Transcript — Episode 74: Not Just Bikes with Jason Slaughter
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Jason Slaughter: I’ve started to appreciate that one of the really toxic things that comes out of car-dependent places is that everybody is forced to drive, and they think that this is providing them with this comfort and convenience. But driving sucks in car-dependent places. There’s so much traffic. There’s people cutting you off. There’s people that obviously don’t want to be there—they’re bored, they’re looking at their phone. I mean, when you take everybody and force them to do something, whether they want to or not, it sucks.
Doug Gordon: This is The War on Cars. I’m Doug Gordon. If you are not familiar with Not Just Bikes, you should be. Not Just Bikes is the hugely popular YouTube channel about urban planning and street design created by Jason Slaughter, who lives in Amsterdam. I catch every video, I’m a subscriber, but I have to admit I actually had a hard time writing a quick description of Not Just Bikes because, as the title suggests, it covers a lot. Jason grew up in Canada, and in his videos he often uses his car-dependent hometown of London, Ontario—or “Fake London” as he calls it—as a contrast to the far more people-friendly Dutch streets just outside his door. Jason and his wife have lived all over the world, but they settled with their two boys in the Netherlands a few years ago. And Not Just Bikes is almost like an ongoing quest to answer a question Jason laid out in his first video released in 2019.
[YouTube clip: I like cities. They’re places where people get together and do interesting things. But you got to admit that some cities are better than others, and not all cities are great. Why is that?]
Doug: Today, hundreds of thousands of people subscribe to Not Just Bikes, and some of Jason’s most popular videos have racked up millions of views. All of them are excellent crash courses in many of the same issues we talk about here at The War on Cars. This fall, I was in Amsterdam, and I was fortunate to meet with Jason in De Pijp, a formerly working-class neighborhood directly south of Amsterdam’s historic center. Like a lot of neighborhoods like it in cities around the world, it’s changing rapidly, and it’s now home to trendy restaurants and cozy cafes. Jason and I sat at one of those cafes for a conversation that covered everything from the success of his YouTube channel to why it’s awesome to drive in the Netherlands. Yeah, you heard that right. The Not Just Bikes guy says driving in the Netherlands is awesome.
Doug: One thing you’ll notice: every so often we were interrupted by the sound of a gas-powered moped or “snorfiets” as they’re called in Dutch. But because we are in such a car-light area, we also heard people talking and laughing—a good lesson that cities aren’t loud, cars are loud. Enjoy my interview with Jason Slaughter of Not Just Bikes.
Doug: Jason, welcome to The War on Cars.
Jason Slaughter: Thank you so much for having me. It’s great to be here.
Doug: Tell us where we’re sitting. Paint a picture for us. I think that might help us start off.
Jason Slaughter: Yeah. So we’re sitting outside of a cafe in the Frans Halsstraat in De Pijp. And this is an interesting location because a couple of years ago all of the street parking was removed. So the street parking here was removed and replaced with bicycle parking, with planters with trees in them. And the only parking that remains is deliveries or handicapped parking. And all of the car parking was moved to an underground parking garage under a canal nearby.
Jason Slaughter: So what’s interesting about this place, and it’s a place that I’ve been attracted to since we moved here because of this change, it’s remarkable to see what the streetscape looks like now, now that those cars, those parked cars have been removed, and there’s a much better use of the space. And one of the things that’s interesting here is one, just how much greenery there is now with all of the plants, but also how wide these streets look because, you know, if you’d go just one block over where parked cars are still here, it’s a remarkable difference because it looks like everything’s so small because the cars take up so much space.
Doug: The thing that I notice about this neighborhood is that if you squint your eyes, it looks like my neighborhood back home. It’s four-storey brick residential buildings, some over commercial, over restaurants. There’s a coffee shop across the street. We are sitting at a coffee shop. There’s no shortage of coffee shops in this neighborhood. Or cafes, as they say here. Coffee shops have a different meaning in Amsterdam, for sure. But this could be any sort of old developed North American city save for the parking.
Jason Slaughter: Yeah, and I think that’s absolutely correct. I mean, there’s nothing particularly special about the way that these neighborhoods are designed. I mean, this is what would be called these days “traditional development,” which I’ve said before is just called the way you build things, like, that’s certainly the way it used to be done. This was the normal way to build things. It’s mixed use. It has offices or commercial on the ground floor and then apartments above it. The streets are more than wide enough for, you know, non-motorized traffic, and there are places like this all over the world. I mean, certainly there are places like this in my hometown of London, Ontario, although a lot of them have been bulldozed and turned into parking lots or other car-centric uses.
Doug: Let’s talk about your move here. You’ve been in Amsterdam for three years, straight from London, Ontario, as you call it in your videos “Fake London.” And we will get into your videos. I’m sure there are gonna be people listening to this who are avid subscribers and followers of your work, and some people who are unfamiliar and being introduced to you for the first time. What attracted you to Amsterdam specifically?
Jason Slaughter: Yeah, so that was originally the purpose of the channel. So the sort of quick story is that my wife and I are both Canadian. We lived in Ontario, and I lived in various cities in Ontario, from London originally, but most of my adult life was spent in Toronto in the early adult life, I should say. And I had lived in the United States, in the San Francisco Bay Area on internships with the university. But ultimately, my wife and I wanted to move somewhere else. Like, we wanted to experience the world. And so we moved to various different countries. We lived in the UK and Taiwan and Belgium, and our kids were born in the UK and Belgium. And we experienced just so many different cities in the world. The other thing was that I used to travel a lot. Like, a ridiculous amount. Like, literally going from city to city to city in the course of three weeks. There was a time in my life where I think it was five or six years where I wasn’t in the same time zone for more than about three weeks. So I had a lot of experience with different places.
Jason Slaughter: But eventually we had children and we said, “You know what? We can’t just keep gallivanting around the world. Eventually we need to settle down.” So we moved back to Toronto. And I think that was a shock because reverse culture shock is a thing. It really is. Like, you suddenly come back to where you’re from, and you don’t feel like you fit in anymore. And I lasted about a year. My wife lasted a little bit more than two years, but at the end of the day we’re like, after living in walkable places and experiencing all these great cities around the world, it was very difficult to go back to somewhere where—we didn’t live somewhere car dependent, but you definitely feel the impact of car dependency in almost any city you live in in North America. Here we have to put up with the sound of snorfiets going by, but I can live with that. [laughs]
Doug: But I will say that that snorfiets, the motor scooter, is followed by a lovely scene of a mom with a kid on the bike, a kid next to her. There’s a delivery van. There’s still cars here, but yes, it is much more tolerable.
Jason Slaughter: Yeah, this is really the autoluw concept, right? In that in the Netherlands, it isn’t about being car free, it’s about heavily reducing the number of cars you have. Like, we are sitting directly across the street from a parking spot for deliveries that’s marked with a picture of a van and somebody taking something out of it. You know, they have deliveries, they have emergency vehicle access, they have handicap access. And if you live here and you need to unload something, you can do it. It’s just that we’re not constantly sitting by here with the roar of cars.
Jason Slaughter: But back to the story. [laughs] Toronto is a great city, but after living where we lived, it was very, very hard to go back. And I wanted to leave and my wife said, “Look, we cannot just keep moving. So if we move somewhere, it needs to be the final move, right? Like, this is it. You got to be sure about this next one because this is it.” So I started looking at where we wanted to live and what city was great, and we had been in the Netherlands before. When we lived in Belgium, we used to come up here because it was better than Belgium. And that was ultimately why I started the channel, because it was all that research of, like, where did we want to end up? So I decided to start the channel entirely for the purpose of saying, “This is why we moved to the Netherlands.” So if you look at the first year of the channel, it’s pretty much, you know, it’s about the safer streets, it’s about the independence for children, it’s about the lively and vibrant neighborhoods. It’s about all of these things that make a place like this a better place to live than where I lived before. That was really it. That was going to be the only purpose of the channel.
Doug: Was that purpose more for family and friends? Did you think, like, “Mostly it’ll be people I know watching this—maybe a few curious outsiders—but sort of that’s gonna be the extent of it?”
Jason Slaughter: Yeah, that’s exactly it. So I actually had a Twitter account. As anyone does, you know, I was complaining about various things in Toronto, and I was really looking at it as an extension of that, right? It was that here we moved, and I was putting things on Twitter about things that we liked. And it was really meant for, you know, that kind of audience that I had on Twitter, which was mostly Canadians, a handful of Americans, and oh, look at this stuff that we’re discovering here in the Netherlands. What I didn’t expect is the reaction from Dutch people.
Jason Slaughter: So what happened with the channel is after a few months, it started being recommended to people in the Netherlands because the YouTube algorithms are like, “You’re in the Netherlands, so let’s promote it to people in the Netherlands.” And people in the Netherlands, Dutch people loved it. They absolutely loved it because what I hadn’t appreciated is that people who grew up with this stuff, they have no concept that this is something new and different. You know, if they’ve traveled abroad, sure, they’ve seen that maybe there aren’t as many people cycling, but they don’t know the details of why this happens or the extent to which it doesn’t happen in other places. You know, a Dutch person might go on holiday to the United States but, you know, they’ll go to New York City, they’ll go to Washington, DC, they’ll hit the tourist spots and then they’ll go home. And they’ll have no concept of the fact that there are people who cannot feed themselves without getting into a car. And not just a few people, like millions and millions of people.
Doug: Most of North America, for example. Or Australia or much of the UK, yes.
Jason Slaughter: Exactly. And I think that was really interesting to me to see the number of Dutch people that just didn’t know about this. And that’s where the initial success of the channel came from, really. It was from Dutch people seeing this and being like, “Wow, I had absolutely no idea this was a thing.”
Doug: So one of the things that I find really funny and interesting about your channel is that, in some ways, the more mundane the subject matter, the more popular the video. So some of your most popular videos—I’ve seen them—are you explaining the features of a Dutch bicycle, for example.
[YouTube clip: So what makes this bicycle so different from what you might be used to? Well, the primary difference is that this is an upright bicycle. It’s built to ride in an upright sitting position. This is an inefficient position that will not transmit maximum power into the crank during a pedal stroke. Plus, it’s totally not aero. But who cares? What the upright position does provide is comfort.]
Doug: There’s also one that just shows you grocery shopping at an Albert Heijn, one of the big grocery store chains here.
[YouTube clip: Some of the more modern shops provide hand scanners that allow you to scan your items as you shop. Scanning each item as you place it in your bag also means you don’t need to re-bag your groceries at the checkout. Since everything has already been scanned, the checkout process is very quick: just tap your contactless payment card and grab your receipt. The exit gate opens when you scan your receipt. Drop the bags back into the bike, unlock and we’re off.]
Doug: What do you think accounts for why those are so successful?
Jason Slaughter: Yeah, I mean, the Dutch video …
Doug: YouTube magic, algorithms, I don’t know. But what do you think it is?
Jason Slaughter: I think really what that comes down to is that it’s—sure, it’s the YouTube algorithm, but ultimately it has to be something that’s interesting to people. And I think taking out the garbage, buying groceries, just getting around day to day is obviously something that every one of us does all the time. And so it’s very relatable. And because these situations are so relatable, I think that’s really where the interest comes from. Because it doesn’t matter if you’re, like, an American person who has no concept of the way that people buy groceries outside of North America. Like, it’s very normal everywhere in the world to just buy your groceries the day you’re going to eat them. And that is unheard of in a lot of places in the US and Canada.
Doug: I will say that as a New Yorker, the thing that mystifies my friends and family outside of New York City—which is the majority of my friends and family—the number one question they ask me, “Well, how do you get groceries?” When they hear that I bike or that I walk everywhere or that I take transit, “How do you get groceries?” And I think, well, I have four grocery stores within a five-block radius of my apartment. I don’t do a two-week shop at once. I go every day or two and just pick up stuff that I need: the milk, the fruit, the pasta, whatever I need to get. And it’s really not that hard. I wonder how people just sit in traffic all the time just to buy a gallon of milk. That seems maddening to me. I used to do it.
Jason Slaughter: Yeah, I used to do it too. It was insanity. And when I first moved to downtown Toronto, when I was this kid from suburban London, Ontario, I used to take transit to the grocery store and then get a taxi home with my, like, week or two weeks worth of groceries, because I was still in the mindset that that’s the way you have to buy groceries. And that was originally exactly the motivation for making that video because we would get asked the same question. In fact, my wife used to have a blog in Toronto called, But How Do You Buy Groceries? Because it was literally the number one question we were asked by people when they found out that we didn’t own a car.
Jason Slaughter: And I think what I’m talking about in my videos, and the reason why those mundane subjects are interesting to people is not just that it’s different, but that I’m coming at it having experienced many different ways of doing these things. So it’s not only different, it’s better. And I explain the reasons why it’s better. Because I actually don’t want to go and buy my groceries once every two weeks. I want to go and decide what are we going to have tonight? I go buy it fresh, and it’s not a trip for me. And these are the kind of things that I think blow the minds of people who have only grown up with car dependency. I mean, unless you’ve lived somewhere like downtown Toronto or in Manhattan, you wouldn’t know this. That this is not a trip. Like, going to get groceries in suburbia is a trip. Doing anything is a trip, right? Like, you need to get in your car, you need to sit in traffic, you need to wait at a bunch of traffic lights. It’s a trip. I’m walking somewhere anyway. It literally is no effort at all for me to just go into the shop that’s on the sidewalk and get something and walk out. It’s less than five minutes. It’s not a trip. It’s just a very, very, very minor detour. And I think even “detour” is too much of a word to put on it. And to me, that is a better way to live.
Doug: So I’m a fan of your videos, I’m a YouTube subscriber. One of the things I really enjoy about them is that you are able to take very basic concepts and explain them in an interesting and entertaining way, but you’re also able to take very complicated concepts of traffic engineering and traffic safety and boil them down for a general audience.
[YouTube clip: The truth is that many drivers will not slow down because of signs or speed limits. They’ll slow down either because they don’t feel safe or because they’re afraid of damaging their car. What this means though, is that we can take this subconscious driving reality and use it to our advantage by designing the street or road for the speed that we want, which is exactly what traffic engineers do in civilized countries like Sweden or the Netherlands.]
Doug: You worked in tech, you worked in product management. Where does that ability come from to just explain things clearly? I’m putting you on the spot, I know.
Jason Slaughter: No, that’s fine, actually, because that was my job in product management. I considered that my job, a core part of my job, for my entire career, was to take highly complicated things and explain them to non-technical people. Or sometimes even take business things and explain them to technical people. So that is what I was good at. I don’t know if I honed that skill in product management or what, but that is literally what I would do. So it’s interesting you mention it because that’s what I used to say my primary job was was to explain complicated things to untechnical people.
Jason Slaughter: And that certainly carries through to the videos. I’ve done a lot of research in this area, but I’m not an urban planner. So I’ve learned a lot about urban planning over the years, and I always felt like there were certain times where I would see a subject being discussed and I felt like it just wasn’t being explained properly, and then I’d see it explained a different way and I’d suddenly get it. And that’s why after the first year of my videos, which was sort of season one, if you will, was the reasons why we moved to the Netherlands. Season two became okay, well, now there’s some success on this channel. I’ve explained why we moved to the Netherlands, but what I haven’t explained is all of the things that I learned about urban planning and city design that led me to the point of being able to understand this stuff.
[YouTube clip: One of the things that really upset me is that the desolate, asphalt-covered cities I had visited in the US and Canada weren’t always this way. I was told that these cities were like this because they were designed for the car. That’s not true. They weren’t designed for the car, they were bulldozed for the car.]
Doug: I should stop us and say that we have a large truck coming through. He’s taking the turn very slowly. The driver’s even on the phone, and yet, okay, he’s not gonna run anyone over going as slowly as he’s going. He’s squeezing by a bicycle. This is the exciting play-by-play commentary our listeners expect.
Jason Slaughter: It is interesting to see all of this happen, because there’s so much nonsense that comes up whenever you have a discussion about making things—removing cars in cities. And this truck is going quite slowly through the street. He’s having a little bit of difficulty, but it would be a hell of a lot more difficult if this street were clogged with cars.
Doug: Yeah. And now he’s on his way. So he’s fine, yeah. And the loading zone you were talking about, there is a postal truck parked there now making deliveries.
Jason Slaughter: Yeah, I mean, life goes on. Things happen. And this is one of these—I have absolutely no patience for this. This is why I was never good at advocacy and why I had to get out of it. My wife was the better advocate. But I always thought naively that if you could just show these people the data and the examples that they would be like, “Oh, you’re right! We were wrong all along about this suburbia stuff. Let’s do something different.” And the fact is, there are a lot of willfully ignorant people out there who just want to enforce the status quo, and I have no patience for it. Like, when people come to me and say, “We can’t get rid of the cars because disabled people can’t get around,” or “Emergency vehicles will get stuck,” or “You’ll never get deliveries,” I mean, I’m literally watching all of these things happen right now.
Jason Slaughter: I watch people on hand bikes go by and mobility scooters. I see 90 year olds riding bicycles because it’s safe to do so. I see the delivery trucks here. I see the emergency vehicles get through. And all of that is a lie. It’s just not true. And so this is why I have absolutely no patience for it. And sometimes some of my fans might get upset at my responses to these things because they’re still living in a world where the war on cars has not been won, and they need to be diplomatic about these things. I mean, you can’t just say to this person, “No, you’re wrong. Like, you’re just factually wrong, I’m sorry.” You have to be a little bit more diplomatic about it. But the truth is they are wrong. They are absolutely wrong. Yes, there are things that can be done better or worse that make the situation better or worse, but all of the myths that you hear about improving cities they’re absolutely entirely 100 percent wrong.
Jason Slaughter: Yeah, so I am really not an advocate. And I think, like I said, I naively believe that if you just put the right information in front of people, they’ll get it. But they won’t. There are some people worth targeting on these messages, and there are some people not worth targeting. This is my opinion here, but this is the way I approach the channel. I get people who get upset with me sometimes because I insult the suburbs or something like that. And they’ll say, “Oh, you know, these people, they like their cars” or whatever. “They’ve grown up with this. They don’t know any better.” But there is a group of people who are dyed-in-the-wool suburbanites. They don’t care. A lot of the time when you hear people say, “What about the disabled people? What about emergency vehicle access? What about anything? What about the environment?” They don’t care. They literally do not care. They just know that they’ll sound like an asshole if they say what they really believe.
Doug: “I want my parking.”
Jason Slaughter: Exactly. Which is “I want my parking right in front of my house. I want to drive wherever I want. I want there to be no congestion ever. And yeah, screw you.”
Doug: It sounds like sometimes you’re preaching to the choir. We all are to a certain degree when we do this work. But do you get people who write in and say, “You know, I never thought of it that way? I used to live in the suburbs.” Or “I live in the suburbs, and I would like it to be easier to get around without a car, and thank you for educating me on this.”
Jason Slaughter: Literally every single day. I had an email just on my bike ride over here. And if I read my YouTube comments, I would see it even more. But I stopped reading the comments after the first few days because I just can’t handle the willful ignorance that comes in once it hits the YouTube app.
Doug: Never read the comments. No, don’t.
Jason Slaughter: That was something that another big YouTuber taught me. Don’t read the comments after the first couple of days of a new video, and it is the best advice I could possibly give somebody going onto YouTube. But anyway, I have a very specific target market for my videos. It’s what I said in the first line of the first video that I made, which is I’m targeting me 20 years ago. That’s it. So that is my person that I’m targeting, it’s me 20 years ago. So this is somebody who had grown up only knowing car-dependent suburbia, who had these feelings that things weren’t quite right, but had no idea exactly what they were. It’s just that there was, you know, you’d go downtown sometimes and you think, “This seems a lot nicer than where I live.” And that’s the level of understanding they have.
Jason Slaughter: And what I am doing for those people is I’m providing them the information, and more importantly, the vocabulary to understand those thoughts. And so that is the person I’m targeting with my videos. And I get people who get upset that I’m turning off the suburbanites with my jokes and my snide comments and everything like that, but as I said, I don’t believe they could actually be convinced by a YouTube video. My belief is that there is no video I could make that would convince a willfully ignorant suburbanite that this is the right way to do things.
[YouTube clip: We’ve now had over 70 years of the suburban experiment, and we now know that the experiment has failed. And it’s not just because these suburbs are ugly, devoid of life and soul-crushingly sterile. It goes deeper than that.]
Jason Slaughter: So anyway, there’s a reason for the approach. And so sometimes people get upset at the approach. That’s fine. They can start their own YouTube channels with their own approach. And I’ve seen it. There are lots of YouTube channels about urbanism that are insightful, factual, extremely well-researched and boring as hell to the point where even I’m interested in this stuff and I can’t even sit through the videos. So that’s exactly the point.
Doug: The thing that has struck me on this trip to Amsterdam, and I’ve been here many times, and the first few times you soak in all the tourist sites, you go to the museums. As a cycling advocate, I’m taking thousands of pictures, too many pictures of people on bikes. But this time around, I’ve just been struck by the quiet. It’s a very lively city where there are dozens and dozens of people walking by every few minutes here, biking by. There are trucks. But it is so quiet. I’ve never slept better in the week that I’ve been here probably in my life. It’s not something that I think that instantly comes to mind when we talk about these cities. Are there things that have surprised you that you’re noticing differently now that you live here, as opposed to just passing through?
Jason Slaughter: Well, yeah. I mean, absolutely, the noise is a big one, and that’s exactly why there was a video about it. So I have made videos about various things that have surprised me moving here. I will talk about noise just for a second. We are here, and we get interrupted every so often by a delivery truck coming by or a snorfiet moped. But that’s very minor compared to if we were trying to do this interview on the side of a street in a North American city, which would be deafening. Like, we wouldn’t notice the mopeds because the base noise level would be so high that one noise level going by or this person, like, chatting on the sidewalk is …
Doug: She’s apologizing. No, you don’t have to apologize. We love it. [laughs] And then you don’t have that interaction either.
Jason Slaughter: Yeah, exactly. Right? I mean, we wouldn’t—the noise that is interrupting our conversation right now wouldn’t even register, because this level of noise would be drowned out by the overwhelming roar of the city.
Doug: It would register later when you die prematurely of heart disease, perhaps, right?
Jason Slaughter: [laughs] Yes, exactly. Or hypertension or anything else that noise brings us. So certainly the—and actually funny with the noise because now, like, when motorcycles go by, they annoy me so much here simply because it’s so much of a difference from the ambient noise of the city. Whereas in North America, you know, our conversation wouldn’t be interrupted by a motorcycle going by because we wouldn’t be having the conversation on the street in the first place.
Jason Slaughter: So yeah, noise, I think, is an important one, which is why I made a video of it. And, you know, it’s funny whenever I make videos, people who don’t get it, they totally miss the point. They think I’m trying to say we need to get rid of all motor vehicles. And that’s exactly what everyone always jumps to, and it’s just so incredibly frustrating because obviously we’re not talking about getting rid of—to us, obviously.
Doug: But it gets back to what you were saying earlier, which is like, it’s a defensive reaction, because if you start talking about getting rid of cars, eventually you’re gonna talk about getting rid of my car. And I don’t want that. I hate everybody else’s car, but I want mine, basically.
Jason Slaughter: No, but that’s a good segue actually into my other answer to this question of what surprised me. One of the things that surprised me about the Netherlands is it’s awesome to drive here. Like, I cannot explain how great it is to drive a car in the Netherlands. And I’m working on a video about it right now, because I actually drive a lot. There’s various times when I need to drive. During COVID, we were taking holidays in the Netherlands, and we were trying to go to places, the few places that you can’t get to by bicycle and train. And so we were driving more then. And I have had various reasons that I’ve needed to drive, and we use car share. And I was just driving last night, and I was thinking, “This is incredible. Like, there’s so little traffic. The traffic lights work so well.” The big thing that makes it so great to drive here is that the only people who are driving are those people who want to drive or those people who need to drive. And that’s it.
Jason Slaughter: And I think I’ve started to appreciate that one of the really toxic things that comes out of car-dependent places is that everybody is forced to drive, and they think that this is providing them with this comfort and convenience, but driving sucks in car-dependent places. There is so much traffic. There’s people cutting you off. There’s people that obviously don’t want to be there. They’re bored, they’re looking at their phone. I mean, when you take everybody and force them to do something whether they want to or not, it sucks. And you get all of the road rage and you get the terrible driving. And this is where a lot of this comes from. But you have to do it, right? Like, you have to do it. Like we said, to even feed yourself, to go to your job, to go to a doctor’s appointment, to do literally anything you have to go through this highly undesirable experience. And people will say, “Oh, but I can sit there and I’m not getting wet and I can listen to my music.” But it still sucks. Like, it would be better to not have to do it at all.
Doug: Let me ask one last question: you talked about your target audience for many of your videos is the 20-year-ago version of yourself.
Jason Slaughter: Yeah.
Doug: If you could talk to the 20-year-ago version of yourself that had not yet traveled the world and had kids and done all the rest, what would you say to that version of Jason?
Jason Slaughter: Well, the funny thing is, I don’t know how easy it would be to reach that person without doing what I do on the YouTube channel, because I think any conversation you have, it’s like you’re speaking a different language. Like, if you’re coming from car dependency and trying to explain this to somebody, it doesn’t compute. Like, nothing makes sense. None of it makes sense, even to somebody who’s open to it. And this is one of the reasons why I make the videos I do. I feel like if you can’t travel and see this stuff, then you need to see it in video form. And I make the videos in a very specific way. You’ll notice that I don’t do things cinematically. I don’t make it look like a movie. I don’t add music.
Doug: You’re often not even in the video. It’s just your voice.
Jason Slaughter: And there’s a reason for that too. It’s not that—you know, I’ve appeared in my videos before. It’s not that I’m ashamed of appearing in my videos, it’s that you don’t want to look at me. You want to look at the street, right? It’s not just because I don’t know anything about videography, it’s that this is intentional because the point of this is you’re supposed to feel like you’re standing at the side of the road looking at this unfold. And I specifically film in 4K at 60 or 50 frames per second, which is the opposite of what you want cinematic. People want, you know, the movie is 24 frames per second to feel like a movie. I literally do not want it to look like a movie because I—even subconsciously, I don’t want you to think that this is fake or that I’ve cherry-picked a particular thing to show you. I want to show you what it is really like here, so I want it to look as real as possible.
Jason Slaughter: But I guess if I were to talk to the person, me 20 years ago, I would explain, you know, walkability. Just go look at what this is, and go to the Netherlands as quickly as possible. [laughs]
Doug: And it’s great that you mentioned walkability, because it kind of ties back to the title of your YouTube channel, which is Not Just Bikes. It’s not just about, “Hey, it’s great to bike here.”
Jason Slaughter: Yeah. And I explain the reason for that naming at the end of my first video, which is that the Netherlands people think about bikes all the time. And it’s kind of obvious because it’s the thing that jumps out to you as soon as you walk out of Central Station and there’s just people on bicycles all over the place. But there’s—and this is the exact quote from the video—there’s a lot of good reasons why Dutch cities are so great, and it’s not just bikes. There’s a lot of stuff here, and that’s exactly what I’m trying to explain and what I’m trying to impart on people through the videos.
Doug: Jason, thanks for joining The War on Cars. This was wonderful.
Jason Slaughter: Thank you so much, and thanks for coming to visit me in a place where the war on cars has mostly been won.
Doug: That’s it for this episode of The War on Cars. Many thanks to Jason Slaughter for meeting with me in Amsterdam. Go check out Jason’s treasure trove of videos at Not Just Bikes on YouTube. Become a subscriber. I will put a link in the show notes, along with specific links to the videos we mentioned during our conversation.
Doug: As always, we’d like to thank our top Patreon sponsors: Charley Gee of Human Powered Law in Portland, Oregon, the law office of Vaccaro and White in New York City, Drew Raines, Virginia Baker and James Doyle. And if you want to support The War on Cars, you can go to TheWaronCars.org, click “Support Us” and join today. Starting at just $2 a month, you will get access to exclusive ad-free bonus content and other fun rewards.
Doug: We also want to thank this episode’s sponsor, Rad Power Bikes. To order a bike for you or for someone in your life who’d be happier riding an electric bike, go to RadPowerBikes.com.
Doug: And if you’re looking for great holiday gifts, we have all kinds of official merch, including our new Cars Ruin Cities shirts. Go to TheWaronCars.org and check that out. This episode was recorded and edited by me. Our theme music is by Nathaniel Goodyear, our logo is by Dani Finkel of Crucial D. Designs. I’m Doug Gordon, and on behalf of my co-hosts Aaron Naparstek and Sarah Goodyear, this is The War on Cars.