London Mayor Boris Johnson on Why Bikes and Mass Transit Matter

Interviews with people who shape our culture.
July 10 2012 11:54 AM

Big City Transit Geek

London Mayor Boris Johnson on how bicycles and smooth mass transit can make people happier.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson.
London Mayor Boris Johnson before a giant set of Olympic rings on Tower Bridge

Photograph by Oli Scarff/Getty Images.

London Mayor Boris Johnson is among many things an urban transit nerd.  Since taking office in 2008, he has introduced a new generation of double-decker buses, built a cable car across the River Thames, and has dreams of making improvements to the city’s airports. And when it comes to getting around himself, his favorite mode of transit is the bicycle.

As London gets ready to host the summer Olympics, Johnson is preoccupied with the city’s past and its future.  The journalist turned politician has just written a book that traces the city’s history through a series of biographical portraits from the Romans to Shakespeare to Keith Richards.

Johnson recently sat down with Slate’s Jacob Weisberg to discuss how rivalry and competition have made London great, why Gandhi had it wrong about cities, and how a bike-share program might work in New York City.


In the days ahead, look for more of our interview with Boris Johnson, including what he has in common with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, why Brits are obsessed with the “posh,” and his own view of the massive and polarizing Anish Kapoor sculpture erected for the Olympic games.



Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

The XX Factor

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

  News & Politics
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
Brow Beat
Sept. 20 2014 3:21 PM “The More You Know (About Black People)” Uses Very Funny PSAs to Condemn Black Stereotypes
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 20 2014 7:00 AM The Shaggy Sun
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.