Live from London Walking and Cycling Conference
For 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 Tranter
We’re on Twitter and welcome your feedback on our episode: http://www.twitter.com/podstreetsahead
If 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
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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/
4. Lee Waters, Wales’ ‘no more roads’ man50:35This 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." 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
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
51. Refurbishing bikes, rebuilding lives49:15In this episode, we have a special feature in which Ned travels to his spiritual home in Lewisham Shopping Centre to meet the folks at XO Bikes. Founder, Stef Jones, was mentoring in prison and noticed the same people kept coming back - not that they wanted to. These people were lacking opportunities; prison is 'full of entrepreneurs, shifting the wrong product,' he says.Stef left his ad agency to set up XO bikes, to train, employ and inspire people and support them to change their lives, become bike mechanics, and it’s a gateway to the cycling industry. They take donated bikes, and donations. Police give thousands of bikes, which they refurbish and sell. 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
50. Mums For Lungs50:09We speak to Mums For Lungs founder Jemima Hartshorn to chat ULEZ, campaigning and the worrying and urgent need to clean up our dirty air.Almost exactly ten years ago, nine-year-old Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah died following an asthma attack, later becoming the first person in the UK to have air pollution listed as a cause of death. Ella lived near the South Circular Road in Lewisham. In 2017 Jemima and a group of fellow mums, on parental leave in south London, decided to act after noticing how poor the air quality was as they walked with their babies. Research suggests kids experience 60% of their pollution exposure on their journey to, and in school. Early exposure to air pollution increases the risk of asthma and lung infections and can be fatal.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 MansellImage courtesy AirQualityNews.com
49. What It's Really Like Being a Councillor46:41What is it really like being a Councillor, especially one who has implemented LTNs? Ned, Laura and Adam speak with Ian Barnes, formerly of Enfield Low Traffic Neighbourhood fame. As Deputy Leader of Labour-run Enfield council until 2022, Ian was among those responsible for delivering Low Traffic Neighbourhoods both before and during the pandemic.We discuss: listening to resident concerns, Mini Hollands, road pricing, the abuse some Councillors face and more.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