Countdown to Velo-city 2012 – Learning from Peers

Renowned urban planner Jan Gehl (Gehl Architects) giving his keynote in the main conference hall at Velo-City 2010 in Copenhagen.

Conferences like Velo-city Global are a link to inspiring speakers and current information on best-practices, research and more. Attendees have exclusive access to leaders in their field in a collegial setting. No wonder the next biannual Velo-city Global is expected to attract over 1,000 delegates.

A notable figure in the transportation policy world, Gil Penalosa will be opening and closing the conference, which takes place in Vancouver, BC, June 26-29, 2012.

The executive director of the Canadian non-profit organization 8-80 Cities and former commissioner of parks, sports and recreation in Bogota, Colombia, Penalosa brings with him a wealth of experience in developing liveable cities where bicycling plays a key role.

He recently stated that the best way to get politicians on side is to not mention cycling specifically, but as one factor in policies that promote public health, mobility and environmental protection.

“Imagine you have a city with two percent cyclists and 60 percent people using cars,” Penalosa said in a European Cyclists’ Federation report. “People will say you are against the 60 percent.”

“Cyclists are often too keen to talk about cycling and forget about the whole package. If you introduce cycling as a solution for obesity, for example, you are suddenly not only trying to help other cyclists, but a whole population.”

Information about other notable speakers attending the conference is presently available on the Velo-city Global 2012 website.

Keep checking this blog each week for more updates about the conference, presenters and attendees.

Velo-city Global 2012 is expected to host over 1,000 delegates from around the world. The conference will be held June 26 -29 at the Sheraton Vancouver Wall Center Hotel, accessible by the new Hornby Street separated bike lane.

Conference registration has begun! Visit velo-city2012.com/registration to secure your spot now. Early bird registration rates end March 31.

Originally published on momentummag.com.

Up Close & Personal with Caroline Samponaro

Caroline Samponaro. Thanks to Adeline Adeline for providing the Gazelle bike for the shoot.

One of New York City’s biggest movers and shakers in the grassroots cycling department, Caroline Samponaro first fell in love with bikes as an undergraduate at Columbia College back in 2000 – her thesis was about bicycling in NYC. Now the full-time director of bicycle advocacy with Transportation Alternatives (since 2006), she continues her quest to get more people riding the streets.

What bike do you ride?

My daily bike is a single-speed with a front basket. It’s a no-frills steel frame, with upright handlebars, perfect for my daily commutes and trips to meetings around the five boroughs. A few years ago I built up a geared bike for myself that has a rack so I can attach panniers and carry groceries or do errands more easily. Hands down my favorite bike is the steel, fixed-gear that I designed and brazed last summer (with a ton of help and support from fastboycycles.com). I am 5’5’’, pretty average height, yet even the smallest unisex bike frames are all out of proportion for a woman my size. I designed my frame to accommodate 26’’ wheels – and am experimenting with a more perfect frame size for the growing number of women riding bikes in the US.

What has enabled Transportation Alternatives (TA) to attract 8,000 members?

Our mission is to reclaim NYC streets for the majority of New Yorkers who are walking, taking public transit and, increasingly, riding bikes. Streets and sidewalks make up 80 percent of our public space in the Big Apple. TA’s campaign work helps to connect the dots between the many different voices that want safer, more livable public spaces. The fact that TA has helped to usher in the most unprecedented investment in bicycling in NYC over the past four years has also done a lot to grow our membership.

What is your greatest accomplishment with TA?

Ushering in the community support for the Department of Transportation’s (DOT’s) expansion of more than 250 miles of bike lanes over the past four years has been an amazing learning experience. That investment in quality infrastructure has paralleled a 109 percent increase in biking during the same period. If you build it, they will come! When I was riding a bike back in 2000, it was rare to run into another cyclist. Now it’s not uncommon to be in a bicycle traffic jam on some of our most popular bike routes.

What are you working on right now?

We will be working hard to reveal the benefits of increased bicycling for NYC small businesses through our Biking Rules Business campaign: bikingrules.org. We are also super excited that the NYC DOT is officially pursuing a public bike share program! This is something we have advocated for for years, and it will be the biggest game-changer for daily bicycle transportation in NYC.

What changes do you envision for NYC in the next five to 10 years?

We will continue to see the build out of the bike lane network, hopefully, with a core network of protected bike lanes that connect the Five Boroughs (aka NYC) on major arteries for bicycle-commuting. I suspect public bike share, combined with more bike lanes, will help increase our bicycle mode share from one percent to the upper teens in the next five to 10 years. And with that jump, NYC will surely mature into one of the most iconic bicycling capitals in the world. If the the last four years are any indication, we are well on our way there.

Originally published in the March/ April 2011 issue of Momentum Magazine and on momentummag.com.

Alliance, League, Bikes Belong Unifying into One Organization

The Alliance for Biking & Walking, the League of American Bicyclists and Bikes Belong are joining forces to create a unified organization.

“This is about having a bigger and better impact in our communities across America,” said Alliance president and CEO Jeffrey Miller in a telephone interview yesterday. “This is an incredible opportunity to transform this nation into a more bicycle-friendly nation by having us all work together as one team to improve cycling for everyone.”

The decision to move forward in principle with the unification was approved by 15 representatives from the League, Bikes Belong, the Alliance and related programs during a meeting in San Diego on February 14 of this year in San Diego, CA.

Since then, Miller said talks have been ongoing between the three organizations about pooling their resources and creating one organization that can meet the growing needs of cycling advocacy in the United States, as well as Canada and Mexico, to an extent.

“The unification is about three organizations moving together from a position of strength,” Miller added. “We’ve all grown over the years. We’ve all been doing more and better. It’s about how we can do even more and get these individual pieces working together much better.”

Some of those pieces include services at the state and local levels, something that Miller said he believes will be a significant part of the mission of the new organization, which has yet to be named.

“The Alliance has always worked closely with the League and people have probably often wondered: ‘Well, who does what?’” Miller said.

With the unified organization, access to a variety of resources, many of which were formerly offered by the three organizations, would be possible through one organizational channel. Services, such as the Alliance’s annual Benchmarking report and the federal government lobbying campaigns championed by the League and Bikes Belong, as well as funding and state and community program assistance, would, thus, continue to be offered through the new organization.

Resources and programs, such as the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, would also continue to operate under the new organization, according to a release.

The name and launch date of the unified organization has yet to be determined, but Miller said they are working through the details and hope to have something workable up and running by the end of this year or in January 2013. The position of acting CEO has been assigned to present Bikes Belong CEO Tim Blumenthal.

Miller said the unification is not about cutting costs and should not result in the loss of staff.

“There are a lot of details and work ahead,” Miller said in an email release, “but we are excited to combine the diverse strengths of our powerful coalition of state and local organizations with the storied national user groups, and a vibrant industry association, in a way that preserves their unique attributes and realizes the game-changing potential of a single organization.”

Originally published on momentummag.com.

Countdown to Velo-city 2012 – Momentum Magazine is an Official Media Partner

Momentum Magazine is excited to be an official media partner of Velo-city Global 2012. The lifestyle cycling magazine, which recently launched its new web URL: momentummag.com, will be spreading the word about North America’s first Velo-city Global through its online, print and social media platforms.

Velo-city 2012 Cities in Motion

The Countdown to Velo-city 2012 blog that you are reading right now will feature speaker profiles, highlight conference themes and introduce you to some of the delegates who will be in attendance.

Velo-city Global, scheduled to take place June 26 to 29, 2012, in beautiful Vancouver, BC, is the world’s premier international cycling planning conference. The four-day event offers delegates from around the world a chance to share best practices for creating and sustaining cycling-friendly cities where bicycles are valued as part of daily transport and recreation.

The Velo-city Global conference unites politicians, engineers, planners, architects, social marketers, academics, researchers, environmentalists, advocates, educators and industry representatives. Delegates join forces and foster transnational collaboration. The event also draws experts from related areas, such as health, economics and the environment.

Published five times a year, Momentum Magazine focuses on cycling as transportation, providing a perfect complement for one of the key themes of Velo-city Global 2012: growing cycling transportation mode share globally. Momentum also highlights bike culture in North America while providing positive and solutions-based editorial coverage, including arts & culture, city and people profiles, style, food, current events and gear.

Velo-city Global 2012 is expected to host over 1,000 delegates from around the world. The conference will be held June 26 -29 at the Sheraton Vancouver Wall Center Hotel, accessible by the new Hornby Street separated bike lane.

Conference registration has begun! Visit velo-city2012.com/registration to secure your spot now. Early bird registration rates end March 31.

Originally published on momentummag.com.

Jarvis Street Bike Lanes Under Threat

By Sarah Ripplinger

Cyclists pedaling along one side of the Jarvis Street bike lanes.

TORONTO, ON – Toronto City Council will debate and vote for or against a motion to remove the painted bike lanes along Jarvis Street next Tuesday and Wednesday.

Jarvis Street Bike Lanes Could Cease to Exist

The motion could mean the removal of the lanes, located on either side of the north-south running street, that have seen a three-fold increase in bike traffic since their creation almost a year ago.

The Toronto Public Works and Infrastructure Committee started the action by voting 4-2 in favor of removing the Jarvis bike lanes at a recent meeting. The final decision will be up to city council, which is heavily divided on the issue.

Before the lanes were created, about 290 cyclists in total biked along Jarvis Street on weekdays during the peak eight hours of the day. Since the creation of the bike lanes, that number has jumped to an average of 890 cyclists over an eight-hour peak period – a 300 percent increase.

The Toronto Cyclists Union has launched a Save Jarvis! campaign in the hopes of preserving the lanes. Dave Meslin, founder of the Toronto Cyclists Union, tweeted that he has “been involved with bike activism for 14 yrs. Without doubt, this has been the worst day I’ve ever seen… TO’s cyclists just got run over by amalgamation. Suburban councillors have declared a War on the Bike.”

Mayor Rob Ford has been notoriously anti-bike, notably stating that “roads are built for buses, cars and trucks, not for people on bikes.”

Those against the lanes say they slow down traffic and would be better suited to a less arterial route.

A report by council staff shows that car traffic has remained the same – about 13,000 vehicles over an eight-hour period – since the lanes were established last July.

The other argument may have some merit. If Mayor Rob Ford does plan on implementing a bike plan that includes separated bike lanes on Sherbourne Street, which runs parallel to Jarvis Street.

Even if that was to come to pass, though, the lanes along Jarvis would continue to serve as an alternate route for cyclists. Certainly, closing them down before an alternative was made available would be premature.

What do you think? Share your thoughts on the Jarvis Street bike lanes debate by commenting below.

Originally published on momentummag.com.