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.
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 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, the 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: the opening quote comes from Bill Wilkinson, who used those words to open the 2002 conference.
Pro Bike 1980: Asheville, NC
Pro Bike 1982: Colorado Springs, CO
Pro Bike 1984: Miami, FL
Pro Bike 1986: Seattle, WA
Pro Bike 1988: Tucson, AZ
Pro Bike 1990: Arlington, VA
Pro Bike 1992: Montreal, Quebec
Pro Bike/Pro Walk 1994: Portland, OR
Pro Bike/Pro Walk 1996: Portland, ME
Pro Bike/Pro Walk 1998: Santa Barbara, CA
Pro Bike/Pro Walk 2000: Philadelphia, PA
Pro Bike/Pro Walk 2002: Saint Paul, MN
Pro Walk/Pro Bike 2004: Victoria, BC
Pro Walk/Pro Bike 2006: Madison, WI
Pro Walk/Pro Bike 2008: Seattle, WA
Pro Walk/Pro Bike 2010: Chattanooga, TN
Pro Walk/Pro Bike/Pro Place 2012: Long Beach, CA
Pro Walk/Pro Bike/Pro Place 2014: Pittsburgh, PA
Pro Walk/Pro Bike/Pro Place 2016: Vancouver, BC
Walk/Bike/Places 2018: New Orleans, LA
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?
Michael Ronkin, Oregon DOT and Tom Huber, Wisconsin DOT.
Getting Agencies into Gear: Innovative Approaches and Programs
“Pedestrian Design Assistance Program,” Maureen DeCindis, Maricopa Association of Governments;
“Getting Together: Effective Partnerships Between Agency, Consultant and Constituents,” John Kaplan, VTRANS; and
“Bicycle Representation at the State Level — the Nevada Model,” Bruce Mackey, Nevada Department of Public Safety.
Successful Administration, Politics and Stress Management for Bike/Ped Planners
James, Mackay, City of Denver and Mary Anne Koos, Florida DOT.
Bicycling and Walking: Reaching Out to Underserved Communities
- “The Vincennes Project,” Keith Holt, Chicagoland Bicycle Federation;
- “I Count! — Yo Cuento! Creating a Neighborhood-Based Active Community Program,” Jared White, North Central COG;
- “Walking Challenges: A Collaborative Effort Between the Saanich Peninsula Diabetes Prevention Project and Saanich Adult Education Centre,” Joan Wharf Higgins, Saanich Peninsula Diabetes Prevention Project.
Fresh Air/Car-Free Days aka Block/Street Parties
Jane Victoria King, Voice Your Productions
Rethinking and Relinking the Suburbs for Walking and Bicycling
Dan Burden, Walkable Communities and Glatting Jackson
Complete Streets — Who’s Doing It and What They’re Doing
- “New Complete Street Spacing Guide to Match Land Use Intensity,” Roger Henderson, Kimley-Horn and Associates;
- “Making Connections, Completing the Streets,” Barbara McCann, McCann Consulting;
- “Carlotte’s Six Step Planning and Design Process: A Complete Street Case Study,” Tracy Newsome, Charlotte DOT; and
- “Complete Streets: Innovative Approaches,” Barbara Culp, Bicycle Alliance of Washington.
Car Parking — Macro and Micro Problems and Solutions
- “Designing Street Parking for Bikeways — Back-in Diagonal Parking,” Todd Boulanger, City of Vancouver;
- “Rethinking Auto Parking Policies,” Ryan Snyder, Ryan Snyder Associates;
- “Bike Lanes and Car Doors — Details for the Designer,” Dustin White, SFMTA.
How Safe Routes to School Needs to Protect Neighborhood Schools
Robert Ping, SRTS National Partnership; Matthew Dalby, US EPA; Brook Driesse, SRTS National Partnership; and Dave Janis, Bicycle Alliance of Washington.
Adapting the Bike Sharing Concept to North America
Eileen Kadesh, King (WA) County Metro Transit; Andrew Curran, TranksLink (Vancouver BC); Alain Ayotte, Societe en Commandite Stationnement de Montreal; and George Branyan, District of Columbia DOT.
Bicycle Boulevards in the U.S. and Canada
- “Low Traffic Boulevards: All the rage in the Pacific Northwest,” Scott Bricker, Bicycle Transportation Alliance and Jessica Roberts, Alta Planning + Design; and
- “Vancouver’s Local Street Bikeways,” David Rawsthorne, City of Vancouver (BC).
Changing Gears: How a Democracy (Australia) with Sprawling Cities is Increasing Transportation Alternatives and Building Public Support for Bicycling Through Advocacy, Education and Marketing
Randy Salzman, University of Virginia; and Anthony Siracusa, Bike Walk Tennessee.
Re-Thinking Business as Usual: How Advocates in Resource-Limited Communities are Getting Local Governments to Pay Attention to Active Living
Sarah Panken, Michigan Fitness Foundation; Lauren Holaly, Crim Fitness Foundation; Scott TenBrink, Fitness Council of Jackson (MI); and Todd Scott, Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance.
Placemaking 101 and the Power of 10
Fred Kent, Project for Public Spaces
Speed Kills… Urbanism
Joseph Readdy, Schemata Workshop; Lydia Tan, Related California; and James Rojas, Latino Urban Forum.
The Art of Street Design
Victor Dover, Dover, Kohl & Partners; John Massengale, Massengale & Co LLC; and Gary Toth, Project for Public Spaces.
On the Path to a Stronger Movement: Bike/Ped Equity from the Ground Up
Sarah Panken, Michigan Fitness Foundation; Lauren Holaly, Crim Fitness Foundation; and Adonia Lugo, League of American Bicyclists.
Let the People Decide: Tactical Urbanism from the Ground Up
Josh Meyer, Local Government Commission; Dan Burden, Blue Zones; Ed Miller, Pogo Park; and Carrie Nielson, Fehr & Peers.
Electrifying Your Ride: Is Technology the Solution to Getting More People Biking?
Chris Cherry, University of TN — Knoxville; Morgan Lommele, PeopleForBikes; and John MacArthur, Portland State University.
Confronting the Mega Road Project
Trevor Budge, City of Greater Bendigo (AU); and Shane Hampton, OU Institute for Quality Communities.
Next Urbanism: Livable Communities in a World with Driverless Vehicles
Adrian Bell, Activate Planning:Smarter Mobility; Kelly Clifton, Portland State University; Kristina Currans, Portland State University; and Nico Larco, University of Oregon.
What is in store for 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 the 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.