Vancouver is a different world. This holds true for the city: clean, well arranged, but also sort of cold, in many ways. This holds true for conference “culture”: I will need a while to forget about the cardboard lunchbox in the posh Sheraton, or the one drink coupon for the brief and outright boring reception. And this holds true for discussions and presentations at the Velo City conference: Here nobody needs to be convinced how great the bicycle is, in many ways. Here are all those who do not only know that, but also know how, know how to introduce, advocate, improve the bicycle, and especially bicycle-related policies.
Let me give you examples: Sue Knaup (www.onestreet.org) knows how to broker bicycle projects in Africa. Ivan de la Lanza Gamiz is heading the bicycle department in Mexico City, eager to find more and new ways to foster bike mobility in this messy-friendly metropolitan area. Wolfgang Dvorak, conference director of the next Velo City in Vienna, has been naming his conference “Sounds of Cycling”… Of course, a great stage for the bike symphony. And Jason Megg at the University of Bologna works at a combined “Health and Sustainable Transport Research” department.
So nothing more to be done? Not really… On the one hand many of the people I had talked to were still lonesome riders, in great need for collaboration and support. And on the other it will still help to bridge all what is done and known here, by all these knowledgable people, with other institutions from different worlds, but with similar interest, in activities that create more or less immediate effect. These are the challenges that my proposed “impact network for sustainable development through active mobility” should address, and after my presentation on Monday night I heard many voices that such a network would be highty appreciated… I still had the strong feeling that we will need a yet clearer focus to be recognized and distinguished. Working on that.
One interesting workshop yesterday had been organized by Kevin Mayne, development director of ECF, and this colleague from the Alliance for Biking and Walking in the US. It was about how to improve bicycle advocacy, and in my working group we addressed the topic of resources needed. We came up with what i think is a very useful checklist:
- get away from volunteer only work
- generate some fashion and hype
- find clever ways of marketing, looking at best practice
- use and transmit a focus that has a chance of funding
- find innovative ways to address private sponsors
- organize interesting fundraising events, possibly coupled with existing events
- make membership easy and attractive
- realize projects, in collaboration, use these for co-funding
- concentrate PR and lobby on one place
- find powerful partners and bridge with highly relevant topics
Addressing all of these items in a creative fashion, we can be sure to much improve the resource base, also of the planned network.
Off into a meeting where we will make these discussions more concrete