This past week in Montréal, Vélo Québec hosted the 5th International Winter Cycling Congress (http://www.wintercycling.org), February 8-10, 2017.
At this international event, you may be interested to know that Calgary was very well represented, both in terms of quality presentations and formal recognition at the Congress.
a. Foremost, City of Calgary has won the 2017 Winter Cycling Federation Organization Award, based on the development, study and implementation, of Downtown Cycle Track Project. The award was accepted by Kimberly Fischer, Active Transportation Education Planner, on behalf of the City of Calgary. Kudos to City Council and Staff!
Kimberly also gave an excellent invited Plenary Session regarding effective communication around complex issues such as cycling infrastructure using individuals’ real-life stories as an important compliment to aggregate data reports.
Grazia Salvo, a University of Calgary Public Health physician and Community Health Sciences Graduate Student presented her qualitative research into opportunities and barriers to winter cycling using Calgary-specific data, including the Bike Calgary Winter Cycling Forums. Her analyses were recognized as unique and ground-breaking by other Public Policy Congress attendees.
Do we need external validation that Calgary winter cycling is great? Alta Planning + Design, a US-based consulting and design group, conducted an international survey on winter cycling in 2016 and Calgary ranked first for winter maintenance of cycling pathways: even ahead of Oulu, Finland!
Albi Sole, on half of Outdoor Council of Canada, headquartered in Calgary, advocated for greater culture of outdoor activities among the population.
Tom Babin, local author and journalist (Frostbike, Shifter), was an invited speaker: He presented on “The Mainstreaming of Winter Biking” with humor and clarity. He reflected on the improved public attitude and acceptance of winter cycling, the role of more suitable winter gear (EG spinoffs such as better boots and mitts from the fat bike trend) and the willingness of cities to experiment, citing Edmonton, Calgary, and Saskatoon as examples.
Our Edmonton friends should not be overlooked: For example, Glenn Kubish gave two rousing orations, laced with poetic images and metaphors, celebrating the social aspects of stopping to engage with others while cycling in the winter and proposing Leonard Cohen be adopted as a Patron Saint of Winter Cycling!
While much of the WCC meeting focused on urban planning and supporting cycling infrastructure, with presentations from representative cities from around the world, important social considerations regarding cycling were also raised. These included the meaning and implications of under-represented communities among those who cycle – for example, socially disadvantaged groups who may live further from the urban core and have a lower degree of political engagement and who may negatively view use of a bicycle as associated with lower socioeconomic status. Also included were many discussions regarding how urban centres can increase population rates of utility cycling – both commuting as well as non-commuting/non-recreational bike use, examples of the latter being for grocery and shopping trips and child-care transport. Examples of the success include many European cities beyond the usual exemplars of Copenhagen, Oulu and Amsterdam, such as Berlin and some Russian cities.
Nationally and newsworthy, Mr. Gord Johns, the NDP Member of Parliament from Courtenay-Alberni, Vancouver Island, BC and former Tofino Bike Rental entrepreneur, has submitted a private members bill – C-312, requesting a National Cycling Strategy (http://gordjohns.ndp.ca/cycling ). Canada Bikes (http://www.canadabikes.org ) is also on board with the creation of a National Cycling Strategy. If you’re interested, check out Mr. John’s website above and if you agree, you might consider signing his petition and/or contacting your MP.
FYI, next year (2018) the conference will be held in Moscow, Russia.