Wednesday, May 06, 2009

velo-city 2009

so why don't we in the U.S. have something like this?
Velo-City 2009 is an international conference (well, actually, just in Europe) held annually (this year it will be May 12-15 in Brussels, Belgium) to encourage bicycles and cycling as an alternative mode of transportation in urban areas, with the goal of providing a forum for cycling enthusiasts to meet as well as hosting a conference enabling cities to develop better cycling-friendly policies.

sounds pretty good to me.

now again, why isn't there anything like this in the U.S.?

cycling-related fatalities keep rising in the U.S., with an alarming escalation in hostile driver-cyclist encounters. and the cycling conditions in most U.S. cities (particularly here in Los Angeles) are NOT bicycle-friendly, no matter how much local governments claim it is. seriously, i sometimes have to laugh when i see the streets L.A. city government has identified as "bike-friendly." half the time they're pothole-laden, filth-ridden, high-traffic, high-speed, high-tension death lanes only usable by the foolhardy or the courageous--something entirely contrary to any plans of promoting bicycles as a safe, eco-friendly, traffic-easing, enjoyable form of transportation.

for some relevant links regarding the state of urban cycling in America, check out the following sample:
the closest thing i've found to Velo-City in the U.S. is National Bike-to-Work Week (incidentally, May 11-15, reference: League of American Bicyclists) and National Bike Month (May). but this is just meant to promote cycling, and doesn't provide the additional step of hosting public officials to actually meet and work on improving cycling policies in their cities.

there are also organizations that attempt to motivate public pressure on government regarding cycling-related policies. Los Angeles, in particular, has the Los Angeles County Bike Coalition ( but again, it doesn't provide what Velo-City does, which is provide a location where multiple city governments can work together to establish common policies to improve cycling conditions.

the reason i think this is important is because i think part of the problem in the U.S. is that cycling-friendly supporters are operating in a fragmented pattern, with disjunctures in agendas and strategies targeted at a random array of objectives in disconnected locations. the result has been a watering down of energy, commitment, and awareness, and a suppression of whatever momentum potentially exists to create substantial, permanent, beneficial change. i think greater coordination (by both non-government and government supporters) would provide better support, greater resources, more energy, more commitment, more awareness that could better advance cycling-friendly agendas and strategies...which is exactly what Velo-City is doing.


if anybody out there (Los Angeles, U.S., Europe, wherever) is considering on starting Velo-City (or anything like it) in the U.S., let me know. because i'd certainly want to go, and because i think it would really help improve cycling conditions in this country.

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