Countdown to Velo-city 2012: Charter for Young Bicyclists

By Sarah Ripplinger

An RCMP helps a child appropriately snap on a helmet.

Teaching kids about biking in their cities is one of the most essential ways to maintain and increase cycling numbers. Learning the skills necessary to master cycling in their cities is a right all children should have access to through school and community programs.

Velo-city Global 2012 organizers; the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF), owners of the Velo-city conference series; and the City of Vancouver have announced the upcoming signing of the Charter of Vancouver on Children and Cycling, which will officiate this right.

Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson and ECF president Manfred Neun will be among the expected signatories of the charter on June 29, 2012, during the Velo-city Global 2012 conference in Vancouver, BC.

According to a release:

The Charter of Vancouver is a document outlining the important connection between children and cycling, and is based on the United Nations 1990 Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Charter is designed to recognize children’s rights worldwide, the special ability of cycling to enshrine them and a commitment from the signatories to call for the adoption of goals, policies and practices towards cycling as a means to further recognize and promote the rights of children.

At Velo-city Global 2012, children and cycling are the foundation of one of the conference’s major themes, Empowering People and Inclusivity. Conference delegates can expect sessions focusing on incorporating cycling education into school curriculums, promoting youth engagement in alternative transport planning and transportation decision making, as well as best practices for bike to school programs.

The signed document is expected to “serve as a legacy for the City of Vancouver (and) the Velo-city Global 2012 conference,” the release continued. It formally recognizes the importance of teaching children about cycling and continuing to support the use of bicycles as an alternative mode of transportation.


Velo-city Global 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 international collaborations. The event also draws experts from related areas, such as health, economics and the environment.

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 lanes.

Visit to register now.

Check back to the Countdown to Velo-city 2012 blog each week for updates on the conference, its speakers and the people on the attendance list.

Originally published on

Countdown to Velo-city 2012: Q & A with Delegate Lisa Slakov

By Sarah Ripplinger

Velo-city Global 2012 expects to attract around 1,000 delegates to the beautiful and bike-friendly city of Vancouver, BC. From June 26-29, policy analysts, city planners, engineers and politicians will flock to British Columbia’s most populous city to discuss how to make cities around the world greener and more amenable to cycling traffic.

One such attendee will be Lisa Slakov. A member of the organizing committee for Velo-Talk – a bike advocacy workshop that will take place on June 25 – as well as the Vancouver/ UBC chair of the local cycling advocacy organization HUB, Slakov is an active proponent of cycling in her community.

I asked Slakov a few questions about her motivations for wanting to attend Velo-city 2012 and what she hopes to gain from taking part in the conference.

Why are you attending the upcoming Velo-city Global?

It’s an amazing opportunity to be part of a great international cycling conference, since it’s happening here in Vancouver. I can hardly wait for the cycling buzz to descend on the city and liven up streets and paths as well, as the conference centre.

What presentations are you looking forward to most? 

HUB is receiving support from Velo-city and TransLink to send presenters to the conference on the dates that they are presenting HUB-related presentations. Consequently, I am attending on two dates and am looking forward to the two presentations that I’m involved in – on Wednesday the Right to Bike Child Cycling Education Framework presentation and, on Thursday, a presentation on the complementary role of academics, advocates and government agencies in influencing cycling facilities and route networks. Of course, I’m looking forward to all the other presentations I can take in during those two days!

You are the Vancouver/ UBC chair of HUB (formerly the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition). What is the most rewarding aspect of working for a bicycling advocacy organization?

I’m very happy to say that Heather Harvey has joined me as co-chair, which makes the job a much greater pleasure. That brings me to my first thought regarding the rewards of doing this work, which has to do with the connections I’m constantly making with great people involved in cycling. I’ve also really enjoyed working on cycling – one of my favorite things to do – and seeing positive change happen in Vancouver as a result of the HUB advocacy work.

What are you doing in your work to bring more Vancouverites into the commuter cycling fold?

We are relying on the ongoing efforts of HUB staff and legions of volunteers to advocate for better cycling and provide programming, such as Bike to Work and Bike to School weeks and cycling education to reach out to a lot of people. In addition, we’re looking to research to guide us in ensuring that our advocacy work is supporting bringing more people into the “fold.” Specifically, we’ve benefited enormously from the Cycling in Cities research being conducted out of UBC.

What’s one thing that North American cities have gotten right over the past few years when it comes to planning for more bicyclists?

I think that some North American cities are looking at evidence-based research to decide re how to develop their cycling infrastructure and, at least in the case of Vancouver in recent years, are doing a good job of consulting with the cycling community and the public to have a better understanding of needs.

What do you think is an essential ingredient for establishing cycling-friendly cities in North America?

It’s evident that separating traffic and cyclists as much as possible (as we do for pedestrians and traffic) is a key ingredient for cycling-friendly cities. I also think that we need to include a lot more education of cyclists and drivers, as well as promotion of cycling alongside infrastructure developments.

Have you noticed a political and social shift in favor of biking over the past few years? What is the climate like for bike policy in Vancouver right now?

I’m very happy with the direction that public opinion, and consequently our political leadership, is taking in Vancouver at this time with respect to cycling. There are a lot of issues out there to balance (with the issue of biking), but I really believe that enabling a lot more active transportation has a multitude of positive benefits for our cities that go way beyond just cycling.

What do you think will happen in the aftermath of Velo-city 2012?

I’m hoping that a lot of positive change will come out of the conference, including an increased public awareness of the advantages of encouraging cycling in the city. I’m also hoping for increased awareness of HUB, as well as more ideas for the City of Vancouver to pursue as a result of conference learnings.

With respect to a specific project, the British Columbia Cycling Coalition‘s Education Committee is proposing a province-wide standard and framework for child cycling education and has obtained great support from many different sources. Our committee hopes that the Province of BC will use the conference as an opportunity to throw its support behind the initiative. We’re very concerned that if we don’t move in a big way – as they do in other jurisdictions, such as the UK – on child cycling education, we’ll soon have a population that doesn’t even know how to ride a bike, let alone commute to work!

What part of Velo-city 2012 are you looking forward to most?

Meeting great people and seeing the city alive with cyclists!


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 lanes.

Visit to register now.

Check back to the Countdown to Velo-city 2012 blog each week for updates on the conference, its speakers and the people on the attendance list.

Originally published on

Countdown to Velo-city 2012: A Word with Conference Director Richard Campbell

By Sarah Ripplinger

Vancouver cyclists take their first ride on the completed Dunsmuir bike route. The protected lanes run from Main Street, along the Georgia Viaduct and Dunsmuir Street.

Richard Campbell is a driving force behind the upcoming Velo-city Global conference in Vancouver, BC, set to launch June 26, 2012. Campbell has spent the past several years helping to coordinate Bike Month in Vancouver, an experience he said pales in comparison to the amount of work that he has put into organizing Velo-city.

As the Velo-city Global 2012 conference director, Campbell has worn several different hats, from communications, to fundraising and program development. He is also the president of the British Columbia Cycling Coalition and vice president of the VeloWorks Cycling Society. Apart from that, you are likely to see Campbell at local cycling-related events and gatherings; advocating for the rights of cyclists and better cycling infrastructure in Vancouver; and on one of the many bike routes throughout the city.

This is the first time that the global arm of the Velo-city conference will be in North America (it was previously held in Copenhagen, Denmark). What is the significance of bringing it to a continent that is still developing its city cycling culture?

This is looking like great timing for Velo-city in North America. Cities, including Vancouver, Portland, New York, Montreal and Chicago, have started to normalize cycling by creating separated bike lanes that encourage people of all ages to cycle. Due to limited space, this can be both politically and technically challenging. By bring leaders from around the world here to share their experiences, Velo-city can help these and other cities find solutions to these challenges.

What has been the largest hurdle/ challenge to overcome in the process of organizing the conference?

We had a great response to the call for papers, receiving around 450 abstracts from all over the world and accepting 400 of them. It has been challenging to fit this large number of quality presentations into the four days of the conference. All and all, a nice problem to have, though.

Why was Vancouver picked out of other cycling-friendly cities (Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, Montreal, Chicago, New York)?

Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson and Vancouver City Council’s strong commitment to improve cycling, as witnessed by the successful Burrard Street Bridge separated bike lane trial (that resulted in permanent separated bike lanes on the bridge) played a large role in winning the bid. Great support from TransLink (the local mass transportation authority) was also critical. We also have a strong cycling community, including researchers, organizations like Hub (the local cycling advocacy organization) and bike-based businesses like Momentum Magazine. The bid was submitted shortly after the Olympics. The great success of the Olympic Games – with the great weather and people from all over the world celebrating in the streets – I suspect, played a role as well.

The right of the child is the central theme of the conference. Why is this topic important to address now?

Cities that children can cycle anywhere in are also cities that are great in many other ways. They are vibrant, safe and healthy for everyone. They are also more resilient economically while being more environmentally sustainable.

What are you looking forward to most at the conference?

Meeting cycling experts from all over the world and hearing them share the great work that they are doing in creating healthier livable cities.

What kinds of outcomes are you hoping to see after the close of the conference?

More cities around BC, Canada and the world committed to making cycling safe and accessible for everyone.

How can British Columbia get money from the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) and the provincial government to promote cycling in BC?

A good question. In general, we need to work at building our connections at the provincial level and get the support of companies and other organizations.

You’re an avid city cyclist. What does having accessible bike infrastructure in Vancouver mean to you?

Separated bike lanes and paths make cycling much more enjoyable and relaxing. Cycling through downtown Vancouver is now a great experience; whereas, before it was often rather miserable. I also enjoy seeing all the people using the lanes, especially parents with their children.

Any final thoughts?

It has been a real pleasure working with inspiring cycling leaders from around the world, including Gil Penalosa, Manfred Neun, Bernhard Ensink and Jean-François Pronovost, as well as all the people in Vancouver working hard to make the conference a success.

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 lanes.

Visit to register now.

Check back to the Countdown to Velo-city 2012 blog each week for updates on the conference, its speakers and the people on the attendance list.

Originally published on

Velo-city Global 2012 Interview – Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson

Gregor Robertson

Vancouver Mayor

Q: How might Vancouver benefit from hosting Velo-city Global 2012?

Velo-city is an excellent opportunity to showcase many of Vancouver’s world-leading green initiatives, from our extraordinary 14-mile (22-kilometer) seawall bikeway, to green buildings and neighborhoods. We also want to highlight Vancouver’s focus on being a world center for the green economy.

Q: What topics will you address in your presentation?

I plan to speak about my experience as mayor and the politics, challenges and opportunities of building cycling infrastructure in Vancouver and forward-looking cities around the world. It’s important that cities share best practices as we approach the same challenge of trying to encourage a major shift in cycling and more sustainable transportation choices.

Q: How can city officials encourage cycling?

We need to focus both on building effective infrastructure and on measures to enhance cyclists’ safety. In my first year as mayor, we doubled city funding for cycling infrastructure to improve busy bike routes and we also established three new separated bike lanes in our downtown. These new lanes made riding safer and faster, and attracted many new cyclists. We’ve also expanded our efforts to raise awareness and respect between motorists, cyclists and pedestrians to ensure our roads are safer for everyone.

Want More?

Visit our Countdown to Velo-city 2012 blog:

Originally published in the May/ June 2012 issue of Momentum Magazine and on

Velo-city Global 2012 Interview – Technical and Environmental Mayor of Copenhagen Ayfer Baykal

Ayfer Baykal

Technical & environmental Mayor of Copenhagen

Q: What topics will you address in your presentation?

My presentation is about a brand new cycle initiative for 16 municipalities, including Copenhagen and the capital region of Denmark, that involves creating a high-class network of routes for cycle commuters. We call it the Cycle Super Highway Network. The final network will consist of at least 186 miles (300 kilometers) of high-class cycle routes where services for cyclists and modern intelligent traffic solutions are integrated. The first route, which will be a pilot route, will open in the spring of 2012, and the other two routes coming down the pipeline will open in late 2012. I think it will show all kinds of cycle-friendly cities and regions how possible it is to integrate a system like this that links the suburbs to the city center.

Q: What is the path ahead for cycling in North America?

There is an increasing trend towards more urban cycling, and I am sure that you guys will catch up with European cities eventually. It will not be in this decade, but, in many cities in North America, the bike is simply the quickest, healthiest and easiest mode of transport. I believe that politicians and citizens will soon realize that cycling already is playing a vital role in tackling the global problems of congestion, obesity and climate change.

Q: How can city officials encourage cycling?

There is broad consensus among experts about the starting point for creating new cyclists: It must be easy and safe to ride your bike. Bicycle-friendly infrastructure is crucial for making the bicycle a real alternative to the car. But asphalt and stripes are not enough. There is also the bike X-factor that lies in the sensual and bodily aspects and the actual bike experience – when you stop your bike, meet someone you know, feel the sun’s heat on your face or notice how the ride gives you joy and energy. This experience is the bonus that keeps people in the saddle.

Want More?

Visit our Countdown to Velo-city 2012 blog:

Originally published in the May/ June 2012 issue of Momentum Magazine and on