Got a rare Tuesday evening off from helping with the grandkids. This gave me the opportunity to attend an Imagine Austin event. I used the multi-modal approach to travel to the event.
- Dahon folding bike ride to MetroRail
- Red Line to downtown
- Dahon folding bike to event
The NACTO road show was combined with an open house presentation by the City of Austin for updating the bicycle plan and for developing an urban trails plan.
The feature speakers were:
Jon Orcutt | New York
Jon is the New York City Department of Transportation Policy Director. He has contributed to transportation policy in New York for nearly twenty years and helped to establish New York’s bike share program.
Roger Geller | Portland
Under Roger’s leadership as the Bicycle Coordinator for the City of Portland, Portland was the first big city in the nation to earn a platinum designation from the League of American Bicyclists.
Nathan Roseberry | Chicago
Nathan is the Senior Bikeway Engineer with the Chicago Department of Transportation. In the past two years, Chicago has installed over 50 miles of buffered bicycle lanes and cycle tracks.
The presentations were enjoyable. Instead of bragging about how well each of their cities are doing, they tried to show us what progress can be made. They also praised Austin. Even to the point where the Portland coordinator, Roger Geller, said he was going back and tell people in Portland that “Austin’s going to eat our lunch if we don’t step up.”
One of the best questions during the Q&A session was about what cultural changes each city has seen.
Jon Orcutt spoke about the “bikelash”–a media attempt to discredit bike lanes in New York. This effort fizzled and reveal that easily 2/3 of people in New York support bike lanes. He also talked about organizations, not normally bicycle advocacy groups, getting behind efforts to improve New York streets.
Roger Geller talked about how cycling in Portland has taken on the character of Portland. It is diverse and it is about fun. He also echoed the comment about non-bicycle organizations vocally supporting efforts to improve cycling in Portland, often for very compelling economic reasons.
And in one of my favorite comments, Nathan Roseberry talked about all the data Chicago has collected but offered an anecdote about one of his bicycle commutes. He was at a stop light waiting for the green, surrounded by other people on bikes. He looked around and noticed he was the only male in the group. Realization of a shift in acceptance of cycling as a transportation choice.
It was a well attended event. That’s the biggest group of people getting together to talk cycling I’ve seen since last year’s session with the Dutch Cycling Embassy. It was good to see. Hopefully people will be energized to continue improving Austin. It managed to clear away some of the clouds that have been hanging over my head lately.
Headed out into the cool night. Blustery north winds bringing our first real cold. I pulled out my “smart” phone to find the nearest Car2Go. Took me a couple tries to find a car. Several were reserved (not apparent in the app data) and at two cars there was already somebody getting the car.
Finally found an available car and headed back into the wilderness of suburban north Austin.
- Dahon to Car2Go
- Car2Go to Domain
- Dahon to home
Of course I timed my ride to meet a freight train. I had to sit in the cold wind for a lengthy time. More smug points as I witnessed people all bundled up in their cars, heaters running.