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Boris Johnson

Freakonomics Radio

The Man Who Would Be Everything

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Boris Johnson -- mayor of London, biographer of Churchill, cheese-box painter and tennis-racket collector -- answers our FREAK-quently Asked Questions.

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Transportation Nation

London Olympics: Pink Means Go (SLIDESHOW)

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

London's transportation network has survived the first workday of the Olympic Games -- and, according to one transit user, is well organized. And colorful.

WNYC's Kathleen Ehrlich is in London this week, so we've tasked her to be TN's official Olympic transport correspondent. (Vacation time be damned!) She shared with us her impressions of the first weekday of the Games. "The system is crowded, but holding up," she says.

View a slideshow of photos from the London Olympics (all photos by Steven Z. Ehrlich)

Kathleen says the flow of foot traffic on the rail system is being carefully controlled. "Many routes were adjusted so that at certain busy stations you can only get on or get off at certain parts of the day," she says, "or you can only enter or exit through certain entrances." And there's a lot of help for transit riders. "Tube stations/train stations are staffed with large numbers of volunteers as well as extra workers," she says. "The people helping out have been cheerful and knowledgeable. The system is spotlessly clean. Workers are giving people free rides on the tube if people are having issues with their Oysters and getting them on their way is taking priority over making sure everyone is paying."

If there are issues, it's easy to ID help. The four official colors of the 2012 Olympics are pink, blue, green and orange -- colors that, according to the official website, "were carefully chosen to communicate the spirit of the London 2012 Games: energetic, spirited, bright and youthful."

Not to mention unmissable.

(photo by Steven Z. Ehrlich)

"It stands out," says Kathleen. "Nothing else is fuchsia. So as soon as you see it, you know it's about the Olympics and likely about travel."

So far, the transit system seems to be keeping people off the roads. Boris Johnson, London's mayor, told ITV that "we've been able to turn off a lot of the Games lanes because so many people are going by public transport."

 

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Transportation Nation

London's Mayor: Bike Share Will Civilize New York

Monday, June 11, 2012

London Mayor Boris Johnson. (photo by hammersmithandfulham / Flickr)

(New York, NY - WNYC) When we heard that Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, would be sitting for an interview with show host Leonard Lopate in a studio at WNYC, we made sure to plant a transportation question.

Lopate: Our news department wanted us to ask if you have any advice for New York as it launches its bikeshare program next month.

Johnson: My advice is, 'Enjoy it.' I think it's high time that New York had it. It's a great scheme; it will go well.

Johnson then described how London's bikeshare program has transformed street life in Great Britain's capital city, and what New Yorkers should brace for.

Johnson: I think drivers have got to learn to recognize they are going to find bikes on the streets. It's just a fact of life, and it will civilize the place. It will improve the atmosphere. There's nothing more immediately redolent of a village than loads of people wobbling around on bicycles.

Understandably, Lopate was suspicious of the idea that New Yorkers could be civilized, especially compared to Londoners.

Lopate: London's always had a bicycle culture. And bicyclists, at least when I rode around London, actually observed the traffic rules. We would signal left turn, right turn, and not go through red lights. That doesn't happen in this city. Has there been the kind of war between drivers and bicyclists that we've seen in New York?

Johnson: I wish everybody was as punctilious as you are, Leonard. I'm going to have to confess to you that we've got some bad habits now in London. There's loads of people who jump red lights, ride on the pavement, intimidate pedestrians and disobey the rules of the road. If any of them are listening, they know who they are.

Despite such problems, bikeshares have come a long way since the 1960s, when a Dutch anarchist group collected several hundred bicycles, painted them white and left them lying around Amsterdam to be used for free--a bold stroke that inspired this super-groovy song. Today's bikeshares, like Barclay Cycle Hire in London, tend to be organized, branded and growing.

Johnson: We've seen a massive expansion of cycling in London. Last year alone, it's gone up 15 percent. The cycle scheme we've got in is expanding very fast. We're at something like 40,000 rides a day. We will go further.

Still, the Mayor of London ended with a cautionary note about the need for police to crack down on bad actors.

Johnson: But there's got to be a reciprocal understanding by cyclists that they've got to obey the rules of the road.

Are you listening, New York City?

Here is a video about how London's bikeshare works:

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Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: California Bullet Train Cost Estimate Doubles, Atlanta Tries Downtown Transit Hub Again, and Honda Cuts Production

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Top stories on TN:

Why NYC taxi medallions are worth more than ever. (Link)

The federal government says so-called "Chinatown buses" have more accidents. (Link)

Safety concerns prevent Pittsburgh bicyclists from becoming regular commuters. (Link)

A rendering of a California bullet train (image courtesy of the California High-Speed Rail Authority)

The cost of California's high-speed rail project has jumped to $98.5 billion, according to a business plan being released today. (Los Angeles Times)

The president's infrastructure bank proposal comes up for a vote in the Senate this week. (The Hill)

Atlanta's trying one more time to build a transit hub downtown. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Ray LaHood says Republicans prioritize thwarting the president. “Republicans made a decision right after the election—don’t  give Obama any victories. The heck with putting people to work, because we can score points.” (The Daily Beast)

Parts shortages from three months of catastrophic flooding in Thailand have forced Honda to cut U.S. and Canadian factory production by 50 percent for the second time this year. (NPR)

Airlines are trying to cut boarding time on planes. (New York Times)

Transit wish list: the Triboro RX line, which would connect Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx -- without coming into Manhattan. (Second Avenue Sagas)

An upstate county official slams the NY State Department of Transportation for not being prepared for this weekend's snowstorm. (AP via Wall Street Journal)

Transportation groups are pushing for a gas tax increase, but Congress and the White House aren't biting. (Politico)

Does London's bike-promoting mayor put cars first? The Guardian says yes.

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Transportation Nation

Yes, William and Kate Use Bike Share

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What would make London's bike share more popular? What if the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (a.k.a. Prince William and Kate Middleton) used it?

Well, apparently, they have.

People magazine is reporting that a spokesperson for the couple said "the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge occasionally use the London cycle scheme bicycles to undertake private journeys around London."

London's bike share program began in July of 2010 and has proven to be enormously popular, with 7.7 million bicycle rides taken to date.

Apparently -- and, on behalf of TN, I apologize for missing this tidbit when it came out last spring -- the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, gave the royal couple a specially built tandem bicycle for a wedding present. (There's no word on whether the couple has actually ridden their tandem, or just grabs a Boris Bike from one of the 400 docking stations around town.)

You can see an animated video of it, below:

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