus would be taking public transit because he wanted to be around people. So he would, that’s the best way to be around people. He wanted to be around those in America, a lot of times that people on public transit are people who can’t afford to have a car. There are people who are trying to struggling through life. And I think that’s definitely where, you know, Jesus would be hanging out at the bus stops hanging out the rail stops and would be on those places rather than in a car. Yeah. And I think that he would take the money that he would have put into a car and put it to better use and for the common good. Mm hmm.

Carlton Reid 20:51
Now as as somebody who has studied this professionally, as in I did religious studies at university, I would say yeah, I’m, I’m pretty much with you there. Apart from the smiting the Romans, but all that kind of stuff, but anyway. So continuing this seven deadly sins theme, another another sin is wrath. So getting angry, people get angry. And we know this people get angry driving in, in cars now I have I, I put this in my in my Roads Were Not Built for Cars book actually has a whole chapter or a whole section on people getting angry, but, and I mentioned that I’ve seen nuns driving at me aggressively, you know, about to knock me off my bike. It says something about driving turns mild mannered, goodly people into something very different. And you mentioned in your book, the very famous Disney cartoon Goofy, where he turns into, you know, Mr. Wheeler, after being really you know, Mr. Mr. Walker, see becomes like this, this, this this horrible person when he gets behind the wheel of a car. So how can we, how can we be made to recognise that we shouldn’t be Mr. Wheeler, the selfish, angry wrathful Mr. Wheeler, we should be much more like the mild mannered, kindly. Mr. Walker?

Travis Norvell 22:25
I think it takes a lot of intentionality on the driver’s part, you know, the big I think the driving disconnects you from life, it puts you in a, you know, in a steel box, where you can have, you know, temperature, temperature control, and you have also, you know, aroma control, depending on how what sense you want emitted in your car, you also put in this in this box, whatever, music or podcast or whatever you want to hear, everything’s controlled about it. And so you’re so disconnected from other people. And studies have shown you once you go over about really 15 to 20 miles an hour, you can’t read another human face. So people, rather than just humans, it’s almost like they’re transformed into objects. So the intentionality on the driver’s part has to be so much but, but I mean, people just get in a car and just drive I don’t think there’s much intentionality at all. The I in the book, I talk a little bit about, you know, the Vatican came out with the rules for drivers. People dictum, and, and we’re talking about that the Vatican had to say that, you know, that drivers should occasionally pull over on the side of the road and pray that prayer, just to kind of just to kind of break up the monotony. And, I mean, think about that, what other what other task, does the Vatican say, when you’re in the middle, you should probably stop about every half hour and pray.

Carlton Reid 23:53
I picked that out of your book, I definitely highlighted that. So the diktat said, “when driving a motor vehicle, special circumstances may lead us to behave in an unsatisfactory” and and this is amazing, “and even barely human manner.” I mean, just wow!

Travis Norvell 24:11
It is wow. Exactly. Yeah.

Carlton Reid 24:14
But that’s never really I mean, that’s, that’s just a, you know, a tiny footnote, it’s never really expressed out loud. So as you said, right at the beginning there, you know, about that guy who did the eulogy at the funeral is the you know, you’re seen as pretty peculiar people. So to be a pedalling pastor, is seem to be peculiar.

Travis Norvell 24:39
It’s peculiar, and it’s even peculiar within my own profession. You know, I have a little licence plate I had made for $6 that just says clergy on it. And I put that on the back of my bike and ride it around. And the reason I did that one time I was, I mean, I like cars. I’m not gonna say I’m not I’m not anti car. They’re parts of motor vehicle. Was it I love my dad used to work with him all the time. And that’s what I spent most of my weekends doing was helping him rebuild engines. But here I was sitting at a stoplight, and another person of the clergy pulled up, and they were driving a car, well name it, but I knew that car very well, and it costs $65,000. And as they pulled away, they had the clergy sticker on it. And I thought, okay, what are we saying about our profession, that this is, this is how we, this is what we are projecting, you know, presenting to the world. So, you know, I so even within our own profession, when I show up to events, there’s there starting to be some other people ride bikes and on Twitter, you know, I found some people that around the nation that are doing this, too, and especially, you know, in the UK, there’s more. But still, we’re viewed as a little bit peculiar that why would you ride a bike to, you know, to for a pastoral visit, or to a conference or to appreciate event? Hmm,

Carlton Reid 25:57
I mean, doctors get the same, district nurses get, anybody who chooses a very practical method of getting around gets the same stick really to be hit with your peculiar for doing something that’s actually incredibly sensible.

Travis Norvell 26:14
And, you know, in the middle of, you know, the climate crisis. Here’s a way that okay, until there’s, you know, full electrified vehicles, which I don’t think solves much problem. But until then, here’s something you could do right now that would cut emissions that would make you happier, and make you healthier, and would put you in better touch with your community. And yet, it’s still not adapted as this, you know, cure all which I think the bikes a miracle is a miracle machine.

Carlton Reid 26:43
Hmm. You also wrote that, in the book that bike lanes are not just for privileged, Spandex-clad, Lycra-clad speed-racing bicyclists, but I’ve still remember when we’re talking, when you’re talking before I had this image of our own bird was couple of years ago, maybe a bit more than that of an African-American church who were complaining about bike lanes being put in outside their church. And they were almost saying this is a racist thing to do. Because all you’re going to get is middle class white guys coming past that African-American church and how bad that was. And I found that quite odd. But there is this, it’s almost a stigma of this as a middle class white thing to do, even though the great majority of people on bikes are actually poor people. But there’s a stigma attached to the fact that bike lanes are for white middle class, people. So how do you square that circle?

Travis Norvell 27:50
Yeah, I mean, it’s tough. It’s tough. Very much. So. And the article you’re talking about, I believe, was in Washington, DC. And I think that’s something that bicycle advocates need to think about, you know, is kind of these undertone racial themes that are running through it. And I had a, that’s the churches in DC, if you look at there, there are, you know, historical, African-American churches that are still present in areas where the membership of the of those congregations can’t afford the gentrification of the neighbourhood. So they’ve had to move away. And so I have kind of a very soft spot, that soft spot in my heart that we need to create a lot of space as much as possible for African-American churches and other churches in those regards that need to have I would hope that we would give them more leniency when it comes to bike lanes. You know, there’s ways you can work with the community, though we can a bike lane be for a few hours on Sunday, can it be can parking be allowed in it? I mean, I think there’s ways that the bike community and churches, African-American churches could work together, rather than being you know, it’s a it’s either or it can be both and in that regard, but for me, the the, you know, the part where I started seeing racial justice and bicycling happened in Atlanta, Georgia, when I got off the bus, was going to the Martin Luther King centre, and there’s Ebenezer Baptist across the street where he was where he was pastor, you know, there’s a bike lane in front of Ebenezer Baptist Church. And I started thinking, Okay, what is the connection between bicycling and social justice and racial justice? And you start thinking about it, okay, in America, the civil rights movement was, you know, a movement but it was, you know, as a movement based on the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which, if you think of in America, that was the greatest moment for bicycling, walking and public transit in a America that the African-American community organised and for a year plus, they walked, they took bicycles and they had community carpools to get to work and do errands. There’s a wonderful picture of a Montgomery city bus empty. But it’s surrounded by African-American kids on bicycles riding around it that was taking place during the Montgomery bus boycott. So So I think that if we look historically into this, we can see that bicycling primarily and walking in public transit can be ways for us to form new relationships in our divided democracy. Hmm, that’s, that’s right. That’s the best way I try to square that circle.

Carlton Reid 30:44
Hmm. You describe your parish as a bikable parish, not not not because it’s veined with bike lanes. But just because you can get everything in your locality. So like the famous now famous, you know, the 15 Minute city? Yeah, where everything everything is is is close. But you also discovered by using Excel documents and Google all sorts of different tech that you discovered of where your people in your community live. You found that the 75% of your community also lived close to the to the church. So are automobile centred churches getting it wrong?

Travis Norvell 31:33
I think so. Yeah, I think so. You know, and a study came out, but in Baylor University, which which I quote in the book, you know, most people drive 15 to 20 minutes to church, that you know, it, they’re already not driving long distances, they don’t live that far away. And it’s usually that 25% of people that live far away, it’s how churches have kind of imagined, that’s their target audience, which, which I think they got it wrong. Our target audience is the people within the that 15 to 20 minute city, the 15 to 20 minute neighbourhood. Yeah, and it’s great. And let’s, let’s use the parking lots, then if we have parking lots, let’s use those for the people who live far away, you know, where we’re at with what’s called a welcoming and affirming church, we are, you know, LGBTQIA+ affirming congregation, you may not be able to find that in a community that’s maybe 40 minutes away. So let’s reserve our parking for families and individuals who are looking for a more inclusive neighbourhood mean more inclusive faith community, let’s save our parking spots for them and really concentrate on those within the walkable, bikable, public translatable parts of our neighbourhood. And I think if a lot of churches did a Google Map survey where they put in their directory, and then you can pin each address, I think they would find a great majority of their congregation would would be within that 15 to 20 minutes circle and to begin with, so focus on that, and leave the parking spots and other other places for people outside that circle.

Carlton Reid 33:15
Of course, many people would, even if they live just five minutes away by walking, prefer to drive. You how’d you get around that?

Travis Norvell 33:26
Well, you know, we haven’t really succeeded that. Well. Judson I mean, I’m trying, I’m trying it, it’s it’s tough. But however, you start to see it happening slowly. You know, when I first started this experiment, my kids were mortified, and thought that this meant that we were going to walk or ride or take the bus everywhere. And I said, Look, this is my experiment for my job. You know, if y’all want to join me, you can when you want to. And, you know, it took a few years, and then all of a sudden, you know, my, my kids started riding bikes with me everywhere. And then they started realising that, you know, we don’t need to have a driver’s licence, we don’t need to be have a car to go around the city and hang out with our friends. In fact, they actually found that they were a little bit freer than their friends who were car dependent because their friends who were car dependent had to either get permission from the parents for the car, or they had to get a job to help pay for the car. But my kids, they were able to do otherwise. And then my wife started after a couple of years. One day she just came down one morning she had a cup of coffee and she said okay, I’m going to do it. And I said do what and she said I’m going to start biking to work and it just kind of slowly happened within my family but then also the I’ve noticed church people there’s been a few Sundays in the summer when I went out and we had there was no place there no other spots for bicycles everyone had at their was taken up all the bike parking spots, and there were more people walking. I’m just hopeful that you know, little by little we can we can try to change things. For example, But I’d say that recently, the one thing that I’ve been noticing is, I haven’t really done a good job of myself myself promoting bicycling, walking, taking public transit, as a viable option for transportation, for health, and for community engagement. And that is something that really changed during the pandemic. You know, because biking was one of the great ways we could get around and be together as a community. So we started doing bike tours of the neighbourhood. And you could tell that there’s, we’re gaining some momentum on trying to be less car dependent.

Carlton Reid 35:35
Hmm. Travis it’s been fascinating talking to you. Where can people get your book and spell out your pedalling pastor name for people who, who don’t realise that there isn’t two L’s in it in the American spelling. So tell us that. And then I want to finish actually on on a prayer. And if you don’t remember your own prayer, that’s in the back of your book, and you can’t flick through it, then I’ve got it written down here. But anyway, first of all, tell us where people can get the book, what you are who you are sorry, on Twitter, and let’s let’s finish on that prayer.

Travis Norvell 36:10
Yeah, well, you can find the book at That is, that’s the press that published it Judson Press, that’s the American Baptist press. You can also find it on Amazon. It will be on bookshop and other kinds of independent places, but the best place would be actually just to go to Judson Press in order from there or to, you know, order on Amazon. If you you can find me on social media on Twitter primarily at @pedalingpastor and the prayer. Do you mean the prayer for sidewalks?

Carlton Reid 36:43
No. No that “may your wheels always spin true” that one

Travis Norvell 36:49
May your wheels always spin true. May your brakes always grab. May drivers always see you, and may the smile only riding a bike can evoke, always remain on your face. Happy riding.

Carlton Reid 37:03
Thanks to Travis Norvell there. And thanks also to you for listening to Episode 292 of the Spokesmen cycling podcast brought to you in association, as always, with Jenson USA, watch out for the next episode popping up in your feed later this month. But meanwhile, get out there and ride …