Modacity’s Guide to the 2016 Pro Walk Pro Bike Pro Place Conference

A big thank you to our partners at Modacity for this very special local insiders guide to Pro Walk /Pro Bike / Pro Place. Enjoy! See you in Vancouver.

By Chris & Melissa Bruntlett

Back in 2014, when we first read the tweets out of Pittsburgh announcing the next Pro Walk Pro Bike Conference would be held in our hometown of Vancouver, we could hardly contain our excitement. So much of what we do at Modacity — including the stories we write, the photographs we publish, and the films we produce — is designed to celebrate and share our city’s multi-modal successes with the world.

But seeing something on a computer screen hardly compares to experiencing it first hand. And for us, the idea of hundreds of city planners, transportation engineers, public health professionals, elected officials, community leaders, and professional advocates descending on Vancouver to study its renowned livability and mobility, and ultimately bring those lessons back to their own cities is a thrilling prospect.

We are looking forward to an engaging and inspiring week sharing our city’s transformation with friends old and new (many of whom we’ve met on social media, but never in person!). But at first glance, the conference schedule can be quite intimidating, so we thought it would be helpful to compile our picks for “can’t miss” sessions, workshops, and networking events at Pro Walk Pro Bike Pro Place 2016!

Tuesday, September 13th, 8–9:30am

Opening Plenary: Charles Montgomery

Charles Montgomery’s seminal “Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design” remains one of the most referenced and revisited books in our library, making the oft-overlooked connection between how urban planning impacts not just our physical health, but our mental health. Throughout the week Charles and his team will be leading psycho-physiological walking tours of Vancouver, during which they will be collecting data on participants’ emotional response to their environment. (Note: you must sign up to participate. Please see the conference website for registration details.)

Tuesday, September 13th, 9:45–10:30am

#BIKETORIA: Creating The World’s Best Small City for Cycling in Victoria, BC

Right across the Salish Sea from Vancouver, we’ve had the pleasure of visiting the provincial capital of Victoria on a number of occasions, and wrote a feature-length story about their ambitious “Biketoria” plan earlier this year. Their aim: to consult, design, and construct a “minimum grid” of eight protected bike lanes — that would put nearly all 82,000 residents within 400 m. of a route — before the end of 2018.

Cyclists of all ages and abilities can develop skills at Cecilia Ravine Bike Park in Victoria BC

Tuesday, September 13th, 11–11:45am

Cycling Cowboys: The Complete Story of Calgary’s Centre City Cycle Track Network Pilot

The folks in Victoria will be first to admit they received a huge amount of inspiration from their Canadian counterparts in Calgary, who pioneered the “lighter, quicker, cheaper” network of protected bike lanes in their city centre last summer. Built ahead of schedule and under budget, this pilot project had immediate, long-term impacts on mode share, road safety, and the types of people riding bikes there.

Tuesday, September 13th, 4:30–5:15pm

If You Build It, Will They Come?: The Role of Local Government in Promoting and Enabling Active Transportation

We are firm believers that infrastructure and policy alone are not enough to get the “interested, but concerned” crowd on bikes. Presenting positive images of everyday cycling plays a big role in changing hearts and minds. In fact, Modacity was created to demonstrate how simple, safe, and sexy cycling for transport can be. We’re looking forward to seeing what other cities are doing to market the active lifestyle.

Wednesday, September 14th, 12–1:00pm

The Tactical Urbanist’s Guide to Civic Engagement, Materials & Street Design

Mike Lydon and Anthony Garcia’s “Tactical Urbanism” was another favourite recent read of ours, chronicling the rise of short-term, low-budget, community-based projects having long-term affects on the way we think, move, and feel about our cities. It also helped us realize (retrospectively) such pilot projects are having longstanding, meaningful impacts on Vancouver’s streets, chronicled in this story.

Wednesday, September 14th, 6–8:00pm

Networking Event North Vancouver

A short, stunning sea-bus ride across the Burrard Inlet, Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver is quickly becoming one of our favourite public spaces in the region. Join several hundred of your colleagues for a special evening, with the Vancouver skyline as the backdrop. As an added bonus, we at Modacity are working on a small event, designed to demonstrate this city’s growing cargo bike culture. Here’s a sneak peek:

Thursday, September 15th, 9–11:30am

Various Pecha Kucha Talks

Thursday’s Pecha Kucha talks promise to be a fascinating, frenetic look at a variety of topics from a variety of cities around the world. In particular, we look forward to presentations from our friends Brian Gould, Andreas Lindinger, Darren Davis, Andy Boenau, and Carol Sartor. Melissa will also give her own talk entitled “Placemaking Without Age”, and Chris will speak about “Vancouver’s Cargo Bike Revolution”.

Friday, September 16th, 6–9:15pm

“Bike the Night” Open Streets Event

Inspired by the celebratory and inclusive atmosphere of Montreal’s “Tour La Nuit”, “Bike the Night” will take thousands of brightly-lit Vancouverites on a fun, family-friendly 10 km. ride through Kitsilano, along the newly-paved Arbutus corridor, followed by a pedal through Shaughnessey’s beautiful tree-lined streets. Conference attendees receive a special discounted registration rate, which you can claim here.

Haven’t registered for the conference yet? The summer deadline is August 19th! Don’t miss it!

In the build up to the conference, Modacity will be taking over the Pro Walk Pro Bike Pro Place social media accounts, to highlight speakers, sessions, workshops, and other cool stuff that is happening in and around Vancouver. We’ll also be sharing additional content during the conference. Follow along on Facebook and Twitter!

Chris and Melissa Bruntlett are the co-founders of Modacity, a multi-service communications and marketing firm focused on inspiring healthier, happier, simpler forms of urban mobility through words, photography and film. Reach them at and