Day Two of Velo-city Global 2012 Conference

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Day two of Velo-city Global 2012 dawned bright and sunny, and began with a plenary session focusing on bicycling efforts the City of Vancouver was using to forge its way to Greenest City status.

Chaired by former City Councillor Gordon Price, a.k.a. “Councillor Bikeways”, the presentations took the audience through Vancouver’s cycling infrastructure evolution, as told by four individuals involved on different levels.

Councillor Heather Deal, Brent Toderian of TODERIAN UrbanWORKS, Director of Transportation Jerry Dobrovolny, and Active Transportation Manager Dale Bracewell gave delegates a detailed account of Vancouver’s cycling issues, complete with lots of stats, the background story, and goals for the future.  

Dale Bracewell even took on Gil Penalosa’s challenge to set the city’s sights higher. Referring to Penalosa’s 8-80 Cities organization, a good-humoured Bracewell claimed Vancouver was aiming to target improved liveability for the 4-84 year-old age bracket. He then went on to recount his own bike to school route on pathways as a four year-old, complete with local images from Google Maps.

The afternoon “Cities in Motion” session had Lord Mayor Stephen Yarwood sharing the efforts Adelaide is making to grow its central business district into a desired destination. An important part of that is the inclusion of more cycling infrastructure with the goal of making his South Australian city the cycling capital of the southern hemisphere. In no nonsense Australian style, the Lord Mayor also suggested the helmet debate should stop, and the energy redirected to the issue of cycling safety.

Lise Thorsen, a member of Copenhagen’s Technical and Environmental Committee stated the city’s goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2025. As well, she suggested Copenhagen, the poster child for cycling infrastructure, might have to look further afield to its outside communities in order to attain 50% bicycle mode share.

Almost lost to the conference due to travel delays was Vienna Deputy Mayor Maria Vassilakou. Vassilakou walked directly to the podium upon arriving at the conference. She spoke of “the sound of cycling”: hearing and feeling the city outside the car windshield. It was a fitting juxtaposition to what must have been a hectic day of travel.

A welcomed addition to the session was the Marshall and Chief Executive of the Nigerian Road Safety Corps, Mr. Osita Chidoka, who shared the fact he had ridden a bicycle to his wedding. He then spelled out for delegates a simple truth: countries like his do not possess the finances to pay for large-scale automobile infrastructure, let alone do it well. It was a poignant reminder of the reality for not only much of Africa, but for other parts of the world.

“For Nigeria, investing in cycling infrastructure is an economic imperative.”

Conference updates from the European Cyclists’ Federation can be found at:

Posted on June 28, 2012