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

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Monday 16th November 2020

The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

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

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

Four interviews rescued from the cutting-room floor


HOST: Carlton Reid

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Giles Gibson 11:33
How are you doing?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Giles Gibson 18:30

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

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

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

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

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

Carlton Reid 21:59
400 what, sorry?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Carlton Reid 41:11
Mm hmm.

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

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

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

Carlton Reid 42:16

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Carlton Reid 46:54
Mm hmm.

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

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

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

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

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

Carlton Reid 48:54
Mm hmm.

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

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

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