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Impressions from Vélo-City 2014

Every year there’s a global get-together for all those interested in the promotion of cycling. Transportation experts, mayors, town councillors, consultants for ‘liveable cities’, documentary film-makers -and of course cycling advocates- attend the Vélo-city Global Conference. The European Cycling Federation organises the event, and this year it was held in Adelaide, South Australia.  Nearly 600 delegates attended.

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Over 150 speakers covered a broad array of topics -from tandems for use by the visually impaired in Tokyo to experiments on different bike-lane markings in Wellington, but highlights that colleagues mentioned were the promotion of ‘active travel’ (walking & cycling) as a human right, since the allocation of too much road space to motorised traffic often hampers free movement.

Good to keep in touch with international developments in cycling promotion: Vélo-city Global gave great new knowledge and inspiration, as well as the opportunity to discuss Dublin and Nelson’s recent surge in cycling and good facilities.  Next year it will be in Nantes, France.

 

Themes emerging –

  • Many speakers addressed the gender gap in cycling and the need to move past the poor gender balance both among cyclists and advocates, who tend to be male.  Janette Sadik-Khan discussed this, as did Bojun Bjorkman-Chiswell (notes below) and Bojun touched on the impact of travel policy and new road construction in developing countries.  Other speakers also mentioned the co-benefit of cycling on social equality and economic opportunity issues.
  • Another strong theme was ‘placemaking’ in towns and cities- turning city streets and squares dominated by the noise, fumes and danger of moving motor traffic into safe, sociable, green and healthy spaces.  The ‘Liveability’ of cities, and the competition to attract creative workers and investors, depends on good placemaking.   The fall in car use in English-speaking cultures in recent years feeds into this, and public health requires it  -Larry Frank’s research shows a statistical link directly from town planning factors (density) to public health outcomes.  Ethan Kent of Project for Public Spaces also addressed placemaking.
  • Cycling is part of a multi-modal strategy for transport. Examples of speakers on this topic were Florian Lennert from Berlin, and Timothy Papandreou in San Francisco.
  • The ‘interested but concerned’ cohort must be courted and seduced!  This emphatically includes women; gender issues featured notably in the Conference.
  • The launch of the World Cycling Alliance by the ECF was another interesting development.

 

Highlights-

  • Larry Frank – research shows statistical link directly from town planning factors (density) to public health outcomes
  • Maria Vassilakou, Mayor of Vienna:  Bike is glue to different modes.  City as centre for exchange of goods, ideas and inspiration.  Must defeat the desire among young families for the ‘little house in the country’.
  • Florian Lennert– examples from Berlin showing cycling seamlessly incorporated into a high-quality transportation system
  • Bojun Bjorkman-Chiswell, documentary-maker, included some views from the third world where cycling is still implicitly linked with poverty and is in places actively discouraged
  • Timothy Papandreou of San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority-
    • How SF transport organisations combined
    • Political controversy over transport (Google buses; freeway reconstruction after earthquake)
    • Good strategic network planning for all modes
    • Demand analysis of cycling
    • High-level, technology-heavy systematic multi-modal planning and ‘complete streets’ design.
    • ‘Don’t provide cycle facilities before doing parking demand management’
  • Luke Elrath coined the term plain-clothes cycling which I think is useful.  Roll on the day when hi-viz, lycra and helmets are no longer needed!  Though I suppose raingear’s a bit harder to make redundant…
  • Upcoming two-year trial of an overtaking-clearance law in Queensland (North-eastern Australia incorporating Brisbane and Cairns): 1.0m up to 60km/h; 1.5m above
  • Craig Richards of Bicycle South Australia advocacy group spent half his talk period instructing the audience to lobby federal Australian government for fair funding for active transport.  He allowed the second half for delegates to do so, there and then on mobile devices or on paper for later posting.

Kiwi presentations of interest-

New Zealand-based attendance was estimated at close to 50, with a good contingent from the Mainland including several staff from Christchurch City Council. Patrick Morgan of CAN attended. A few of the more sporting Kiwis rented a car for a quick mountain-biking outing in the Flinders Ranges after the conference.

– The image of cycling and its impact on choosing to cycle – Simon Kingham from Christchurch. Focus groups, questions, qualitative. 32 participants (from Fitt’s (researcher)’s snowboarding cohort) asked to assess culture round mountain-bike image and road-racing bike image. Found ‘mountain bike’ image reflected ordinary user; some hostility for ‘lycra’ user associated with road-racer bicycle user. Four reasons given for choice of car or bike for certain trips – totally different reasons cited for taking bike!

– Simon Kingham and Glen Koorey presented on Christchurch’s rebuild- $70 million found by Council for cycling infrastructure (little support from central government). Demonstration projects for houses for living in the city.

– Michael Ferigo also discussed Christchurch-
‘On foot, by Cycle’ is the notional national strategy. CCC had an earlier strategy. Post-EQ ‘Accessible City’ Plan. ‘Share an Idea’ programme: Cycling (and trees!) featured strongly in many of the ideas & submissions. Council supported (against funding pressures) provision of entire cycling infrastructure strategy immediately. Capital funding allocated. Needs to be followed up with maintenanace, promotional education budget. Good support from the ‘interested but concerned’ public

– Isabella Cawthorn of Frocks on Bikes is new Cycling Champion of Wellington, gave a slide show on Frocks/ Cycle Chic (would be good to invite to Nelson?)

– Alastair Smith on overtaking distances – measurement in Wellington (by long-lens camera) of how far cyclists distance themselves from parked cars when overtaking, and how far motorists leave from cyclists. 1.5 being observed by 85%; 1.0m clearance was OK. Cyclists not clearing door zone.

– Simon Kennett on navigation – amazing historical (c. 1910) cycling map of NZ. Interesting discussion on cycling route-planning and a cycling map of Kuala Lumpur.

 

Irish presentations of interest-

Three attended from Dublin Cycling Campaign and Cyclist.ie- All three were invited to speak on various topics-
1. Kirsten Doherty, former Chair of Dublin Cycling Campaign. Kirsten made a presentation, ‘Barriers and incentives to cycling among staff in an Irish academic hospital’ was based on her experience of promoting cycling in St Vincent’s University Hospital, Dublin;
2. Jonivar Skullerud (of Maynooth Cycling Campaign and Steering Committee member of Cyclist.ie). Jonivar’s talk was ‘From marginalised to mainstream? Cycling in Ireland 2005-2015’. Jonivar also was invited to the launch of the World Cycling Alliance.
3. Will gave a brief slide show summary comparing Irish and New Zealand national policies.

 

More Information-

Velo-City Conference Website

ECF Vélo-City page or ECF Newsletters, with summaries of conference proceedings

Axel Wilke report

Cycling Christchurch blog page

Pippa Coom report to Waitemata Council -lots of good quotations here

 

Some notes from the week of talks and events-

  1. Kaurna Welcome  -Jack Buckskin
    • Respect paid to original occupants of the Adelaide area
  2. The global state of cycling  -Manfred Neun
  3. The five senses in the life sized city Mikael Colville Andersen
    • Asks delegates to ask of their transport providers, ‘What the Fuck!?’  Quotes 6-yr old daughter as ‘feeling sorry’ for Adelaideans who can’t cycle for transport.  I thought this could be seen as patronising by Antipodeans.
  4. The image of cycling and its impact on choosing to cycle  – Simon Kingham from Christchurch.
    • Focus groups, questions, qualitative.  32 participants (from Fitt’s (researcher)’s snowboarding cohort) asked to assess culture round mountain-bike image and road-racing bike image.  Found ‘mountain bike’ image reflected ordinary user; some hostility for ‘lycra’ user associated with road-racer bicycle user.  Four reasons given for choice of car or bike for certain trips – totally different reasons cited for taking bike!
  5. More than a message; ‘creating cyclists through public safety advertising campaigns’  – Rachael Neilsen and her supervisor.
    • Deconstruction of the infamous MAC ad showing cyclists (motorists who’d lost driving permission licenses) as social outcasts.
  6. Metaphors applied to undermine car centricism in a beginner cycling community – Piotr Kuropatwinski Gdansk.
  7. Place to place: changing the transportation paradigm with placemaking -Ethan Kent
  8. Bicycle journalism, solo-woman filmmaking, the unearthing of a global cycle and the almost certain future of cities  -Bojun Bjorkman-Chiswell.
    • Tragic that in places like Kisumu (Kenya) Tanzania and Bogota, there is active removal of bike taxis, pedalling peddlers.  Lots of road-building in Africa but any requirements for provision of cycling facilities, e.g. by UN, are often ignored and not enforced.  Yves Bussiere of Mexico says that 10% of large-project construction budgets in his country go to corruption.
  9. Transformational leadership in action -Janette Sadik-Khan.
    • Good data from her initiatives e.g. safety better for all road users after bike share scheme and increase in cycling.  Called Times Square a ‘pilot programme’ to get it past local retail bodies etc. but says ‘you can’t do enough consultation’.
  10. Cycling as the engine for financially and socially sustainable cities Niels Hoe
  11. New research on the health impacts of land use and transportation investment decisions: new tools to support evidence based decision making  -Larry Frank
    • Statistical link directly from town planning factors (density) to public health outcomes.  Software based on walkability index.  e.g. San Diego suburb ‘stepping towards causation’.  Neighbourhood design preference.  Australian Heart Foundation ‘Healthy Spaces and Places’.
  12. Spin cycle presentations-
    • Conversations…how they are assisting people to get out of their cars -Samara Farrell
    • Rebuilding Christchurch as a cycle city -Ruth Hudson
    • Safety marking of the door zone in cycle lanes -Tim Hughes
    • The journey of Singapore’s Park Connector Network (PCN) -Thomas Yee
    • Retro-reflectivity, low-light visibility and the sartorial cycling revolution  -Luke Elrath
      • Has designed natty jacket (hipster/tweed vibe to my mind) with reflective upturnable collar and other ? cyclable features.
      • ‘I call it plain-clothes cycling‘ which I think is a useful term
    • The Belair Hills – a journey of learning, transformation and accomplishment -Matthew Pears
    • Bicycles in Rio de Janeiro: reclaiming space and achieving GHG abatement targets -Clarisse Linke
  13. From marginalised to mainstream? Cycling in Ireland 2005-2015 -Jonivar Skullerud
  14. Basel, the most bike friendly city in Switzerland? Some insights into Basel’s cycling strategy -Martin Dolleschel
    • Typical very organised and publically well-supported measures to grow cycling.  Basel now second-friendliest and climbing!
  15. Using organizational policy to deliver cycling infrastructure in Queensland  -Adam Rogers
    • Queensland Main Roads and Transport office.  State government there are applying an integrated network based on trip demand measures into all infrastructure projects.  Planning and prioritisation.  Have cycle-phase traffic signalling, cycle-advance timings at traffic lights.
      • tmr. gov. au
    • High-level policy works.
  16. Mind the gap: How Wellington cyclists and motorists use road space, and the implications for bicycling regulation and training  -Alastair Smith
    • round table presentation
    • his measurements from long-lens photos of cyclists overtaking cars & being overtaken.  2 locations in Dunedin.
    • 85% of cars were more than 1.5m from cyclist;
    • 65% of cyclists were less than 1 m from parked car.
    • Measured to centre of cyclist, though.
    • Little correlation between cyclist’s clearance of parked car, and passing motor car’s clearance of cyclist, contrary to other findings (?Parkin?)
  17. Spin Cycle presentations- 
    • Training traffic engineers to see the world from behind the handlebars -Warren Salomon
    • The role of maps & apps in the growth of urban cycling -Andrew Leunig
    • Getting employees riding by successfully starting a workplace bike fleet  -Ashlea Bartram
    • Free bikes benefit business and government – but the real winners are people -Michael Bridge
    • Impact evaluation of a national cycling skills program (AustCycle) in Australia 2010-2013   -Chris Rissel
    • An idea contest with one million Euros to get more people on their bikes in the Netherlands -Sjors Van Duren
    • A study on potential usability of Tandem Bicycle for visual disabilities -Yuki Yoshida
    • Bike-friendly parklets, portable bike corrals, pop-up bike lanes and all things temporary -Kay Cheng
  18. Presentations and a facilitated discussion with mayoral representatives of cities from around the world, all at diferent stages of their journeys to become bike-friendly cities
    • Stephen Yarwood, Adelaide
      • Speak directly to traders, retailers
      • engage with new media
      • cultivate relationships with friendly media
      • Change is difficult.
      • For public representatives, communication of change’s benefits.  Good clear professional persuasive communication.
      • Be frank and fearless
        • Subsquent discussions with City planning officials lauded Yarwood’s openness and positivity.  Elections November for second & final four-year term.
    • Per Ankersjö, mayor of Stockholm
      • High acheivement.
      • Consultation by social media
    • Morten Kabell ???
    • Maria Vassilakou, Vienna
      • Cities for Kids.  Quality of life.  Must defeat the desire for the little house in the country prevalent among young families
      • Controversial decision to allow walking on the grass in central Viennese park space.
      • ‘A good city is a place where people exchange ideas, goods and inspiration’
      • Roadways provided with seats, micro-piazzas.
      • 75% of city is 30 km/h
      • Bike and car share (‘Why buy the cow to have a glass of milk?’) schemes
      • Bike is glue to different modes
      • Good cities encompass change.  Change involves controversy.  Change must be made quickly
  19. The biggest bikeway program in Australia – Is the investment paying off?  -Robyn Davies
  20. Will Christchurch be rebuilt as a cycling city: progress and reflections three years on from the earthquakes  -Simon Kingham and Glen Koorey
    • Central government budget 0.43% of national transportation for walking and cycling.
    • Christchurch city council have found $70 million for cycling infrastructure.
    • Demonstration projects for smaller-footprint inner-city living.
    • Brisbane-
      • Creating cycling network.  Aim for 5% modal share
      • Auckland aiming for 4% modal share
    • Victoria’s ‘Smart Roads’ classification system quoted.  Not sure what this is, context implied that it may be similar to ‘Complete Streets’ concept from US.
  21. Building a cycling city -Cathy Oke, mayor of Melbourne
    • Principally concerned construction of pieces of infrastructure
    • Melbourne requires political approval for bike lanes
    • Direct conslutation with those affected by construction of bike lanes.  Had a Cycling Plan in 1976.  Councillors may vote for a measure, but may not have realised implications/details and may turn on the plan later
    • Princes Bridge over Yarra – lane of motor vehicles removed for a cycle lane.  Main access to centre of city from southern residential areas.  Controversy.  Lord Mayor stood by Network Plan.  Hostile media.  Data supported success
  22. We don’t build cycleways, we build community facilities – Delivering cycle facilities through community spaces -Myfanway Lawrence, Mayor of Parramatta
    • Fancy CGI video promoting investment in Paramatta
    • She got a beautiful riverside pathway built
    • ‘Make your funders look good’.
    • Community facilities and provision by stealth (subsequent discussions with other delegates, local authority staff, found use of this word worrying)
    • Bike facilities as part of community facilities -again, with some stealth
  23. Breaking new ground in Christchurch – after the earthquakes  Michael Ferigo
    • ‘On foot, by Cycle’ national strategy.  CCC had an earlier strategy.  Post-EQ ‘Accessible City’ Plan.
    • ‘Share an Idea’ programme.  Cycling and trees featured strongly in many of the ideas & submissions.
    • Council supported (against funding pressures) provision of entire cycling infrastructure strategy immediately.  Capital funding allocated.
    • Needs to be followed up with maintenanace, promotional education budget.
    • Good support from the ‘interested but concerned’ public
  24. Inventing building typologies and urban morphologies that proceed from bicycle motion -Steven Fleming
    • ‘Sight and Space’ important features for people using buildings
    • ‘Adapting existing space’ move to new typologies; inventing new building types.  Decided to create ‘bicycletecture’.
    • Says typical 5-8 storey building doesn’t work (economies of lifts).  Says 1956 conference on Urban Design (?start of New Urbanism movement?) proposing walking city was wrong; the walking city doesn’t work, causes boredom & obesity.
    • Large developers, funders usually conform to car accommodation.
    • Bring (cargo) bikes indoors, like car into garage.  Unload groceries in kitchen.
    • His idea- the ‘slip block’ – apartments off sloping corridors (enter up in lift with bike; down this corridor to street level).  Corridors can be straight, spiral etc.
    • (Henri Lefebvre?)
    • (There was a bikeway in Los Angeles in early last century.  Was covered by freeway system)
  25. Bike riding is booming – but is the current progress quick enough? -Craig Richards
    • exhorted audience to write immediately to Australian PM Tony Abbott demanding AU$7.5Bn for active travel which would reap even higher savings in healthcare costs.  Zero allowed in recent budget.
  26. SF from start(er) to finish: how San Francisco is tripling bike mode share by 2018 -Timothy Papandreou
    • How SF transport organisations combined
    • Political controversy over transport (Google buses; freeway reconstruction after earthquake)
    • Good strategic network planning for all modes
    • Demand analysis of cycling
    • High-level, technology-heavy systematic multi-modal planning and ‘complete streets’ design.
    • ‘Don’t provide cycle facilities before doing parking demand management’
  27. Spin Cycle presentations –
    • Turning suburbs into living neighbourhoods by empowering communities to take action Chelsey Key
    • From the archives: a history of cycling in Adelaide Jeremy Sibbald
    • Exploring cycling as an (un)remarkable occupation of western cities Alice Lewis
    • Wheel stylish – fashion in motion Isabella Cawthorn
    • Less kids on bikes? – Call for action! Martin Dolleschel
    • Social bicycling and tricycling in Warrnambool Clare Vaughan
    • Polar opposites’: Lessons from similarities and anomalies Will Andrews
    • Small street connectivity; Sturt Street Adelaide – a demonstration Matthew Mayes
  28. A high gear ‘speed networking’ process to give delegates an opportunity to share and build on the ideas, reflections and inspirations they’ll take home from the conference.
  29. Corporate leadership to foster bike riding Ryan O’Neill
    • Coproporates fund this to get access to network of other CEOs of large conglomerates.
    • 5,000 applications for 500 memberships in Australia
    • Says it can promote modal shift through influence of business leaders on employees (they are working with strava on a tracking system for commuters to calculate carbon miles etc.  London city council received a million strava-type GPS feeds every day, he says), facility provision, their pressure on local authorities
    • Help in running charity cycles
    • Says local governments don’t engage with corporates enough
    • Other delegate Graham from Bike Sydney says Sydney property developers are seeking cyclist ‘facilities’ in office towers
    • World launch in Singapore next week.  Community in London.
  30. Mobility for Future Cities Florian Lennert
    • Technology and the City.  Research and innovation on multi-modal travel.  Car use in cities ‘insane’.  The multi-mode card in Berlin which lets holder access shared bike, local rail, light rail, high-speed rail, shared car)  Design (with MIT) for semi-folding electric city car.
    • Excellent summary incorporating urban design.
  31. World Cycling Alliance Bernhard Ensink
    • 86 NGO’s aligned
    • Steering board
    • Secretariat – Bernhard; others from Thailand, India, Netherlands; Quebec; USA

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