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Active Travel Podcast - data in active travel, part one

Season 1, Ep. 2

Big data is a big issue right now - and we are perhaps about to realise just how much information Google and Apple have on us. Data is hugely important in understanding how we travel, but while we've been very good at measuring car traffic, how we measure cycling and walking is far more primitive.


David McArthur, at Glasgow University's Urban Big Data Centre, is trying to change that. Using Strava Metro data, and 'spare' CCTV camera capacity he was busy trying to work out who cycles and walks where - until the COVID crisis hit. Now his work is being turned to measure some of the changes we are facing around how we move around, and the new importance active travel is playing in the new normal.


Most methods of measuring active travel only give us part of a picture, however - and while the granular data on our lives is held by tech companies like Apple and Google, we might be glad that data isn't more widely available.


No one method of can capture everyone, though. Is there a way of making sure we are all visible in the right ways, in this new big data world? Is a national data centre for active travel the answer? And where on earth does government cycling data come from?


You can find out more about the Urban Big Data Centre, and David McArthur's work, here: https://www.ubdc.ac.uk/


Transcript


David McArthur interview FINAL MP3.mp3


Laura Laker [00:00:00] Hi and welcome to the active travel podcast. A brand new podcast brought to you by the Active Travel Academy, which is an academic think tank on all things cycling, walking and micro mobility. It's part of the University of Westminster in London and works in collaboration with folks from inside and outside the university. That's people like me. I'm Laura Laker an active travel journalist working with the Active Travel Academy on this podcast. Amongst other projects, and this is the first of a two part on data in active travel.


Laura Laker [00:00:28] The Active Travel Podcast is joined by David McArthur, who is a senior lecturer in urban studies at the University of Glasgow. David is with us today to talk about two pieces of research. The first is using crowdsourced data from Strava Metro to establish cycling patterns. And the second is using spare CCTV capacity to identify pedestrian volumes and movement, which is not as 'Big Brother' as it seems. David assures me so. Welcome, David. Nice to have you with us.


David McArthur [00:00:56] Thank you very much. Pleasure to be here.


Laura Laker [00:00:58] So you specialise in big data around transport and urban analytics. Can you just tell us a bit about how that works?


David McArthur [00:01:05] I'm based at the Urban Big Data Centre. So this was a center funded a few years ago with the idea that the UK wasn't making the most of the big data revolution. Our job was to try to establish ways in which new forms of data could be used to address substantial social science questions. So my stream of work was in transport. We've tried to look at what datasets are out there, what can they tell us about our transport network and how to improve our cities and what make the limitations of this sort of data. People were quite it was the hype curve where people were very excited it was going to change the world. We were trying to be a bit critical to those ideas.


Laura Laker [00:01:44] And people get very excited about new tech developments as shiny new toys kind of. But it's not always as wonderful as you might think. So can you tell us where transport data is right now and where it's going and presumably focusing on active travel?


David McArthur [00:01:59] It's quite interesting. There is amazing data out there. It's not always accessible, though. One thing we tried to do in the center was to price it out of the hands of data owners. But that's not always so successful. Sometimes there's legal regulatory licensing issues with the data. So if some local authority has used the commercial product or ordinance survey data, they can't necessarily share that data with a third party afterwards. There's also issues of perhaps it's commercially sensitive. So with a deregulated bus network, for instance, the data may be helped by the operator of a bus service. So it might not be available easily to outside researchers, which is a shame because it would be nice to have better data on who takes the bus and where do they go, but it's commercially sensitive information. So there's lots of great data, but the governance issues tend to pose far more challenges than the technical issues of analysing it.


Laura Laker [00:02:55] Obviously, there's going to be privacy issues around people's data, and especially if it contains demographic data or even personal data. So you've got to be very careful about who gets that, haven't you?


David McArthur [00:03:05] Absolutely. We would definitely want the data owners to protect the data subjects. And it's a legal requirement after GDPR especially. Well we always had data protection legislation but I think GDPR sharpened people's focus on this idea. But some of the data, I don't think needs to be shielded quite as much. So cycle counter data of how many people go past that particular point in time, I'm not sure it's so sensitive, but certain people are not happy to share it or they're worried that something might be done with it that they don't like.


Laura Laker [00:03:38] Really? cycle counter data - numbers?


David McArthur [00:03:42] Yes, I've had some arguments with local authorities because they don't want to release it, even though it's six people past this point in an hour. So I think it's as far removed from personal data as you might be able to get.


Laura Laker [00:03:55] That's interesting. I remember writing an article last year, I think it was, collecting cycle counter data from around the UK. And I got maybe a handful, and those are just the visible ones with the totem poles. But it was quite hard to get hold of, which was quite a surprise. And I think I was working on it for a few months, actually, partly because there were a number of issues. Some of the cycle counters broke down and some of the London ones have broken down. So I was kind of waiting on them. But also, like you say, it's quite hard to get information from people, and that's just the ones with the totem poles and the numbers on that are visible. And I guess there must be a lot more embedded in pavements that you just never see.


David McArthur [00:04:33] Yes, there are, there’s some hidden. So the council will have data on them, but maybe you get it, maybe not. But it's a shame not to have that data available for people to use.


Laura Laker [00:04:44] So you're working on both these projects, the pedestrian project and the cycling project, and that was pre-lock down, and obviously life changed for everyone. Since then, people stopped moving around as much. And I'm just wondering obviously the scope of the project is changing as the transport environment changes. And you wrote a couple of blogs about this, didn't you? The phenomenon of COVID and the changes that are happening. And I'm just wondering how much you've changed what you're doing since then.


David McArthur [00:05:10] It's been a really interesting time for transport data because we've often had this fragmented ownership of the datasets, trouble having access to them. Suddenly, though, everyone needed data on who was where and who was moving where and what modes of transport they were using. It's been interesting to see that the tech giants, Apple and Google have been the ones stepping in to provide consistent data across the UK. But a bit of a black box in terms of how does it go from raw data into these aggregates that they're publishing. But this has been used to formulate policy now, so we might be a bit concerned that if we had our own data and we had a national data service for transport data and it had all been there [LNE1] in a consistent way, we could easily have pulled up the information that we needed. But at the moment, as you said, it's a big job to try and gather all of it and that other people have stepped in to provide other versions of it. So it's interesting.


Laura Laker [00:06:07] And where is this Apple and Google data coming from?


David McArthur [00:06:10] I believe Google's using their location service, which sense for people are through combination of G.P.S. and Wi-Fi, looking at what Wi-Fi networks are nearby. I believe Apple is using where people are searching for directions about. So from that, they can infer something about the purpose of the travel was and where it is. And then they've published these mobility reports that you may have seen getting some media coverage, about how activity at different locations has changed over time. So it's very valuable information at the moment, but it's unfortunate we don't necessarily know all the details about how robust is it and is it excluding certain types of people from the analysis.


Laura Laker [00:06:52] People without mobile phones?


David McArthur [00:06:54] Yes. It's one of the key challenges for big data. So it could be people without mobile phones or the privacy conscious people who've opted out of sharing this sort of information. Apple data, it's a particular subset of people that use Apple products. So if you formulate policy based on a subset of people using the technology who are you excluding and who's not been seen?


Laura Laker [00:07:19] Yes, transport poverty is a big issue and we know a lot of inequalities are being exacerbated by the crisis. And Apple products are extremely expensive, not everyone has a smartphone even so, it's fascinating. Can you tell us about how your crowdsourced cycling project works?


David McArthur [00:07:38] One of the first datasets we acquired at the Urban Big Data Centre was from Strava. So you may be familiar with going on, you have some physical activity, usually running or cycling and you log it and then it gives you some information about how fast you are, and did you beat people? Strava takes this raw G.P.S. data matches onto the route network and then they provide an aggregate data product where you can't identify individuals, but you get information about how many people are on each road at different times of day, and what are the origins and destinations that people are moving between. So we've been working with this for several years, what we've been trying to do is to say what can you get out of the data, what are the limits of the data, and what are the biases in the data. So, again, this is another example, where probably not all cyclists are logging all of their trips on Strava. So whatever you see in the Strava data, you have to think this is for a certain type of person. So men dominate the use of Strava, men are overrepresented in cycling anyway, but they're even more overrepresented in Strava. So you have to be careful with your conclusions that you don't end up designing things for men who use Strava, try and design for all kinds of people. And then there's the issue of including people who don't cycle yet, but we might like to encourage the cycle, but they're not in the data. So a couple of things we tried to do, one was to compare it to cycle counter data, to see how the flows that pass a particular point on Strava match up with the flows that count everyone. The evidence there is not bad, it gets the order of magnitude. You can certainly pick out the busy versus the quiet locations. It's not especially accurate in giving you precise numbers. We believe you can probably monitor trends with it the overtime, whether locations are becoming busier or are quieter. So we did some work doing that, many other academics have also done similar work trying to understand what the what the biases are and how well it represents it. We've then gone on to look at if you put in new infrastructure, what impact does it have on cycling flows. So we have a couple of papers which look at that. The interesting thing, maybe it's obvious, but it's nice to measure it is that it seems that it needs to be infrastructure of a certain quality. So if you have segregated infrastructure, you can get something like a twelve to 18 percent increase in the number of people using that route. If it's some sort of bus lane that you let cyclist cycle in and you call it bike infrastructure, it doesn't seem to be particularly popular and doesn't seem to have a measurable effect. So it's nice to be able to put magnitudes on what are the effects of doing these things and what it's worth doing, what isn't worth doing.


Laura Laker [00:10:30] You mentioned the National Data Centre. I'm just thinking about the problem of who you're capturing with this data and the fact that there's different data out there that may have those people in to tech, they might be using it or they or people who want to ride fast, they might be using Strava. But then you've got people in families or older people who don't really have the time or inclination to be faffing around with apps for every element of their lives. But there's potential, perhaps and you mentioned National Data Centre perhaps suggesting that there could be a collection of some of this information and the best way to map out where routes might need to be, for example.


David McArthur [00:11:08] It would be good to have that. I think we're making progress in that direction. The Urban Big Data Centre's helped a bit. So we've gathered some of this data together. Also, organisations like Cycling Scotland, in Scotland at least trying to do some of this work to pull out this data together. But the other point you mentioned there is whether it's comparable between different areas. If you have different sensor technologies, if the maintenance regimes aren't consistent across places, so you have sensors breaking or giving faulty readings, it's not necessarily easy to have something you can compare between locations or over time, but at least having it all in one place so that researchers can go to it and see what's happening I think is useful, it's something we try to help bring about.


Laura Laker [00:11:54] And then if one thing breaks, physical counter breaks, or if you're not capturing every kind of person, then you have other elements of the data as a backup in a way.


David McArthur [00:12:02] Yes. Interestingly, maybe it's the typical story, there's much more progress made on this for counting cars and vehicles. That's taken a lot more seriously. And there is much better data available on collating all the route country data so we can see what the cars are doing. But it would be nice to know what the people are doing.


Laura Laker [00:12:24] And we measure what we care about. And historically, we've cared about car traffic. Prioritising that, reducing delays for drivers in this country, haven't we? And cycling and also walking, more so walking, have really been forgotten in this piece. And another thing you're doing with the Big Data Centre is this pedestrian CCTV projects. We are not spying on people! But you are you're looking at pedestrian volumes and pedestrian movements in Glasgow.


David McArthur [00:12:51] Yes, very, very keen to start with definitely not spying on people! The is work led by my colleague Mark Livingston, I've been working with them on it for a while now. We wanted to look at how can we measure what the pedestrians are doing and what's available. And there are a few spark sensors, which kind of pedestrians, and there wasn't much else. And it didn't cover the areas of Glasgow that we were interested in it at the time. So we said, well, machine vision is a lot better now, we can use machines to count people in objects and images. There's cameras all around Glasgow and the CCTV network. So we said, do you think if we go to the Council and discuss it with them, it might be possible to do something with that? After months of negotiation and safeguards and ethical approval at the university we did a pilot study where we put a machine that sits in the secure CCTV suite controlled by the Council. It goes to four cameras when we started, it moves them to a particular position and snaps an image. The images then run through this algorithm, which counts a number of people. Then the image gets discarded and out of it we get how many people were spotted at this location at this particular point in time.


Laura Laker [00:14:05] I just love the idea of all the CCTV cameras positioned around Glasgow. You've got about 30, haven't you? That's up from four at the beginning. I just love the idea of them sort of sitting there and then every 15 minutes, or half an hour, you're able to take control of them and then turn them around and take a photo. Then they just resume their normal life. There's something a bit James Bond about that.


David McArthur [00:14:27] Yes, certainly every time I walk past one of our cameras, I check my watch to see if it's due to move, but it never has been so far, and now we're stuck at home more. [LNE2] So I have been desperate to see to see it move around. This was another challenge we had to address in the project because the cameras are used for security. So we had to adjust our approach so that it won't swing around if someone's using it and then missing something that the operators are trying to watch. So we were really keen to try and use open software, free software, not interfere with what the camera's main purpose is, but to get something useful out of it. Originally, it was nothing to do with COVID, but now it's become even more useful to have this daily report that we get on with what are pedestrians doing, how many are in different locations, and how is that changing over time? Are there areas that need to be watched?


Laura Laker [00:15:20] And is that because of capacity issues on the pavements?


David McArthur [00:15:23] Yes, some of the locations we've been trying to think of this as a social distancing problem, but certainly in some of the locations, once the counts get over a certain amount, it suggests people are probably going to be too close together because the pavements are smaller or the area the cameras are looking at, isn't that large. And if there's dozens of people visible on the frame at one point, they may not be maintaining social distance, although you can't just tell that's necessarily a problem. It may be people in the same household, it might be people who are compliant. It's still interesting, though, to see and to spot the pattern. So when you get the nice weather or the warm days, the dry days, you see upticks in the number of people out and about. It's quite interesting to see how the patterns change.


Laura Laker [00:16:09] And I think it's useful in planning pavement space, potentially, if there are too many people, because it gets to the point where there's so many people on the pavement, it becomes impossible to socially distance.


David McArthur [00:16:19] Yes, one of my colleagues, Nick Vess, came up with some very clever method to extract from the map of the pavement widths for the whole of the UK. So we were looking at that and then trying to map where is there may maybe space for social distance and where isn't it possible, and perhaps we need to have an intervention. The work was done a few days after we did it as we released a similar product. So I'd like to see that we beat them, we beat them with our open source, transparent way of doing it.


Laura Laker [00:16:46] That was reported in the in a couple of newspapers, wasn't it?


David McArthur [00:16:50] It was. So we should have pushed ours better because we did it first and we were clear about how we did it and set out exactly how you go from the OS data, how you process it and what comes out and what it looks like. But it still is extremely valuable information to have. If you're telling people to stay two meters apart and it's a very narrow pavement, then you have to do something about it.


Laura Laker [00:17:13] Yeah, it makes quite a strong case for action on pavement space and things like pavement parking, perhaps, or closing rows to through traffic.


David McArthur [00:17:20] Absolutely. And I think it's helpful to have the data on pavement widths, to have information about where are the pedestrians, when are the pedestrians there, and then to use that to inform decisions about where might we need to abolish some street parking or close roads or take some other kind of action.


Laura Laker [00:17:37] There are actually very few ways of counting pedestrians, aren't there? There aren't counters in the same way that there are for cycling.


David McArthur [00:17:45] There are fewer of them around. Some of them are used more with a view to looking at how many shoppers are out and about. So maybe we can get some data on shopping streets. But we want data on other places as well. Some of the other counters are placed at very busy points to monitor what's going on. But if we want a picture of the whole city, then this was a sensor network which existed, the cameras were there. They weren't being monitored all the time, so being able to use them to extract this useful data we thought was quite a good idea. And it's something that can be done elsewhere. The software is open source, the methods are clear. It's something any local authority could potentially implement. We also did some validation work, I should say, checking that the counts machine was producing, actually represented how many people were in the image. And it gives a very good performance. Better than we expected because we thought, oh, well, when it rains, probably it's not going to work or if the lighting's poor, might not work, but we didn't really see that. It performed pretty well under all these different conditions.


Laura Laker [00:18:50] So it was originally intended to provide some before and after data, some baseline data ahead of some pedestrian realm improvements in Glasgow, right?


David McArthur [00:19:00] Yes. Glasgow's got a very large public realm improvement project called the Avenues Project, I think is a hundred and forty million pounds, they're spending on upgrading several of their key streets in Glasgow, particularly active travel focused. So they want more people walking, more people cycling, fewer cars on the road. Often, though, the only thing to measure afterwards what's happened, and it's hard to do an evaluation if you only see what happens afterwards. So we tried to get in there to start to say, well, let's start counting now, so that after we can see what does it look like, and hopefully demonstrate the value that you can get from making these improvements. They will certainly know about what happened to the cars, and we don't want to lead people's thinking about what's happening to cars and congestion. Lets present them with their an X percent increase in pedestrians, and a Y percent increase and cyclists, and that's beneficial.


Laura Laker [00:19:54] Yeah, well, it's cheaper than having people on the street counting.


David McArthur [00:19:57] It's much cheaper. There is some of that that goes on. So there's some manual counts done in Glasgow. I think now, the they have someone watch a camera and count the number of people manually. But this is a much more scalable approach. I believe some local authorities also take videos of a point and then they ship the video off to some other country, and someone on a very low wage sits and manually watches hours and hours of video and notes down the number of people. So this is a much more scalable, cheaper solution.


Laura Laker [00:20:27] And how do you see this being used going forward?


David McArthur [00:20:30] It would be nice, ideally if local authorities installed and made the data usually available, then any researcher doing anything on transport or infrastructure or evaluation would have the data available. At the moment, we're still hoping that we can gather baseline data for our evaluation project. But the data certainly now seems more useful for a covert response and trying to understand what's happening. It will also be interesting. This is probably the first time that government has discouraged the use of public transport. So it's going to be very interesting to see what happens to all those trips that would have been made by public transport. Are we going to see them go on to cycling? Are we going to see them become pedestrians or are they going to work from home? So at least in Glasgow now we will have the car data, we will have maybe some bus data, we will have pedestrians and cyclists. So hopefully get a much clearer picture of what's going on.


Laura Laker [00:21:26] When you get things on car traffic levels, increasing or decreasing there's sometimes comparable data on cycling, walking, and presumably they come from fewer data sets?


David McArthur [00:21:37] We often try to find out where these come from and we never seem to get anywhere. So I have a colleague who spent some time trying to find out the source of some of this official data that was presented. But he wasn't successful, many emails and many "Yes, we'll get back to you", but we don't know where they come from, so I'm also a bit puzzled about where some of these statistics come from, what the data is. You might be right that yes, if you tried digging, it's not you don't always get to the bottom. So it may be that it's the cycle counter data that they sort of aggregate and come up with something. It's it's not clear, though.


Laura Laker [00:22:13] Fascinating. But it's easier to understand where the car data comes from, presumably. I'm imagining there's more counters out there and that they're more accurate.


David McArthur [00:22:22] Yes. Many more counters and it's better documented where they are. And it's much it's much clearer what's happening with that.


Laura Laker [00:22:30] So who documents the car figures?


David McArthur [00:22:32] I think Department for Transport has collected a bunch of the trunk road sensor network, even for Scotland, which is Transport Scotland doing it separately. And then local authorities also possess some for their Traffic Signal Control Systems. They may have separate sensors. We've also looked at some of that. Glasgow thankfully makes at least some of its detector data open. So we've done some analysis and looking at what's happening to road traffic in different places. But the national statistics are sometimes somewhat of a mystery. And again, the big tech companies may know better because Google can detect where you're going, and they also have the ability to do some more detection of what modes of transport you're using. So they may have a better idea of what the mode use says and different areas.


Laura Laker [00:23:18] Do you think there's any responsibility there for the tech companies to release this data anonymised?


David McArthur [00:23:24] They've released some of the aggregate data so you can get the overall trends and mobility. But we don't know what's happening underneath. And sometimes that's for good reason because the location data from smartphones can be very disclosive. So it's something that you really do have to be careful with. But it might be nice to have the detailed methodology on how is it all processed, from raw data up to all these indicators that they provide.


Laura Laker [00:23:50] The track and trace system or the proposed system has raised a lot of questions about privacy and phone companies giving people's data out to government and the ethical implications of that.


David McArthur [00:24:01] It's such a difficult one because the data can be so useful for all sorts of purposes. It can help us really, to transport new ways, if we can understand people's door to door journeys. At the moment, the data gets fragmented between, we have one data set for trains, which is patchy, we have some stuff on cycling, we have some stuff on walking, but we don't necessarily understand. Someone starts the day, they go into their different things, different modes, and how does that connect up? And how might we reconfigure things to get more sustainable choices? But then from this data, you can identify where people live, where they work, where their children go to school, all kinds of stuff that you wouldn't want being made available easily. So it's a very interesting trade-offs there, about what people are what people are willing to share and also who they share with. We share a lot with the tech companies, often unknowingly, but sometimes I think when government does it, it's done in a more explicit way and then people maybe react to it more to it. But they aren't necessarily aware of the amount of information they're already disclosing. But I don't know what the solution to all of that will be.


Laura Laker [00:25:13] It's a commodity, data, which is why we have free apps like Strava, though they've now introduced a subscription. But that information is valuable and presumably you pay for Strava Metro cities like Glasgow.


David McArthur [00:25:26] We do. I think they're currently looking at how their model's going to work. They've traditionally been quite helpful, I think, because they've been founded by real cycling enthusiasts. They have had a bit of a social mission with their data, to try to make it available and try to improve cycling around the world. So they've taken quite a different approach, I think, from the other companies. They've seen it as less of a moneymaking tool and a bit more of a campaigning tool. So we do pay for it, but it's not as expensive as they might be able to make it.


Laura Laker [00:26:01] Another thing you've been looking at is hire bike data since lockdown.


David McArthur [00:26:08] Yes, that was in Edinburgh and Just Eat Bikes, they all had some open data. So I thought, I'll have a quick look at it and see what patterns that we can see in it.


Laura Laker [00:26:14] And that was fascinating, wasn't it? Because just prior to lockdown, when people were being told work from home, the number of people who were going on those bikes actually increased. But then there was good weather at the same time that was potentially a bit, 'Well, which one was it?' But then after lockdown, obviously, the number of trips decreased but the distance of the trips and the proportion of round trips increased, which suggests that they were leisure trips. Which is fascinating.


David McArthur [00:26:37] Yeah, I think this is, the weather has been very interesting because as soon as we had locked down, the weather got fantastic, so it made some of the analysis a bit more difficult. I've been working for some statistical modelling recently trying to strip out these effects so we can monitor the underlying trends a bit better. But the hire bike stuff has raised this question about how are these people, perhaps people who didn't cycle before. Are people looking at the empty roads and thinking, oh, maybe I could try cycling? And if they're doing that, will they keep doing it afterwards? Will they get a taste for it? There's been reports of bike sales going up. There's these suggestions that hire bikes have been used in new ways. So it will be very exciting to see if this is something that's going to cause a shift in the number of people that are cycling or is it going to die way afterwards, which in part will depend on the policy response and whether these nice new temporary cycling lanes that have gone up everywhere become something more permanent or whether it's going to go back to the cars afterwards.


Laura Laker [00:27:38] I guess some of the cycling data are amalgamating is going to be useful for that, perhaps pre- and post-.


David McArthur [00:27:44] Yes, unfortunately our Strava data comes in quarterly deliveries. So we have up until the end of March at the moment. So we just got the start of that, we're waiting on July when we get our next quarterly delivery, when we can perhaps start to track a bit more. Where are the journeys coming from? Where are we already going to? Which areas became busier and quieter, and was there more leisure cycling and what was going on? So it should be quite interesting.


Laura Laker [00:28:13] You really need something a bit more agile in these times because things are changing so quickly. I mean, since the end of March, the world's changed beyond recognition, really, hasn't it? The government has told councils they should be doing emergency cycle lanes, making road space for people on bikes and on foot, which we never had before. And that's such a guidance.


David McArthur [00:28:30] Yes, it's one of the benefits of big data supposed to be we get it quickly. But it doesn't always work out that way. So with our CCTV camera data, we get it daily, so we have a very up to date picture. Strava, they have the data, but they just haven't supplied it to their data users. They're currently reengineering the way they supply their data. So I think they're not wanting to get into a position of doing custom deliveries and custom cuts. So they've said, well, look, to stick to the schedule and wait until July and then you'll get your you'll get your new data. So we are like children counting down to Christmas. We turn on our use Strava data to play with. But the time seems to be flying through.


Laura Laker [00:29:12] So it's a whole concept of time has changed. Hasn't which days at what time is it, where am I?


David McArthur [00:29:18] It certainly has, but I'm very interested to see this idea of whether people do change their transport habits. And will people who used to drive have maybe tried to bike for leisure during Lockdown, will they be tempted to say, "Oh, well, I could take it to work" or "I've tried out the route to work at my leisure time, it was alright", maybe "the infrastructure was better than I thought, maybe I will keep doing that ".


Laura Laker [00:29:40] Yeah, that's right. Well, thanks, David, for talking. It's fascinating to hear from you and hear what's going on with big data in active travel. And you have to keep us posted what's happening in July with that Strava data?


David McArthur [00:29:51] Yes, that's the date we're counting down to. Thank you for having me. I was happy to discuss transport data.


Laura Laker [00:30:00] You've been listening to the Active Travel Podcast. You can find us online on our Web site at http://blog.westminster.ac.uk/ata/podcast/ and you can follow us on Twitter and Instagram at Active Travel Academy @Active_ATA. Let us know what you think. Drop us a tweet or an email at activetravelacademy@westminster.ac.uk. Thanks for listening. Until next time.

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Low Traffic Neighbourhoods - latest evidence from the People and Places study

Season 1, Ep. 8
Low traffic neighbourhoods have been around for decades – but recently many more have been deployed as part of COVID-19 interventions to help people walk and cycle more, and avoid public transport. New analysis of three years of the People and Places study in “Mini Hollands” in London, by Dr Rachel Aldred and Dr Anna Goodman, has found that, in ‘high dose’ low traffic neighbourhoods, not only do people walk and cycle more, but over time there was a decrease in car ownership.Racheland Anna’s newlypublishedarticle is: ‘Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, Car Use, and Active Travel: evidence from the People and Places survey of Outer London active travel interventions’The Low Traffic Neighbourhood, or LTN, is a qualitative intervention to improve cycling and walking trips. In LTNs short car journeys become longer, while walking and cycling are made more pleasant by reduced interactions with motor traffic. These factors combine to change behaviour – not just for cycling, but for walking, too.In this conversationProfessorAldred says while LTNs are typically thought of as measures for cycling, they can boost pedestrian trips, by making walking on, and crossing the streets more pleasant. With traffic flows of less than 100 vehicles per hourat peak, which equates toaround1,000 vehicles per day, people start walking in the carriageway, because they feel safe to do so. She argues by reducing traffic levels low traffic neighbourhoods particularly benefit disabledpedestrians, who are more likely to be injured on the roads.Historic research from tube strikes in London that shows while disruption to our lives is difficult and inconvenient, if made to think about our trips we sometimes end up with a better solution for ourselves as well as local businesses, by walking and cycling for shorter trips.While more research is needed, including around decision making in buying and keeping a private vehicle, this suggests potential societal reductions in car ownership if low traffic neighbourhoods were more widely implemented, with the prospect of freeing up road space for other activities than car parking, such as parklets, cycle lanes or wider footways.This new analysis could mean that, in terms of getting people out of their cars, low traffic neighbourhoods, or LTNs, are an important part of the active travel puzzle.Links:Published study ‘Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, Car Use, and Active Travel: evidence from the People and Places survey of Outer London active travel interventions’:https://transportfindings.org/article/17128-low-traffic-neighbourhoods-car-use-and-active-travel-evidence-from-the-people-and-places-survey-of-outer-london-active-travel-interventionsPre-print of longer article calculating health economic benefits of the mini-Holland schemes:https://osf.io/preprints/socarxiv/5ny4c/Rachel's blog ontheresearch :http://rachelaldred.org/research/low-traffic-neighbourhoods-evidence/Manual for Streets: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/341513/pdfmanforstreets.pdf
8/28/2020

Cycling for Everyone: how we get there

Season 1, Ep. 7
Sustrans’ and Arup’s new report, Cycling for Everyone, was published at a time when both the Black Lives Matter movement and the active travel movement are at the forefront of public discussion. Susan Claris is one of the report’s authors, and Global Active Travel Leader at Arup, and Daisy Narayanan is Sustrans’ Director of Urbanism.Coincidentally launched the day Boris Johnson’s government announced its Gear Change document, setting out a path to cycling growth in England, Cycling for Everyone identifies through interviews, data and analysis who is cycling, but also crucially, who isn’t, why, and how greater diversity in cycling can be achieved.Cycling in the UK is predominantly white and male: 85% of people aged over 65, as well as around three quarters of disabled people, women, people at risk of deprivation and people from ethnic minority groups, never cycle. Quantitative data can only tell us so much, however, and although different people face different barriers, many of the issues stopping us cycling more are similar, from safety fears, to access and affordability, to perceptions of competence.As Susan Claris puts it, inclusion is more than making things step-free – it's about looking at the impact of infrastructure from the broadest possible perspective. This means where we design our cycling infrastructure, how, and with who in mind - and the report acknowledges we need to do better in our public spaces, and offers some pointers as to how we can do that.Cycling for Everyone provides not only a call to action to level the field for more people to cycle, but a platform to achieve greater diversity in cycling at a time when we could be on the cusp of great leaps in active travel participation and, if we heed the report’s lessons, far greater diversity, too.As Daisy Narayanan writes in her forward to the report: "Only by ensuring that voices of underrepresented groups are integrated in policy, planning, design and implementation, can we ensure that we create places that meet the needs of the diversity of people who want to use them."You can read the Cycling for Everyone report here: https://www.sustrans.org.uk/media/7377/cycling_for_everyone-sustrans-arup.pdfTranscript Laura Laker0:00Hi and welcome to the Active Travel podcast. Brought to you by the Active Travel Academy, which is part of the University of Westminster in London. I'm Laura Laker, an active travel journalist. Now we know cycling has benefits for physical and mental health as a low cost transport, for independent access to services, work and education, but there are people across society who can't access cycling. The most recent National Travel Attitudes Survey found two thirds of adults feel it's too dangerous to cycle and cycling is still predominantly something done by a small proportion of the population. In other words, it's not very diverse. According to a new report by Sustrans and Arup, Cycling for Everyone. 85% of people over 65, and around three quarters of disabled people, women, people at risk of deprivation and people from ethnic minority groups, never cycle. This report is what we're talking about today, what it tells us about why certain people don't cycle and what can be done to change that. So with me today, is one of the report's authors, Susan Claris, who is the global active travel leader at Arup. Hi, Susan.Susan Claris1:07Hello,Laura Laker1:08and Daisy Narayanan, who is Sustrans' director of urbanismDaisy Narayanan1:13Hi Laura.Laura Laker1:14Hi. So, yeah, thanks for coming on the podcast. It's great to have you both on; can you just tell our listeners a little bit about how the report came about, and who it's aimed at.Susan Claris1:26It's actually got quite an interesting story because I had to remind myself of this one it was it was actually from the Arup side, it was a colleague who joined us as a graduate back in 2015, and he'd done his dissertation on cycling, and older people. And shortly after joining us he sort of said, you know, there's not much guidance out there, wouldn't it be good if we could actually do something to look into this subject. And it took a bit of while to get it, get it all going but from that we had discussions with Sustrans. And the idea came about drawing on the Sustrans Bike Life data to actually produce his guide that would actually show how cycling can be made more inclusive and really can be made for everyone so that that was the background of it from the Arup side I don't know whether Daisy wants to talk about it from the Sustrans perspective.Daisy Narayanan2:12Yeah, I mean, just adding to what he said Susan from a Sustrans perspective, all Sustrans strategic priorities have 'for everyone' at its very heart. So, the whole concept of inclusive design has been something that me and Sustrans are really wanting to focus on, so it is so timely, this conversation with Arup, what bike life was saying to us as well. For the past year, you know, talking about diversity and inclusion and all set within the wider context of climate change, and the whole conversation around black lives matter and inclusion I think this is such a timely report, and you know it's been wonderful working with colleagues at Arup to bring this together.Laura Laker2:53It's really exciting isn't it because, as you say, inclusivity has become so much more prominent in public discussion as has the need for cycling infrastructure and active travel infrastructure in general, it feels like these agendas have really, risen just at the time that this report has come out. I know that you're working on it since 2019 and there's been a bunch of stages, including a literature review there was the bike life data, you've had focus groups where you've talked to people about why they don't cycle or why they do, and working out what you can do about that, you've had workshops with decision makers in the transport sector. And there's a database now of case studies of successful projects. And one of the things that Sustrans has found out through its Bike Life surveys, it's not that people don't want to cycle. 55% of people from ethnic minority groups, 38% of people at risk of deprivation 36% of women and 31% of disabled people who don't cycle would like to start. So that's a that's a huge amount.Susan Claris3:54I think if those surveys were actually redone now those numbers would be even higher. So if you think those those surveys were pre COVID pre lockdown and we've seen what a huge upsurge there's been an interest in cycling, as I said those numbers I think would be so much higher now.Daisy Narayanan4:09Absolutely I couldn't agree more. You know, we've seen that in our own areas and over lockdown we've seen this massive increase in in cycling and all kinds of people cycling, not just the usual people that you expect to see on our road cycling and I think that's been, you know, it's not you can have surveys and reports and all of that out there and statistics, but for me what has been really really powerful about this process is getting stories from people you know just understanding, getting right into the depths of why what the barriers are. And I think that's been really powerful in the report but more than that, you know, as Susan was saying, during lockdown. That's being so visible now, all of us can see how that change is required and people want that change to happen. And that, to me forms, quite a strong foundation for for going forward into policymaking going forward.Laura Laker5:10And the report, sort of touches on issues affecting different groups of people as statistics from earlier older people as women as people from ethnic minorities, people with disabilities. And although there are different needs across different groups there is a commonality isn't there there are sort of common themes that come up, and you have to, you know, obviously the roads have been quieter and so a lot of people have been cycling so road safety is going to be one of them. Can you say a bit more about other sort of common themes that we saw across different groups in terms of what's stopping them from cycling what would help them to do so.Susan Claris5:46Yeah, I mean in terms of the report we've sort of grouped the actions into into three main areas, so better places is certainly one of those three themes which is about safety, road safety, but it's also about sort of personal safety and harassment. That sadly has come through quite strongly. It is about the importance of cycling infrastructure being fully inclusive. So there's a very strong focus on the places but that it that that's not enough so that's why we focus on the other two key areas which is to be more inclusive in terms of governance and planning and decision making. And then also this welcome and support for for people to cycle. It sort of, it's not just I think we've moved from, you know, a few years ago. Cycling was not much thought about at all then we will onto the wall stick in a cycle lane and tick the box and we've done that. We've moved to well let's count how many people use it. And now we're moving on to saying well actually, you know, who are those people and who aren't those people and I think it's understanding, broadening the understanding of what inclusion is all about. So I think, you know, for TfL, Transport for London, for a long time inclusion has been about making things step-free. Make it step-free, that's inclusion. I think many people who think about it in terms of gender, but actually it's actually looking at it from the broadest possible perspective to make sure it's fully inclusive for everyone, and that's that's a real shift and that's going to take a lot more than, than purely infrastructure, it goes much wider than that.Daisy Narayanan7:21And adding to what is missing as well you know there's something about the language we use, and making sure that the imagery that we have, you know, that that talks to cycling is not just you know what you see generally, it has to be truly inclusive, it has to reflect our communities, our places. And again, you know, for me, if you step back and take a look at what what inclusive places means and there is, there is a danger in my mind about the word inclusive becoming, you know, becoming use so much you know it becomes a word like sustainable, or resilient, it becomes one of those words that are used quite often without quite going into the depth of what that means. And again you know what Susan was saying, a place has to be inclusive, it has to be welcoming for everybody regardless of age or race or faith and ability or income, all of that has to be part of it. And cycling that fits into that walking and cycling into that placemaking. And that shift in the narrative has been has been accelerated over the past two to three years. You know the conversations that I'm having here in Scotland, and across the UK I'm sure as well, is reflecting that kind of shift in attitude. And that comes from the report, I think, you know, quite clearly across the themes. Again, going back to what I was saying, there's quite a strong platform for that, you know, for the call to action you know what is our call to action, what are we asking, what are we asking policymakers to do. And I think this kind of shift in narrative is has been so critical and so crucial to that.Laura Laker9:08And as a delivery body Sustrans is obviously involved with a lot of local councils and local authorities, and in creating infrastructure for cycling and walking and I wonder what kind of impact this information is going to have what what you mean when you talk about inclusive spaces and how that will translate to physical space.Daisy Narayanan9:29It is already making a huge difference, you know it helps policymakers, it helps councillors, local councillors to say look people want this. This is what surveys are saying this is what they are telling us to do they want us to make spaces better for walking and cycling, but it also helps officials who are actually going out and building this, it helps engineers who are designing this this infrastructure that goes into a place or the design of a place. And finally, it helps, I think it helps, people to come together, it helps a community engagement process, where you can truly get people together to shape what the place looks like and to me that is so crucial. And that's something that we haven't got right and you know we've talked about this before we have to acknowledge where we, we need to do better. And I think what this report does is acknowledge that. and see, here's how we can go, we can do better.Laura Laker10:34And, yeah, like you say it's it's about having communities, having a say in what's happening and not just a small percentage of people.Daisy Narayanan10:44It has to reflect, the communities, absolutely, it has to reflect the people who live there and work there you know whatever the context of the place that we're talking about whether it's city or town or neighbourhood, the people who shape that place, so when you look at what needs to go in. It has to reflect the aspirations, and has to reflect the vision of what what people see their places to be, and cycling is such a big part of that,Laura Laker11:10you said in your foreword to the report about a lack of diversity in transport planning and how you're not only often the only woman you're the only person from an ethnic minority in the room.Daisy Narayanan11:23Absolutely, yes, you know, I remember going to meetings, and I joined Sustrans in 2012. So, you know, this is, eight years ago almost, and almost every meeting I was the lone woman or the lone person of colour, sat there and I remember going to a meeting once and someone asked if I was here to take notes. And I said, no I'm here to chair the meeting. So there's a perception around transport, that is, you know, macho and it's transport and I think what to me is so encouraging and so incredible. And Susan I'm sure you you've seen this in your experience as well you know the change in more women coming forward, you know, change and more of us having that having the strength to come forward and say this isn't right. And we need to we need to do better.Laura Laker12:18Yeah, and Susan you've talked about how we count cycling, and the report talks about this as well about how it's been about increasing numbers in the past and how that hasn't really served in terms of improving diversity perhaps you could tell us a bit more about that and what needs to change.Susan Claris12:35Yeah, So, I think you know just just counting the number of cycles using a facility. It's good to see those numbers go up, but actually it's important to look behind those numbers and see. I said, who it is cycling and but also as importantly, who isn't cycling and who could benefit from that so it isn't purely a numbers game and you know having counters on cycleways and seeing the amount of usage is great, but it's that's only part of the picture and I think what the report shows is this big unmet demand for cycling, which I think will be even higher now following following covid and lockdown. And it's how we actually make cycling more accessible for people both physically and culturally how they can how people can see it as something that they that they can do themselves you know so often the image is you know, and I ban colleagues from using the word bicycle you know try and talk about cycles to be more inclusive and, you know, the imagery and this was true when the obesity strategy came out and the GPs to prescribe cycling. Virtually all the news articles that accompanied that were of a, you know, a man on a bike, white of a certain age, you know, a lot of people they'd look at that and I think well if that's if that cycling that's not for me. And so I think it's it's it's just making it accessible and achievable and realistic for people, I think, is getting people to start either either people who haven't cycled for a long time maybe they cycled as children but haven't carried on in adults, or if someone's never cycled, you know it's like where do you start, it's immensely difficult because you're not gonna go out and spend, potentially hundreds of pounds on a bike. And you know, so it's that what is your entry point into cycling and I think that's where hire schemes or lessons and things can really help because for some people, they may not like it, it may not be for them so actually, a way of way of trying it and seeing how people get on with it in a supportive environment with supportive people, because, you know, a colleague of mine actually, in lockdown, I guess she's early 30s. She just recently learned to cycle, you know, and I think that's quite a big thing for an adult to learn to cycle, most of us do it when you kids and you fall off and you grade yourself and you know that's part of growing up but to actually, you know, do that as an adult, is, is a big step and I think it's brilliant she took a week off and you know she wasn't going anywhere. She couldn't travel so she was like, Well what can I do happen to coincide with a bike being on her streets, with a sign saying free to a good home. And it was like well this is a sign I need to learn to cycle, but it's it's a really, it's a really difficult. I think you know, don't underestimate that by any means.Daisy Narayanan15:19Absolutely. I think these stories are so powerful. When we run. One of the workshops we ran in Glasgow, as part of the reporting. There was a councilllor from Edinburgh Council, Councillor McInnes who spoke at that. And she talked about you know how she's in her late 50s, and she's very vocal about how she had cycled for over 30 years, and she was quite nervous about getting back on a bike, but then she's you know she had she felt the pressure as she put it to be seen on a bike. So she then she. The next step was to buy a buy, and then she says it's quite intimidating going into a shop, when you don't know anything about where you begin as. Where do you begin? So all of those steps were little barriers and she had to push through those and then finally she now commutes over 10 miles, well pre-lockdown, to the city chambers and back and she says it's completely changed her. How, how she looks at how she looks at her place actually because suddenly you see the batteries for yourself and as a Transport Convener how powerful is that? You can do that so I think it's, there's something so good about having these stories out there. And, you know, being able to talk about this. This is about people, isn't it, at the end of the day it's about people and cycling is, is the framework, on which we're talking about people's lives, and this.Laura Laker16:47And I guess I guess the temptation is that if you're if you've got a certain amount of money for cycling that you will do a linear route, as you've seen in the past from a wealthy area to city centre area, and you know it's like the low hanging fruit of cycling you know for a certain amount of money you'll get X number of people cycling they probably already got bikes they're already confident enough on the road to link up missing bits and that's what we've seen in a lot of cities around the UK. But I guess it's, it's so much harder to sort of look at, like, all of the different barriers that people face the argument that the report makes is that the people who have the greatest barriers should be the kind of focus is there potential people that can benefit the most.Susan Claris17:26Yeah, and I think looking at neighbourhood areas I mean as you say that the temptation is always to go for the radial routes and the commuting routes and I think that's the whole 'we design in our own image' and this is set out really powerfully in the book Invisible Women, you know, but actually, the more important things I think are the you know, are the local areas or neighbourhood areas half of all our trips are for leisure and shopping. So we should be focusing on those, only 15% of trips are for commuting. So I think actually sort of focusing on the commuting route is not the wrong thing to do but it's not the only thing we should be doing, and actually looking at making neighbourhoods better for cycling, you know, having cycle parking whether it's at shops or in people's homes, you know, particularly in areas, I mean, for me, one of the worst aspects of street design are cul de sacs, you know, looking at how you can work on housing estates designed around cul de sacs to make better routes for cycling so you don't have to follow the wiggly routes that cars follow so it's it's looking at some of those areas and then people might be encouraged to start cycling from their home. Maybe to begin with, they go to the local shops and then they find that quite useful, they go a little bit further and they go a bit further and it builds people's confidence, rather than actually sort of taking a, you know, a radial route into a town or city centre and focusing on that.Laura Laker18:41Yeah, and when you start to understand people different people's trips, so women as the report notes, women do a lot of trip chaining so it's you going one place you're doing something you're moving on to the next place, perfect for cycling and in the Netherlands more women cycle than men,Susan Claris18:54And older womenLaura Laker18:54And just doing these yeah and just by just doing these, these linear routes, you're basically designing everyone else out you're excluding everyone else and then people say that Cycling is white and male and middle class and it's because those are the kind of cyclists that we're designing for. And so in terms of measurement, we've, we've talked about how quantitative measurements are obviously not helping diversity. I know that the Leeds-Bradford cycle route was specifically built in an area that is low income households and poor transport links, and they've done a lot of qualitative work but I think they're in the minority there. What would good look like in this sense?Daisy Narayanan19:37One of the examples I can give you from, from up here in Scotland in Scotland Sustrans works with Scottish government and we deliver funding in partnership with local authorities to build walking and cycling infrastructure. And over the past couple of years as the programme has grown, it's called Places for Everyone, the focus has been on more deprived areas and the research and monitoring unit that work alongside the project delivery team, you know, are very very conscious that the for everyone piece is very much part of the monitoring. So to me that's quite, again, it's an example of how, you know, process can help. If you get your right processes in place to make sure that you're measuring the right thing, then that can then encourage everyone to do better. It depends on the context, which is different places will have different ways of measurement and different ways of what you see good looking likeLaura Laker20:34potentially the people with the greatest barriers and just thinking about investment and return on investment, which is something we're kind of obsessed with, In a way, certain groups or excluded groups are excluded because the. The benefits are external to transport so transport is almost a siloed thing that needs to make its own money in a way which doesn't make any sense because it's such a public good isn't it is especially when we talk about active transport it's, it's the physical activity benefits and often it's the people with greatest barriers, people who aren't getting exercise people with poor transport links, poor access to work and education, for whom the benefits will be greatest. So it's kind of harder to do but if you're looking in the round. There's just so much more benefit for society potentially.Susan Claris21:17And I think that's where it brings in the walking and cycling angle as well because cycling was featured quite heavily in the obesity strategy but i think you know recognising that telling someone who doesn't currently ride a bike to go and ride a bike is a very difficult ask and if there's someone who is overweight or obese then that's probably an even harder ask but I think if it can be in terms of increasing physical activity, walking and cycling the two go together really well, you know, and it always interests me that Sustrans' National Cycle Network is usable by people walking them by cycling so I think it's having active travel routes and promoting both walking and cycling, just as ways of being active and you know it isn't it isn't badging someone as a cyclist it's looking at people as people and those people walk sometimes it may cycle sometimes they might drive a car they might get on a bus, you know, people do all of those different things. But the key message is actually about, you know, promoting the active, the active side of it because of all the benefits it brings physical health and mental health.Daisy Narayanan22:19Absolutely and again, to your point Laura about the wellbeing aspect not being captured and when you measure the impact the project has; in Edinburgh in a project called the city centre transformation when I was in secondment to the council here for 18 months, and we were very clear from the beginning that we were not going to use the traditional methods of stag or the transport appraisal survey, you have to be under the umbrella of quality of life and quality of place. And that was quite an interesting process to see how you can put value to green space and to active places. And I think there's something quite exciting about how the work is starting to take shape, where, you know, yes you do the transport appraisals but then over that you layer in your wellbeing and your, you know, physical and mental health and your green spaces. And yeah, I guess the next step that we all need to take forward.Susan Claris23:12I think it's interesting in a way it can come from from other projects as well. So one of my favourite projects in our Arup is one we've got called Greener Grangetown which was down in Cardiff. And that actually started off as a drainage study. And then the idea was to put in greenery to help with drainage and that's what actually if we're putting in greenery, maybe we put in some, you know, walking and cycling as well and that the benefits just cascade in that way so is walking and cycling projects can come from unusual areas sometimes.Daisy Narayanan23:39I love that project, it's gorgeous.Laura Laker23:42We have one near me in Stratford actually that has an a lot of drainage with plants in and it's really nice to cycle pastSusan Claris23:49Rain gardensLaura Laker23:49That's right. Yeah. Yeah, it's really lovely actuallyDaisy Narayanan23:57We have that a lot during consultation for most projects. That's something that comes back so strongly. You want greener spaces you want to be able to access within five minutes, your local park or you want to have greenery and colour and wildflowers and all of that speaks to us as humans.Laura Laker24:17Yeah, there's a lot of temporary changes happening and in terms of temporary cycling infrastructure and presumably a lot of that is going to become permanent and there's a real opportunity isn't there to make our cities more resilient in terms of climate change and creating shade which is so important in creating better drainage, because water runoff is a massive problem with extreme weather. And, yeah, just that reallocation of road space from motor vehicles.There's been a lot of announcements from government, as we know, we've had Gear Change which is the government's vision for cycling we've had proposed highway code changes. And we have had new design guidance and obviously there's a lot happening with COVID, in terms of an emergency response for transport; I'm wondering how all of this kind of feeds in to this agenda of making cycling more diverse,Susan Claris25:11I think, i mean i think it's really timely I mean the fact that our report came out on the same day as Gear Change is a complete fluke because I think we chose the publication date back in March or something so it's just one of those really happy coincidences that it came out on the same day so I mean I really welcome all the policy announcements that are being made and you know it is it is a great sort of step forward compared to where, where we've been over the last few years. I think the big thing is what happens next because we've had all this good stuff in terms of Gear Change but then we have the planning reforms and the potential relaxation of planning. So it's like one part of government is saying all the good stuff about active transport but if there is then a relaxation, how do we actually make sure that when developments are planned that they are planned with walking and cycling in from the outset, and we don't end up with some of the housing developments that we've got now that are totally inaccessible by public transport or by active modes so I think that's there's a lot of welcome but there's a degree of caution there as well.Daisy Narayanan26:12I agree with that, and I think what for me is, is very encouraging about the Gear Change report is the language around it, it's quite directive, which I don't think we've had so far which I think is quite good. I'm also encouraged by the fact that it's not just the UK government that has announced increased investment for walking and cycling you can see Scottish Government, Wales, Northern Ireland, for the first time I think across the across devolved nations and the UK government. There's a real sense of we need to invest more in walking and cycling. And, you know, when you look at the whole picture. It's really important as Susan said to get the right to get the next stage right, make sure that the words that are put into policy are translated on the ground because the delivery on the ground is going to be for the local authorities, for boroughs, and we have to make sure that that disconnect is as small as possible, because you see that a lot, you know, the right words are being used, but then you see something on the ground and you just go that's not what it's meant to be. So I think that there's a piece of work there about that about local authorities being empowered to do what national policy is telling them to do.Laura Laker27:25Yeah, there's a lot of that isn't this these wonderful statements about putting pedestrians and people cyling first, and it just doesn't happen in the real world and one of the things in your report one of the three elements for targeted changes are governance planning and decision making. So I guess I guess that's, that's going to be there isn't it it's going to be about putting that into practice which is which is perhaps the hardest part it's easy to say something is harder to do itDaisy Narayanan27:56That's why you need the grassroots community. The community to feel empowered to to ask for that change because then then change happens at that local level. And when that then marries up with the national policy, then you can generally make magic happen.Susan Claris28:15I think that thing about think about support is really important because you know we've seen that it's always the people who are against schemes who shout the loudest, there was the recent YouGov poll that was showing that you know for every person against there's six and a half people supporting these schemes, but you don't tend to hear that voice. We know with some low traffic neighbourhoods that are going in, they're being badged as road closures, there are some quite vociferous lobbies typically from people outside of the area who come in to oppose, and you know it's very easy for a politician to hear the negative voice and not to hear that support and if the support is maybe coming from older people maybe they're not so engaged in the process. So I think we need a better mechanism for all people's voices to be heard, whether they're for or against rather than the vocal minority in either way, being dominant.Daisy Narayanan29:04I completely agree, and I mean I think more and more you're seeing that seeing the backlash against some of the temporary schemes you mentioned Laura, because, you know, things have been put in quite quickly and you know they're not the most beautiful, you know they're cones or wands, and that that doesn't provide the vision of what that street could look like when it's done well with thought and care. So there is, there needs to be that communication of what this specific temporary measure is about and how that then leads to the wider vision that everyone has to feed into and what it could be. So yeah absolutely the process of as Susan was saying there needs to be a better mechanism because we've got that quite right.Laura Laker29:45Yeah, because if what's happening now is being called out undemocratic in places in terms of temporary infrastructure going in before consultation takes place or the temporary infrastructure being there during the consultation, it gives everyone a chance to see it on the ground, and we know that having a car dominatedstreet is not an equitable place but at the same time having these consultations, which perhaps only highlight the voices of the vocal minority isn't necessarily democratic representation of who's for and against something it is quite a difficult one really isn't it because of the fundamental change and changes to our physical streets, it's never going to be easy is itDaisy Narayanan30:24Absolutely, I've got scars on my back and inbox to show thatSusan Claris30:29for people who aren't currently cycling which we know is a large part of the population, they're not going to be out there probably giving support for something to benefit cycling because they don't see themselves as a cyclist so they don't necessarily see that as of relevance to them alone benefiting them. So it is, it is very hard to actually get that support for something that you're not currently doing and you don't see as relevant to youDaisy Narayanan30:57know if you, if you are frail and if you have a physical or sensory impairment of any kind change is scary. Change is scary anyway but for someone who iss already feeling their lives are not what it should be, this kind of change is scary so I think there is something about the empathy that we need to have when we talk about projects like this it's not, it's not just this needs to be done because x y z. It's like let's do this together. And it sounds very motherhood and apple pie but I think if we get that right if we get that conversation right at the beginning, then we can save ourselves a huge amount of angst later on in the process.Laura Laker31:38The third element to these three recommendations is welcoming and supporting all people to cycle and I guess, perhaps you're arguing that this has to be from the beginning,Daisy Narayanan31:48yesSusan Claris31:49yeah I think it's I mean it's talking about the language and the imagery that we've already talked about, but I think also it's the cost and the barriers to getting getting a cycle So, you know, cycles generally are not cheap and so there can be an issue around cost and availability. But I think it's also in the report draws on the whole purchasing experience, and a very brief story if I may, my, my background is partly in anthropology. And one of the best studies I saw about the value of urban anthropology, it was it was conducted by Shimano and it was a quite a few years ago, and they were looking at, this was in America, why certain groups of people don't cycle, and the view was that they were too lazy, too fat, too whatever, didn't care. When, the anthropoologists went out and spoke to these people they said they've all had really positive associations with with cycling when they were children, but then they didn't see it as something that were relevant when they were older and they said if they went into cycle shops they found a very hostile environment. So they then talked to people in the cycle shops and they went, oh no no it's not hostile we welcome everybody you know, everybody is welcome here. So then what they did is they gave the people working in cycle shops $100 or something and told them they had to go to a department store and buy certain types of cosmetics. And when they walked into that department store they absolutely felt the discomfort that other people felt walking, and that's how they really got it that actually their place wasn't as welcoming as they thought it was so it's always trying to see something from the insider's viewpoint and I said, you know, cycle shops are not always a happy place or comfortable place to be if you're not part of that, that sort of type of people already, you know, so it's like it's a big step for someone who doesn't cycle and cycling now is quite technical and it's complex and you know what you've lost a lot of is basic bikes, a lot of people they don't want 21 gears, they don't know what to do with them. So they certainly don't want to start with 21 gears you know what, where, where is the basic bike gone that can give people that entry into cycling so I think that's, that's really important so people can actually get a cycle and then have some training on how to use it.Daisy Narayanan33:55Absolutely. And I think we also talked so much about safety and you know, we talk about cycling within transport terms quite a lot. I think we don't talk enough about the joy and delight. That cycling brings to you, And, you know, I got an ebike a year, a year and a bit ago and I love it. There is that sense of joy that comes with it, and I think the more we can talk about you know, this makes you feel good is, is as relevant to saying it makes you feel safe, it's good for your health and well being and the climate and all of that. Yeah, I don't think we should forget the joy.Laura Laker34:34Yeah, I remember being in Edinburgh. Last year, actually, I was going on a little biking trip and I borrowed an electric mountain bike, and I was whizzing through town it had nice fat tires so I didn't have to worry about the tram tracks, you know, Edinburgh is just full of trams. And then there was a guy next to me at the lights on this hill, up hill, and I just looked across at him and I was like, e-mountain bike best thing ever and he was like Yeah. And we both just whizzed off.Daisy Narayanan35:07Edinburgh is a city of seven hills and an ebike flattens the hills in Edinburgh i can ride around and not feel like I'm about to die.Laura Laker35:17Yeah, I love absolutely love I've got anebike as well and I absolutely love it. And it really does make it more accessible to so many more people for many so many reasons. Maybe I can ask you what you want the report to achieve. Maybe a big question or an obvious question.Susan Claris35:34I think, from my perspective I would like it to help decision makers politicians transport planners all the sort of people that are likely to read it actually realise that Cycling is for everyone. And I said to get rid of the conventional image of a person typically a man on a bike, and realise that actually cycling embraces all these different types of people and should embrace all these different types of people well you know from the five to 105 not even eight to 80 sort of thing so it is a viable form of transport for the majority of the population. And we just need to actually help that become real. And as Daisy said I think bringing the joy back into cycling as well so yes it's a great mode of transport from A to B, but it's so much more than that. But it yeah it is that cycling should be and is for everybody.Daisy Narayanan36:30Yeah, and just to add to this from my perspective there's also. I'm hoping that this report can accelerate change that needs to happen because I think we've demonstrated that change needs to happen, and people want change. So what this should do is now get that in motion get that really fast and from a personal perspective I hope that it also allows people to reflect on you know on attitudes, on how we how we perceive cycling. What do we think about when we talk about inclusive cycling, and even within Sustransto challenge ourselves to be better and to make sure that the For Everyone, that we want to be at the heart of everything we do. It's truly at the heart of what we do. And so yeah so external and internal, I think there is some reflection and then there is a lot of acceleration.Laura Laker37:22Yeah. Yeah, I think one of the things that stuck out from me in the report was you know just admitting that we've got things wrong and you know looking around at the people cycling generally speaking it's It is, it is a very narrow portion of the of society who feels brave enough is what it boils down to, to cycle on the roads and so obviously something has gone wrong, and I think is a chance for reflection and to move forward. So, yeah, super important report and really nice to talk to you both. I wonder if there's anything else that you wanted to say that you feel that we've missed out.Daisy Narayanan38:07I think from my perspective nothing much more to add, except that I love the fact that we have three women here talking about cycling. Yeah, which I think is is brilliant. And, you know, that this is even on the agenda and the cycling is so different when I joined Sustrans in 2012, as an architect slightly naive thinking I'm going to go to the world of walking and cycling, it's going to be amazing, no one can be angry in this world. It has been quite a learning process over the past eight years, but I think we're at the cusp of something quite incredible. And, yeah, the more we can collaborate and make that happen, I'm really excited for the future.Susan Claris38:54I think for me it's it's broadening the scope of cycling because so often it's associated with a sport and it's seen as a sporty activity. And I think the more we can just see it as something for, you know, everybody and something that you don't need a lot of kit for. It doesn't have to be fast it doesn't have to be competitive. You know it is almost that that that joy of the self-propelled transport, but getting getting away from the sporty side of it I think that that helps a lot because as soon as, as long as people see it as a sporty thing, they probably don't see it as relevant to themselves so it's almost getting back to. It's almost viewing the bicycle, and cycling the old fashioned way i think it's it's that different image.Laura Laker39:38Wonderful. Thank you both so much for coming on the podcast it's been great to hear from you.Susan Claris39:44Thanks Laura, it's lovely to talk to you.Daisy Narayanan39:44Thank youLaura Laker39:44Thank you for listening to the active travel podcasts lucky seventh episode with Sustrans' director of urbanism, Daisy Narayanan, Arup's global active travel lead, Susan Claris, and me, your host Laura Laker. You can find and subscribe to the active travel podcast online on our website at blog.westminster.ac.uk/ata/podcast, and you can follow us on Twitter and Instagram @active_ata. Let us know what you think, via social media or by emailing us at activetravelacademy@westminster.ac.uk . Thanks for listening; until next time.
8/19/2020

Walking practices in the Global South with Daniel Oviedo and Luz Navarro

Season 1, Ep. 6
The current global pandemic has pushed mostcities in the Global North torethink how we envision our streets to createcar-free, safe, healthy and clean environments for its citizens. However, in the context of African cities, this transition is marked by extreme poverty, unequal access to good quality infrastructure and lack of resources.Dr Daniel Oviedo works at the Bartlett Development Planning Unit at UCL andspecialises on the social, economic and spatial analysis of inequalities related to urban transport in developing countries. In this podcast, Dr Oviedo talks to Luz Navarro, a Research Associate at the Active Travel Academy, discussing the methodological challenges and findings from two research projects on walkability at different urban scales in the Global South. Both research projects offer a qualitative look at walkability and walking experiences to unveil how shows social norms and perceptions of walkability heavily influence who walks, when, where and why. The first one is on pedestrian space and the Right to the City in Maputo and the second on is on the social constructions of walkability in informal settlements in Freetown.In Maputo, the project explores the different attitudes towards walking between two income groups. Those with higher income see walking as a choice among other modes, something mainly done for leisure - and have alternatives at hand easily when they don’t feel safe, or they face poor weather conditions and poor infrastructure. Those from the lower income group have no other transport choices, regardless of other conditions. The main findings show that feelings of safety, race, gender and level of education and occupation play a strong role in walking behaviours and attitudes, as much as the quality of the walking environment.The second project offers a fresh insight on the subjective and objective dimensions of walking, not as a choice but as an imposition in the informal settlement of Moyiba in Freetown and how this reveals existing urban inequalities. Daniel also talks to us about the pleasurability of walking in terms of aesthetics and comfort in such a context and the role the built environment in the perception of walking as a pleasurable experience and how residents of Moyiba see and experience their neighbourhood.Finally, Daniel talks about the lessons we can learn from both projects and how governments can facilitate walking improvements in a more effective and inclusive way.You can find out more about Daniel's research project here: https://www.t-sum.org/And a partner from the Sierra Leone research projecthere https://www.slurc.org/