Podcast repeat: Sex* and the city (*gender)

Me Too campaigners in South Korean. Image: Getty.

This is a repeat – sorry gang, I’ve been horrendously busy.

But, there are quite a lot of episodes of this thing now. And as the audience has grown, that means a lot of you haven’t heard our early work. So, to plug the gap, here’s an example of it, from August 2016. What follows is the original blurb, from August 2016.

On this week's podcast, we're talking gender. Which of course is not actually the same as sex – the former is social, the latter biological – but until such time as HBO makes a hit sitcom called “Gender and the City”, this is our title and we're sticking to it.

Anyway. This week's guests: Caroline Criado-Perez is the writer, journalist and feminist campaigner, who wrote a fantastic feature for us on why cities need to take women into account when planning. She gives us a whistlestop tour of her findings, from playgrounds in Vienna to toilets in Mumbai. Lauren Elkin is the author of "Flaneuse: Women Walk the City in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Venice and London", recently serialised on BBC Radio 4. She tells Stephanie about the origins of the book, and why walking can be a radical act. Sarah Coughlan and Marissa Santikarn are two-thirds of the Berlinials podcast. They tell us about the joys and hassles of ex-pat Berlin.

Lastly, Stephanie and I discuss how her experiences of London differ from mine (most notably: I get cat-called surprisingly rarely). And we talk about how cities could be made more welcoming for women.

The episode itself is below. You can subscribe to the podcast on AcastiTunes, or RSS. Enjoy.

Jonn Elledge is the editor of CityMetric. He is on Twitter as @jonnelledge and on Facebook as JonnElledgeWrites.

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Sadiq Khan and Grant Shapps clash over free bus travel for under 18s

A London bus at Victoria station. Image: Getty.

The latest front in the row between Transport for London (TfL) and national government over how to fund the capital’s transport system: free bus travel for the under 18s.

Two weeks ago, you’ll recall, TfL came perilously close to running out of money and was forced to ask for a bail out. The government agreed, but offered less money, and with more strings attached, than the agency wanted. At present, there are a range of fare discounts – some up to 100% – available to children depending on their age and which service they’re using, provided they have the right Oyster card. One of the government’s strings, the mayor’s office says, was to end all free TfL travel for the under 18s, Oyster or no Oyster.

The Department for Transport’s line on all this is that this is about maximising capacity. Many working-age people need to use buses to get to their jobs: they’re more likely to be able to do that, while also social distancing, if those buses aren’t already full of teenagers riding for free. (DfT cited the same motivation for banning the use of the Freedom Pass, which provides free travel for the retired, at peak times.)

But in an open letter to transport secretary Grant Shapps, the mayor, Sadiq Khan, wrote that TfL believed that 30% of children who currently received free travel had a statutory entitlement to it, because they attend schools more than a certain distance from their homes. If TfL doesn’t fund this travel, London’s boroughs must, which apart from loading costs onto local government means replacing an administrative system that already exists with one that doesn’t. 

Some Labour staffers also smell Tory ideological objections to free things for young people at work. To quote Khan’s letter:

“It is abundantly clear that losing free travel would hit the poorest Londoners hardest at a time when finances are stretched more than ever... I want to make sure that families who might not have a choice but to use public transport are not further disadvantaged.”

London’s deputy mayor for transport, Heidi Alexander, is set to meet government officials next week to discuss all this. In the mean time, you can read Khan’s letter here.

UPDATE: The original version of this piece noted that the full agreement between the mayor and DfT remained mysteriously unpublished. Shortly after this story went live, the agreement appeared. Here it is.

Jonn Elledge was founding editor of CityMetric. He is on Twitter as @jonnelledge and on Facebook as JonnElledgeWrites.