Velo-city coming to Vancouver B.C. in 2012 (and why you should go)

Vancouver BC-City Ride-3.jpg

Velo-city Global will be an
opportunity to learn more from
our neighbors in Vancouver B.C..
(Photo © J. Maus)

Big news from our neighbors to the north in Vancouver, British Columbia. They’ve been selected to host Velo-city Global, a major international cycling conference that hasn’t been held outside of Europe since 1996

This is big deal on a lot of levels. For starters, having a major bike conference like this in North America is an excellent opportunity for transportation advocates and planners from the U.S. to participate (Portland has nice, direct service to Vancouver via Amtrak!).

Vancouver is also a city that can offer some lessons to Portland in terms of bikeway development.
When I visited back in 2007, the two big things that I remember were their bicycle boulevards and their multi-use paths. Since my visit, they’ve moved boldly forward with two projects that provide physical separation between bicycle and motor vehicle traffic.

vancouver BC day 1-9.jpg

Street sign where a bike boulevard
crosses a larger street.
(Photo © J. Maus)

Vancouver does a great job marketing their bike streets. Most noticeably, they include a bike symbol directly below the main street sign where the bike boulevards cross major streets. This makes it nearly impossible for people driving cars to forget they are about to cross a bike street. Here in Portland, PBOT has done a great job signing our bike boulevard crossings, but the signs are on the sidewalks and I feel are easier to miss when you’re in a car than overhead signs.

In Vancouver, each bike boulevard also has a unique name. People know of the streets, not by their actual street name, but by a name that has to do with a certain theme that helps create an identity around them. In particularly, I remember the “Mosaic” bike boulevard named for the series of public art mosaics installed in the traffic calming features. “Just take the Mosaic west until you reach…” is how locals give directions.

On their very popular multi-use paths, similar to our Waterfront Path, Vancouver has separated biking and walking traffic. This is something PBOT has plans to do on the Willamette River Greenway Trail in South Waterfront, but that project isn’t completed yet. Where possible, I’d love to see Portland start to improve the “level of service” (get it!) of our trails and separate biking and walking.

Speaking of separation, Vancouver has created physically separated bikeways on a major bridge (Burrard) and a downtown street (Dunsmuir).

Separated bikeway on Burrard Bridge.
(Photo: City of Vancouver)

Last year’s Velo-city in Copenhagen drew over 1,100 participants from 60 countries. In 2009, Portland Mayor Sam Adams helped put Portland front and center on the world stage when he made the trip to Brussels to attend the conference.

I plan to be there in 2012 and I hope to be joined by a big Portland contingent.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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13 years ago

Calendar marked. Promise to post the actual dates when they are announced?

13 years ago

How about a link to the Environment Canada, Vancouver BC weather forecasts as well? That way, BikePortland readers can compare the weather conditions, and plan accordingly. For example, this morning, Vancouver was slightly cooler than Portland. But not by much.

13 years ago

Let’s hope we still have “direct service” on Amtrak to Vancouver BC in 2012. “Second train” service between Seattle and Vancouver almost got cut this year, and is currently only funded through next year.

The single-train service (which is what we had until fairly recently, and which we would revert to) stinks for travelers south of Seattle who want to get north of Seattle, or vice versa: it requires spending an extra night in Seattle each direction.

The only train heading north to Vancouver leaves before the first morning train from Portland gets in, and the only train heading back south from Vancouver gets into Seattle after the last evening train to Portland has already left. Unless you actually live in Seattle, basically useless.

13 years ago

GlowBoy, many Vancouverites are hoping also that the 2nd Cascades Amtrak train will be around in 2012.

There was sufficient written protest to extend the 2nd train into 2011. Let’s cross our fingers and keep encouraging the officials to make that train run permanent. By the way, it’s quite easy to bring your bike onto Amtrak on that line with its own bike train car. We’ve done it several times already.

Velo-city 2010 Copenhagen cycling conference had 1,000 delegates attend.