Velo City 2014: Quips, Quotes, Quotients

The 2014 edition of the world’s pre-eminent cycling conference, Velo-City, was held in Adelaide in the last week of May.

The conference opening delivered a recognisable menu of cycling royalty and rock stars including the energised Lord Mayor of Adelaide, Stephen Yarwood (an urban planner), the President of the European Cycling Federation, Manfred Nuen (“Active transport needs to be approached as a human right”) and the requisite “jurisdictional expert”, Copenhagen’s Mikael Colville-Anderson ( who orchestrated the audience’s imagining of a great cycling city with memes such as:

“If you don’t see people yawning while they ride, your city is doing it wrong”

“You can’t shop at 50km/h in a car”

“Daddy, when is my city gonna fit me?” [Build to the human scale: A life-sized city]

“What the Fuck” [breaking through the hesitancy that develops when planners delay for wanting to perfect the solution. (“Jump in. Evolve as you need to”)]


In any case, it was perhaps a small gesture from a child juggler that offered the meme of the conference for the Australian context: repeatedly announcing the attempt, and then repeatedly failing to juggle all the balls …and doing so with joy: perhaps hinting at not only expecting to fail on a stretch goal, but enjoying the speculation. The joy of creating.

The great thing about conferences is the space they create to indulge one’s joy about the subject matter and to share ideas. (At a conference, cycling nerdery can never be small talk.) What the universe doesn’t offer is a secret list of the most engaging presentations. Overall, the presentations were good to great, although some were weighed by their reliance on data to convey the narrative. Some even failed to prosecute their own idea.


More quips, quotes and yes, quotients from the conference…


— Tuesday —

Jonathan Daly

“Driving is so widely adopted because it’s intuitive, cycling is not”

“Build by cooperation BUT through self-interest rather than for view for community”

“Jaywalking: originally a pejorative term aimed at shaming inept road-crossers”

“The answer is always separation”

“We need to take a “Collaborative consumption” approach also in relation to our public space”


Phil Gray [GTA Consultants]

“Speed management as hidden infrastructure” [in reference to the aspiration for 30kmh speed limits]

“Safe infrastructure for all.  Let the test of an infrastructure treatment be ‘send out a child and and elderly person and see if it makes it easy for them'”


Phil Latz [Bicycling Australia]

“Industry will assist the advocacy movement best by participating in messaging rather than sitting on committees”


Piotr Kuroptwinski [University of Gdansk]

“We need to reposition from being victims or sufferers to protagonists.’ (A shift in voice from a plead to be accommodated to a purposeful demand for provisioning)”


Ethan Kent [Project for Public Spaces]

“Design streets according to the destinations they serve”

“When parking is an issue, you don’t have a vision for your city”


Keynote, Janette Sadik-Khan [Former Transport Commissioner of New York]

“Happy Birthday NY Bike Share” (1 year old: commenced 27 May 2013)

“Space for pedestrians bikes and buses shouldn’t be merely the space that is left over after providing for cars”


— Wednesday —


The Heart Foundation (Cycling Promotion Fund Award Winner)

“The Heart foundation has partnered with local government to produce planning instruments for building for healthy living”

“Current levels of incidental exercise including active transport among children and young people in Australia are less than half the 1970 levels (Garrard 2009)”

“$50-60 billion a year is lost on chronic diseases”

“The Australian health care system could save $1.5Billion each year if more people were physically active for 30 minutes a day (Medibank Private 2008)”

$1.43: the benefit to the community of each kilometre cycled” (The health benefit makes up $1.12 of that figure.  Next highest contributors: benefits accruing from  reduced vehicle operating costs ($0.35) and decongestion ($0.21).  Injury costs ($-0.37) decrease the total benefit.)


[Pavement to Parks]

Nice pics from


Morten Kabell [Mayor of Copenhagen]

“Prioritising bicycles is not an end of itself. Bike mode share: should be 50% in 2015. Sadly we’re only at 41%. Cars: 12%”

[Interestingly, Mayor Kabell related that the City of Copenhagen still has to manage matters of congestion and creating transport capacity.]


Per Ankersjo [Stockholm vice Mayor for Environment]

Current Focus

The Bike Billion
The Bike Lane Maintenance squad
New Bike Strategy
The spend: About $200/person (A$200million for a city expected to grow to 1million in 2018)

What’s next for Copenhagen

Converting car lanes to Bike lanes
Car parking will convert to bike parking
Raising congestion charges
Stockholm Open Streets – markets, food trucks, bikes


Maria Vassilakou [City of Vienna]

Four theses for the good City.  A good City is a place where people:
– want you live not have to live.
– meet and exchange thoughts, goods and ideas (the outside of houses is the inside of the cities)
– are encouraged out of their car and onto their feet (autonomous mobility)
– are encouraged to engage in dialogue and controversy

“Car share: if you want a glass of milk you don’t need to own the cow”


Stephen Yarwood [Lord Mayor of Adelaide]

“Work with the good media, cause otherwise the message comes from the bad media

“Ask don’t tell: ask the shop owner if they think

“Lighter, cheaper, easier [infrastructure]”

“Put in flower boxes so that when they complain they don’t dare rip out the flowers”

“Be frank and fearless. Stand up for what you believe in. Tell them they’re wrong if they are”


— Thursday —


Patrick Morgan [Cycling Advocates Network (NZ)]

“Data sure, but tell a story. It’s about story telling”

“Bring more voices into the story”

“Re-frame the debate [to your goals]”


Julian Furgeson [Journalist]

What makes news?

1. Proximity. Journalists care about what’s local

2. Human Interest: no one cares about the Bike, they all care about the person

3. Timeliness: immediate. Lag kills

4. Conflict. Editors love conflict

5. So what?

6. Prominence: get a famous person on a bike


Tips from a Journalist

1. Why?
94% press releases aren’t read. Why should I read it?

2. Relationships
With editors, and yes, with tabloids

3. Use kids

4. Be available

5. Make it easy for me (the journo)


Dr Cameron Munro [CDM Research]

“Level of Service [LOS] for whom?” [Traffic planning calculates “Level of Service” for cars …but not for bikes]

“LOS for motorists is largely homogenous.  Not so for cyclist.  The expectations for access to transport corridors is different for different riders”

“First, consider a father with daughter versus a sole, confident rider.  Second, for riders route choice is also about: hills, intersections & pedestrians”

“…And, we need to build for future demand, not merely today’s volumes”


Dr Tarek Sayed [University of British Columbia]

“1.3 million people are dying on roads around the world. The misgiving is the shift of responsibility for this to the users rather than the designers of road facilities”


Stephen Fleming [Writer, Academic, Consultant. Author of Cycle Space]

“Bringing my bike into the building”

“Bikes shrink a city’s time-space”

Craig Richards [Bicycle Network, CEO]

“The couch is winning”

“56% of Aussies are inactive.  $13.8Billion is the cost this inactivity”

“56% of $13.8Billion = $7.5Billion (approx)”

“Please Tony, spend $7.5bn on separated bike lanes and paths ” [$350 per Australian]

“This would be 7500kms of bike lanes across the country”

[Craig used his presentation time to direct audience members to email this request to the Prime Minister]

Tim Papandreou [San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency]

“We need to move out of the of the ‘ists’ and ‘isms’. No “motorists”; no “cyclists””

“Driving, not texting is the distraction”

“San Francisco cannot actually physically accommodate the predicted car growth.  San Francisco is at saturation”

“Give up the fascination for hyper-jumping levels of mode shift. Cascade people from cars to public transport to bikes to walking”

“The most important tool is parking and driving demand management”

“25% of road traffic in consolidated areas is merely drivers circulating for parking”

“The Golden Trifecta:  mayor + advocates + ‘plangineers’ ”

“San Fran’s Goal: 9% mode share for cycling [Central Sydney’s goal is 10%]”

“Adopt Vision Zero – no more traffic deaths”

“Create a culture of empathy and forgiveness”

More on San Fran’s Guidelines:


— Friday —


Florian Lennart [Intelligent City Forum, Director]

“City transport of the future: Make mobility sexy. Multimodal options on demand (walk up) using the one account”

“eCars that can be charged from any Street pole using intelligent charge cables (the cable is carried in the eCar)”

“Auto-mobility [on-demand mobility choices] rather than automobiles”


Bernhard Ensink

Launches the World Cycling Alliance

“A European Cycling Union initiative (but not replacing the ECF)”

“The World Cycling Alliance is a worldwide network of NGO’s with a substantial interest in promoting cycling”

“Not a legal entity”







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