Jo Cruickshank shares her Fellowship experience

08 Apr 2019

Jo Cruickshank shares her Fellowship experience featured image

In support of the NEW Auto Skills Australia Churchill Fellowship to increase expertise and knowledge for the benefit of the automotive sector and allied industries

What was your Churchill Fellowship topic?

The focus of my Fellowship was to investigate successful cycling policies and programs in several European countries, with a focus on highly successful cycling nations and smaller regional centres and cities.

How and why is cycling such a fundamental part of the transport system in some European cities? What does this mean for the health, environment and liveability of these cities and what can Australia learn from these places? These are some of the questions I set out to answer through my Fellowship and my travels took me to towns and cities across the UK, France, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and the Netherlands.

What motivated you to apply for a Churchill Fellowship?

I had been aware of the Churchill Trust and Churchill Fellowships for several years before I applied.  I had always thought that my work in transport and in particular, cycling policy and planning, would benefit from an international perspective and that there is so much for Australia to learn from Europe’s cycling cities.

Through my work I became aware of the Copenhagenize Bicycle Friendly Cities Index published every two years by the Danish based consultancy, Copenhagenize Design Co. The Index is one of the world’s most comprehensive inventories of cycling cities and has been published biannually since 2011.  While reading about the top 20 cycling cities in the world, I began thinking about how far down the list most Australian cities would be.  I know that there is real potential to do so much more to lift the levels of cycling in my home town, Darwin in the Northern Territory and Australia more broadly and I began investigating the high ranking Copenhagenize cities and their policies and programs in detail.  I also began thinking about visiting some of these top bicycle cities to really understand how they have achieved such high rates of cycling and what Australia could learn from these cities. This led me to successfully apply for a Churchill Fellowship in 2017.

How did the Churchill Fellowship benefit you?

My Fellowship gave me the freedom to contact an incredible range of people including representatives of national, regional and local governments, volunteers, politicians, academics and journalists and I found this very rewarding.  I received an overwhelmingly positive response from the people I contacted and everyone I met.  People were so welcoming, willing to share their knowledge and generous with their time. This positive experience of meeting complete strangers, in unfamiliar situations has increased my confidence and further developed my communications skills.  At a personal level, an unexpected benefit has also been getting to know other Fellows locally.  This has extended my local network of contacts to a unique group of people with a broad and diverse range of interests and skills.

How did the knowledge gained from your Churchill Fellowship benefit your work in the automotive and allied industries (and specifically the Bicycle sector)?

My Churchill Fellowship was such an amazing experience in so many ways.  I visited many of the top cycling cities in the world as well as smaller towns and cities which are just starting their journey towards becoming cycling cities.  This was an incredible opportunity to meet a huge range of people who are actively engaged in promoting and encouraging cycling as well as experiencing world leading infrastructure and programs. Travelling as a Churchill Fellow really opened doors and provided access to people and organisations which probably wouldn’t have been possible otherwise.  I have learnt about so many innovative policies and programs and new approaches to designing cities for bicycles.  I have also established a whole new network of international contacts and resources which is invaluable to my work back in Australia. I am finding already that I am using my Fellowship experiences and learnings in my work and passing on some of my key findings and initiatives to my colleagues and contacts.

What major achievements or milestones have you reached since going on your Fellowship?

It is now two months since I have returned from my Fellowship, however I have already been sharing my knowledge through newsletters and articles and I have made a number of presentations.  I have held meetings with local community representatives and I have given presentations to various groups within the NT Government, to my local council and at the Churchill Fellowship information session in Darwin. Interestingly I have been contacted by a bicycle advocacy group in the ACT who wanted to know more about my Fellowship after reading an article about my Fellowship on the Dutch Cycling Embassy’s website.

What are you doing now and what’s next for you?

At present my focus is on finalising my report for submission to the Churchill Trust website and I am currently pulling together all the notes and information I collected during my journey.  I have submitted an abstract for an international conference later this year and have scheduled a presentation to a cycling national working group.  I have already started implementing some of the ideas I learned about during my Fellowship and I will continue to seek out opportunities to share my learnings.  I have joined the Northern Territory Churchill Fellows Association Committee as a general member and hope to maintain strong links with other local Churchill Fellows.

More about Jo

I was awarded a Churchill Fellowship in 2017 to investigate successful cycling policies and programs in the UK and Europe, with a focus on highly successful cycling nations and smaller regional centres and cities.

I am passionate about the potential for cycling and walking to create more liveable and connected communities and delivering the infrastructure, policies and programs to encourage people to choose active transport for short trips and daily commutes.

I work for the Northern Territory Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics in Darwin, which is responsible for sustainable and active transport including policy and planning, with a particular focus on cycling and walking. I have a degree in Geography and a Masters in Environmental Management and I have worked in transport and planning for over 20 years.

For my Fellowship, I travelled in December 2018 and January 2019, visiting cycling cities in the UK, France, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and Norway.  I met with local government and state transport agencies, transport planners, cycling advocates and community groups to discuss their cycling programs, the challenges they face, their successes and future plans.  I am now finalising my report and sharing my findings with my local networks and interstate and national cycling contacts across Australia.


Read an article about Jo which appeared on the Dutch Cycling Embassy website in January 2019:

Auto Skills Australia Churchill Fellowship

In 2019 the new Auto Skills Australia Churchill Fellowship will be offered annually for projects that aim to increase industry expertise and knowledge for the benefit of the automotive sector and allied industries in Australia. Fellowship Applications open on 1 February 2019 and close 30 April 2019.

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