Lee Waters, Wales’ ‘no more roads’ man
This time Ned, Adam and Laura are talking about roads. Are they good, are they bad, and do we really need to take sides? In a week where the Prime Minister claimed there’s a ‘side’ where driving is concerned, we look to Wales, where they're taking perhaps a more balanced approach to transport.
Lee Waters is Wales’ Deputy Minister for Climate Change. He works in a department that brings together society's most polluting sectors and seeks to reduce their carbon emissions, not least for the sake of future generations.
In February 2023, following a Roads Review, the Welsh Senedd announced it wouldn’t be investing in new roads unless they contribute to a modal shift towards public transport and/or active travel. While this announcement was spun as a 'ban' on all new roads, it in fact simply raised the bar for roadbuilding. Lee Waters talks to Streets Ahead about the thinking behind the move, the challenges, and why giving people clean transport options - and genuine alternatives to driving - is not a party political issue.
You can read more about Wales' roads review, and the report on the future of Welsh roadbuilding, here: https://www.gov.wales/future-road-investment-wales. As the chair of the roads review panel, Lyn Sloman, put it: "The challenge of our time is to achieve a prosperous economy and a fairer society whilst protecting and enhancing the environment, for our own well-being and that of future generations."
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Episode edited by Clare Mansell.
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8. Disinformation in Active Travel Part 249:56In the second of a two-part mini-series on online disinformation Laura, Ned and Adam talk to Shayoni Lynn, whose company specialises in the behavioural science of mis- and disinformation, and how to tackle it. After ministers admitted this autumn making decisions based on ‘online discussions’ that veered towards fringe conspiracy theories, around things like 15-minute cities, and as the climate conference COP28 approaches, our guest has some timely insight into the world of disinformation. Shayoni Lynn is founder of Lynn Group, a ‘communications consultancy, powered by behavioural science’. They specialise in helping organisations avoid their work being the subject of disinformation, including those involved in vaccine rollout and mental health services. She authored an article on why sometimes, engaging with disinformation online is the last thing we should be doing, and explains to Streets Ahead other ways of ensuring measures to improve our health and reduce our impact on the environment, aren't foundered by falsehoods.Lynn Global has worked with the Welsh government on the rollout of default 20mph speed limits in built-up areas, the biggest policy the Senedd has enacted so far, and one not without its share of disinformation. Shayoni Lynn explains how our very nature as humans make us susceptible to misinformation and what we can do about it as individuals, as organisations and as nations.This blog discusses why sometimes, engaging with disinformation online is the last thing you want to do: https://lynn.global/the-dangers-of-debating-misinformation/ We’re on Twitter and welcome your feedback on our episode: http://www.twitter.com/podstreetsaheadIf you're reading this, please can you take 1 minute to give us a rating and write a review? It helps us more than you probably think.Episode edited by Clare Mansell.
7. 'I tell families they won't get justice in the criminal courts'54:28This time Ned, Laura and Adam meet Polly Herbert, a solicitor who represents the loved ones of those killed and seriously injured in road traffic collisions.Working for the law firm Hugh James, Polly represented the family of Frankie Jules-Hough, a pregnant mother-of-two who was killed by a speeding driver who filmed himself driving in excess of 100mph, in May.In 2022 judges were given the power to hand greater sentences to those convicted of causing death by dangerous driving. With the powers coming into effect in summer 2023, Frankie’s tragic death was widely seen as a test. Despite Adil Iqbal’s driving being described by the judge as "the worst case of bad driving any of us can recall", Iqbal initially received a 12 year sentence. This was overturned at the court of appeal in October, as unduly lenient, following a campaign by the family, and extended to 15 years. Ms Jules-Hough’s partner, Calvin Buckley, asked how bad driving would need to be to warrant the full sentence. Iqbal had been driving at 123mph, while filming himself undertaking and swerving along the M66 in Bury in May. Ms Jules-Hough had broken down and was waiting in the vehicle with her two children and a nephew when Iqbal lost control while undertaking a motorbike rider, and hit her at more than 90mph.The news of Iqbal's sentencing, and the appeal, were covered nationally, including here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-67099209. Calvin Buckley continues to bravely speak up for a culture change among young people, to foster respect on the roads.In September the All Party Parliamentary Walking and Cycling Group released a Road Justice Report, with ten recommendations, including an end to exceptional hardship, removal of tolerances in speeding cases that allow drivers to exceed the limit without penalty, treating road crash victims as victims of crime, and appointing a commissioner for road danger reduction. You can read the report here: https://allpartycycling.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/09/APPGCW-Road-Justice-Report-2023.pdfWe’re on Twitter and welcome your feedback on our episode: http://www.twitter.com/podstreetsaheadIf you're reading this, please can you take 1 minute to give us a rating and write a review? It helps us more than you probably think.Episode edited by Clare Mansell.
6. Disinformation in Active Travel Part 144:13Disinformation is seeping from social media into public debate, and even politicians are being sucked in - with real-world consequences for democracy. From 15-minute cities, to ULEZ, active travel has found itself on the frontline of the battle for truth - but what is actually happening, and how does it affect us?In the first of a two-part miniseries on the topic, Adam, Ned and Laura talk to Amil Khan, founder of Valent, a company that “deals with disinformation by understanding who is behind it, what methods they use and who they seek to manipulate”. Amil Khan was a Reuters and BBC journalist who first encountered disinformation campaigns around the Arab Spring in the 2010s. He began investigating the topic for Chatham House and the government and, in 2020, with a government COVID loan, he founded his own company, Valent. There, he and his team investigates the mechanics of disinformation, including on social media platforms.Amil says the company is ‘content agnostic’ - but as well as paid projects it investigates topics of interest to staff… which led to an investigation into anti-ULEZ sentiment online. What it found was one of the most advanced manipulation efforts they have seen in nearly four years of examining such activity in Africa, the Middle East and Europe. An estimated £168,000 had been spent, via ‘spreader accounts’ amplifying genuine anti-ULEZ voices. While against social media company rules, this automated manipulation happens, thanks to a number of companies selling such services under vaguely concealed euphemisms.Amil talks us through the mechanics of dis- and misinformation online, how it happens, how to tackle it, and the consequences for active travel, and indeed democracy.We’re on Twitter and welcome your feedback on our episode: http://www.twitter.com/podstreetsaheadIf you're reading this, please can you take 1 minute to give us a rating and write a review? It helps us more than you probably think.Episode edited by Clare Mansell.
5. Safe Streets Now: Britain's Stop de Kindermoord moment?48:37Safe Streets Now was born out of growing concerns over what campaigners have called an epidemic of speeding and red light jumping in Birmingham. Better Streets for Birmingham saw residents collect data on speeding and red light jumping in the city earlier this year, a citizen science project that attracted attention with the scale of the significant problem it revealed on the roads. Then, over the summer, a tragic string of hit and run collisions galvanised those concerns. Children were, tragically, among those killed, and residents across Birmingham have decided enough is enough. More voices have now joined the call for action nationwide, and on 30 September protests are planned in towns and cities across England to call for ‘Peace, Space and Justice’ on the roads. This co-ordinated outcry over the loss of children's freedoms and safety is, perhaps, the closest thing the UK has had to the Dutch 'Stop de Kindermoord' moment that pushed for a reversal of car dominance in the 1970s Netherlands. Could this be the start of an equally powerful movement here?Joining Streets Ahead to discuss the issue is Mat MacDonald, who founded Better Streets for Birmingham earlier this year, and is also the coordinator of Safe Streets Now, and Sarah Chaundler, a video journalist who interviews fellow parents concerned about dangerous driving on Birmingham streets. There are 15 actions in 13 towns and cities at the time of writing. To find out more about the protests, and to see if there's one near you, visit: https://safestreetsnow.co.uk/We’re on Twitter and welcome your feedback on our episode: http://www.twitter.com/podstreetsaheadIf you're reading this, please can you take 1 minute to give us a rating and write a review? It helps us more than you probably think.Episode edited by Clare Mansell.
3. Cycle instructors on strike41:43This time Laura and Adam are Ned-less because there is still a bicycle race happening over in France All cyclists start somewhere - whether it’s wobbling along with stabilisers, or without. In the UK, because we often end up sharing the roads with motor traffic, many of us will also have received training from a professional at some point - under the Bikeability standard, or Cycling Proficiency as it was once known. In recent years cycle instructors have increasingly voiced concerns over pay stagnation and working conditions and this summer London instructors are striking for the first time ever, after what they describe as a 14-year pay freeze. The freeze, they say, amounts to a 50% real-terms pay cut. Each week, on average, one cycling instructor quits - and numbers have halved since the pandemic. Nationwide we need 1000 more instructors to meet government targets to train every child to the Bikeability standard, but recruitment is proving tough.With the most common reason for not cycling being 'fear of riding with traffic', cycle instructors are a pivotal part of the transition to green transport - we can't build all the safe cycle routes we need immediately, so confidence riding on the roads is key to helping people cycle for more journeys. It's also the kind of green job politicians say we need for the future.Our two guests are instructors from the Independent Workers union of Great Britain (IWGB): Suami Rocha (Hosha), chair of the Cycling Instructors Branch of the IWGB, and Ben House, its co-secretary. With them Laura and Adam discuss what it's like to do a skilled job where people assume you're a volunteer, the complexities of the cause and what would help stem the tide of cycle instructor loss. You can read more about the strike here: https://iwgb.org.uk/en/post/cycling-instructors-set-for-first-ever-strike-after-14-year-pay-freeze/ We’re on Twitter and welcome your feedback on our episode: http://www.twitter.com/podstreetsaheadIf you're reading this, please can you take 1 minute to give us a rating and write a review? It helps us more than you probably think.Episode edited by Clare Mansell
2. Pedways: pedestrian paradise or ponderous paths?35:53Ned and Laura go exploring on foot with Alderman Alison Gowman around the City of London's mid-century raised walkways. Known as Pedways, when they were conceived and built in the 1960s, their architects believed they would be the future of the urban pedestrian experience... except they didn't quite work. More than half a century later, many of them are slightly bleak and under-used spaces, because they failed to meet the needs of pedestrians who, it turns out, will stubbornly take the easiest route.Streets Ahead wanders around the remains of the City of London's Roman walls to find out why a quirk of 1960's public realm design became a dead-end in pedestrian provision...almost. Come along for a journey through the good, the bad and the ugly of the intermittent trend of "getting people out of the way of cars" - and a new, improved addition to the Pedways that nods to the future.Alderman Alison Gowman is the elected official for the City of London's Dowgate Ward. She is the chair of the London Road Safety Council and author of a book The City of London: Who, What, Why? https://shop.cityoflondon.gov.uk/products/the-city-of-london-who-what-why We’re on Twitter and welcome your feedback on our episode: http://www.twitter.com/podstreetsaheadIf you're reading this, please can you take 1 minute to give us a rating and write a review? It helps us more than you probably think.Episode edited by Clare Mansell
1. Live from London Walking and Cycling Conference47:05For this special episode Laura Laker chairs a live podcast recording from the annual London Walking and Cycling Conference.The London Walking and cycling conference, for those of you who don’t know, is an annual get-together where London gets to be smug and show off a bit. It started life as the Hackney walking and cycling conference in 2017 and has gone from strength to strength, attracting speakers from all over the world.This year’s theme is: ‘taking walking and cycling to the next level: the path to climate neutrality’. We all know active travel has a huge role to play in cutting carbon emissions, for shorter trips as well as potentially part of longer journeys along with public transport. According to Transport for London active travel is up 40% on pre-pandemic levels, against an 11% rise across the rest of the UK - of course the whole of the UK is a diverse place and there are pockets of higher growth, but we’re here to ask, what is London doing right, and what can the rest of the UK learn from it?By law the UK needs to cut its emissions by 2050. Transport is 27% of emissions, and electric vehicles aren’t going to get us there. In short, we aren’t going fast enough. What do we need to do to reach climate neutrality?With her to discuss the topic 'what can the rest of the UK learn from London' are:Councillor Mete Coban, in charge of energy, waste, transport, and the environment for Hackney Council - so you get emails about dog poo, parking and bins - the full trifecta Liz Clements - Birmingham Council’s cabinet member for transport Phil Jones - technical advisor to the Walking and Cycling commissioner for the West Midlands, Adam TranterWe’re on Twitter and welcome your feedback on our episode: http://www.twitter.com/podstreetsaheadIf you're reading this, please can you take 1 minute to give us a rating and write a review? It helps us more than you probably think.Episode edited by Clare Mansell
52. Active Travel Budget Cuts40:21A pre-budget announcement on HS2 last week revealed a £380m cut to cycling and walking funding. This represents a two-thirds reduction of funding in England, and leaves just £100m for active travel in the current financial year. Cycling and walking contributed £36.5bn to the UK economy in 2021, according to Sustrans. Ned, Laura and Adam convene to discuss what's happening and the impact it'll have.We’re on Twitter and welcome your feedback on our episode: http://www.twitter.com/podstreetsaheadIf you're reading this, please can you take 1 minute to give us a rating and write a review? It helps us more than you probably think.Episode edited by Clare Mansell