Velo-city Calls to Make Cycling a Child’s Right
VANCOUVER, Canada – Based on visibility, Bixi and Lazer Helmet’s sponsorship of the European Cyclists’ Federation’s Velo-City Global 2012 conference held in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada paid off handsomely.
The Bixi bikes on loan for the conference, coupled with B.C.’s mandatory helmet rules, made the black helmeted delegates to the conference easy to spot throughout the city during the conference, held at the Sheraton Wall Centre from June 26 – 29.
Also easy to find at the conference were politicians, planners, and advocates hoping to get more people out of cars and onto bikes for daily transportation needs. To be successful, according to the conference organizers, they have to think of the children.
Courage and commitment
The conference opened with a rousing presentation by cycling/walking advocate of Gil Penalosa of the Canadian non-profit 8-80 Cities, urging the politicians present to show greater courage and commitment to cycling as transportation. He showcased ambitious projects in Colombia, New York City, Chicago, and Korea as examples of cities taking big steps to build bike friendly design into their cities. He also introduced a theme that continued throughout the conference. Greater mode share for cycling comes with kids. The conference’s Charter of Vancouver went a step further, urging the United Nations to recognize “the right to cycle” for all children.
Cycling as a human right for children
“We’re calling upon the United Nations and we call upon you, Ban Ki-moon, to give all children access to cycling,” said Bernhard Ensink, Secretary General of the European Cyclists’ Federation. Linking to the Convention of the Rights of the Child, the charter calls upon the UN and other institutions to consider cycling as a human right for children and “to include cycling as part of all sustainable transport policies and strategies.”
Creating cycling cities
Once the conference got underway, there wasn’t much talk about the business of bikes from the perspective of the retail and distribution channels, but rather the urban planning and social programs that create cycling cities, where talk of ambitious targets such as 50% mode share for cycle commuting presuppose a booming demand for two wheeled product. Multi-modal travel, connecting cycling with bus or train service, was a hot topic for many of the delegates, as were the implications of e-bikes for bike shares, scooters sharing bike paths, and of course, the helmet debate, a constant undercurrent in North American cycling but a vexing, hard to understand distraction for many of the delegates visiting from countries where such rules are non-existent or limited to children.
Cycling karma squads
Also highly visible at the event was the Danish Cycling Embassy. They gave presentation on the ongoing marketing efforts they use to promote cycling in successful cities, such as the cycling karma squads roaming Copenhagen handing out gifts to considerate cyclists and recent projects aimed at building cycling mode share in smaller cities and suburban communities. They also recognized Randy Neufeld, Director of SRAM cycling fund for his outstanding work in cycling advocacy. He received the prestigious “Cycling Leadership Award.” The Embassy said, “This year the award goes to a man who has a hands on approach to cycling and he has inspired people… He has gone from an activist to an extremely influential figure promoting cycling policies.”
Get it right for cycling
During the closing ceremonies, Dr. Paul Tranter, Geography Professor at theUniversity of New South Wales left the delegates with a parting thought to spur them to greater heights, “If we get it right for children, we’ll get it right for cycling and if we get it right for cycling, we’ll get it right for children.”