Last week I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Diane Jenks, host and producer of the Outspoken Cyclist podcast. We had an exciting and passionate conversation about a range of transportation topics that she pulled from Beyond the Automobile.
We discussed many big questions, including:
- Why is designing for pedestrians different from designing for motor vehicles?
- What is the difference between a “cyclist” and a “person riding a bike”?
- How are cities thinking about reconfiguring streets amidst the COVID-19 pandemic?
- How will autonomous vehicles change how we get around?
- Will North America ever be like the Netherlands?
- What is the role of bicycle helmets in providing safety for people cycling?
Diane challenged that sometimes, engineers and planners are criticized for not being part of the solution, and was curious about my motivations for being an Active Transportation Professional. Here’s a quote from my response:
“Thinking differently is really important for being a good practitioner and designer in transportation planning. You have to give yourself space to think beyond what you learned in the traditional education system. When it comes to transportation, especially walking and cycling, it’s really important to have empathy and an understanding of what various road users need.
It’s actually quite easy to design for cars, when you think about it. The motorist wants efficiency and to move quickly – those are pretty straightforward objectives, and pretty easy to optimize for. What’s complicated is designing for walking and cycling, because they’re very human modes of travel. You have to deal with comfort and discomfort and safety and what makes for an interesting environment for cycling and walking and consider how people interact when traveling. These are all things that stem from the realm of social science. I think when it really clicked for me in my career was when I realized that transportation is just as much a social science as it is an engineering science.”
I hope you’ll have a listen, and check out other episodes of the Outspoken Cyclist. My interview goes from the beginning until minute 33.