Greetings from Long Beach, California — land of sun and great bikeways!
I have been here since last Friday, first for the Alliance for Biking and Walking‘s leadership retreat, and then for the national Pro Walk/Pro Bike conference. First of all, I highly recommend the Alliance Leadership Retreat for anyone who wants to help grow the movement. It was very powerful to be surrounded with 115 other advocates, all of whom want to help create better communities for walking and biking.
But it’s also very powerful to be surrounded by planners, engineers, elected officials, and other types of decision-makers who all want to share important experiences and lessons with each other and to learn how to create more bike-friendly communities across the country. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of people here at the Pro Walk/Pro Bike conference who have come from across North America and Europe to teach, to learn, and to form partnerships with people around the common goal of making our cities better for people on foot and people on bikes.
But there is another common theme running through this year’s conference — and that is “Pro Place”. It is not enough that our communities simply accommodate walkers and bikers better, but we also need our communities to be places where people want to be. It’s the difference between simply being able to bike through our communities, and actually having our communities be places worthy of biking through. Places where you want to dismount the bicycle and slow down for a bit. Places where we are comfortable being the social creatures we are and actually talking in person with one another in our own neighborhoods and business districts.
Maybe I’ve seen one too many inspirational speakers this week, but I am inspired. And exhausted. And I am again and again reminded that we can still do so much better.
Ciao for now,