Thursday, August 30, 2007

ProBikeProWalk Florida '07 -- Vision and Progress

FBA's ProBikeProWalk Florida Conference for 2007 is now a wrap, and boy did we cover some ground! We kicked it off Monday with an elected official's luncheon featuring Canada's Gil Penalosa, who put cycling facilities and programs and walkable communities in the political context they deserve: the smart leaders are the ones who recognize the value of walkable and bikeable communities. Some of the officials were particularly interested in the Ciclovia concept.

Monday afternoon saw the kickoff of the Florida Traffic Justice Coalition, with leaders in law enforcement, the judicial system, engineering, education, and bicycling advocacy expressing their desires for a safer street system for ALL users, and developing the beginnings of a strategy, with core principles and short term priorities. (More to come on this in a later post.)

The Conference itself ran from Tuesday morning to Thursday afternoon, beginning with impassioned welcomes from City of Orlando Commissioner Patty Sheehan, and Orange County Commissioner Linda Stewart. Metroplan Orlando Executive Director Harold Barley challenged the attendees to "get cranking and step it up!," because "We are poised at a moment in which cycling and walking are increasingly seen as parts of the solutions to important global issues: health, climate change, energy costs, urban sprawl, traffic safety, and child development. Walking and bicycling shouldn’t be seen as sacrifices for the common good, but as liberation from a broken system."

The Conserve by Bike Study, ordered by the Florida Legislature and recently released by the Florida Department of Transportation, was a popular topic of discussion. The report shows strong preliminary justification for the provision of bicycling facilities, showing that such facilities do indeed increase cycling, and that the increase in cycling results in significant savings in gasoline consumption, CO2 emissions, and health costs.

The Conference finished up with concurrent meetings of FDOT District bicycle and pedestrian Coordinators, and of local coordinators. Such meetings offer unique opportunities for professionals to strategize ways in which the bureaucracy can function better for cyclists and pedestrians. Look forward to a compelling effort by FBA to communicate key remedies in this area to the Governor's office.

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