In this edition of, ‘A Conversation with…’ David Hart sits with us and tells us about his current battle with the winter training sessions and why being part of the cycle to MIPIM is of great significance to him.

Q1. Before we get into the important questions, we have to ask, what possessed you to volunteer to cycle 1500km to Cannes for the 3rd time?

Touching on from what Roy said in his piece, knowing that we don’t have to complete the entire 1500km individually does make this a little less daunting; however for me, what attracts me to Cycle to MIPIM is probably the fact that I’m a sucker for a challenge. I like the idea of having an event to train for.

The other major attraction to this initiative is the fact that we are embarking on a challenge that is in support of Coram, a fantastic children’s charity and being a parent I can’t help but think it means a little more. In fact, the evening before I joined the riders on my first ever cycle to Cannes back in 2014, my wife told me she was pregnant with our first child, so Coram and Cycle to Cannes means a bit more in that regard too. So being able to participate in such a worthy cause is just brilliant.

And of course, the opportunity to network and share a few days with professionals from various backgrounds is really exciting. It’s a special atmosphere when you’re involved in the cycle to MIPIM where you’re in a bubble with everyone encouraging you and urging you on. The encouragement the cyclists receive from the French locals is amazing. The support network of the ride is outstanding. I remember coming up one of the many hills approaching Cannes in 2014 and realising I had a puncture, the inner tour-de-France athlete in me was slightly distraught, however within a matter of seconds I was given a new wheel and was able to join the peloton and continue on my way. It felt very slick!

Q2. So why MIPIM? Why is MIPIM such an important date in both of your calendars?

For me it’s all about being in a pleasant and welcoming environment where the atmosphere is just far more relaxed and everyone has more time to chat compared to being back in London. At MIPIM the un-avoidable day to day project pressures are placed to one side which allows for openness and better conversations. With that, MIPIM triggers an increased opportunity to socialise with professionals that strangely we seem not to have in London.

MIPIM is truly unique; the organisers have managed to create an environment where you can engage. Everyone’s open to talk about business and open for conversation.

Q3. From your experience, where do you see the future of property and real estate heading towards?  

In terms of cities and urban spaces, I think for us and what is at the heart of future urban development is making sure we are truly accommodating and making spaces for people. Not to mention, providing for the ever-growing and increasing population within our cities.

It’s undeniable that space is a scarce resource, so we have to do our best to work harder and think of new and clever strategies and solutions that will enable us to better utilise the restricted spaces we do have more efficiently. In doing so, we are better placed to ensure we are creating environments that will stand the test of time and will satisfy the needs of the pedestrian, who I see being at the very top of the transport mode hierarchy.

As I see it, I believe we’re already heading towards motions that are rightly prioritising space that is dedicated and designed for both cyclists and pedestrians, over private cars.

It would be wonderful if TfL established a transport mode hierarchy and positioned pedestrians at the top!

Q4. Design or Tech?
With sustainability being a key topic of interest at MIPIM, what would you say has the greatest impact in shaping the future of our cities for the better?

I’d have to agree with Roy and say both. Design and tech need to work together.

For me I feel the way we can better shape our future cities is through developing and implementing design strategies that are conscious of technology in order for us to develop the best and most innovative infrastructure that will see huge benefits for our cities and towns that will work today, whilst serving the needs of the future.

What is exciting for me though is tech, as I believe it will offer significantly greater flexibility to match transport demand with capacity. With tech you can see a time where people living in rural and isolated areas being able to utilise innovative applications and connected automated vehicles that will be able to re-connect them and offer a vastly improved quality of life.

Better still, I can picture a city where our transport systems are far more intelligent and can offer services that respond to the movement of people. For example, today we have a problem where our buses (despite doing a great job of serving peak demand) often end carrying minimal passengers during off-peak times. Wouldn’t it be great if we were able to use technology and data to implement transport and servicing strategies that reflected this? For example, how about a bus that is a bus during the peak periods, but off peak, it drops its seats and becomes a van or lorry? After dropping off the last of its passengers in the evening peak, it could travel to a consolidation centre to pick up a load for a city centre micro-consolidation centre, for onward final delivery by drone, robotic wheeled drone or bicycle… Just an idea!

The potential tech has to truly transform our cities and improve inefficiencies, and provide greater flexibility for those who work and live in such urban areas is truly exciting.

Q5. Lastly, to close our conversation, what are you looking forward to most during your time at MIPIM and have you signed up for another cycle next year? 

Conversations, I’m looking forward to those enlightening conversations with people I regularly work with in London. Something else I’m really looking forward to is the thought of hearing snippets about potential new and exciting schemes that may be coming to London in the near future.

Will I sign up for another cycle? Maybe ask me again in September, by then I’m sure I’d have forgotten about the frosty 5am rides, but right now the winter training is a grim reality.

There we have it, we hope you enjoyed the final edition of  ‘A Conversation with.’ If you’d like to support our Directors on their mammoth cycle, you can make a donation to the charity Coram which I’m sure will make Dave and Roy’s efforts all the more worth-while as they cross the finishing line on the 13th of March.

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