Science Festival Interview with Johanna Holtan
Johanna Holtan of the University's Institute for Academic Development, and Director of bike-friendly initiatives CycleHack and Penny in Yo’ Pants, is taking part in a panel discussion following a pedal-powered cinema screening of the documentary film Bikes v Cars at the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation.
The film highlights the conflict between cycling and driving in cities, and society's reliance on fossil fuels. Bikes vs Cars: a Pedal Powered Screening takes place at 7.30pm on Friday 8 April at the ECCI.
What can people coming along to the event expect to experience?
I was able to attend last year’s pedal-powered screening and had a great time, despite not being part of the line-up that actually had to pedal for the length of the film! Not only will participants be challenged through the content of the programme, but they will get to a chance to participate by powering the film. It’s a cool thing to be a part of.
What do you hope participants can get out of seeing Bikes vs Cars?
We had screened Bikes v Cars at our recent CycleHack event and it was moving. It is a powerful telling of the rise of the car and its impact on our environment, cities and ourselves. As a keen cyclist, I feel the tension on the roads everyday between cyclists, drivers, and pedestrians and see how parts of the city are designed with cars in mind – with little thought to other road users. I hope that those who come to the film are challenged to think about their cities in a different way.
Why is it important to debate some of the issues raised in the film?
Quite literally, people are being killed on the roads as cars continue to dominate transportation. But also, we are losing track of our ability to move, and experience worthwhile journeys that actually make our lives better, instead of sitting in traffic.
We are definitely at the tipping point.
What do you hope to get out of taking part in the Science Festival event?
Through my work with CycleHack and Penny in Yo’ Pants, I see how energetic and powerful everyday citizens can be when given agency and encouragement to make their streets more bike friendly.
I hope to bring my experience to the discussion and learn from the perspectives of others. It’s always a pleasure to work with the lovely people at ECCI as well.
Why is contributing to the science festival important for researchers and the University?
The Science Festival is a fantastic platform to not only inspire new ideas and collaboration – but also showcase the activities already taking place. The University of Edinburgh is buzzing with interesting, cool, and cutting edge research and it’s nice to recognise that and celebrate it. I also think we learn a great deal when we present ourselves to new audiences who might not have the same experiences that we have had. It is a great opportunity.