Thanks, Bike Town: That was a long night at T&T; (Blog)

Thanks so much to everyone who volunteered so many hours of their day yesterday to attend the Standing Policy Committee on Transportation and Transit. Especially thanks to everyone who took the day off work to sit in City Hall for the entire day. We didn't hear the recommendation we were hoping for, yet I'm optimistic that with a strong showing over the next ten days we'll have a permanent and expanding cycle track network for our little Bike Town. 

From my perspective (and I think I speak for Carla and Sean here, too), it's insane to see this much local scrutiny for a style of urban design that has been shown to be most effective in cities around the world. New York. London. Copenhagen. Amsterdam. Barcelona. Berlin. Montreal. These are not second-rate cities. They all have developed an incredible network of protected cycling infrastructure that enables individuals from 8-80 years old to engage in their city's streetscape from a bicycle. The bicycle is a humble, empowering transportation machine gives health, wealth, happiness, and street-level community to its users. For broader society, large-scale bicycle adoption lowers pollution, increases economic mobility, decreases road maintenance costs, eases congestion, and supports local businesses. How anyone could be opposed to something with so many benefits is beyond me. 

If anyone else feeling a little frustrated this morning, I certainly share that feeling with you. For all the people who volunteered their time, it was disappointing that three people decided they'd had enough for the day and wanted to go home, pushing the decision off to full council. Councillors Woolley, Pincott, Demong, and dad-joke-maker-in-chief Keating voted in favor of finishing the job, but a 2/3 majority was required to change the end-time of the meeting. Even Mayor Nenshi, who showed up at the last minute to try to salvage the meeting, couldn't change the votes that had already been cast. This is how politics works sometimes. It sucks. Yet if disappointment, frustration, and cynicism win your heart, and you decide to stop advocating for change, that's when change stops. So please, don't despair. From my perspective, I saw dozens of incredible people coming to voice support, some of whom were terrified to speak, but did an amazing job. Many other people were in council chambers yesterday who did not speak, but quietly supported the cycle tracks. There were relatively few opposed, and we appreciated hearing their perspectives, too. I'm sure all city staff, and certain councillors are feeling quite the same way you are. Cycle tracks aren't going anywhere as long as we keep showing the phenomenal support for this project. December 19 is the next council meeting. Let's pack the chambers again, and we'll finally be able to say "Yay Cycletracks" for future generations. 

Thanks to all of you, from Bike Town. 


We need your support

Dear listeners, 

When we started The Bike Town Podcast, we hoped to share some of your amazing bike stories, enabled by our new downtown cycle tracks. Now we're asking for your support. On December 8, the Standing Committee on Transportation and Transit will meet to make a recommendation to city council on the downtown cycle track pilot project. This will determine the future direction of urban cycling in Calgary. Despite overwhelmingly favorable data, the vote is not assured, and we need to show our support. Bike Calgary has laid out an excellent guide, giving concrete actions you can take to participate in the discussion at this crucial moment. If you say "Yay, cycle tracks!" every time you ride, now is the time to write a letter, make a phone call, and show support for the network. 

Bike Town has written a letter to each councilor, and we encourage you to do the same. Make your letter personal, and tell your story about how cycle tracks have changed your life for the better. We will also attend the committee meeting on December 8 at 9:30 AM, to read our letter in person. If you have the day off, and would like to attend, citizens who arrive on time can put their name on the list to present their views for five minutes. If you have a unique perspective, we'd love to hear you step up to the mic and share it with the city. 

Here is our letter to council

The time for action is now. We'd love to hear your stories about cycle tracks in the comments section below, and are happy to help you with your letter if you write to us!

Yay cycle tracks! 

Ben, Sean, and Carla

Welcome to Bike Town

Dear listeners,

Bike Town is a podcast about any city in North America. Each month, we will bring you stories about ordinary people and families who have used a bicycle to transform their day-to-day lives. This might sound a little mundane in theory, but it is transformational for the thousands of people who can live healthier, happier lives by choosing to ride a bicycle. At a bigger scale, we think this idea is essential to an entire city in the midst of a transportation revolution. When Calgary installed its cycle track network in the downtown core, as a single large piece of infrastructure, it was controversial. Yet today, with the number of cyclists using the cycle tracks far exceeding projections, and the wildest expectations of even those in the cycling advocacy world, the all-at-once network approach developed here in Calgary can be considered nothing short of a great success. We believe the Calgary model to be appropriate for any city in North America that wants to transform its streets into places for people, and not just for cars.

Bike Town started as an idea. About six months ago, I had recently returned to Calgary after two years in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and I decided to attend the Bike Calgary Annual General Meeting to catch up with friends in the bike community. After the meeting, over a couple of beverages, we discussed what we thought was missing in the conversation about cycling in Calgary. We came to the conclusion that stories about people transforming their lives because of the great new infrastructure were completely absent, and we decided to do something about it. With commitments from Sean Carter and Carla Hills to host the show, we spent the winter planning and preparing for today, the launch of our new podcast. None of us had ever done anything like this before, and we had to learn everything from square one. Despite our inexperience in media, we are excited to help tell the stories of people in our community. We aim to inspire you, our listeners, to take action in your community, whether that be riding your bike more often, writing your city councilor to tell him or her that bikes are important to you, or starting a bike-fun event in your community. Similarly, if you have a great story to share about people on bikes, we want to hear from you! This show is about ideas. This show is about you.

From all of us, welcome to Bike Town. We hope you enjoy the show.

Ben Cowie

ps - we've received a little help from bike friends along the way, in particular Colin Sproule (@cawlin) who designed our sharp logo, and Steve Coutts (@SteveCoutts) who takes beautiful photos of bicycles. Thanks, all, for your support so far!