Blog News

How The Dutch Do It: why riding to the station will change your city

We’re thrilled to be hosting a talk at Sydney’s prestigious Customs House as part of the Sydney Rides Festival.  “How The Dutch Do It” will focus on how the Netherlands became a cycling nation, the Dutch bike / train system, and transferable lessons for Sydney and Australia.

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In the Netherlands 50% of all train passengers arrive at the station by bicycle.  The national railway runs one of the world’s biggest bike hire schemes, whilst train stations with tens of thousands of bike parking spaces are not uncommon.  This is not done simply because the bicycle is a nice, fun or sustainable thing; strong economic consequences drive these efforts.

Sydney will soon be home to a brand new metro and light rail system, but is this an opportunity for the humble bicycle?

Hear from Dr Marco the Brömmelstroet from the University of Amsterdam (@fietsprofessor on Twitter) on how the Dutch do it, and the impact of their bike / train system — not just on transport, but on the quality of life of their cities.

Tickets are free, so grab the last few spots before registration closes at this link.

Mon 17, Oct 2016
6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Customs House, 31 Alfred Street, Circular Quay
Free

Do bikes and trains go hand in hand, or are strong public transport systems to the detriment of cycling culture? Tell us what you think on the Strategic Cities Facebook page.

Creating change? How to prepare for a media interview..

Whether you are building bike lanes or bridges, creating something new in our crowded cities is invariably controversial. From activists to engineers, if you are involved in change it is only a matter of time before you’ll be interrogated by the press, hungry for their next scoop.  If that’s a terrifying prospect, places are on sale now for our seminar Achieving Change in a Hostile Media Environment.

In the interim, here’s our easy guide to surviving a media interview:

  1. Know what you’re getting in to..

Will the interview be live or recorded? Will you be “up against” someone with a contrary view?  In the studio, down the line or out on location?  What is the format of the show? Who else is your interviewer talking to?  If you’re being interviewed remotely, or by a foreign network, what time zone will it take place in?  Broadcast in your language or translated?

Forewarned is forearmed! Knowing where, when, and with who means you can predict the sort of questions you’re likely to be asked, and begin preparing your answers.  Talk to the production assistant who calls you to arrange everything and   don’t be afraid to ask questions – it’s their job, and they want you to do well.

I once went on Canadian radio to talk alongside larger-than-life former Mayor of Toronto Rob Ford.  Ford was famous for his somewhat tabloid views cities, cars and bicycles.  Finding out who I was going up against, and knowing what they were likely to say, meant I could plan a strong line of defence in advance.  As it turned out Ford couldn’t make the interview due to other commitments but had he been there and I hadn’t prepared, he would have eaten me alive.

  1. Practice, practice, practice..

You might think people talking on the television are having an off-the-cuff conversation, but professional interviewees always prepare what they’re going to say in advance.

What is the key message you want to convey to an audience?  What sound bites can you prepare which will get your point across?  Do your homework on the kind of programme you’re going to appear on, the tone it uses, and who you might be speaking against, and prepare what you are going to say accordingly.

Before any interview I always write down three sentences, each a different point, and then practice saying them physically out loud.  If the line of questioning gets too hard, or if – heaven forbid! – my mind goes blank, I’ve always got those sound bites to fall back on.

  1. Control your image..

Is a photographer coming to take your picture?  Do a TV crew want to film you on the streets?  Whatever the scenario, always control your image.  Do you need to come across as sensible, tolerant and smart?  Then look the part.  Want to be seen as a rowdy activist?  Dress for the role.  For TV, avoid pinstripes, plaids and paisley, all of which “swim” on the screen under studio lights.  Think about your appearance (clothing labels, hair style, piercings) and what might detract from your key messages.

Think about how you are going to look through a lens.  What is behind you, and could it change the viewer’s perception of your story?

Blackfriars interview 2011 2Blackfriars Interview 2011

 

In 2011 I was interviewed on Blackfriars Bridge during a protest against plans to make it incredibly dangerous for cyclists. The cameraman wanted to show the inevitable traffic congestion, but I wanted my words – not traffic jams – to be the focus.  We span the camera round so that as I spoke the background was London’s determined cycling community.  Pictures speak a thousand words, and small visual details go a long way – pay attention to where they’re pointing the camera and control your image.

Just before you begin your interview take three deep breaths, recite your three sound bites and force yourself to smile.  Be yourself, take your time, and you’ll be convincing people that you’re right before you can so much as say “stage fright”.

Have you been in print, on the radio or appeared on television?  How did you prepare and what was your experience?  Share your experiences and continue this discussion over on the Strategic Cities Facebook page.

Interested in our Achieving Change In A Hostile Media Environment seminar?  Registrations are open now.

Welcome to Strategic Cities

The world is changing. Fifty per cent of people already live in cities. With an increasingly urban population come increasing demands on urban infrastructure, urban space and urban leaders. Effectively communicating with – and listening to – your citizens is more important than ever before.

Welcome to Strategic-Cities.com, a new venture for me, Mark Ames. I’ve worked hard to set up this new organisation and I’m excited to share it with you now. I hope you’ll let me know what you think, and stay connected over the coming months.

You can expect to find blog posts analysing the latest sustainability, mobility and communication trends from cities around the world. In addition, you’ll be able to sign up to Strategic Cities Seminars, a rolling programme of online learning tools for city leaders, urban professionals and advocates. I’ll also provide spatial analysis and communication analysis, all with a key focus on how we create messages for our citizens, and how we convey them.

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The new east / west cycle superhighway in Westminster. Photo via @steinsky with thanks.

For the past 6 years I’ve been writing about cities and mobility over at the ibikelondon blog, charting the incredible rise of cycling in the British capital. I’m proud to have played a role in securing support for the Cycle Superhighways which just opened there, as well as additional schemes like the City of London’s 20mph zone and the Borough of Camden’s multi-million-pound West End Project.

That experience taught me cities can’t just rely on their media teams anymore – everyone involved in creating change needs to understand how the media production process works, and how you can make it work for you. What we’ve seen with cycling in London is how fierce – and frequently ill-informed – resistance to change can be. Unless you prepare, it’s a minefield.

I’ll be putting that learning in to practise so Strategic Cities can be a useful tool as urban populations – and population demands – increase. I hope you’ll join me as we grow and progress.

There’s lots of ways you can keep up to date; by follow Strategic Cities on Twitter or Facebook, sign up to our newsletter or add this site to your favourites.

Wish me luck, and stay in touch!

hello@strategic-cities.com
+61 (0) 4101 500 37
Sydney, Australia

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