Each time I engage Edmontonians in conversations about active transportation, one thing becomes clear - that we need to shift the conversation away from car vs. bike to one about healthy people and healthy communities. No matter where people stand on the issue, pro-bike lane or anti, commuter-focused or community-focused, everybody can get on board with the growing research and ancient understanding that cycling improves people’s health, whether you are a recreational or commuter cyclist. As much as we want to encourage more people to cycle more frequently, we need to build cycling infrastructure that is safe, that is separated from traffic wherever possible, and that inspires people of all ages to saddle up and ride.
This is why I am big fan of renowned bike planner Gil Penalosa and his focus on 8-80 cities. This changes the conversation for Councillors, as elected officials, to lead. We have a duty to represent our constituents and the City as a whole, and therefore can focus on the common goal of improving people’s health and building community supported infrastructure rather than refereeing polarized factions in the car vs. bike war.
That’s where our city’s civil society groups come into play. One such group, Paths for People, has been working hard since their launch late last year on some great initiatives and events to help start conversations about active transportation in the City of Edmonton.
Paths for People is going to be hosting an event called A City for Life on April 15th. The evening will feature a keynote speech from Gil Penalosa. He’ll be talking about his vision for happier, healthier cities, where cyclists, pedestrians, and vehicles can coexist in harmony.
Doors at the Stanley Milner Library Theatre will open at 6:30pm, but it’s looking like it’ll be a packed house, so I’d recommend getting your tickets here in advance if you can. From what I hear there might already be a wait list, but signing up in advance is the best way to get in.
I’m very pleased to have been able to help this group organize this talk. To me, supporting civil society groups like Paths for People is a key part of good public engagement. The City should take an active role in encouraging the development of community capacity and leadership, so citizens can guide us all in improving our city. I’m hopeful that this Paths for People event will help move us closer to being a city that all citizens can feel safe and comfortable moving through, no matter what mode of transportation they choose to use.