About Rachel

Hi I’m Rachel Smith

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I’m an Author, Blogger, Keynote Speaker and a Principal Transport Planner at AECOM in Brisbane.

I cut traffic congestion

I make sure that our Mayors and other City Leaders have all the information they need to cut traffic congestion, without the expense of new roads or annoyed residents

I’m changing the way Mayors and other City Leaders cut traffic congestion

I’ve spent the last 15 years working in transport planning in the private and public sectors in the UK and Australia. I increased walking to school from 38% of all trips to 92% at two schools in the UK  – What this really means is that we removed more than 200 cars from the streets around each of those primary schools. I was retained by the UK Government for 6 years as a specialist advisor cutting congestion at schools, workplaces and tourist attractions. I’ve spoken at more than 200 conferences/events around the world, including 2 TED talks, I was hand-picked to be part of the BMW Guggenheim Lab and won the BP International Road Safety Award

Traffic congestion is costing us all money and wasting our precious time with

Our Mayors and other City Leaders are faced with 3 major problems in our cities:

  1. Governments and councils cannot afford the cost of new transport infrastructure.
  2. Low density suburban sprawl is creating complex and highly expensive transport demands.
  3. Many of us are spending more than 15 hours a week sitting in our cars, literally stuck in traffic

Moreover4 people die and 90 people are seriously injured on Australian roads every day.

  • The average Aussie family spends more time sitting in the car than they do around the dining table.

Little wonder our cities, our lives, our time, our economy and our health are in crisis.

The solution is the step by step process in my book

My book “Decongestion – 7 steps for Mayors and other City Leaders to cut traffic congestion, without the expense of new roads or annoyed residents”

The difference between me and my book, and everything that has been done before, is that I interviewed hundreds of people around the world; leading academics, mayors, industry leaders,  public servants and technologists, about the challenges, problems and issues with congestions. I now fully understand the mistakes that have been made in the past and from this I have developed a 7 step process and methodology to cut traffic congestion. Each step contains

  1. Information – The information section provides information on the problems and solutions, explains how the solutions can cut traffic congestion, the common mistakes and the benefits
  2. Inspiration – The inspiration section provides success stories and case studies from Australia and overseas.
  3. Implementation – An implementation toolkit and method statement to implement many of the solutions is provided in the implementation section

The ultimate result of this book if you are a Mayor and other City Leader is:

  • you’ll get re-elected
  • your constituents will admire you and love that you saved them time and money
  • you’ll leave a lasting legacy in your town or city that everyone remembers
  • you’ll have an incredible career achievement and a personal success story

I work for the world’s largest engineering consultancy. It’s my big vision, and theirs, that we will rid our towns and cities of traffic congestion that wastes YOUR time and YOUR money.

I imagine a world where we won’t be sat in traffic congestion

Because my big dream is that every Member of Parliament, every Mayor and every other City Leader will read my book. It’s our, and our leaders, responsibility to decongest our town and cities

And the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of a decongested city – and the reality that none of us will be stuck in traffic ever again

’One of Australia’s brightest thinkers on the perpetual challenge of urban planning’  News Limited

‘An Emerging International Talent’  The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York

 “Rachel’s dedication to the environment is inspiring and her passion for cycling is unmatched”    TED Talks, New York



 My successes:

  • Obtaining planning permission for major expansions at major tourist attractions/hotels/holidays parks in Devon and Cornwall. I worked with the business owners, shareholders and management team to create solutions which would get ‘more bums on seats’ without having any additional impact on the local road network and without creating any traffic or car parking chaos. Solutions included integrating transport modes, creating partnership with ‘experience’ transport such as open top buses and canoe operators and mitigating car movements through an amazing innovation with major insurance companies.
  • Increasing walking to school from 38% of all trips to 92% at selected UK schools. What this really means is that we removed 200 cars from the streets around each primary school we worked with in Cornwall.
  • I took my ‘Ready Steady Road Safety’ and ‘Finding Nemo’ school assemblies to 100 UK schools. Empowering children to walk to school or to ‘park and walk’ meant that UK councils did not have to spend millions of pounds in traffic calming studies and projects.
  • I convinced Disney Playhouse TV to work with me to promote walking to school. They agreed and we made a short film about the Devoran School “Walking to School Bus’. The publicity was priceless and it acknowledged the enthusiasm and dedication of the parents and children who walk to school everyday.
  • Writing a ‘Tourism without Traffic’ publication for the UK Government and then delivering a series of training seminars for tourism operators and destinations. We empowered businesses. They increased their visitor numbers and sales whilst reducing traffic congestion, eliminating car parking issues and increased the number of people arriving by bus, boat, bicycle, train and on foot.
  • My research for the Further Education Funding Council and Devon County Council was award winning. It allowed a fully funded partnership of transport operators, colleges and retail outlets to be formed. The group created products and promotions as affiliates of student public transport season tickets. What it really meant was that more students caught the bus to college which eliminated car parking chaos from college campuses.
  • I developed the world’s first crowd solving bicycle map with the BMW Guggenheim Lab. Used by thousands of people in more than 40 cities around the world the tool allows everyday citizens to rate streets on how safe they are and their amenability to riding a bicycle. This tool has the potential to save Councils and Governments around the world billions of dollars in black spot and safety hazard identification.
  • I have worked with Government departments in Australia and the UK to develop teleworking/working at home information guides. This enabled employers to reduce costs by reducing office space and allowed employees with children or elderly parents to enhance their work-life balance by working at home
  • I created web based commuter censuses with two UK Councils. The online travel survey allowed businesses to track their employee commuter and business travel patterns on a monthly or quarterly basis. The tool enabled businesses to save money and Councils to justify funding new public transport infrastructure and service
  • I worked with the Combined University Cornwall to produce a University student and staff transport guide. The guide and ‘Personalised Travel Planning’ sessions provided students and staff with comprehensive information on a range of convenient and low-cost transport options and enabled car-pooling which reduced car parking demand

My media:

  • The Economist, BBC TV Breakfast Show, Disney Playhouse Television, DW-TV ‘Agenda’ chat show, BBC Radio ‘Today’, BBC Breakfast, ABC National Radio ‘By Design’, ABC Digital ‘Sunday Spin’, SBS Cycling Central, Daily Express, Daily Mail, Springwise, Fast co, Guinness Book of Records, Sunday Mail U magazine, B-Mag, Map Magazine and ThisBigCity.

My TED talks

  1. Can we dream a New Australian Dream? http://tedxtalks.ted.com/search/?search=TEDxKurilpa&page=2
  2. Who says building the impossible is impossible? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FZCDBT5dEuY




Photo credit – Patrick Self Visuals taken at TEDx Kurilpa, February 2014




My Vision:

I am enthusiastic about creating ideas which have the potential to change the way we move around where we live, that revolutionise how we construct transport infrastructure and which could change the way we look at waste – things like plastic and coke cans and see them as the minefield of the future. My vision for the future is that anyone will be able to safely ride a bicycle regardless of their age, gender, physical abilities, cycling skills and road safety awareness.

My Passion Projects:

  1. My 1st passion or dream is to build Cycling Super Highways; 7 metre wide bicycleways with 6 lanes for slow, medium and fast bicycle riders, and, completely separated from all parked and moving cars. When the Los Angeles Department of Transport said “for the bike to catch on we need a revolution in our bicycle infrastructure” they were right. If we really want riding a bicycle to be a central part of our lifestyle, our transport system and our cities we need an ‘infrastructure revolution’ and that’s why I developed my plans for Cycling Super Highways http://www.cyclingrachelsmith.com/
  2. My 2nd passion or dream is a floating bikeway on the Sydney Harbour or on the Thames in London made out of waste plastic and cans. Let’s use our waste. David de Rothchild built his Plastiki boat using used plastic drinks bottles, Vertec build road bridges with waste plastic and in Kuranda, Australia benches in public places are made from old plastic milk bottles. I’d like us to innovate and build floating bicycle paths from waste plastic http://www.cyclingrachelsmith.com/media-articles/1722/

My awards:

  • Shortlisted as a 2012 TED Global Fellow
  • Winner 2008 AITPM Janet Brash Memorial Scholarship
  • Winner 2003 CIHT BP International Road Safety Award
  • Finalist 2004 International Walk to School Week Award

My community projects:

  • Lazy Sunday Cycle – Amy contacted me after reading my blog ‘Why women don’t cycle’. We met for coffee and discussed our shared vision: to create an opportunity for normal people in normal clothes on normal bicycles to be able to ride bicycles for fun. There was a ‘gap’ in the Brisbane market, that is, there were no groups or activities for beginner, less experienced, young, old and non-lycra cyclists. Four years on, we (me, Amy & Amy’s Dad, David) have more than 800 followers, a management committee and we’re a Not-For-Profit organisation!  https://www.facebook.com/lazysundaycycle
  • Brisbane’s biggest clothes swap – Edda and I met rehearsing our TEDx Kurilpa talks and discovered shared passions; clothes, sharing, talking and meeting new people. We set themselves a challenge…. To host Brisbane’s Largest Clothes Swapping Party within 56 days of our 1st meeting! http://undressrunways.com/swap/ or https://www.facebook.com/events/671307699597872/671855809543061/?notif_t=plan_mall_activity

My memberships:

  • Chartered Institute of Highways and Transportation
  • Australian Institute of Traffic Planning and Management
  • Former president of the Pedestrian and Bicycle Transport Institute of Australasia

My quirky facts:

  • In 2001 I was involved in a very serious scuba diving incident. Strictly speaking and according to medical research and statistics I should be dead. Thanks to the incredible medical team at DDRC (Diving Diseases Research Centre) in Plymouth, Devon, UK http://www.ddrc.org/ and my feisty determination I am alive and in perfect health. Cheating death changes your perspective on life and definitely makes you seize every opportunity
  • I’m a qualified adult literacy teacher. I’ve taught literacy, numeracy and life skills in the UK and in Australia
  • I trained as a Marine Mammal Medic with British Diver Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) – I’ve been the midwife to a seal and I’ve rescued and released, 15 hours later, two injured dolphins for which I received a RSPCA Merit of Distinction!
  • I was a PADI Scuba Diving Instructor and I volunteered on Coral Reef, kelp and seahorse research projects in Australia, Honduras and the UK
  • I love horse riding
  • I live 992 metres from where I work. I really do ’walk the walk and talk the talk’
  • I’m British and Australian. Me with Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk and my ‘Aussie’ Citizenship Certificate







and finally…    I’ve been calling myself a revolutionary because I’m buying nothing new for a year.

  • Yes, I’m ‘allowed’ to buy food and essential toiletries
  • I’m not buying any new or second-hand clothes, shoes, books, itunes, magazines, home wares or any general ‘stuff’
  • Please follow me on social media because I share a little update about how things are going at the end of each month

I’m a sought after commentator and speaker. I can help you by commenting on:

  • Traffic congestion
  • Transport
  • Cycling

Twitter – @CyclingRSmith

Linkedin –  http://au.linkedin.com/pub/rachel-smith/32/349/b68

Facebook –  search for “Cyclingrachel Smith”


What other people say about me:

“I have had the honour of working with Rachel on a number of transport/congestion projects over the years. She possesses unbounded talent and enthusiasm for all things congestion. She always managers to inspire and empower those around her, and she refuses to accept that the “impossible” cannot be achieved. Rachel’s work is at the leading edge of transport planning reform, as evidenced by the frequency of her publications and speaking engagements around the world. She is a thinker, a listener, a mentor, and (I am proud to say) a friend” Richard Senescall, Director at Deloitte Australia

“Hi Rachel, Thank you for your presentation!!! It well and truly exceeded my expectations and was a big hit with everyone!! Your ideas and optimism are infectious!! Local Port Macquarie architects who witnessed it, are already talking about implementing some of your ideas!! I am sure we all would love to see you at our future events!! Thanks again and best wishes for the future!!” Chris Jenkins

“It was a pleasure to have you participate in our Global Innovation Series. Your lecture was engaging, informative and one of the most interesting talks of the day. Thank you for contributing to the success of the event” Mashable, New York

“First up a big thank you Amanda for organising Rachel Smith. She is wonderful, passionate talent, and her project really strikes a strong cord with our audience”    Janne Ryan, By Design ABC Radio National

“Rachel you are a constant burst of inspiroimagination”   Mara Bun, Green Cross Australia

“You’re an inspiration – thank you for all you do!”     Rebecca Lehman

“Thanks for your vision Rachel. Truly you are inspiring. I so very much respect your willingness to act, to make simple, to lead!”    Denise, Monkeysee Cycle Safety

“You are an inspiration. Let’s do some projects together”    Gilbert Rochecouste, Founder of Village Well

“Your enthusiasm for your work and for life in general is so infectious – I think you are great”     Sue Philbin, Traffic Planning Consultants Ltd

“Rachel’s knowledge, ideas and approach were crucial. In particular her ability to successfully and imaginatively facilitate our most difficult break-out groups and to collate comments during the wrap-up stage”    Doug Wheeler & Associates, Brisbane

“Rachel is highly committed to the needs of cyclists and pedestrians”    Sunshine Coast Cycling Alliance, Queensland

“The reports prepared by Rachel were delivered on time and on budget. The quality exceeded our expectations”    Queensland Urban Land Development Agency

“I just want to say again for the record how blown away I was by your clearly evident energy and constancy to purpose the whole time you were running your programs for the Lab in Berlin. And you probably don’t need me to tell you this, but your involvement in any sort of project could clearly only make it a better, more successful project. You have my full respect and heart-felt admiration”     Joe Hatchiban, Bearpit Karaoke, Berlin

“I wanted to congratulate you on the interesting release of the Dynamic Connections crowdsourced map — this is precisely the type of data that we need to start understanding travel patterns and how to improve our bike networks in an urban area”    University of California School of Technology

“That’s fantastic Rachel!  You are a fantastic ambassador for cycling”  Aaron Ball

“Your passion for your work resonated throughout the room and your involvement in the evening’s activities with our members was much appreciated. Again, we thank you for the important contribution you have made to our organisation and the positive impression that you have made on many of our members”   FutureNet Queensland Committee

“… However, the highlight of our visit was a workshop with Rachel herself during which we were able to provide her with detailed feedback regarding many of the cycling and walking facilities planned for the MMTC. We found Rachel to be receptive and highly committed to the needs of cyclists and pedestrians. I would not hesitate to recommend her as a cycling facility planner”      Damien Jones, SunCoast Cycling Alliance

“… As well as being highly qualified Rachel possesses excellent communication skills, putting her audience at ease while getting the facts down in a readable format. I would go on to say that as cycling advocates we often encounter blockages due to uniformed people, especially among government departments, but in Rachel’s case her obvious grasp of sustainability concepts made our job easy. We have no hesitation in recommending Rachel as a highly qualified, motivated and productive member of any sustainable transport team”     John Stephen, SunCoast Cycling Alliance

“The judges chose this project for: its ability to improve the safety environment around the school gate, raising road safety awareness and skills amongst young people, its possible application to other similar school environments and its benefit of encouraging more children to walk to school”     Louis Wheeler, Bitumen Manager, BP

“Hi Rachael. I’ve just read through your CV on Linkedin and am so overwhelmed by the depth your experiences and knowledge. You are an inspiration to mere mortals like myself. Well done and congratulations”  Olinda

“And finally, Rachael Smith, you’re such an eloquent speaker and dreamer. I had a good cold look at the life I lead while you were talking and I was pleased to know that despite all of the factors that stop me dreaming big (over analysis being the biggest one), I am spending time teaching my children about limiting choices, delaying gratification and reward for effort. Mindfulness, empathy and authenticity go a long way in this house.  But you’re right. Time is worth so much more to me than space or things. My New Australian Dream is for us all to think globally but act locally. To be present and mindful. To give time, not things” Caylie Jeffery

“Just wanted to say I think what you are doing is great. Very inspiring- love it. Happy cycling :)” Selina Paul

“Congratulations Rachel! I recently saw you at the WIE presentation at QUT. You are an inspiration” Julie Ross

“Hi Rachel, I just wanted to thank you for joining the Light Rail conference and for taking the time to speak in the panel and deliver a presentation. Some comments on your presentation are: Entertaining human-interest perspective and Very interesting perspective” Jesse Peters, Conference Producer | Informa Australia

“Well done on organising this. You inspire me to be more motivated in putting plans into motion. It’s amazing what can come out of it if you put your heads together and come up with an idea and follow through with it. :)” Julie Dunsmore

“Hi Rachel, Just read your article. Great ideas around collecting data. As a daily cyclist I’d be happy to get involved, let me know how I can help. Cheers” Debbie Cowlishaw

“Hi Rachel, I stumbled across your profile and found it fascinating. As a geologist I travel globally and often drive hire cars. I’ve seen so many wonderful traffic improvements in different countries I’ve often thought what if they could all be incorporated into one city what a pleasure it would be to drive! Of course the issue is not the innovation but the local governments and regulators and of course the people behind the wheel. It’s good to know that someone like yourself is making our county aware of these opportunities (with your book) and has that global perspective and experience. Keep up the fight for us all! Cheers” Craig Morley

“Rachel, Your presentation at the KPI day on Saturday was fabulous – you should be very proud of your accomplishments. Cheers, Tracey” Tracey Agel,