The Waterloo Region Commuter Challenge kickoff event for 2012 was a hit in my books
- The keynote speaker Hans Moor was a treat, exceeded my expectations by a long shot.
- Met up with a number of old friends who share a love for cycling and sustainable, responsible living
- Met a few folks who previously I’d only met on social media. It was great to finally put a face to a name.
- The region and cities demonstrated they are listening to their citizens, providing updates on active transportation plans and projects.
Hans Moor was excellent. He reminded me a typical cocky dutchman, passionate, confident in their opinion, outspoken, cheap, practical and willing to speak their mind at every turn on any subject. Hans was energetic, passionate, humorous and engaging. Perhaps what struck me the most was his cycling evangelist straits; willing to become whatever and whomever in order to make his message heard.
I learned a number of key basic principles I hadn’t been aware of (but probably should given I’ve been blogging on the subject for over a year). What follows below is really a stream of consciousness of my notes and reflections. (Don’t feel you have to read to the end of this blather.)
- Twitter hash tag for Waterloo Region Commuter Challenge is: #wrcc12
- City of Kitchener’s top priority is to fix the iron horse trail rail crossing. Yay (although it’s not the crossing that’s the problem it’s the bicycle killing metal bars that clothesline the unsuspecting cyclist).
- Check out the city of Kitchener secure bicycle parking. It’s in the parking garage beside the old recycle cycle’s location (Charles and Queen). It’s requires a card key to enter a fenced off area. Waterloo Region needs more of these. Think the Uptown Waterloo garage and also the Sun Life parking garage. To get access just email TDM Jon.
- Cool commuter challenge (bike2work)happening for the entire month of June put on by the City of Kitchener and sponsored by Ziggy’s and a number of high tech firms at the Tannery. Our very own Brendan Lowther is taking part.
- It’s evident that the region is listening to cyclists. The region of waterloo now has a number of segregated bike paths in their future plans. I don’t remember these being on the books at the Nov 2011 active transportation forum, but cyclists did request them. (I think this is the coolest take away from the kickoff.)
- A reminder that the top two priorities when designing transportation in the region are walkers, then cyclists and the bottom is the lonely, lonesome driver.
- The region’s goal is 12% of all trips be made by bicycle (or was it active transport). This is a big goal, but I’m hopeful it’s also realistic.
- The focus is to appeal to the 60% of residents who are interested in bicycling but are too concerned about it’s safety to try it out.
- Hans Moor has an interesting background. Recent immigrant from Holland (1998), works for the dutch embassy. It got to expensive and difficult to fill cycling speaker engagements, so much so that Hans decided to learn about the science of bicycle infrastructure and be the speaker himself. Very cool!
- 16 million people in the Netherlands and 18 million bikes (and 7 chickens, 3 pigs and one third of a cow per person) all in a space the size of Lake Ontario.
- 5 million people make 14 million bike trips per day for a total of 10 billion km per year by bike.
- Bikes weren’t always in vogue in the Netherlands. A perfect storm cause a public out cry demanding the government to stop allowing cars to kill their children (other factors were road congestion, 70′s oil crisis).
- In 1975 there were 410 child deaths and no in 2010 there was 12 child deaths. (And no one wears helmets, except Hans.)
- The magic distance for cyclists is 7.5 km. Design your city such that no one is more than 7.5 km from their destination and then make it a pain to use your car.
- Ebikes are seen as a way to extend that 7.5 km.
- Mopeds were banned from the dutch bike paths. Must have happened after 1990 as I was hit by a moped in Hoofddorp in 1989 (although I was at fault).
- In Holland cycling is not rebel sport, it’s utility. Why? Cars are expensive, there’s great infrastructure, urban environments are designed such that cycling is the fastest way to go 5-8 km
- Cool video clip of a Go Cab (electric bike picking up like 8 school kids).
- In Ottawa along Laurier a segregated bike lane was created and in less than a year bicycle traffic quadrupled. Build it and they will come.
- Look like a driver and maybe they’ll listen to you, that’s why Hans wears a suit when he talks to us.