How can the bicycle can save our cities? Hear Alistair Woodward, Hamish Mackie and Ralph Chapman explain the potential of the bicycle to do just that. Most of the world’s people now live in cities but increasingly cities are unhealthy, unpleasant places with unsustainable impacts on our environment. How can the bicycle help to make cities more humane, sustainable, healthy, joyful and productive places? Watch the video.

Cities are now the primary human habitat but in their present form, are wasteful, damaging and running up against environmental limits. Just as car-thinking shaped the modern metropolis, long before car use was prevalent, it is not only the use of the bicycle that shapes the way we live; it is what the bicycle stands for. The view from the saddle could save the city.

Alistair Woodward will present the Future of the Bike work he is engaged in which is part of a project exploring sustainable urban mobility. Hamish Mackie will then talk about the Future Streets intervention and cycling project in Mangere, Auckland. He’ll discuss how to understand the needs of diverse users, cycling infrastructure planning and implementation, dealing with Bikelash and above all keeping the issue of cycling equity foremost. Ralph Chapman will speak about his recently published cost benefit analysis on active transport, and make some wider observations about the implications of increasing cycling and walking in cities.

Presentations (PDF)

Bike frame


  • Alistair Woodward is a public health medicine specialist, with particular interest in environmental health. He is Head of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of Auckland and is a member of the NZ Centre for Sustainable Cities. He has worked on aspects of air quality, including second hand smoke and outdoor pollutants, radiation and health, and climate and climate change.

    Recently his research has focussed on the links between transport and health and he is currently leading a stream of research into the Future of the Bike as part of MBIE funded work on sustainable urban mobility.

    Alistair has worked for the World Health Organization throughout the Pacific, and was on the writing team of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th assessment reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He is coordinating lead author of the health chapter in the IPCC report, Climate change 2014: Impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability. Since 2009 he has been an editor of the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health.

    He would ride a bicycle even if it was not good for his health. Fortunately it probably is.

  • Hamish Mackie is co-director of Mackie Research, a small applied research organisation committed to the improvement of systems that affect people’s wellbeing, mostly in the Transport Sector. He is working with others on Te Ara Mua – Future Streets, a suburban retrofit of safe and healthy streets, with surrounding evaluation. Hamish has pondered extensively why environments often don’t let us easily walk, wheel, run, bike, play, exercise or explore, even though most of us love doing these things.

  • Ralph Chapman is an economist who has worked in government, the private sector and academia. He is Associate Professor at the School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington and director of the school’s Graduate Programme in Environmental Studies. Ralph is co-director of the NZ Centre for Sustainable Cities where his work focuses on urban form and implications for carbon emissions. He has become interested in practical ways of doing something about climate change – that is, mitigation policies in transport, energy, housing and cities.

This seminar took place on 5 September 2018 at City Gallery, 101 Wakefield St, Wellington.

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