Carmageddon — LTNs, Tokyo and the libertarian case against cars

19th June 2023

The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

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

SPONSOR: Tern Bicycles

HOST: Carlton Reid

GUEST: Daniel Knowles

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Carlton Reid 3:59
What’s that noise?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

David Bernstein 33:22
Hello, everyone. This is David from the Fredcast. And of course, the spokesmen. And I’m here once again to tell you that this podcast is brought to you by Tern bicycles, the good people at Tern build bikes that make it easier for you to replace car trips with bike trips. Part of that is being committed to designing useful bikes that are also fun to ride. But an even greater priority for turn is to make sure that your ride is safe, and worryfree. And that’s why Tern works with industry leading third party testing labs like E FB, E, and builds its bikes around Bosch ebike systems which are UL certified for both electric and fire safety. So before you even zip off on your Tern, fully loaded, and perhaps with a loved one behind, you can be sure that the bike has been tested to handle the extra stresses on the frame, and the rigours of the road. For more information, visit to learn more. And now back to the spokesmen.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Carlton Reid 1:10:42
and social media

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

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

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

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


  1. Chris Hughes
    June 20, 2023

    My copy of the podcast, downloaded with the Google Podcast app, only has sound in the left channel.

  2. June 20, 2023

    Hi Chris

    Weird. Cos it was mixed down as “mono.”

  3. June 22, 2023

    Hi again Chris — file on Libsyn plays both channels but one on iTunes just one side. Will check it out.

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