the opening plenary of the
Velo-City conference last month.
(Photos: Greg Raisman)
With Pedalpalooza just a week away, it’s fitting to do a story about how Portland’s legendary bike fun created quite a stir at an international bike conference held last month.
Portland Mayor Sam Adams, along with his Chief of Staff Tom Miller and Bureau of Transportation traffic safety specialist Greg Raisman recently returned from the Velo-City conference in Brussels, Belgium. Velo-City brings together the top bike planners and experts from around the globe. With representatives from nearly 50 countries and numerous, high-level politicians from Europe in attendance, it is the premier bike conference in the world.
Conference organizers paid for Adams’ trip and gave him a prime spot on the schedule. During the opening plenary, Adams shared the stage with the Deputy Mayor of Amsterdam, Vice President of the EU, a former Prime Minister of France and representatives of the United Nations.
According to Raisman, who paid his own way and did a study trip of several other cities after the conference, Adams’ presentation, “put Portland squarely on the world stage.”
became the first Mayor from
North America to sign the
Charter of Brussels.
“To listen to the commentary in the hallways and in conversation at the conference afterwards about how the ‘American bicycle city’ had the best presentation of the day was a bit overwhelming,” said an excited Raisman reflecting on the conference.
And it’s interesting to note that the excitement wasn’t about infrastructure projects or governmental policies. Raisman said, “the most interest was in our bike fun.”
You might be wondering, what exactly is bike fun? It’s not a formal term by any stretch, but it’s been used for years on the streets of Portland, especially by folks involved with Shift. The epitome of bike fun is probably Pedalpalooza, their annual event that lists nearly 200 events in just over two weeks.
In an update from Brussels after the conference, Raisman wrote that the chatter in the hallways following Adams’ presentation was all about bike fun:
“You have how many bike events?” “You do what on a bicycle?” “You do what WITH your bicycles?” From the UN to the City of Copenhagen, people were exploring the Shift webpage and sending emails to colleagues saying they need to bring bike fun to their city or around the world.”
In addition to spreading the Portland bike spirit to leaders and creators of the world’s most bike-friendly cities, Adams also became the first (and so far, only) North American Mayor to sign the Charter of Brussels.
Signers of the Charter commit to several bike-related initiatives. Among them is one to “set a target of at least 15% for the share of cycling in the modal split of trips for the year 2020.”
That goal shouldn’t be too tough to reach, especially with bike fun in our corner.
— Watch a short video below of Mayor Adams and League of American Bicyclists Executive Director Andy Clarke at the conference:
— Download the Charter of Brussels here (190 kb, PDF)