“I’m inspired by cities like Copenhagen and Amsterdam,” says Mayor of Vancouver

פורסם: 16 במרץ 2012, 12:03 על ידי: Sustainability Org   [ עודכן 16 במרץ 2012, 12:09 ]
Cities for Cyclists, News, 14.03.2012

Vancouver will be hosting our trademark cycle planning conference, Velo-city Global this June. When ECF chooses a host for the event, it’s not simply a question of cycling credentials and a nice venue. A big part of the decision is based on the city’s commitment to improve cycling. Vancouver’s Mayor Gregor Robertson has been at the forefront of the cycling renaissance and has spearheaded the city’s push for more active mobility.

We had a few questions to ask him about why he supports cycling.

Why does you as a Mayor support cycling in Vancouver?

Vancouver’s goal is to be the world’s Greenest City by 2020, and our Greenest City Action Plan includes boosting active transportation. Cycling is a healthy, fast, green and affordable way to get around our beautiful city. It reduces traffic congestion and pollution and enhances our livability and sustainability. It’s our fastest-growing mode of transportation and enables our downtown population and economy to grow when there’s no room for more cars.

“It’s our fastest-growing mode of transportation and enables our downtown population and economy to grow when there’s no room for more cars.”own population and economy to grow when there’s no room for more cars.”

To get more people cycling, do you focus on infrastructure or education and awareness-raising? Or both?

Both! In my first year as Mayor we doubled City funding for cycling infrastructure to improve busy bike routes and established three new separated bike lanes in our downtown. These new lanes made riding safer and faster and attracted many new cyclists. We’ve also expanded our efforts to raise awareness and respect between motorists, cyclists and pedestrians to ensure our roads are safer for everyone.

Do city high-ranking officials, VIPs, get on their bicycles? Do you cycle?

Absolutely – many of our city councillors and staff are avid cyclists. I ride my bike every day – it’s my primary mode of transportation to and from City Hall and public events. I think it’s important for elected officials to show leadership on green transportation choices – especially walking and biking!

The Mayor of Vancouver with a Bicycle, Credit: Solar BC

What is the desired end result for your policies involving cycling, and where do you get your inspiration?

We want people of all ages to feel safe and motivated to ride a bike inVancouver. I’m inspired by cities like Copenhagen and Amsterdam where cycling is a primary transportation choice for 30-40% of residents, and it’s exciting that we’re beginning to emulate that success in Vancouver. I’m also inspired seeing the research that demonstrates big health benefits from cycling, and hearing great stories of health and fitness from people inVancouver.

”I’m inspired by cities like Copenhagen and Amsterdam where cycling is a primary transportation choice for 30-40% of residents”

Tell us about dealing with North American car culture, if it’s relevant, when implementing your cycling plans in Vancouver.

Vancouver is the only major city in North America without freeways. This is thanks to a diverse coalition of neighbourhoods and visionary politicians that fought successfully in the 1970′s against the downtown freeway proposal.

That said, there was some opposition to the new separated bike lanes from car-driving commuters, but in general both the lanes and our overall approach to expanding our cycling network have very strong and consistent public support. Many drivers understand the need for safer cycling infrastructure and we are seeing a rapid shift from cars to more sustainable transportation choices.

Vancouver is proud of its excellent transit system, a bike network that’s growing in scope and safety, and a variety of very walkable, livable neighbourhoods. Our goal is for over 50% of residents to walk, bike, or ride transit as their primary transportation mode by 2020.

“Vancouver is the only major city in North America without freeways”

When Velo-city comes to comes to Canada, what can other cities learn from Vancouver? And vice versa?

Velo-city is an excellent opportunity to showcase many of Vancouver’s world-leading green initiatives, from our extraordinary 22km seawall bikeway to green buildings and neighbourhoods. We also want to highlight Vancouver’s focus on being a world centre for the green economy. We hope to show other cities the benefits of bold investments in green transportation and community planning, and we’re looking forward to incorporating best practices from other leading cities into our work to be the world’s Greenest City.

What are the main obstacles to more and safer cycling in Vancouver?

Budget and bandwidth are challenges we face with all our initiatives. And making changes at an ambitious but reasonable pace. But we’re advancing well – separated bike lanes, adding and improving designated bike routes, and better education of both cyclists and drivers are all contributing to safer cycling in our city. To support the growing demand we’ll need to continue working on more safety measures and awareness, improve the cycling network outside the downtown core, launch our planned public bike share system, and continue improving end-of-trip facilities.

About the Interviewee:

Gregor Robertson was elected Mayor of Vancouver in November 2008. Mayor Robertson has delivered on an ambitious program to make Vancouver a more livable, environmentally friendly city has made making Vancouver streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists a top priority. Before entering politics, Gregor was a successful entrepreneur. The founder and former CEO of Happy Planet Foods, he grew the Vancouver-based socially responsible company up to 50 employees in 10 years

Why the interest in North America?

ECF is not just interested in cycling in Europe. We think it’s important to take a global perspective. So much so that our next big conference, Velo-city Global 2012, is taking place in Vancouver on the 26-29th of June. It’s the biggest cycling planning conference in the world, bringing together the best and the brightest in cycling and transport policy. Check out the conference website here, and register now for discount early bird tickets. It’s going to be a great event.

Source: ecf.com