Bike Blogging with Mark Ames of ibikelondon / Jan Gehl / Eric Pickles MP


Mark Ames writes ibikelondon, one of the best of London’s blossoming bike blogs. We discuss the city planning ideas of Jan Gehl, the intellectual godfather of Copenhagenization. We hear what British Cabinet minister Eric Pickles MP has to say about cycling and Mark (pictured, above, with two devoted readers) gives his top tips for aspiring bike bloggers.

For more London bike blogging try 101 Wankers, Crap Cycling and Walking in Waltham Forest, Cyclists in the City, I am not a cyclist, Kennington People on Bikes, Lo Fidelity Bicycle Club, Velo Loves the City and War on the Motorist.

From further afield try A View from the Cycle Path, Lazy Bicycle Blog and Copenhagenize.

Audio clips of the Creating Tomorrow’s Liveable Cities conference thanks to The Economist.

11 thoughts on “Bike Blogging with Mark Ames of ibikelondon / Jan Gehl / Eric Pickles MP

  1. Dear Jack,
    I think Eric Pickles response to Mark is quite remarkable. Very entertaining although not so many good arguments for a supposed ‘war on motorists’. I see it as such a good example of political language that I went through the trouble of transcribing the short dialogue for your and your readers enjoyment.

    I’d really love cyclists to be better sports (is that even an expression?) when it comes to controversial discussions, though even Prickle NEARLY came up with the wrong p-word! Imagine cyclists would give such good-humoured answers when it comes to the equally supposed war on cyclists (More often than not, we tend to act like ‘mooing cattle’ in those situation, not very dignified at all).

    Kind regards, Ben


    Mark Ames:
    We’re here today to talk about sustainability and liveable cities, and as a cyclist the end product of these kinds of discussions for me and for my fellow cyclists and pedestrians are the actual conditions on the streets.

    So, as Secretary of State for Communities and given the known effect that overuse of private car transport has on local communities in terms of urban blight and noise, pollution, obesity and all the rest, how do you reconcile and balance those problems that face communities with your and Philip Hammonds ending of the so called war on the motorist?

    Eric Prickle:
    Well I mean, I’m a fat guy and me on a bicycle is not a pretty sight, as to this…

    It works for Boris…

    Boris is more svelte than me, I mean… Common, don’t be such a p… don’t be such a puritan! We can find a reason… Well, not everybody can pedal in rubber knickers up and down the place to go to work. It’s a question of finding a proper balance, that’s what we’re trying to do, is a proper balance. Boris’s bicycles work really well, I want to see that extended around the country. And I think we need to find better ways for making it safer for cyclists. Even I might venture out eventually if we make it just a little bit safer. And I think we’ve got to look for intelligent ways of helping people _pool_cars_, work together. Also we’re going to be introducing more points for _electric_cars_. I want to see public transport being made better, that’s why we’re, I think, paying that more attention towards high-speed rail underlines.

    Everything has got to be a kind of a balance. You see, the problem with the old system was, we artificially restricted the number of parking places for new developments, and all that simply happened is people parked on the roads. Now without getting too emotional about it, I lost to constituency (?) young people precisely because of this ridiculous policy because people parked on the side and fire engines couldn’t get through to the appropriate place. So it’s just a kind of an example of _how_targets_don’t_match_ reality. We think ‘Job done’ because we got this kind of target. And I think that the motor vehicle has a perfectly respectable place in society and people who use them aren’t the enemy. So let’s encourage bikes, lets encourage walking, let’s encourage obese people like me to lose a bit of weight by doing all this kind of things, but let’s not regard of people who travel by car as the enemy.

  2. What really astonishes me is the fact that even EP finds the roads too dangerous to ride a bicycle “Even I might venture out eventually if we make it just a little bit safer.” and yet does nothing about it. Shame really.

  3. Nice to be able to hear this on the internet as I always miss programmes. Full marks to Mark for his indefatigable pursuit of blogs, conference attendances, and good questions. Eric Pickles can simply be taken at his word. He stresses the need for the ‘right balance’. We agree. Streets should be ‘safer for cyclists’. We agree. The old system had ‘artificial’ restrictions – so does the new, which suppresses latent cycling (and walking) demand. Car users aren’t the enemy – did we say they were? Anyway, keep it up everyone: Bike Show, Mark, and all the cycling advocates wherever they are!

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  5. Thanks, Ben, for transcribing the video. I only wish I was able to scribble as fast at the time of the speech!

    For the sake of accuracy, it’s worth noting that the interjection ‘It works for Boris…’ came not from myself but from the Chair of the conference, who did an excellent job and seemed to be enjoying himself immensely.

    Thanks, Jack, for having me on the show, it was a real treat to chew the fat on the subjects that I love best.


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  8. The revealing thing about Mr. Pickles’ comment, I think, is that he sees the problem not in people feeling the need for one or more cars (and thus “having” to park them inconsiderately) but in the lack of space for legal/considerate parking for all those vehicles.

    Where I live now, we are the only family with a single car – most houseolds run two, and a few run three or more. My previous neighbours had a total of five personal cars, and a taxi! They could fit three on their drive, and parked the rest wherever they could, to the chagrin of the people living around them. To borrow a phrase, “We can’t go on like this”. A balance, yes, but surely it has to start from the knowledge that the private car user has been unfairly favoured, to the detriment of pedestrians, cyclists, and public transport users.

  9. Catching up on my podcasts, I listened to this one last night. Putting aside the weird-but-not-uncommon lycra obsession of non-cyclists, Mr. Pickles, as noted by a commenter above, admits that the streets are not safe which, it would seem to me, should be a priority to address. It also seems that if you want to reduce the presence of cars, you not only limit them in new developments but control street parking more efficiently. As stated in the podcast, street parking is a source of municipal revenue. No reason that motorists should not pay a lot more for all that prime real estate their empty cars occupy. And I am a driver myself. As to the Jan Gehl segment–he is brutally logical. Brilliant.

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