The premier organization for TDM professionals

Executive Spotlight: Thomas Stokell, Love To Ride

Posted: 04/29/2021
Category: Member Spotlight

Love to Ride is the online platform that gets more people riding bikes. We work with cities and businesses around the world to encourage and support more people to ride confidently and comfortably for transportation.

What are you and your organization seeking to achieve?

A world in which everyone can ride comfortably, both for pleasure and to get from A to B. To be the most effective behavior change tool that businesses, cities and people can use to get more people riding bikes, more often.

How did you get to where you are today?

When I was in college in New Zealand my summer job was to organize National Bike Week, which was a 9 day event at the end of Summer (in New Zealand a week is 9 days long.) I was asked to “do something in workplaces to get more people biking to work” and I created a workplace-based bike challenge program. The program was very successful and when I moved overseas 5 years later I thought that other cities, regions, countries and businesses would benefit from running the program as well, and I set up Love to Ride. We’ve grown organically and gone from strength to strength in terms of our impact and reach.

How have you seen the TDM industry change?

I’ve been working in TDM for 20 years, so I’ve seen it change a fair amount! I think technology and the professionalization of the industry are the two biggest changes.  The industry is so much more sophisticated now in terms of the technology and data available for us to do our work more effectively. There is a lot more expertise and experience that now exists in the TDM industry.

Where do you see the industry going in the next 10 years?

More technology and more data to measure outcomes and results (what’s actually working to change behavior) and a rationalization around the approaches/intervention types that are delivering the biggest results.

Shared autonomous vehicles are going to have a massive impact. We’ll see a shared transport system develop that is more flexible and ultimately provides a product that people will want to use over their cars – it will be cheap, fast and safe to use. Right now, to achieve our goal of getting people out of their cars, based on where many people live and work, the alternatives to the car aren’t great which makes TDM pretty hard.

What brought you to ACT? What has been the most memorable part of your involvement in ACT?

I think I attended one of the ACT conferences when I first moved to the U.S. 7 years ago. My most memorable part has definitely been meeting all the people at the various conferences. We’re very lucky in the TDM industry to work with some really lovely people. I’ve had a lot of fun at the various TDM conferences and I’m looking forward to seeing people face to face again soon!

What keeps you motivated?

Hearing stories from people who were new to bike riding and have gone on to take up bike riding regularly through a Love to Ride program. Biking can have a real transformative impact on people’s lives – they’re outside more, getting healthier and fitter, and both those things can have a huge impact on your physical and mental health.

We have a stories feature on Love to Ride that people post stories to everyday. These stories bring real color to the data we have on the behavior change we achieve, and they really connect us to the impact of our work.

What has been the most fulfilling moment in your career?

I was on a webinar recently where some of our clients and partners were talking about how they have been using the Love to Ride platform, how much they enjoy using it, and the impact that it’s having in their work. When you can see that all of the work that you’ve done over many years is having a real impact on people’s lives it is a very fulfilling feeling.

What is a great piece of advice you have received? Have you put it to use?

It would probably be advice about hiring. One of the best things about running your own company is being able to choose who you bring on the boat with you. We put a lot into our hiring process and we’re very lucky to attract, recruit, and retain an excellent team.

Someone once told me that the more time you can spend with potential candidates the better. So I personally speak at least 4 times to anyone I’m directly hiring before offering them the role. It sounds like a lot of time, but when you get recruitment right, you save so much time and energy in the long-run. I’ve had a 4th chat with candidates who we thought were the front runners for the role to reveal in that 4th conversation some things that we wouldn’t have found out about until after we’d contracted with them and they’d started in the role.

Any additional thoughts to share?

Keep up the good work everyone! I know it’s been a tough last 12 months. I look forward to seeing many of you at the next ACT conference!

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