Bike Town is Ten — Inspiring Speeches From 10 Years of Enjoy Waltham Forest Reception

16th May 2024

The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

EPISODE 353: Bike Town is 10 — Inspiring Speeches From 10 Years of Enjoy Waltham Forest Reception

SPONSOR: Tern Bicycles

HOST: Carlton Reid

GUESTS: Cllr Grace Williams, Leader of Waltham Forest Council and Labour Councillor for William Morris; Cllr Clyde Loakes, Deputy Leader of the Council; Will Norman, London’s cycling and walking commissioner. Speeches recorded at the evening reception for Celebrating 10 Years of Enjoy Waltham Forest event, William Morris Gallery, Walthamstow, 14th May 2024.


Carlton Reid 0:12
Welcome to Episode 353 of the spokesmen podcast. This show was engineered on Thursday 16th of May 2024.

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

Carlton Reid 1:03
There are now more people walking and cycling in Waltham Forest, and earlier this week I visited this now most vibrant of London boroughs to join events celebratating 10 years since the start of the Enjoy Waltham Forest programme. I’m Carlton Reid and I was in Walthamstow in 2015 a year after the first fruits of the so-called Mini Holland programme were beginning to ripen and yet where 100 or so protestors gathered to shout at the Labour councillor leading the borough’s transformation. They carried a coffin — in safety, beause of no cars — along Orford Road and warned that Clyde Loakes and his fellow Labour councillors were being held responsoible for the predicted death of Walthamstow. Free access for cars, they said, was necessary for economic vitality and they didn’t want what teir posters called a Berlin Wall. Orford road is now a poster child for how to effect change for the better. It’s buzzing with business, with peaople ambling around and enjoying the pavement cafes. This previously traffic-clogged street is a honeypot destnation for VIPs and traffic planners from around the UK and the world, visiting to see how it is possible to make neighborhoods less car dependent and more people friendly. On today’s show I’ve got three inspiring speeches delivered at an evening reception held in Walthamstow’s William Morris Gallery on Tuesday 14th May 2024. The speeches are from Cllr Grace Williams, Leader of Waltham Forest Council , Deputy Leader Cllr Clyde Loakes and Will Norman, London’s cycling and walking commissioner. On the next two episodes, I’ll share audio recorded at the Landor Links event staged after the evening reception, an event for town planners and other professionals seeking guidance on best practice for cycling and walking schemes. But first, here’s Grace Williams at the evening reception,

Grace Williams 3:37
I think sounds in his night. It is a kind of reunion because we have the whole team. And we of course are climbing. We’ve got Martin, who’s hiding on a balcony. We’ve got Lindsey, we’ve got untold officers who worked on this scheme and given hours of their life. And I know it’s not because community groups here we’ve got plenty out to them. We’ve got families and everyone I know in this room has been putting the effort into what Min-Holland has been over the last 10 years. A massive amounts that we have all learned together actually scanning as it is required to scale which require that’s political wiil. And that sense of keeping on going and doing the right thing, I think is really important. And I should really add that, on top of that because we have built relationships regionally, nationally, internationally and it’s brilliant to have Will Norman here. And it’s really also a testament to the work that’s been done to involve other in Waltham Forest which I am sure Clyde will be talking about, I have been a councillor for ten years so Mini-Holland has been my reality as a councillor, and one of my earliest memories of being councillor was Clyde spoke to me and say, Yeah, the thing he wants you to talk about

MiniHolland tonight. I remember that it was a protest outside that’s become an occupational hazard now, but it was quite nerve wracking as a new councillor going in and doing first big speech on mini-Holland. I do remember saying something along the line of so cyclists and motorist should just go to the pub sit down and have a nice chat about.

No, I did seize up. So now we’ll be thinking about, you know, the culture wars that we had. You know, the fact that we have several elections since then, it really really is a different climate when it comes to talk to you about what actually travelling can do and what Mini-Holland means. I know that Clyde will tell you a bit more about his reflections on that journey. So I do want to thank the whole team. But before I end, I want to pay tribute fine, because we just would not all be standing here celebrating 10 years of mini Holland as if it wasn’t view

everyone in this room, probably you know quite a lot from you about how you stuck with the product. And when you go in decide, I know it was a very personal effect it has cost you and the impact on your on your life has basically become doing Mini-Holland, I don’t know if it’s somewhere.

But it has the effort who said the political will stand up. And that sheer bloody mindedness. More in the sense of knowing that has to do the right thing. He didn’t have to keep moving forward. Because if you’re not moving forward on this agenda, you’re moving backwards. And we have seen others move backwards in fence. So I really want to from bottom of my heart thank you Clyde for doing this. You’ve transformed all of our lives, you’ve made children’s lives better. You’ve made our borough what it is today

and I want to say a personal thank you to what you taught me.y

I hand over to Clyde.

Clyde Loakes 7:25
Today evening, what an honour it is to be in a room of champions, pioneers. congratulate yourselves, everyone. You’re all amazing language people. And we wouldn’t normally be in this evening. If it wasn’t for all of you here this evening. You are the stars. were woken up not just in the forest, but across London over the past 10 years. So I’m so so grateful. Whether you are officers, you know, I will single out a couple of people, you know, Vala, Keith, over, we’re going to need to do that presentation.

Wow. Who knew where we were be 10 years on the answers coming back with a 30 odd million quid. Thank you so much. All the officers who then assembled Chris Proctor, Chris Harrison, Jon little, you know, all that cast,

and then in a wonderful job.

Wow. Wow. And it started off just as a highway project, a cycling project.

And yet, we’ve looked at the difference we’ve made now, you public health terms, and offensive terms and congestion terms. We look at the difference we’re making to the clients. You know, we knew

10 years ago, that this would be one of the fundamental

projects in a local authority that was acting on the climate emergency, look at how building rain gardens and total resilience into those. All coming from this nugget of an idea the idea that we could make it is that we could actually help support people to walk and cycle more often have a tremendous achievement, and she would take it upon us. And everywhere I go and I speak about all we’ve done I always say, you know, it was that politicians, Chris Robbins that stood by me through some pretty

challenging times. He was no keen cyclist Like

he knew this was the right thing to do for the right reasons. Those officers with this technical skill

who was so so bored with just painting double yellow lines that we are aligned and responding to the lowest common denominator consultation return that says, We don’t want any

change. You know, we

unleash their talents now ideas so that we can deliver something so dramatically different things that they went to college and learn their skills that they wanted to do. We were able to do that here. The community activists just talking to Paul we’re just now living

that way now. Right. You know,

Susan, you know, never gave up on your time. You never know Lee when he sat down assignment. Look for when you’re worthy now you are shaping and influencing

London and more because of what you did here and never

gave up. And you’ve made it. Look at the behaviour change it received Jane, Emma. Look at what we’re seeing, Joy Riders, Cycle sisters, breaking down boundaries.

All the cargo bikes!

you seen that on most schools, you know school districts,

normal families going to school. That’s why sharing some way because we’ve created the infrastructure, we created the environment and feel comfortable and safe, transport and cherish them loved ones to school and back again. By bike, by cargo bike.Thank you for that you didn’t absolutely amazing. But it wasn’t always easy. It was It wasn’t the coffin.

We mentioned Dutch ambassador on the second day.

He literally chased out.

We mentioned those things we come along mentioned the judicial review, Vala you remember the emails every day. We’re gonna miss out

on some Yeah, nailbiting stuff because he told us of why we wouldn’t

not be here today. What else? Hey, man. Yeah, the protests. Yeah. And, you know, some pretty hairy, you know, interviews with the police and my answers and stuff that was coming my way. But times, but I’ve always said I was doing the right things for the workplaces always knew, I have that physical support, either community support around the doubles. And that’s what made me continue to do the things that we wanted to do. And that’s why it’s interesting members in many organisations that we just had, I counted six of the candidates have openly declared that they were against low traffic neighbourhoods, in their little pieces in that one photo that we will look at. Where are they now? Where are they now? They are nowhere. And you know, once I have the microphone, and you know, Will’s in the room, newly appointed, fortunately, cycling commissioner, and again well done Will, you know, please take it back to to your boss, Sadiq Khan’s leadership on him less, you know, what to think is some this someone’s readership on

those louder voices that said it was wrong, and you wouldn’t lose.

But actually, vast majority people don’t

clean vocalise their views on these things.

But they like it. Or even nobody makes sense. And they know, politicians are doing these things for the voice reasons, not just for the hearing now, not just for the election, and the next ballot box opportunity, but for the future and future generations that please talk back out thanks to Steve for his leadership that he’s provided us. And we will continue to stand here and will advise supporting those quick, safe transport policies that had brought us all together this evening to sell by 10 years on, we will continue to do all of that will be carrying out those kind of policies that really really do make a difference. So please put your hands together, and celebrate you’re all amazing. Thank you I

Carlton Reid 15:02
We will leave Clyde Loakes in Walthamstow there and head across to the States to get our ad break from David.

David Bernstein 15:09
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Carlton Reid 16:27
Thanks, David. And we are back in Walthamstow at the evening reception celebrating 10 years of enjoying Waltham Forest. Here’s the final speech of the night from London cycling and walking Commissioner Will Norman

Will Norman 16:41
Absolutely phenomenal to be here today. I cycled through the borough on the way and it is it’s a groundbreaking transformation. I knew this but this morning I was sitting around the breakfast table at home and I thought normal domestic things should work well you can relate to the background this or where you go and move the ball forward. And my daughter who’s 13 Who is normally monosyllabic takes no interest in my work whatsoever, eating a bowl of cereal, then looks up, Waltham Forest? Good bike lanes

Under your leadership for the change that needs to happen in cities around the world, the scariest thing that happened to me in the last two weeks was around the time of the election when text messages that are coming in from around the world to you felt really busy. And they were coming in from Australia from USA from India, from somebody someone in Egypt. If he loses, then I’m gonna zero commitments, that the stuff that we’re doing our cities, the tours that we had an open for the changes that we’re doing fall under threat. It goes back to the point that changes have happened in this borough are being felt integrated internationally and it’s been ascend the leadership that need is required to tackle the climate crisis to tackle what is tmos existential threat. So the human species, everybody has a role to play in that. And if you see the kid cycling through the filters at the moment playing football against the bridge,, they’re on their way to school, that is the change that needs to happen in every city and every community in every town in every country around the world. And you guys have been the focal point of that. It’s amazing. I haven’t said anything it was actually my speech. Last Sunday man this thing you guys be the changes that have happened that obvious you actually listed this is I’m standing in a way when the most important things here just have a look of everything that’s happened in this borough over the last 10 years game changing transformation. This resulted in more cycling it’s resulted in more walking through resulted in fewer collisions saving lives, is resulting in greater footfall in the shops, were to spend in the shop greater economic regeneration, clean air, closer communities, tackling social social isolation, you name it, it is it is changing. And as I said it’s synonymous for how cities are going to get up it should be and how they’re changing. And I use those two there’s there’s a before and after photo offer great band summed up the change that basically the strategic change that’s happening in London, the strategic change that’s happening in Paris, it is blasting around the world as this is the change that needs to happen. We no longer need to design our cities for cars. We need to design them for people a new modes of encapsulated that you digitalize you show what’s possible. And inspiration goes way beyond lessness. The impact you’ve had on neighbouring powers is astonishing by working with teams across borders and raising the bar. As I said, it’s bringing this change lives in the country. It raised the bar has raised the bar of ambition around the country. You got Mini-Holland’s written into national policy. Now we can argue where that national policy is just fine for motorists. Yeah, I’m not so sure that’s going to last but it’s absolutely amazing and you get We have to follow Clyde on social media to see this endless procession of dignitaries, officers, MPs and councillors who come around in his characteristic shirts with all his energy and passion showing every filter every story about the coffin and the Dutch ambassador. But it works. And every time people go away inspired, and every one of those inspiration just changing something in a city retirement city around around the world. It’s not easy, it’s quite said creating meaningful change. Yeah, the amount of abuse the amount of hate the amount of protests that are weird conspiracy theories. And what I experienced over the last seven years is similar to Clyde. I think there were four ingredients which drive change with any within any city. And Waltham Forest has those in spades. The first is has been mentioned is political leadership, that political leadership coming from Grace, but I’m also Clyde again, I want to play particularly for credit, give particular credit to Clyde and just be cheering and he has led the way. It has been a hard journey you you’ve taken the strength you have stood strong, you’ve showed leaders including myself around the city around the world book resilience means more than doing the right thing. It’s the right thing to do and the impact that it has and how that plays into election. election victories in the most people bump this, the enthusiasm, the pride you have is absolutely infectious. And I don’t think that in other changes in this bar wouldn’t have happened to quite the same scale, but certainly not the way that it’s spread around the world. The second ingredients, which have been what we’ve heard has been really good at is collecting data and telling us stories of success. Without that data, you can’t push back the ages, you can’t push back without it, you can’t celebrate the changes that are happening. I think that’s been really inspiring. The third ingredient is that technical expertise, the brilliant officers that have worked on this across the board over the years, successive generations. Again, I want to give tribute to Bala we were talking about the first time we met in the basement of the House of Commons or something seven years ago, and the changes have happened since then. But again, those opposite has happened just the impact is obviously haven’t just stopped at the border to this borough. It is again flowed into cities, other boroughs, other cities and around the world. But finally, and I think living is often overlooked in terms of those magic ingredients that drive change are campaigning communities, the role of community members play, it actually broken this providing all of us who need the backbone of the local information, the reassurance, every consultation that you fill in every petition that you sign, every event you go to with a positive piece, every suggestion you make a change in an improvement in that it matters. It is such a vital ingredient. And the change is often overlooked. You need the political leadership, you need the data, you need the technical expertise and you need the strong communities. Waltham Forest has all of those and showed the world how to do it. So I think everybody should be massively grateful that everyone would welcome everyone in this room on behalf of Sadiq who I think is seeing the Pope that this I’m not saying I’m not going into what’s a better event, it’s a bit of a mystery. He knows what a difference you guys made. He knows how hard it’s been. He’s massively grateful you kind of pioneering delivering his transport strategy. Thank you. There is an awful lot more to do. So let’s keep going.

Carlton Reid 23:34
Thanks for listening to episode 353 of the Spokesmen podcast, brought to you in association with Tern Bicycles. Show notes and more can be found at The next episode — featuring speakers at Landor Links’ Celebrating 10 Years of Enjoy Waltham Forest two-day conference — will be out soon with another hot on its heels but meanwhile get out there and ride …

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