Velo-City Global 2014 report from local cycling champion

Guest blog from Pippa Coom, Deputy Chair, Waitemata Local Board

The world’s premier cycling planning conference has just been hosted for the first time in the southern hemisphere. Velo-City Global 2014 was an amazing opportunity to hear from the experts and discuss ways to create and sustain bike-friendly cities. The conference provided valuable lessons from countries and cities where cycling is a valued part of daily transport and recreation.

Bike parking Adelaide

I was able to attend with assistance from the Waitemata Local Board professional development budget. My conference report back is available here  with highlights of some of the key speakers.

As a former committee member of Cycle Action Auckland I was also really interested in the significant role advocates were acknowledged to have played in “re-imaging” city streets as places, particularly in NYC and in San Francisco. As Timothy Papandreou, (Director of Strategic Planning & Policy, San Francisco municipal transportation agency) said, you need a trifecta to make cycling happen: Mayor/leadership + advocates + “plangineers”.

Janette Sadik-Khan direct from Auckland acknowledged the work and support of Streetfilms and Transportation Alternatives (Executive Director Paul Steely White was hosted by CAA last year) and repeated her message that the most significant thing you can do for a city is build a cycle lane.

Another theme that grabbed my attention from an advocacy perspective was the importance of getting the language right. In San Francisco they have dropped all “ists” and “ians” because it is divisive and just talk about people. (I am more determined than ever not to let myself get defined as a “cyclist” – something I wrote about before I was elected ).

Adelaide Frame St protected cycle lane

At the Bicycle Network in Melbourne they’ve stopped talking about safety in relation to cycling, and now focus on healthy transport choices (because of course you can provide “safe” options – like driving kids to school – that are not healthy). They have taken on an ambitious and creative campaign to convince Tony Abbott to spend $7.5 billion on cycle lanes.

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