Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Brookings Cycling Symposium

Last night my colleagues and I attended a symposium at the Newseum entitled, "Cities, Bicycles, and the Future of Getting Around". The event gathered some of the most active, passionate, and forward thinking bike advocates in the country including Tim Blumenthal from Bikes Belong, Portland's Bicycle Coordinator Roger Geller, and even our very own Chris Eatough from BikeArlington. (photo courtesy of League staff)

The symposium opened with David Byrne of the Talking Heads, who recently published his book, Bicycle Diaries. David began with a photo of Columbia, MD where his elderly parents now live and are stranded due to the autocentric design of the community. He then went on to highlight some of his favorite books including Twenty Minutes in Manhattan, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, and hmmmm ...damn it, I can't remember the third book. At any rate, he continued with a photo diary of his travels around the world on bike, identifying those places that have successfully created streets with people and community in mind.

Following David, Congressman Earl Blumenauer (an icon in the world of bike policy) opened with what he proclaimes to be the universal question of bike advocates ...and it goes something like this: "How many people are currently stuck in traffic on their way to ride a stationary bike at the gym?". A perverse notion, indeed. He then went on to talk about the new bill he recently introduced to congress that would create $2 billion dollars in federal funds for investments in active transportation. Blumenauer described the cyclist as an indicator species of a healthy community. The hobby ecologist in me loves eco-metaphors.
Jannette Sadik-Kahn, commissioner of the New York city Department of Transportation, closed things up with the announcement the launching of "Cities for Cycling", a new coalition of cities pushing for rapid improvements in bikeway design. Recognizing the lack of federal attention to the issue, the coalition aims to assist transportation planners as they create innovative bikeways by providing them with technical guidance on best practices that have been observed in some of America's most bicycle friendly cities.

Sadly, I forgot my camera at the office and missed a photo op. with David Byrne. Hopefully my quick sketch will suffice. I drew it from memory, so it might not be very accurate.


mikejoos said...

David Byrne is looking a little skinny… I dare say eating disorder?

Anonymous said...

beautiful illustration. you kill me.-k.n.