“Walking and bicycling are humble modes of transport; they are not the choice of those who seek to impress others or to dominate them. Bicycling and walking are experiences that bring us into close contact with our communities, with people, with nature and with the built environment. When you walk and bike you are not “on it” or “going through it,” you are “in it” and “of it.” You can’t walk or bike and not be aware of the community and the people; and you can’t be aware and not care.”
–Bill Wilkinson, opening the 2002 Conference in St. Paul, MN
Before there was public bike share, before there were complete streets policies, before there were cycle tracks, before our awakening to the fact that communities which support walking and bicycling are healthier, happier, and more economically resilient places—before all that, there was the Bicycle Federation of America and the Pro Bike conference.
Pro Bike 1980 assembled a handful advocates in Asheville, North Carolina, to discuss how to make bicycling safer, more comfortable and more accessible to all types of riders. In the nearly 40 years since, the conference has grown in size from a hundred zealous advocates to 1,500+ attendees and grown in scope to embrace walking and place. The audience has transformed from a collection of advocates into an ecosystem of planners, designers, researchers and community leaders representing the public, private, and non-profit sectors.
Our name has also changed with the times: thirty-eight years after its inception, this year’s conference will convene in New Orleans, September 16–19, 2018, as Walk/Bike/Places. What has not changed is our commitment to building sustainable and equitable communities.
Over time, the conference has been a crucible for creating consensus on best practices for bicycle facility design for all ages and abilities, equitable bike share system design and operation, complete streets policy and implementation, placemaking, context sensitive design and more.
Here is a sampling of some prescient sessions from conferences past:
Ames Ain’t Amsterdam: Are Dutch Bicycle Facilities Suitable for the United States?
Getting Agencies into Gear: Innovative Approaches and Programs
“Getting Together: Effective Partnerships Between Agency, Consultant and Constituents”
Successful Administration, Politics and Stress Management for Bike/Ped Planners
Bicycling and Walking: Reaching Out to Underserved Communities
Fresh Air/Car-Free Days aka Block/Street Parties
Rethinking and Relinking the Suburbs for Walking and Bicycling
Complete Streets — Who’s Doing It and What They’re Doing
Car Parking — Macro and Micro Problems and Solutions
How Safe Routes to School Needs to Protect Neighborhood Schools
Adapting the Bike Sharing Concept to North America
Bicycle Boulevards in the U.S. and Canada
Changing Gears: How a Democracy (Australia) with Sprawling Cities is Increasing Transportation Alternatives and Building Public Support for Bicycling Through Advocacy, Education and Marketing
Re-Thinking Business as Usual: How Advocates in Resource-Limited Communities are Getting Local Governments to Pay Attention to Active Living
Placemaking 101 and the Power of 10 with Fred Kent
Speed Kills… Urbanism
The Art of Street Design
On the Path to a Stronger Movement: Bike/Ped Equity from the Ground Up
Let the People Decide:Tactical Urbanism from the Ground Up
Electrifying Your Ride: Is Technology the Solution to Getting More People Biking?
Confronting the Mega Road Project
Next Urbanism: Livable Communities in a World with Driverless Vehicles
What’s in store for 2018 in New Orleans?
In December 2017 we will launch our call for proposals to help us decide the breakout program. While we can’t give you specifics about the program we do promise that equity will be a key theme throughout the 100+ breakout sessions, mobile workshops and general sessions. New Orleans has much to teach us about resilience, diversity, music, culture and how all these elements and more combine to create a place unlike any other. It is a city whose sights, smells and sounds are best experienced at a walking pace.