Smarter Than Car (STC) is about...


Smarter Than Car is an advocacy, research and design group for postcarbon mobility and socio-ecological transformation.

We see mobility as a key factor for prosperous urban transformation in light of climate chaos and related sustainability crises.

Our work includes research, design, and communication across various urban scales and contexts.


STC was initially founded in Beijing, China and is now located in Vienna, Austria.

Founded in 2010 as China’s first modern cycling advocacy group, STC primarily raised awareness for urban cycling by hosting events such as rides and lectures, elaborating policy documents, and drawing attention to urban cycling through media communications. After starting to research urban cycling cultures and Bicycle Urbanism with Beijing as a case study, our scope expanded internationally.

Some impressions from the early work of Smarter Than Car in Beijing. Also see our PROJECTS LIBRARY for some selected Beijing projects and our RESOURCES for content produced since 2010! 

During the years 2010 - 2015 STC was working to built a new bicycle culture in China and beyond. In this context our activities in China were especially exciting as we were facilitating bicycle cultural exchange to inspire new approaches in bicycle urbanism and cycling advocacy.

In 2012 STC institutionalized a second base in Vienna, Austria as a registered not-for-profit association for the public benefit. Then STC started to engage the public as a think tank and open research project investigating and advocating for pedal-powered vehicles as a tool for shaping future cities in Asia and around the globe. 


Mapping Bicycle Livelihoods in Beijing's Dong Cheng district in October 2010. Image: Smarter Than Car / Shannon Bufton.


Showing the density and diversity of Bicycle Livelihoods in Beijing's cityscape in spring 2011. Image: Smarter Than Car / Shannon Bufton.

During that period we elaborated on concepts such as Bicycle Urbanism, Negotiated Flow, and Bicycle Livelihoods as approaches to facilitate future urban mobility. Our work has been inspired by Beijing’s bicycle cultures of the past and is rooted in the urban expertise of our multidisciplinary team.

We engaged in international knowledge transfer and creation of bicycle cities by sharing our knowledge at international conferences, by starting initiatives such as the Bicycle Urbanism Unit, or, co-creating events such as the 4th World Bicycle Forum in Medellín, Colombia in 2015. 

Impressions from Smarter Than Car projects since 2013. See our PROJECTS LIBRARY and RESOURCES page for more content. 

Since 2015 STC has expanded its focus on mobility as a cross cutting theme to work on pressing urban issues such as the climate crisis and resource depletion. With projects such as FUTURAMA REDUX, we have since continued to work on a wide array of urban topics with multiple partners.

Today STC is run as a non-profit advocacy, research and design group for the public benefit and is exclusively located in Vienna, Austria where it is also registered as association for the public benefit. We fund our projects by (tons of) pro-bono work and through cooperations with project specific funding cooperations. 

Smarter Than Car is an Associate Partner of the United Nations World Urban Campaign and a partner in the Sustainable and Low-carbon Transport (SLOCAT) Partnership.

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Smarter Than car team


Elena Mali

is a Viennese architect and graphic designer specialised in urban design and heritage conservation with experience in Austria, Portugal, Italy, North Macedonia and Turkey.

She defines her vocation to underline the qualities of historicaly grown urban structures and to use these as resources for a more resillient town planning. These ambitions are integrated in her professional occupation for revitalisation of historical buildings and exibition design for the city of Vienna, or while engages herself in different assoitations for a better urban mobility systems. She believes that cycling is key to a more inclusive public urban space.


Florian Lorenz

is a landscape architect and process designer with a focus on postcarbon urbanism, mobility and citizen engagement. Florian consults cities, companies and NGOs developing projects in collaborative settings.

In 2021 he co-founded studio LAUT as practise for landscape architecture and urban transformation. 

In his non-for profit work Florian is working with the team of Smarter Than Car to pro-actively further the decarbonisation agenda. As one of the co-founders of the Low Carbon City foundation Florian is engaged to implement citizen-led projects to build communities beyond a dependence on fossil fuels.


Francesco Remonato

is an urbanist with a multidisciplinary background developed from living in Italy, Luxembourg, Spain, UK and finally, landing in Vienna. He has a focus on participation and environmental issues as well as policies related to sustainable urbanism. He's passionate about running, cycling, hiking and then using these experiences in his professional life.

He works in the field of EU projects and in the field of traffic planning. His passion for bike mobility led him to become also a team leader of bike tours and to focus on bike advocacy. Francesco firmly believes that bicycles and pedestrians are the basis for mobility and living in the future, where people and the environment are again the center.


Georg Wieser

is a Vienna-based architect, urbanist, artist, designer and activist. He is the co-founder of transformative urbanism studio LAUT, runs the art and design label x04x and is engaged with STC since 2014.

Working on all levels and scales across gestalt concerned disciplines, his work can be summarized as an interest in human action, experience and responsibility in the anthropocene. His cross-disciplinary insight is showcased in a broad range of projects ranging from concepts for sustainable urban transformation, built architecture, immersive art installations, sculptures and digital art to, furniture and object design. His work is rooted in functional design principles that are expressed through distinctive aesthetics, sustainable, haptic approaches and materials.


Joshua Grigsby

is a doctoral candidate at the University of Vienna’s Department of Geography. His  research focuses on the intersection of sustainability science, policy narratives, and societal transformation.

Originally from the United States, he is part of the coordination team for the 4CITIES Erasmus Mundus Master Program in Urban Studies and a lecturer on policy analysis, innovation and systemic transition, methods of urban analysis, and cinematic urban geographies.


Martin Lorenz

is a co-founding member of Studio LWZ Design & Animation. The Studio stands for the artistically high-quality combination of graphic design and animation as well as the development of visual systems and holistic media concepts. Experimenting with unconventional approaches is of central importance.

Martin is an urban Beekeper above Viennas rooftops. He never owned a car in his life.


Matthieu Floret

is a social scientist and planner with experience in research, planning, policy, diplomacy and activism. His vocation has led him to work on the programming of public places in Vienna, the organisation of the HABITAT III conference of the UN and the drafting of its New Urban Agenda, the evaluation of a slum improvement project in Dar es Salaam as well as the setting up of an agroecological and transition town association in Normandy.

As a cyclist by convenience and for pleasure, Matthieu is convinced that walking, cycling and public transport as well as car-free public space are key for socially just and ecologically sustainable cities.

Initial co-Founders of Smarter Than Car

STC's co-founders – Shannon, Liman and Ines – gave the initial spark for being "Smarter Than Car" in Beijing in early 2010! 


Shannon Bufton

is an Australian with a background in architecture and urban planning. He has worked on urban projects in China, the Middle East and Australia. Shannon has been living in China since 2009 observing China’s unique bicycle cultures.

He is now concentrating his efforts on helping to rebuild Beijing as a global bicycle city since 2009 through his work as co-founder of China’s first bicycle NGO of ‘Smarter Than Car’ and the entrepreneurial activities of his company Serk Cycling. He has lectured extensively on bicycle culture in China and founded a number of new cycling culture events in China.


Liman Zhao

Liman is a native of Beijing, growing up in the ‘golden bicycle age’ during the 1970′s and 80′s. She has fond memories of cycling in a city packed full of bikes and urban cycling culture. After graduating from University she went abroad for 10 years living and working in five different cities and experiencing auto dependent transportation first hand.

In 2010 she co-founded Smarter Than Car. In 2012, she co-founded the cycling company Serk Cycling. The space is a combination of café/bar and bike shop. This space is the first of its kind in China. She uses this space as a launch pad to promote bicycle culture and organize cycling events.


Ines Brunn

Ines co-founded Smarter Than Car with Shannon Bufton and Liman Zhao in early 2010. She is a German trick cyclist with a Master’s Degree in Physics who grew up in the US.

In 2009 she founded Natooke, the first Fixed Gear Bike and Juggling Equipment Shop in China. Her motivation was to get the Chinese people back on bikes for less polluted and congested cities. After riding the fixie boom in China in the early 2010s Ines has moved on into the private sector and now works between Germany and Asia.

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