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Portland group vies for carfree conference

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on November 28th, 2006 at 3:34 pm

A group of Portland transportation activists are putting together a bid to try and persuade the World Carfree Network -- the "hub of the global carfree movement" -- that Portland would be an ideal place for their yearly conference, Towards Carfree Cities.

The international conference -- which was held in Bogota this year and is slated for Istanbul in '07 -- would bring an international cadre of transportation planners and advocates to Portland. Here's more on the conference from WorldCarFree.net:

"The goal of the Towards Carfree Cities conference series is to bring together people from around the world who are promoting practical alternatives to car dependence - walking, cycling and public transport, and ultimately the transformation of cities, towns and villages into human-scaled environments rich in public space and community life. The focus is on strategy, collaboration and exchange, assisting the practical work of conference participants - whether it be organising carfree days, promoting urban cycling, or building the carfree cities of the future."

Plans are still in the early stages, but this is an exciting possibility. Stay tuned for more developments.

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  • Fritz November 28, 2006 at 5:03 pm

    I'm all for promotion and collaboration on carfree living, but an international conference seems a little against the principles of human-powered transportation, doesn't it?

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  • Matt Picio November 29, 2006 at 9:38 am

    That depends on how much lead time you give the participants. ;-)

    I don't think most of the carfree people live under the illusion that we can completely do away with non-human-powered transportation, I think most of them are arguing for "appropriate transport", i.e. matching the mode to the trip. If you need to move 2,500 pounds 20 miles in less than a day, you probably need a truck, a train, or a horse-drawn cart. If you're getting milk and eggs from the corner store, you can walk. 10 miles to and from work? For most people, you can bike.

    I'm sure at least part of the conference could be accomplished through videoconferencing, but one of the main goals with the conference is to get people together at the site of something "successful" to educate and inspire others firsthand.

    Ideally, these conferences attract those who are starting the process, and need to see what's possible and how to begin.

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  • bonez November 29, 2006 at 9:44 am

    Hosting something like this in Portland, while welcome and supported, would be a little like preaching to the choir. If they really want to make an impact, my recommendation for their next conference: Detroit.

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  • adam November 29, 2006 at 10:28 am

    instead of preaching, I think we should just start sharing the beauty of the way some of us live. recall, bonez, that the vast majority of portlanders STILL commute to work, ALONE, most days. that choir is not in tune.

    I am busting my butt to live carbon neutral. it is really difficult to do this but I, as well as many of my friends, are getting closer every day.

    the city government is not really doing much to help, in my opinion. having an international conference here would get their attention. and, we could get those boulevards, finally, etc.

    if you know anyone in Detroit who is trying to live a better life and wants inspirations and knowledge, let them know that they should consider a visit to portland in summer of 2008.

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  • Carl November 29, 2006 at 12:56 pm

    Portland might be ahead of Detroit...but that's not saying much, Bonez. This is an international conference and, in that light, Portland's choir is pretty small and out of tune.

    The goal is to share ideas about how we can work "toward carfree cities," and Portland has quite a few more experts to offer in that realm than most cities in the US. I sure hope that some folks from Detroit can come...they've got even further to go than Portland. I don't even care if they have to drive to get out here. This is a lot bigger than a few more non human-powered trips.

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  • Elly November 29, 2006 at 1:29 pm

    One part of our proposal for this conference is to work with local cycle touring groups to offer long-distance bike tours before and after the conference. This is intended to be an extra draw for international conference attendees, but also could be a way for folks from, say, Seattle, BC, SF, or even NY to get here and back.

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