Put money on the table and let’s get these modes moving

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Sunday 7th February 2021

The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

EPISODE 267: Put money on the table and let’s get these modes moving


HOST: Carlton Reid


Francois Bausch, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Mobility and Public Works, Luxembourg

Claudia Dobles Camargo, First Lady, Costa Rica

Dagmawit Moges, Minister of Transport, Ethiopia

Jürgen Zattler, Deputy Director General for Multilateral and European Policy, Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), Germany

Femi Oke, broadcaster


Extracts from the closing plenary of the Transforming Transportation conference held last week. This is staged every year for the World Bank by Washington DC’s World Resources Institute.


Carlton Reid 0:13
Welcome to Episode 267 of the Spokesmen cycling podcast. This show was published on Sunday seventh of February 2021.

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

Carlton Reid 1:07
“Her Excellency will be right with you …” Yes, this wasn’t your standard working-from-home Zoom meeting — I was to talk, virtually, with the First Lady of Costa Rica as well as Ethiopia’s transport minister, the deputy prime minister of Luxembough and a top government official from Germany. Hi, I’m Carlton Reid, this is the Spokesmen Cycling Podcast brought to you by Jenson USA and I was honoured to be on a panel for the closing plenary of the Transforming Transportation conference held last week. This is staged every year for the World Bank by Washington DC’s World Resources Institute. With permission I’m sharing some of the audio from this one hour panel — pleasingly, there was quite a bit of cycling content which I hope bodes well for that post-pandemic buzz phrase “let’s build back better.” The conference moderator was broadcaster Femi Oke and here she is introducing the panel.

Femi Oke 2:18
Welcome back to the main stage of Transforming Transportation 2021. This is the final plenary session. I’m going to greet the panel the panel is going to say hello to you delegates. Deputy Prime Minister Welcome to TTDC21. Tell our delegates who you are and what you do.

Francois Bausch 2:40
Hello, my name is Francois Bausch. I’m Deputy Prime Minister of Luxembourg. And in my portfolio, I have also the Ministry of mobility and public works. So it’s not the first time that I’m participating in the TTDC. So

Francois Bausch 2:59
I would love to be in Washington DC but unfortunately, it’s not possible this year. But I’m really honoured and really pleasure that I participate in this concluding debate now for this year’s conference.

Francois Bausch 3:12
Transport and mobility is my passion. And I really like discussing about out and around it.

Femi Oke 3:19
You’re in the right place. Deputy Prime Minister, we will come back to you. Claudia, if people were paying attention on the slide they saw that you were First Lady of Costa Rica. That’s a very nice title, but you have an absolutely extraordinary job. And that is why you’re here. Claudia, please introduce yourself to the delegates.

Claudia Dobles Camargo 3:39
Thank you so much. Well, good day to everybody. I am Claudia Dobles Camargo I am from Costa Rica. And I am the coordinator for the sector of infrastructure mobility, and urban planning. So I am also the First Lady, but I think the first title is the most interesting one. I am very glad to be sharing with you Costa Rica’s experience through news pandemic and our vision past pandemic. I am very honoured also to share this panel with the rest of the panellist.

Femi Oke 4:11
Thank you so much for being with us. Madam minister, welcome to transforming transportation, nice to have you remind our delegates, who you are, and what you do.

Dagmawit Moges 4:25
And I’m pleased to be part of up for the second time. I’m Dagmawit Moges from Ethiopia. I’m the Minister for Transport. It’s a pleasure for me to join the team to share our experience and to learn from others as well. Thank you very much.

Femi Oke 4:40
Oh, you’re so welcome. Hello, Carlton. So nice to see you, Carlton. Tell everybody who you are what you do.

Carlton Reid 4:48
Hi Femi, and good to see you and good to see everybody else and it’s you should have come to me last because I’m the least qualified member of the panel here in that

Carlton Reid 5:00
I’m I’m, I asked questions normally, so I don’t make decisions like the other panellists, fantastic job titles. I’m somebody who would ask those people the questions normally, but I am a journalist, I specialise in in transport. So I do work for Forbes.com. And for The Guardian in the UK, and I’m also a historian of transport.

Femi Oke 5:31
Fantastic, Carlton. You’re very welcome. And you’re very humble, which is very British of you. Jürgen, so nice to see you. Welcome. Please, elaborate on your numerous job titles. You’re a very busy man. So glad you had time for us.

Jürgen Zattler 5:48
For me, and thanks for having me. Yes, my name is Jürgen Zattler And I am a director general in the German ministry for economic cooperation. And my responsibilities cover climate SDGs and multilateral cooperation amongst those multilateral institutions, the World Bank. And until only three months ago, I was the German executive director of the World Bank.

Femi Oke 6:19
Thank you. Thank you so much for being with us. All right. So panel, we have an hour and this is what we’re going to try to achieve. We’re going to talk about lessons from our global pandemic, for planning for the future looking at, we’re going to talk about opportunities for transport. And we’re also going to join the dots between climate change account crisis, and what that means for the climate crisis going forward. There’s a lot to do, Carlton, what would be the smartest first question to ask? And who should we ask it to?

Carlton Reid 6:52
Well, I’ve been genning up on the the other speakers I am a journalist so I do that kind of thing. And Ethiopia is fascinating, in that it bubbled up on my social media feeds a few weeks ago that Ethiopia did have this this transport plan. So it’s fantastic that Dagmawit is actually here. And that potentially, I can ask her questions on this. But what what fascinates me about Ethiopia? And maybe I’ll ask, the question, is, motoring is clearly like the elephant in the room. In many countries, many countries want to reduce motoring. And yet many countries,

Carlton Reid 7:30
perhaps in in, in places like Africa, including Ethiopia, maybe motoring is seen as something absolutely aspirational. And they want to have more and more motoring. If we’ve got so much motoring. Here in the in the West, why shouldn’t everybody else have motoring? So we’re kind of on this panel, maybe it’s going to be talking about how we want to reduce motoring for all those reasons. You mentioned, not climate change, but also congestion reasons, clean air reasons.

Carlton Reid 7:59
Importantly, health reasons, and yet many other countries. Probably don’t see it in those terms. So my first question will be to

Carlton Reid 8:11
Dagmawit from Ethiopia on on how she’s going to square that circle?

Femi Oke 8:20
Thank you.

Dagmawit Moges 8:23
So shall I go for it?

Femi Oke 8:25
I think now’s the time to answer that. Go ahead.

Dagmawit Moges 8:30
Thank you very much, it’s an excellent question. As a government, we are responsible to address the needs of our people. And we need to consider the situations that we are in, previously before the pandemic

Dagmawit Moges 8:51
was on roads for brake

Dagmawit Moges 8:55
lights. But during the pandemic, we identified that we need to focus on our people and address their need for transport.

Dagmawit Moges 9:07
serve the public. So recently, during the pandemic, were identified the first national non motorised transport user strategy in our country, which gives much emphasis for strength, and it’s likely

Dagmawit Moges 9:25
that we already

Dagmawit Moges 9:27
know ones

Dagmawit Moges 9:31
are hungry going to construct register and race and cycling lanes and give priority for transport and individual environment.

Femi Oke 9:41
I want to go to you Deputy Prime Minister, because if we’re looking at what have we learned so far, what are the opportunities going forward? I know there was something that just to me and to you stood out that people are doing now that they didn’t do two years ago and not in

Femi Oke 10:00
numbers. What is that? And how does that help us with sustainable mobility?

Francois Bausch 10:07
But I think that we are, in fact, in a double crisis already today, we are on one hands in this pandemic,

Francois Bausch 10:19
problems around. And then on the other hand, we are in the middle of another crisis, which is the climate crisis, because climate crisis will not begin after this pandemic, is already there. And I think that’s what I could observe, especially in the mobility sector, because all with all the problems that we had, for example, during the lockdowns that we had in the last year, people began to change their behaviours in the transport and mobility sector, especially, for example, in the urban areas, people discovered, really rediscovered for examples hiking in a way that would never had imagined two years ago, three years ago, I just got to my table today, the figures of a survey that launched during last year, just after the first lockdown that we had in Luxembourg, that was in March, April until May, last year. And during this survey, people told us that, for example, 23% of the population in our country that changed their behaviour during the pandemic. And even they told us that they want to keep now these changes. And most of this change came. Mostly this change came in favour of cycling, for example, nearly 60% of this part of the population of this quarter, in fact, of the population is sad that they had rediscovered cycling, and that they wants to keep it also after the pandemic and after the lockdown. And that is what we can observe. Also today, we see in our everyday life, that people are using more and more for examples hiking or biking to really do their their daily business. So not only for sports, of leisure, but only to go to work and to bring their children to school, for example.

Femi Oke 12:25
Claudia, from the perspective of Costa Rica, if you were looking forward as we are in this session, what are the opportunities that

Femi Oke 12:36
you’ve taken from a global pandemic? And you’re able to apply for mobility, sustainable mobility, urban planning? What stands out for you?

Claudia Dobles Camargo 12:49
Thank you. Well, I will have to start with what was our vision for the pandemic and how we have tried to adopt that policy pandemic. We started actually a year, two year two years ago, February 2019, we launched in Costa Rica, our decarbonisation plan, trying to reach a new vision for social economic development, more sustainable, reaching for well being quality of life, but also job creation in terms of the fourth industrial revolution. So one of the main lines of action, we have 10 lines of action in the the compensation plan. But what the main action was to create a mobility system that could be resilient, flexible and adaptive. And the truth is that, unfortunately, in Costa Rica, we have invest a lot in a vision of a private, more car centric development.

Dagmawit Moges 13:50
It’s quite interesting to hear the example of Luxembourg ignite really, I can tell you, I wish we could have that in Costa Rica. in Costa Rica people through the pandemic, they didn’t rediscover Viking because we they have to discover it in the first place. We need to create that culture in the metropolitan area and for creating that culture to provide confidence. We needed also to start providing the vision of a more pedestrian more friendly city and how these can work together with the transportation system and make it more robust market more resilient, more diverse.

Dagmawit Moges 14:31
Also, we …

Femi Oke 14:34
I was like I was just picking up on your thought about the cycling, because the Deputy Prime Minister, it wasn’t a big deal for cycling 10 years ago. I mean this there’s been a resurgence. So I’m just wondering what you will say, DPM to Claudia. Can you take that model and take it to Costa Rica? Is that even possible?

Francois Bausch 14:58
Yes, it’s possible.

Francois Bausch 15:00
Every year, you know that Luxembourg is the most car loving country in the world, I would say beside Qatar, because we have in Luxembourg, the car and the individual in mobility culture is very much present still today. And I would say when I started 78 years ago, we had already a little bit against cycling culture in different cities in the country. But even in the subject, column and country, then in Luxembourg, which has such a high degree of cost per household, for example, in Luxembourg, we have minimum, I would say, around two cars per households in Luxembourg. So even in a country like this, it’s possible to change. But the precondition is that you must really attack to build up a good cycling infrastructure, the infrastructure is the key to success to the success, so that the population will really use cycling again as a mode of transport. But on the other hand, I’m really sure especially also, because of new tools, new elements that entered in the last few years in the cycling culture, like electric bikes, people read more and more rediscover cycling. So it will be a major topic in every urban area in the world in the next 5, 10, 15, 20 years.

Femi Oke 16:29
Maybe just bring in Jürgen here, Jürgen, we’re looking forward, we’re looking at transport as a motive for change. What is Germany thinking of right now?

Femi Oke 16:40
for the future? What are you working on right now? That takes us into 2021, 22, 23? And beyond? Regarding transport?

Jürgen Zattler 16:53
Yes, thank you. It’s a very difficult question. It sounds easy, but I think it’s really challenging because there are lots of unknowns. And

Jürgen Zattler 17:06
I think the the lockdown and also,

Jürgen Zattler 17:10
what might come next has put on the table, some open issues,

Jürgen Zattler 17:17
also regarding the future of urban transport. So what we could see in Germany is a substantial drop in, in transport and public transport during the lockdown during the first lockdown, it was a drop in ticket sales of some 80%. And this really put express the financial accounts of the operators of the public operators very often. So the question is when we go back to

Jürgen Zattler 17:56
the conditions we have seen before, or will there be a kind of new normal?

Jürgen Zattler 18:02
And that’s not easy to answer this question. Because there are those variables like there might be more pandemics, there might be more awareness regarding the spread of other viruses in the population, there might be an increase in the work from home of course, which might reduce traffic, then perhaps congestion in the roads will get less CPU and people will switch to public add to private transport. And looking at private transport, we also see that shift, which has been discussed will be then costs. Will it be shared cars? Will it be bikes? Will it be shared bikes? So I think these are many variables. And it’s not easy to predict that but I think we have to take it seriously and and really be open to adjust our plans. It looks like like others said, bikes and E-bikes will be a part of the new transport future, perhaps it will come quicker than we thought. And …

Femi Oke 19:21
As we’re looking forward Carlton people often particularly in this forum, equate technology and tech with the future.

Femi Oke 19:30
I know you’ve got deep and passionate thoughts about this. Can you share them with us, please?

Carlton Reid 19:36
Well, I have been impressed that yes, I can share them for me. I have been impressed that so far. And many panels like this tend to start talking about this. We haven’t talked about electric cars. We haven’t talked about driverless vehicles. So I’m very very impressed that we haven’t talked about that because tech is sexy. And ministers like to cut ribbons. And like to

Carlton Reid 20:00
To do the sexy things, we know that, but tech is probably not the best solution to transport woes, especially post

Carlton Reid 20:11
pandemic, and all sorts of reasons. So automotive deaths, and gridlock will not be banished by autonomous vehicles or electric cars. So for cities of the future, for them to be sustainable, truly sustainable to be resilient. For true mobility, we’re gonna have to boost bicycling, walking, and public transport. So I’m glad that we have touched on all those things. And can I actually ask a question? For me while while I’m on here, I would like to ask a question. But this is first of all to Francois because before the pandemic, I was doing stories on Luxembourg, because in Luxembourg

Carlton Reid 20:54
public transit was free. It was one of the first places where to get people out of cars was yes to have the the infrastructure cycling infrastructure Francois was talking about, but also to have public transport free. Now the pandemic clearly has knocked. As Francois said 80% public transports been knocked massively. But going forward, once the pandemics entered the way the question to Francois is, is it still gonna be free for public transport for public transit? And how are you going to get people back on to public transit when we know they’ve been really, really afraid to mix with people in close proximity?

Francois Bausch 21:41
Thanks for this question. And it’s a little bit also what you said already, the whole scenario that we had an enormous drop in using mass transit or public transport. But I’m really convinced that is only a momentum. And it’s the momentum of the pandemic, because we could observe this during two or three months in the last year’s because we had in Luxembourg, a lockdown that went from March to May. But from June to October, I would say that situation was nearly normal. And immediately, the figures in the public transport in mass transport when rushed up again. So I really I can’t, I’m convinced that at the end of this pandemic, and when we have it under control or ready, and that will be the case, during this year, I’m sure about this, because of the vaccines and so on, we will see that a society with very fast and very quick, really go up again, even I am very optimistic also even about the recovery of the economy. And what is interesting is

Francois Bausch 22:57
we continued during all the time to defend our mobility change plan that we launched seven years ago. And even if even knowing that attention during seven or eight months, was much lower, because everybody discussed only about the virus, immediately, I can feel that the discussion around mobility and mobility problems that we have in Luxembourg, also congestion problems because we have a very specific situation. by country we have, for example, 250,000 commuters coming from France, from Germany from begging everyday to work to Luxembourg. That poses an enormous problem in the mobility organisation. I’m convinced of what we started seven years in Luxembourg seven years ago in Luxembourg, with an enormous investment programme in to change the mobility system because I really wanted to underline this.

Francois Bausch 23:52
Technology is a tool. It is tool that we can use. But we must change the system, the mobility system. And I think I’m really optimistic that with what population has lived in the last year, it’s much easier, it would be much easier to discuss this than it was before before the pandemic

Femi Oke 24:11
That’s such a good point. I am going to panel, take some time for our delegates who have a lot of questions for you. So this is our plan.

Femi Oke 24:23
I will ask the question on behalf of the delegates, and you will come back with a very pithy response, which means that we can get a lot of questions into the rest of our session. So these are instant thoughts back to the delegates. Thank you very much for your cooperation on this one. I’m going to start in Addis Ababa, Madam Minister standby. This is from Wendy Jia. Wendy says that Addis deployed a bike lane during the COVID pandemic which was very popular. The city is moving ahead with corridor improvements, including bicycle lanes, bicycle parking, and

Femi Oke 25:00
widened sidewalks. I am smiling so wide now I am so gonna go cycling, if I can get to Addis sometime in the future. How did this go down? I love the idea of biking in Addis madam minister, quick response.

Femi Oke 25:15
How did you make that happen?

Dagmawit Moges 25:18
Thank you so much. Very Yes, we’re doing it with our partners, because we believe that this is one alternative that we need to provide to our people. Because when we were not able to utilise the public transport, we need to find ways to enhance the cycling culture in our people. So we started in the capital city. But we believe that we need to do a lot ahead. Even in urban areas, which is not the capital, there was a trend of cycling, but it was completely shifted within the five or five or seven years, we’re trying hard to bring back that culture. We started it with a competent, even in the capital, we need to extend the links that we have started, because at least there has to be accomplished circuit. If we have the smooth pedestrian and cycling links, we believe that no city is too large for our residents to use that option as mode of transport. So if we have to do that, if we are going to be able to do that, we’re going to address the supply and demand gap which is vividly visible in most developing urban centres just like ours. So yes, we started it, you’ll be most welcome to come and bike in Addis, and we’ll have even in other countries.

Femi Oke 26:41
This question is for you Carlton and it comes from Nirmal Shetty. Thank you Nirmal, it is nice to promote cycling, provided that they’re safe on the road. And the safety is addressed. There’s new road infrastructure can make provision for lanes for bikes and pedestrians. How can we address road safety in existing roads, it’s especially in low and middle income countries. I should say that Carlton is written a book all about bikes, Bike Boom.

Carlton Reid 27:12
Yes, thanks for the plug there, Femi. Can I actually go back to Ethiopia. Because when I was reading the Ethiopian non motorised transport strategy 2020 to 2029, there was a stat that jumped out at me. And that is Bahir Dar, the city, small city, and then that is obviously cycling their accounts for 90% of vehicle trips. So Ethiopia has a massive cycling culture, right now, in some cities. So in in those kind of places, they’re going to have to protect cycling.

Carlton Reid 27:46
from going away, not to increase cycling as such, it’s just to stop it going down from that amazing 90%. And I’m guessing I don’t know, because I haven’t been there. And I haven’t even seen photographs of this. But when you have 90% of vehicle movements are cyclists they clearly dominate the roads, cars can’t get past that must lead to an awful lot of friction from motorists who assume that they would have priority on roads.

Dagmawit Moges 28:21
Yes, Bahir Dar was one of the urban centres that we have in our country, which used to have large proportional cyclers in the city. But that’s not the case. Recently, in the five to seven years, because three wheelers, they came to the streets,

Dagmawit Moges 28:47
greenback, it was a culture, and we can bring it up, and we’re working towards that. So

Dagmawit Moges 28:55
as a developing country,

Dagmawit Moges 28:58
we believe that the option to access transport for our people, is by providing a kind of mode of transport, which is affordable for

Dagmawit Moges 29:11
cyclists and other

Dagmawit Moges 29:15
systems of transport, asked her to see

Dagmawit Moges 29:20
in our area of our country, having a cycle of her own and addressing the needs of her own by herself, after we have in the system, our country. So this is why I just want to

Dagmawit Moges 29:35
thank you.

Femi Oke 29:37
Thank you so much Madam Minister. Jürgen, your final closing words of hope and inspiration or what?

Jürgen Zattler 29:46
I started with a low note and that’s it’s not just the pandemic. It’s not just the health crisis.

Jürgen Zattler 29:55
It’s more than that. It’s really, really

Jürgen Zattler 30:00
The pandemic, pandemic shows that, that we put too much stress on the environment. And therefore the whole system is in a crisis. That’s a low note. But that’s an opportunity if you make aware this to your people, to your friends and so on, I think there can be something very, very positive we are human beings with own ideas and innovations. So, let us take that, that opportunity, let us make it cheap, you know, to go by bikr. That is let us let it make us make it attractive to think about how we can organise our cities that don’t go back to this passive role. Oh, it’s a crisis. And we we have to reestablish what we had before.

Femi Oke 30:58
Thank you so much. Claudia, how should we end?

Claudia Dobles Camargo 31:05
You I think the the main lesson learned for for us in Costa Rica is to live with complexity, and how we, policy makers, public policymakers need more flexible, need to respond faster, and in a closer way with different sectors in order to provide the most appropriate answer for any of our communities. So I think it has been a lesson to learn in terms of working together closer, in more in a more adaptive way. In obviously, we didn’t last hour north, which is how to create Costa Rica, a decarbonized decentralised and digitalized country, but make it more flexible or faster and closer to all the sectors in in in the country and internationally.

Femi Oke 32:02
Thank you.

Femi Oke 32:04
Carlton, it’s been invigorating, having you as my co presenter, my co-host, yyou think up smarter questions than I did. So kudos to that. Your final thought?

Carlton Reid 32:16
Present company excluded, but politicians around the world tend to be guilty of warm words about walking and cycling and other forms of active transport. I would like to see the cash. So that’s the important thing. We need the actual hard money: put it on the table and let’s get these modes moving.

Carlton Reid 32:37
Thanks to the World Bank and the World Resources Institute Ross Center in Washington DC for allowing me to rebroadcast some selected highlights from Friday’s Transforming Transportation conference. And thanks in particulate to Claudia Adriazola-Steil of WRI Ross Center’s Urban Mobility Program who invited me to take part. This has been episode 267 of the Spokesmen cycling podcast. Links can be found on the-spokesmen.com. And that’s also where you can find a new feature: a little recording widget with which you

Carlton Reid 33:24
can send us your comments or criticisms or ideas for future shows. Open the widget, press record and bob’s your uncle. The next show will be a one and half hour chat with mountain bike legend Gary Fisher — perhaps I can run some of your audio comments on that episode so get chatting about Gary or anything else you’d like to get across to the Spokesmen Cycling Podcast.

Carlton Reid 33:57
Meanwhile, get out there and ride.

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