Jill Warren 00:00:00 We saw in the pandemic, you know, there's a lot of talk about all these cycle paths and everything, uh, that, that we saw, but it was the cities that already had plans in place and could accelerate them who could profit most from that development and do things the most quickly. So, so really strategies and, and plans, I, I think are key.
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:00:26 Welcome to Smart in the City - the BABLE Podcast, I am your host, Tamlyn Shimizu. And really at BABLE, we aim to connect the players in the Smart City industry with high-quality information and ideas through our services. This podcast is really an extension of this goal and mission to drive the change for a better urban life. And first, a quick announcement from BABLE as a company dedicated to driving the change for a better future. We at BABLE express our support for all victims of the Russian-Ukrainian war. To all our listeners. If you're wondering how to best support Ukraine from a foreign country, please visit the following website: supportukrainenow.org. And now onto our episode. And today we have with us a very special guest. Her name is Jill Warren, and, and she is the CEO of the European Cyclists' Federation, otherwise known as ECF. And it's a Brussel space umbrella Federation of the civil society, cyclists organizations in Europe. She advocates for more and better cycling as a sustainable and healthy means of transport and leisure. Hi, Jill, how are you doing today?
Jill Warren 00:01:44 Hi, Tamlyn. Just fine.
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:01:45 Great. Did I, did I get your intro right? Okay. Anything that you want to add to introduce yourself better? <laugh> all good. Okay, perfect. Um, and I also have another special guest with me actually today as well. Um, she is my colleague Shannon, Shannon Macika. She is a Smart Cities Consultant at BABLE, based in Stuttgart, Germany. Shannon, maybe you can give yourself a little bit more of an introduction as well?
Shannon Macika 00:02:09 <laugh> yeah, sure. So here with BABLE, I'm working on multiple projects, uh, focused on the improvement of urban mobility around Europe. Um, some really exciting EU funded projects and a few others directly with cities. And then in my spare time, I'm also quite an avid bike commuter myself, uh, self-described cargo bike enthusiast, and I'm very passionate about using my background in public health to create more equitable built environments for all.
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:02:33 Wonderful. So yeah, I have two, um, very big bicyclists with us today. And so we'll get started with a bit of some fun questions and this is a segment that's called rapid-fire questions. And so I will ask you, um, a series of questions and you'll just both answer one after each other as quickly as possible. And at the end, maybe you, we can give some more, but the idea is to go pretty fast though, through all the questions. So, I will ask the question and then Shannon, maybe you answer first and then Jill answers after that. Okay? Okay. How many bikes do you own?
Shannon Macika 00:03:13 Currently three.
Jill Warren 00:03:15 I think I have seven bikes.
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:03:16 <laugh> wonderful. Your favourite bike?
Shannon Macika 00:03:20 I really like my e-bike right now.
Jill Warren 00:03:23 My favourite bike is a bike whose name is ISKA and it is a cross bike at my house in Germany.
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:03:30 Oh, wonderful. Um, the bike you would recommend to everyone?
Shannon Macika 00:03:35 It probably is a step-through cruiser with a basket. You wanna be able to carry your stuff and get where you're going easily. Pretty great for flat roads around the city. <laugh>
Jill Warren 00:03:45 I think for everyday biking, I like cross bikes or trekking bikes. They're very versatile.
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:03:50 Cool. And your least favourite bike?
Shannon Macika 00:03:54 <laugh> well, I don't wanna pick a least favourite bike <laugh> maybe my road bike only because it's been attached to its trainer for too long. It needs to see some outdoor action.
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:04:02 <laugh>
Jill Warren 00:04:04 My least favourite bike is - I still have a sentimental attachment to it, so I haven't been able to get rid of it - but it's a bike I bought in the early nineties. It's a trekking bike, but it's, it's quite old in the meantime.
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:04:16 Wonderful. Um, and then, so now can move on a bit to some background, Jill. I think it would be good too, um, dig in a bit deeper to really what is ECF, um, what are your main goals and main activities?
Jill Warren 00:04:33 So as you mentioned, ECF is the umbrella organization for around 70 cycling advocacy associations throughout Europe. Um, our activities and outputs include evidence-based advocacy at the European level. And sometimes at the global level, we do research and thought leadership projects to underpin our advocacy things like our widely cited benefit of cycling report or, uh, last year's cyclist love trains report that we Purdue used in connection with the European year of rail to rate the bike-friendliness of cities. We very recently published an analysis of national cycling strategies across Europe. So things like that, we centrally coordinate the Euro Velo long-distance cycle root network, which spans 90,000 kilometres and has 17 roots in 42 countries. And we also organized the annual Velo-city conference, which is the premier international planning conference for cycling.
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:05:29 I'm glad, I'm glad you mentioned Velo-ity because I was about to say, um, uh, I was about to give you a plug for Velo_city. So, uh, can you <laugh>, can you give a little bit more information about it?
Jill Warren 00:05:42 Yes. This year, the Velocity conference will take place from June 14th to 17th in Ljubljana, Slovenia, it takes place every year. It brings together about 14, 1500 cycling, uh, enthusiasts, uh, in, in the whole cycling planning ecosystem, whether that's city planners, politicians, uh, service providers, advocates, you know, it really spans the whole spectrum of everybody interested in making our cities better for cycling.
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:06:12 Cool. Yeah. And I'm, I'm still hoping I get to go this year. I'm not a hundred per cent sure. Um, but I, I think I'll go <laugh>
Shannon Macika 00:06:20 Tamlyn, you have to go.
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:06:22 I know, I know. I really want to go. Um, I just have a lot of other events at the same time, so I have to make some very tough decisions, but Velo-city's definitely on the top of my list. Um, at least some of us will be there. I can't guarantee you'll be me though. Um, but yeah, thanks. Uh, for the little introduction, I think it's really interesting that the work you did you do, and that's really why we brought you on today. Um, because I think there's a lot of policy that needs to happen right. Also on one side and then also, um, behaviour change and other things along those lines on, on that. So I guess what are, what do you think are the top, uh, priorities for active mobility right now?
Jill Warren 00:07:07 I think it's making space for active mobility and it's making it safe when you ask people, why do you, or why don't you cycle or don't you cycle more? The number one response given by people is that they don't feel safe enough doing it so a safe and comfortable cycling infrastructure that takes people where they want to go is key to getting more people on bikes. And I, I think a good question to ask is, would I feel comfortable allowing me, I don't know, 10 or 12 year old child to cycle by himself or herself in my city, uh, to go to regular places, they need to go like school or, or, uh, football practice or, or someplace if the answer to that is no, then there's a lot of work to do in your city.
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:07:57 Good. Yeah. Shannon, do you have anything to add to that?
Shannon Macika 00:08:00 No, really. Just to compliment what Jill already said. I think I agree completely. Um, and some, we're talking a lot about bikes today, you know, with Jill coming, obviously from ECF and both of us, obviously being very passionate about the topic and as a form of transport, but this really applies of course, to pedestrians as well. And thinking about multimodal commuting. Um, so how are you going from bike to bus, you know, bike to pedestrian, um, and thinking about how we're building cities that are easy enough for people to move around of any, uh, age, any mobility, um, being able to, uh, interact in their environment without necessarily needing to use a car.
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:08:37 Yeah. Wonderful. And so I touched on this before, um, but really, on the policy side of things, what needs to happen for people to feel safer?
Jill Warren 00:08:51 I think that plans and strategies are the best starts for something like this. What kind of city do you want to have? What kind of space do you want to make for people? How do you want to make your city livable? And then how are you gonna do that? What's it going to cost you? How are you going to prioritize what you need to prioritize to get there? We saw in the pandemic, you know, there's a lot of talk about all these cycle paths and everything, uh, that, that we saw, but it was the cities that already had plans in place and could accelerate them who could profit most from that development and do things the most quickly. So, so really strategies and, and plans, I, I think are key.
Shannon Macika 00:09:30 And strategies and plans too, that are not just embedded only in the mobility departments, but at really trying to bring in stakeholders across different departments, different officials. And we see some cities with health in all policies approaches where, you know, it's also how you position it right. To be the priority of what's the most important, um, pressing issue in your city. So being able to, you know, target, you know, other comorbidities by putting, placing active mobility as a priority, um, and showing how it can benefit everyone. Uh, and not just, I think, unfortunately, sometimes there's a little bit of discourse where it places cyclists as like us versus them. And how do we avoid that and really build strategies that are taking everyone into consideration.
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:10:08 Yeah, that's, that's a good point also. Um, maybe Jill, do you have any, um, do you know any cities where this is done really well? Like, do you have best practices?
Jill Warren 00:10:19 Yeah. There are a lot of cities that have made huge strides. And, and when I, I say, you know, you have your cities that everybody would name like Copenhagen or Amsterdam that have long been doing this very, very well. You've got other, particularly a lot of, of Dutch or Danish cities, uh, you know, UEC and the Netherlands that, you know, places like that, that are really good. Um, examples to follow for, you know, kind of best practice. On the other hand, I really like to look at university towns because, you know, they, by definition are built for a lot of people who don't have cars who walk, you know, from place to place on campus. And so some of my personal favourite cities in Europe are university cities that are just built for active travel. So I'm sitting here today in, in Freiburg, Germany where, um, so I live in Brussels, but I, I used to live in Freiburg and still spend, uh, a lot of time here. That is one of my favourite examples of a city where you can bike just about anywhere and lots of people do. And it's just very normal. And, um, Minta and Germany, I would say is another really good example. And these are the kind of cities that really inspire me and, and show, you know, what we can do more of in, in other places.
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:11:33 Yeah. Those are some good examples. I also know Freiburg quite well as we're actually not sitting so far apart from each other now, um, as we're in Stuttgart right now. So, um, what do you think are really the main challenges, um, behind, uh, increasing more active mobility in cities? What's really hindering that process.
Jill Warren 00:11:54 There are a lot of answers to that question, but I think an important one is it's hard to change the status quo. If you have spent decades and decades building your city for cars and building more parking spaces and wider streets and more streets, you know, centred around car travel, then it's going to be hard to, uh, change tack and, and do something completely different because somebody's going to get upset <laugh> and people are afraid to take parking spaces away to make driving more expensive or parking more expensive or anything that, uh, you know, they feel might disadvantage the of status quo and upset that balance. I think that's one of the biggest challenges, frankly, I've spoken to mayors that say the most controversial thing I do, or the thing that creates the loudest screaming is when I take away parking spaces,
Shannon Macika 00:12:46 It's very visual, right? You know, people see it right away and they are used to their comfort level. And I think going back to what you said earlier, Jill, about this safety, sometimes it's not even like actual safety, but just perceived safety. So even if you put in new infrastructure, like do people, does that change anything in their minds? Do they feel safe now immediately or, um, is this a built habit that, you know, we have to change our patterns just individually also, you know, about how we think about the way we move around. Um,
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:13:12 So how do we balance that, like the keeping, you know, the car infrastructure with the active mobility, how do we, would you say that we, you know, get rid of cars entirely? Um, are you saying that, what, what do you advocate for?
Jill Warren 00:13:30 Well, we advocate foray, so we are not by definition anti-car. I, I think I should make that clear, uh, because that doesn't seem realistic either does it, but how can a lot more cycling and a lot more active mobility coexist with cars when they're needed? I, I think it does require giving less space to cars, both parked cars that sit idle 95% of the time and take up lots and lots of space. It means providing some disincentives to car travel, but lots of incentives for the active travel and making the space for active travel. So it might be, if, if I take Brussels as an example, you had a very choked up intersection in the centre of town and some years ago the resident just started dragging picnic tables out there and kind of blockading it and basically showing what they'd rather have there. And after a while in, in connection with the good move mobility plan that was introduced there, I mean, I'm simplifying the story here, but, basically, they turned that whole area into a pedestrian area. And if you see the before and after there isn't anybody who would want that choking car traffic back at that, you know, very complicated intersection. It's so much nicer now. And when you can do a few things like this and show people the before and the after then they don't wanna go back. Um, you know, during the pandemic, some of the things that people saw, this outdoor dining and other ways to use space besides car parking spaces, uh, or things I think you, when you, when you can show people a different way and they see how it been if it's them and how nice it is, that's probably the best way to start to, to change hearts and minds.
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:15:17 You have anything to add Shannon?
Shannon Macika 00:15:19 No, I think I just completely agree. Jill hit it right on the head. Um, and I think, uh, part of it's also, you know, making sure, just going back again to like, how is this a priority? Not just for the people focused on mobility, um, but making, we're also fitting in with the, um, agendas and priorities at a broader level for this city. I think that's also where active mobility is really exciting because cities have really big climate goals right now. Um, decarbonization targets and anything we do in this space is only going to help, uh, really contribute to those goals.
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:15:48 Yeah. Yeah, I think so too. Um, and I, there's this also component, um, about, okay. We want to ad advocate for active mobility. Um, what about people with reduced mobility and things along these lines? Um, how do we make sure that we're not leaving those people behind? Do you think Jill?
Jill Warren 00:16:09 Well, I think it, what do you mean by reduced mobility? I mean, is it people in wheelchairs well, much better cycling and walking infrastructure is also very good for people who move about by wheelchairs. It's also good for people, you know, um, pushing around baby strollers and, and things like that, that kind of mobility is, is better for a wide section of people. So I think also there are ways that you can build cycling streets and, and other things that don't mean that they're 100% car-free that, you know, those cars that absolutely need to be there can be, but that they take very much a backseat to the act of travel in those areas. There are certainly ways that you can make sure you accommodate people with reduced mobility
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:16:54 Shannon maybe has something else to add there also from your public health background. Um, how do we like to make sure that we're not leaving people behind in this aspect?
Shannon Macika 00:17:04 I mean, it all starts, you know, with listening to what people want in need, right? So talking to the people who are experiencing the challenges, navigating their streets about what they wanna see. And I think, um, that's where we're also seeing, like, that's why it's very important that you're doing stakeholder engagement, not just like a one time process, you know, you're not only surveying your citizens at the start of a project at the end, um, because really anything that when it comes to like developing a city to make it more accessible for all make active mobility safer and more of a priority, I mean, this is an ongoing process. It doesn't happen overnight. So making sure how are you engaging along the way to make sure that, you know, as you're doing something to maybe improve accessibility for one group, you're not doing something that's unintentional, you know, limiting accessibility for another and making sure you're taking those needs into consideration. And, um, I'm talking, I think a lot about too, um, this is in the context also of like commuting and thinking of acting mobility in that sense, but there's also the active mobilityfor recreation and there are some pretty cool pilots out there for instance, around with bike-share systems. How can they also provide bikes for, um, you know, not just our typical standard two-wheelers, but also for users who might be, uh, usually using a wheelchair and how can they now use a bike, um, to also experience their city, even if only just for a fun aspect in the afternoon and not necessarily a point A to point B. So I think we have some cool examples to look to, uh, that we'll see pro hopefully integrated more and more into existing schemes.
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:18:23 What about some bad examples that made me think really, uh, we don't have to name the cities. We have to call anyone out, but do you guys have any, um, you know, examples where you've seen it done poorly, where it did alienate, maybe another group or something along those lines,
Shannon Macika 00:18:40 I've been in one city that was, um, best intentions for putting in some pilots around, uh, a safer protected bike lane, but that of having a full time protected bike lane, you know, with extensions or some other kind of formal barrier there permanently, they were tr modelling a floating parking system, um, where during the less busy times of the day cars could be parked in what would normally be a lane of traffic, um, and thereby those parked cars protecting a cycling lane that was inside, uh, buttered up against sidewalk while in theory, it, I think could have worked very well. I think the problem was that it wasn't a very well communicated strategy in advance. So as soon as the new parking scheme was launched, it was very confusing. I think some people didn't realize that was a parking lane during the day. Um, you know, other people thought it was still somewhere you could drive and ultimately it didn't wanna wind up being the great protected bike lane that they hoped it would be through the thoroughfare of the city. And so I think really this was in part of it was engagement. Part of it was also just, you know, communication and I think it was trial and error. I think ultimately, um, the city learned a lot from that experience and was able to, uh, improve over time. But, um, you know, good learning lesson, I think for any city trying to you something similar.
Jill Warren 00:19:53 Yeah. I think there are two, uh, things of how not to do it, that I would cite as examples. One of them is halfhearted solutions. So instead of the protected bike lane, you know, they, they draw the, it was even more than a, a so-called death strip. You know, know what I mean, the little dotted lines on, on the side, it was a little more than that, but it still wasn't a separated or protected bike lane. And I thought to myself, they spent a lot of time and a lot of money. They even consulted with residents on this and they come up with this. That's gotta be the worst compromise of, of all. Um, I think the second thing I would note is putting in some kind of a test infrastructure or solution or temporary one, and it seems to be going well and it's accepted and people like it. And then going back to what was there before, for whatever reason that usually never works, then you really upset people. <laugh>
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:20:52 Yeah. Yeah. Those are good examples. Um, and I guess I would also ask, um, have you had, um, just to play devil's advocate a bit, um, have you had any experiences where you wish, I guess you could have more impact or there are some limitations too, um, to what you can do to impact active mobility causes?
Jill Warren 00:21:17 Absolutely. I'm always going to have a job <laugh> I think, or there's always gonna be a role for my organization because you never get everything that you want. Uh, it's a process. I think years ago we were considered very much, you know, the fringe or, or leisure or what everyday cycling, that's something they only do. And I don't know the Netherlands, or it's, it's very much more accepted these days, but we still have a ways to go in terms of convincing some of the, and decision-makers that cycling is a fully-fledged mode of transport and should be supported and prioritized as such, uh, we're starting to make, um, some very good progress with that notion of prioritization. So the urban mobility framework that came out of the European Commission last December for the first time actually said, um, local and national governments, um, should place a priority on active mobility and public and shared transport. That's huge. And if you compare it to, you know, what they were, or weren't saying previously in that sense, and that also is the result of quite a lot of lobbying over the years by us and our allies in public transport and, uh, other associations, you know, working, uh, for, for more active and sustainable mobility in our cities. So we still have a way to go. And, and right now I see the challenge as, okay, let's make sure that money is put where the mouths are. You know, yes, they've said it it's a priority now, but really, you know, are, are more funds going to be made available for it is policies that really ensure that, that those things happen in a more accelerated way. You know, that's our job now to keep them, uh, you know, make them stick to their word and, and put the money where the mouth is.
Shannon Macika 00:23:06 You beat me to that phrase, Jill, I was thinking that as you were talking, um, also because I know just myself this week, I've seen a few upcoming horizon calls for instance, that are focused solely on active mobility. So it is really good to see, uh, money being put where the mouth is on that. And I think also exciting because those funding schemes that not only is it gonna be countries taking their national funds or regional funds and working within their own locations and geographies, but now also collaborate and figuring out how cycling doesn't end at borders, active mobility doesn't end at borders. So how do we better cooperate and how do we use this money strategically to benefit? Um, really beyond just one lo locale.
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:23:43 Yeah, very nice. Um, and so Jill also, if, um, so for the city representatives listening right now, um, how would they come to work with you? Um, and what can they get out of it?
Jill Warren 00:23:59 Well, we do have a network called the cities and regions for cyclists network, and it's very much a forum where cities can share best practices. They can hear from other cities. They can more easily get in touch with cities who have maybe done something that they're considering, uh, or get some feedback and, and contacts and, and be able to do that networking. So that's one way that, that we work with cities. We also work with them in the context stuff, projects, many of them EU funded that we work on where things will be piloted in cities or tried out. Uh, so that, that's another way that, that we get directly involved with cities. And then, of course, things like the Velo-city conference, which is the knowledge-sharing platform for what cities are doing in the area of cycling. We have, um, I think in total, something like 200 speakers across all the different sessions and quite a lot of them are from cities. So people can come here to learn from, uh, their peers in other cities what's working, what's not working. Um, you know, how can I get some inspiration for what I might do in my city
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:25:03 If, um, if a company is listening, is that also what you would recommend that they attend Velo-city? Or how would you recommend that a bike-sharing company for instance gets involved with you?
Jill Warren 00:25:16 Well, absolutely because we have people from 60 different countries and lots and lots of them represent cities or have to do with urban mobility and active mobility, and cycling in their cities. That's a very good way for companies looking to, um, market or, or sell their products into cities, to be able to make new contacts and also to hear about what's going on in all the different places, you know, it is where all of this comes together. So I think, uh, companies can, can also really benefit from, from something like that.
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:25:50 Yeah. Cool. Um, and now I will ask both of you this question, and this is a question that we ask every single guest, and it's very, very interesting to hear everyone's different responses. Um, well, we'll start with you, Jill, uh, to you, what is a Smart City?
Jill Warren 00:26:10 For me, a Smart City is a city that is smart enough to make space for people. And a Smart City for me is a city that people who don't live their envy because they see that that city is doing those things better than their own or better than other places that they've been. And, and so there's maybe no one right answer, but I, I think it's it's cities that are envied for just how much people want to live there and be a part of it.
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:26:44 That's a wonderful answer. And Shannon?
Shannon Macika 00:26:47 Uh, so for me, a Smart City is a connected city, but not just in terms of technology, that's often where I think the definition stops. Um, but really in terms of how are we connecting people to places, people, to each other, um, cities, to other cities, which I know a big part of the work you do as well, Jill, and how are we making sure that we're doing that in an inclusive way? That's not only focusing on the people or the organizations, institutions who would traditionally engage but really making sure that we're also focusing on those who might not, um, have that empowerment normally
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:27:20 Wonderful. <laugh> both really great answers. It's, it's really interesting to me to always hear the focus and the priorities, different groups of people focus put on various different aspects of the smart city, but always very important aspects. Um, I wouldn't say equally, but, uh, I think the main thing for me is, is pretty much what Jill said also is that if a focus is on the people and making space for people and connectivity is a big part of that as well. So, um, yeah. Wonderful. So is there anything, any kind of, uh, topic, I guess, Jill, that you, you would like to express more of that we didn't get to today? Um, any kind of thoughts that you think are really important that I didn't touch on
Jill Warren 00:28:05 <affirmative> uh, I think if I could say one thing, it's, it's that I think mobility in all its forms really needs to be inclusive and accessible and affordable. And for me, that's why active travel is such a big part of that because it is the form of mobility that we have, and you get so much back for every Euro, you invest in that. And I, I really wish that some of these calculations would flow into cities thinking a lot more about what kind of city do I want, what does it really cost me beyond the pure kind of infrastructure or engineering work that, that I have to do?
Tamlyn Shimizu 00:28:50 Yeah. Especially with those rising gas prices <laugh>
Jill Warren 00:28:54 Yes, yes. Cycling is absolutely a way to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.
Jill Warren 00:28:59 Yeah. <laugh> yeah. It's and it's becoming more and more important. And actually, I think we're seen, uh, a forced, so which, so in some ways of people moving to more active mobility right now, cuz they can't afford gas prices. I'm not sure if this is this was the right way to go about it or the preferred way of, pushing that change, but definitely seeing more and more, um, action towards that. So, uh, yeah. Thank you so much, Jill. Um, for coming on today, we really appreciate your, your opinions and your thoughts and really appreciate also the actions and, uh, support that ECF gives to cities and to, um, anyone really in this space. Um, so yeah, thanks for taking the time to talk to us today and to all of our listeners: if you want to learn more about projects and real-life implementations in Smart Cities in Europe and beyond, you can find more information on bable-smartcities.eu, and be part of our community by signing up for free. Thank you all for listening. I'll see you at the next stop on the journey to a better urban life.