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Quotes from Velo-City, Part One

From June 26 to 29, Vancouver B.C. hosted Velo-City, the world’s premier international cycling planning conference. The event offered delegates from around the world a chance to share best practices for creating and sustaining cycling-friendly cities, where bicycles are valued as part of daily transport and recreation.

This post is the first of 4 written by Meg Orlinski of the Deadly Nightshades, who captured “Notable Quotables” while there, and is sharing them with BikingToronto readers as well as Treadlie, the Australian cycling magazine.


Last week Velo-City 2012 took over the beautiful streets of Vancouver, and the future streets of the world. This intern ational cycling conference successfully brought over 750 delegates from 40 various countries to talk about the role cycling will play in the planning of our cities as our world population grows exponentially. The positive effects of cycling in a healthy future are well know; benefits to health, reduced traffic congestion, economic savings, livable streets, better living… but how do we get there? These experts came together to present research, gain feedback, run workshop and ‘charge their batteries’ with a diverse collection of colleagues.

The Deadly Nightshades’ Meg Orlinski attended some of the plenary seminars and was fortunate to listen to some of the best bike minds in the world share their experience, knowledge and passion on getting the world to bike.

Here is series of quotes based on plenary sessions to inspire and motivate. They can be used as a starting point for research, and can help you to create more bike-friendly streets in your own neighbourhood. Follow the links to learn more about the speakers, their work, and the cities they make more livable for us to ride in.


Photo courtesy of the ECF. From the right: Paul Dragon, Richard Campbell, Gregory Robertson, Manfred Neun.


Part 1- Opening Ceremony, Keynote on Leadership, and Diversity and Empowerment.

Paul Dragon- Velo-City 2012 Conference Chair, owner of Reckless Bikes

“To make a city more inclusive, it’s about infrastructure and culture. Changing culture is more of a challenge.”

“Public bike systems are a visible part of changing bike culture.”

Manfred Neun– President of the European Cyclist Federation

“Cycling is a tool and a symbol of sustainable behaviour.”

“Transportation is not sexy- no one goes into politics to be a transportation minister.”

“We need not produce on going long list of the benefit of cycling- we need concepts! [Like 8-80 Cities.]”

Nancy Olewiller, Board Chair of Translink

“We have a real problem with bike theft- as most of your cities do… To make it safe, to make people feel safe about their bike, that is a real challenge.”

“Do we have far to go? Yes we do. But we have to keep celebrating our progress.”

“We need to challenge all level of governments. Our federal government thinks the only energy comes from fossil fuels. We got the best energy source right here.” (Shows strong legs and arms to cheers from the crowd.)

Alain Ayotte, President of Public Bike System Company

“It’s a snowball effect- the more people use bikes, the more people want to use it.”

“We come from the Montreal parking authority, who would of thought that a company that parks cars would come up with a public bike system?”

“We need to come up with imaginative ideas on how we move people in our cities.”

Gil Penalosa, Executive Director of 8-80 Cities

“Today I want to talk to you about democracy, sustainability and human rights.”

“[Biking] it’s not a joke, it’s not frivolity…It’s the only mode of mobility for 70% of the population in developing countries.”

“It has to be great for the 8 year olds and the 80 year olds. We need to stop making cities only for people who are 30 and athletic!”

“Building more roads to improve congestion, it’s like trying to put out a fire with gasoline.”

“Why is it that we know so much about what makes animals happy and so little about what makes people happy? If not, we’d be making cities differently.”

“It’s not about money- it’s about having the political guts and will to do it. It’s about being BOLD. Bloomberg and Sadik-Khan have opened our eyes to the possibilities of cities in North America.”

“Doing infrastructure right: It has to be a grid, it has to be interconnected, it has to be safe. Don’t even bother with sharrows! Focus on lowering the speed, and connecting bike-ways.”

“This week at Velo-City we have to recharge our batteries- next week we have to go back and ride our talk!”

Dr. Gabriel Lagos – Director of Sustainability, Casas GEO

“We did many studies in Mexico- what do people like in a house? One, trying to improve your quality of life, and two, added value.”

“Most of our customers will never be able to travel more then 200 km from their home.”

“So we will stop selling houses- we will start selling communities.”

“Improving public space and non-motorized mobility will improve the quality of life and therefore improve your houses.”

“You know more about yourself then anybody. The only person you can change is

Wan-Su Park, Mayor of Changwong, Korea. Host of the 2011 Eco-Mobility Conference.

“I endeavored to make Changwong a sustainable city in two ways: pro enterprise campaign, and green capital projects.”

“To be a leader, and to practice what I preach, for the past two years I have commuted by bicycle. First declared “for show” by media, after 6 months turned into a sport! Media now calls me Bicycle Master.”

• Find and improve irrational laws and regulations.
• Cyclist first traffic policy set forth.
• Start various cycling education.
• Bicycle related groups and NGO’s are supported.
• Start cycling events.
• Public participation events launched. (Photo contests, etc.)

NUBIJA (Public bicycle service of Changwon city in Korea) song:


Suzanne Lareau – Velo-Quebec

We have a few principals: 1) Bicycles are fun! We are not here to preach. 2) Bicycles are for anyone. 3) Infrastructure is key! 4) Take opportunities!

“We want results- we work to get it.”

“When you realize projects, you need money. When you own a house, it’s different [having equity]. So we changed our rapport with our bank. [By purchasing a building.]”

“We have to work with the perception ‘winter is not a barrier.’”


Dr. Hanz Micheal Kloth- Secretary General of the International Transport Forum

“We are the only transportation NGO, a think tank for OECD members.”

“Cycling can provide good economic savings for austerity; this is something politicians like to hone in on.”

“It’s hard for activists to press their politicians – because the benefit is not immediately there.”

“The goal is to make policy that empowers people and not vehicles.”

“I am sure that you are the ones that can bring a lot of innovative ideas to this situation…

You will interest ministers of finance and ministers of health.”


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