It’s with mixed emotions that we announce the news that Brian Deegan, our Technical Director for Walking + Cycling, is leaving Urban Movement. If you know Brian well, you may be thinking (with a wry smile) that the reason for our mixed feelings is that he has a tendency sometimes to be almost too much a force of nature. However, the simple facts are that, while we’re very sad he has to leave our family (and, yes, it really does feel a bit like that), we’re equally glad that the reason he’s going is so that he can take up the permanent post of Director of Inspection at Active Travel England. That’s a key role at what we consider to be a vital agency, and we can do little better than to quote Chris Boardman, the ATE Commissioner:
“Delivering active travel change takes ingenuity, vision and courage. Brian has those traits in spades, and so I’m delighted he’ll be leading a new ATE team that’ll help local authorities get the job done!”
So, while there may be a tear in our collective eye, we congratulate Brian and wish him very well indeed with all that lies ahead in his new role. We also wish to make it clear to him that, when we have his leaving do, he’s buying!
Last week, it was my privilege to chair a half-day webinar on Boosting Cycling Activity in the UK and EU. One of the speakers was Philip Amaral, Director of Policy and Development at the European Cyclists' Federation. In his very informative talk, he made reference to a scheme that the City of Brussels is running to incentivise people to get rid of their cars and use other forms of transport instead.
La prime Bruxell’Air offers people between €500 and €900 to be spent on cycle, scooter or car share, taxi or taxi-bus journeys, and even on cycles and accessories. It sounds like a great scheme, the likes of which more (most? all?) cities should be considering.
The scheme has been advertised using this rather marvellous 90-second video above, featuring a bloke who starts on horseback, channelling Mel Gibson as William Wallace in Braveheart. Entirely reasonably, the soundtrack and the subtitles are in French. So, in order to help you enjoy it more, and although my own French is far from perfect, I thought I’d offer the following translation.
We’ve always been told that to have a car was to have freedom.
But when we have to suffer from traffic jams, insurance, fuel, fines, the MoT, parking regulations...
Can we really call that being free?
(Driver shakes his head)
But what if freedom meant having opportunities?
The opportunity to choose your mode of transport according to the weather.
The opportunity to change your mind as quickly as the weather… and to take cover in a bus.
The chance to go shopping on a cycle, if you need something small; or a shared car, if you need something large.
The chance to be driven if you don’t want to drive, or aren’t able to drive.
The chance to be like the heroes of your childhood, or to be the heroes of their childhood.
Yes, we’ve always been told that to have a car was to be free.
But what if true freedom was to get rid of it?
Dump your car and take advantage of the Bruxell’Air allowance.
John Dales, Director
"This project is a replicable model for main streets throughout the UK. It shows how traffic dominated roads can be transformed into places for people, encouraging active travel, supporting businesses and creating relaxing environments for all. The creation of a truly democratic space in the city is especially important."
Urban Movement has won the 2021 Urban Design Group Award for PEOPLE FRIENDLY PLACE. We think this is a testament to the power of transforming city streets into places for people; places for city life; and places for prosperity.
Sauchiehall Street was the pilot project for Glasgow City Council’s ambitious £115 million City Deal funded 'Avenues' public realm programme which aims to transform and connect over fifteen primary city center
streets into exemplars of sustainable infrastructure to facilitate and encourage active travel and mitigate the
effects of climate change and bring out health and economic benefits by creating people friendly streets.
Sauchiehall Street was once one of Glasgow great Victoria streets, part of the city centre 'grid' and a vibrant
destination drawing people from all over the city to dance, drink, eat, shop and work. Glasgow’s slow decline
through the 20th century (from a city of 1.2 million to around 0.6 million today) was reflected in the fortunes of
Sauchiehall Street which slowly shifted its offer to cheap student bars and take-away food venues which
supported the live music venues and clubs.
Glasgow City Centre has few public open spaces, gardens or squares (nearby Blythswood Square is gated). To help address this shortfall Sauchiehall Street was simply re-conceived as a linear public space (simple, bold and straight) that meets the projects sustainable infrastructure objectives. Amazingly there are very few public
seats on the city’s streets outside the big public spaces. The project changed this dramatically by installing
approximately thirty new three-seater benches all with backs and arm rests.
Glaswegians are notoriously gregarious and friendly and like eating, drinking (and smoking) with friends or
strangers. The city centre had very places to sit out on the street to do any of these things. The wider clutter free footways of Sauchiehall Street have changed this and 'pavement café culture' is now evident on both sides of the street.
The positive effect on the local economy with increased retail, leisure, commercial activity is evidenced by the
number of people now 'out on the street'.
You may have been away on holiday, with all your devices switched off, enjoying a well-earned break. Or you may have had your head in the sand. These, it seems to me, are the only two conditions under which you can have missed the fact that, on 14th July, the government finally published its Transport Decarbonisation plan and that, on 9th August, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published its Sixth Assessment Report, which addresses the most up-to-date physical understanding of the climate system and climate change.
Both documents are vital to understanding how transport policy, practice and related investment in the UK must change – urgently. However, as with all such things, there’s little likelihood that anyone will read them cover-to-cover. (The full IPCC report is almost 4,000 pages long! though the Summary for Policy Makers I’ve linked to above runs to just 42; while Decarbonising Transport has 220 pages.) But there’s also little need for most of us to do so. In terms of what they mean for what we ourselves now do, perhaps what’s most important is the greater sense of urgency they impart to whatever we do and how they prompt us to modify what whatever we do in some way – both personally and professionally. In respect of the latter, I think there’s a particularly pressing need for people working in transport to change how we communicate and collaborate with fellow-practitioners, decision-makers, campaigners and the public.
To help you work out what all this might mean for you, I think I can do little better than link to a couple of highly readable articles written by wise people I trust. The first is a piece by Phil Goodwin and Jillian Anable that was published in the latest edition of Local Transport Today. Although its title is far from snappy – ‘We are now facing two alternative futures (plus an untenable one)’ – the article itself is extremely cogent.
The second set of thoughts I’ll point you two are those of Glenn Lyons, which you can find here. You can ignore, if you must, the link that Glenn provides to a video of the Ultravox track which he uses as his title – Dancing with Tears in My Eyes – but don’t gloss over what he says.
In closing, I’ll take the liberty of also giving you the option of clicking through to some reflections of my own on Decarbonising Transport, published in the previous issue of Local Transport Today to Phil and Jillian’s piece. Under the title ‘The drive to decarbonise’ I explore what I think is the critical issue of public-facing messaging when it comes to changing how we travel. The piece is also available as a pdf below.
We all have choices to make concerning what we do – personally and professionally – in response to the facts of climate change. Some may be difficult in one way or another. So, let’s choose first to be influenced by the evidence and inspired by wise counsel.
John Dales, Director
John Dales, Director
A summary of UM's conversations, presentations, and provocations during Lockdown.
Brian Deegan and John Dales take part in the Climate Safe Streets webinar https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yd-wd3Ast2U
Brian Deegan leads Ideas with Beers https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GyVjCleTleY&t=3s
Speakers: Mark Strong (Transport Initiatives) general commentary 0:00, Dr Robert Davis (RDRF) weekly update 8:25, General discussion 14:30
Brian Deegan leads Ideas with Beers https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EyKzc22oWXU&t=15s
Speakers: Guilio Ferrini (Sustrans) Tactical Urbanism during COVID 0:00, Steve Connor (Creative Concern) Manchester City centre pedestrianisation 17:35, Peter Biczok (Remix) 27:18, Dr Robert Davis (RDRF) weekly update 30:33, Mark Strong (Transport Initiatives) Brighton and the first closure during COVID 41:00
Brian Deegan takes part in the PTRC Fireside Chat – Coronavirus and future of transport planning https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yf1zM0hqMXU
John Dales writes for Living Streets about how he has been noticing some new and interesting things in his local community - https://www.livingstreets.org.uk/news-and-blog/blog/walkingfromhome-john-dales
Christopher Martin writes for Living Streets on How the 'COVID Safe Streets' of today can become the 'Climate Safe Streets' of tomorrow - https://www.livingstreets.org.uk/news-and-blog/blog/walkingfromhome-christopher-martin
Brian Deegan leads Ideas with Beers https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p8TKJPS70rs #
Speakers: Claire Stocks (WalkRideGM) How to position walking and cycling during the covid crisis 0:00 Caspar Hugest (XR) the XR persepctive 24:35, Roxanne De Beaux (CCC) Cambridge Cycling Campaign perspective and Space to Breathe launch 37:40, Michael Robinson (Hounslow Cycling Campaign) review of new infrastructure 1:01, Dr Robert Davis (RDRF) weekly update 1:02:45
John Dales talks at UDL's workshop on Creating Inclusive & Accessible Streets, building on his ongoing work to update the 1998 Guidance on the Use of Tactile Paving Surface) - https://www.urbandesignlondon.com/library/event-takeaways/event-takeaway-creating-inclusive-accessible-streets-280420/ also https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/accessible-public-realm-updating-guidance-and-further-research
John Dales provides an overview of the legal aspects of implementing emergency active travel measures for UDL Managing Streets During Lockdown - https://www.urbandesignlondon.com/library/videos/managing-streets-during-lockdown/
Brian Deegan leads Ideas with Beers - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ViXfin42I7Q&t=1860s
Speakers: Dr Robert Davis (RDRF) weekly update 0:00, Isabelle Clement (Wheels for Wellbeing) Heading for post lockdown disability Armageddon 12:02, Brian Deegan (Urban Movement) 12 Emergency temporary options 31:18
Christopher Martin writes for the Built Environment Journal about Hedonistic Urbanism - how we connect self-Interest and societal good for life-saving streets - https://www.alexandrinepress.co.uk/Covid19-Space
Brian Deegan leads Ideas with Beers - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kUgW7nNTGM8
Speakers: Will Haynes (Sustrans) Space to Move 0:00, Brian Deegan (Urban Movement) Side Road Zebras 5:38, Dr Robert Davis (RDRF) weekly update 46:18
Christopher Martin co-author's the Urban Design Group's proposition for how to 'Redesign our towns + cities as people-friendly places in order to address Covid-19' - http://www.udg.org.uk/content/life-saving-streets
Brian Deegan speaks to Peter Murray of New London Architecture - https://nla.london/videos/streets-for-walking-and-cycling
Christopher Martin leads the Urban Design Group conversation on 'Streets, Transport, and Movement' with expert guests Cllr Anna Richardson, Chris Boardman, Brian Deegan, and John Dales
Brian Deegan leads Ideas with Beers - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ry1ltza4fPw
Speakers: Dr Robert Davis (RDRF) weekly update 0:00, David McKenna (Street Spirit) 7 Design principles for pop up highway infratsructure23:59, Tom Knights (Strava) Exploring Strava data 34:12, Brian Deegan (Urban Movement) Temporary Junction design 46:25
Brian Deegan leads Ideas with Beers - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJgAe-k6AwU&t=1378s & https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SU1tUYmKAxU
Speakers: Dr Robert Davis (RDRF) weekly update 0:00, Lucy Marstrand-Taussig (Consultant) Kids ‘n COVID23:02, Robin Lovelace (Transport Institute) Rapid Cycleways Prioritisation tool 41;25
Part 2: Sally Watson (Newcastle Cycling Campaign) Transport Planning and Advocacy in a Pandemic 0:00
Brian Deegan takes part in the IWGB Cycling instructors conference https://www.facebook.com/IWGBunion/videos/iwgb-cycling-instructors-conference/583426622302076/
John Dales talks Emergency School Streets and why we need space reallocation, not just traffic restrictions at UDL Managing Streets During Lockdown - https://www.urbandesignlondon.com/library/videos/managing-streets-during-lockdown-school-streets/
Christopher Martin delivers an address at the launch of the Design Quality Unit, calling for the quality we need in our built environment to defeat this crisis and defend ourselves against the looming environmental crisis. The event was hosted by Roger Harrabin (BBC Energy and Environment Analyst) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jvOg9SPIhto&feature=youtu.be
Brian Deegan leads Ideas with Beers - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BZRUelSYTa0
Speakers: Dr Robert Davis (RDRF) weekly update 0:00, Sylvia (@cricklewoodmum) School Streets 26:18, Roxanne De Beaux (CCC) Cambridge Cycling Campaign perspective and Space to Breathe update 39:08, John Dales (Urban Movement) 1930’s Cycleways 52:44
Christopher Martin leads an expert panel to develop a framework for 'Life Saving Streets. Street layout and design during and after a pandemic' with Brian Deegan as part of the Urban Design Group ideasSPACE series - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ESpNacl3O1g
Brian Deegan takes part in the British Cycling webinar on Activism https://register.gotowebinar.com/recording/7290325449563337227
Brian Deegan leads Ideas with Beers - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X5xhckC42LU&t=13s
Speakers: Dr Robert Davis (RDRF) weekly update 0:00, Marcus Jones (TRL) Side Road zebra crossings 25:56, Phil Jones (PJA) Simple Zebras – legally simple 43:53, Brian Deegan (Urban Movement) Temporary Active Priority Junctions and Mixing Zones 53:32
John Dales talks School Streets at a UDL Councillors event - https://youtu.be/RknNqxhfhDA
Brian Deegan takes part in the Urban Design London event – New Space for Cycling. Managing streets during lockdown. https://www.urbandesignlondon.com/library/videos/managing-streets-during-lockdown-new-space-cycling-120620/
Brian Deegan leads Ideas with Beers - https://youtu.be/cwbnfjSI3iE
Speakers: Simon Munk (LCC) Getting Political Will 0:00, Dr Robert Davis (RDRF) weekly update 10:36, Ben Addy (Sustrans) Community engagement during lockdown 27:46.
Brian Deegan takes part in the Rapid Cycleways prioritisation tool webinar https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mk_WDBAwoBE
Christopher Martin talks alongside Martyn Evans of U+I at the Academy of Urbanism Lunch Hour, on a creative approach to the design of streets and transport systems around the idea of Hedonistic Urbanism - https://www.academyofurbanism.org.uk/events/urbanism-lunch-hour-behaviour-change-and-urban-design/www.academyofurbanism.org.uk/events/urbanism-lunch-hour-behaviour-change-and-urban-design/
Christopher Martin writes for the Urban Design Group Journal - 'Urban Design' - on how we need to connect human self-interest to societal good if we are to change behaviours and make cities healthier and more fun for everyone.
CHANNEL LINKS FOR REGULAR EVENTS
Ideas with Beers, with Brian Deegan - https://www.youtube.com/user/bobeygoro
Urban Design Group ideasSPACE, with Christopher Martin - https://www.youtube.com/user/UrbanDesignGroup/featured
Christopher Martin, Co-Founder + Director of Urban Strategy
In case you missed it live, here is a recording of the Urban Design Group informal masterclass - that I had the pleasure of hosting and contributing to - on how to prepare your Town Centre, High Streets, and Community Streets for the future - and to BUILD BACK BETTER.
ideasSPACE is an open discussion about the most pressing urban issues of our time.
Covid 19 has made us all acutely aware of the negative effects that certain urban conditions can have on our lives, and now is the time to act to shape the cities we need going forward.
The Urban Design Group hosts a series of webinars with experts and thought leaders to help formulate the action we need to overcome this crisis and prepare ourselves for the next, with UM's Christopher Martin hosting the event all about the streets and transport we need now, and in the future.