A sharrow points the way toward Long Beach's iconic Villa Riviera / Photo: waltarrrrr via Flickr

With so much attention focused on a certain conference in Long Beach last week, we want to make sure that complete streets advocates, placemakers, transportation wonks, and other walking and cycling enthusiasts don’t miss the news about another big event on the horizon in this sunny California city: early bird registration for the 17th Pro Walk / Pro Bike conference has just opened. The conference, which will focus on the theme “Pro Place” is scheduled for the week of September 10-13, 2012, and you can reserve your seat for a reduced rate up until Wednesday, May 16th.

Pro Walk / Pro Bike is a biennial event, founded in 1980 by the National Center for Bicycling & Walking, and serves as the premier venue for presenting work and meeting peers from the fields of transportation planning, engineering, health, advocacy, public policy, research, and more. The chair of this year’s host committee is Charlie Gandy, a cycling and pedestrian advocate with some serious cred. Currently the director of Livable Communities Inc. and a board member of the California Bicycle Coalition, Charlie previously served as the Director of Advocacy Programs for the Bicycle Federation of America, pioneered the concept of the Bicycle Friendly Business District as the Mobility Coordinator Long Beach’s Bike Long Beach program, and founded the Texas Bicycle Coalition (now Bike Texas).

To get a sense of Charlie’s approach to the subject at hand for September’s conference, one need look no further than his talk on Creating Charismatic Communities at last summer’s TEDxSoCal event. Charlie talks about encouraging the development of the personality of place, and explains how the city of Long Beach has spent the last few years “looking at basic urban design and health issues and coming up with some new and different ways to articulate them…and has been developing fans and followers.”

All of us here at PPS are excited for this opportunity to work with Charlie to bring together transportation reform advocates from around the country for a discussion of how placemaking can help create more equitable transportation networks in our cities. This conference is central to our effort to Build Communities Through Transportation, and we’re looking forward to meeting with other placemakers in September to talk about the latest and most cutting-edge case studies in building more walkable, bike-friendly, charismatic communities. We hope to see you there!

We’ll be bringing you more information in the next couple of months as the Pro Walk / Pro Bike host committee culls through the hundreds of event proposals received from across the country in response to an open call and begins to lay out the full schedule. In the meantime, you can stay up to date with the National Center for Bicycling & Walking (which officially became a program of PPS last June) by signing up for their bi-weekly Centerlines e-newsletter.

Bicyclist-friendly Long Beach's downtown boasts a crisp new Bike Station / Photo: waltarrrrr via Flickr