I have some exciting news: I’m going back to New York City!
My goal: To cover the Vision Zero Cities conference hosted by nonprofit streets advocacy group Transportation Alternatives.
Some of you might recall my trip to the Big Apple back in 2012. I made the trip to cover the inaugural NACTO Designing Cities conference. NACTO, short for National Association for City Transportation Officials, (a counterbalance to the more conservative American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials, or AASHTO), was fledgling back then and the conference gave me the chance to meet amazing people and tell the story of New York City’s emergence as a cycling power in the U.S.
That trip was the best (and most fun!) reporting I’ve ever done outside of Portland. I was able to interview legendary former NYC DOT chief Janette Sadik-Khan, Streetsblog financier Mark Gorton, cover a speech were former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg proclaimed that cyclists were more important than drivers, highlight Manhattan’s hard-working deliveristas, experience Central Park in fall, ride-along with a first-time commuter, and more.
Then, just as I packed up to go home, we got word that a major hurricane was bearing down. I decided to extend the trip to wait out the storm and it was the right decision! Imagine being a cycling journalist in America’s largest city after it was it with a hurricane that damaged buildings, cut electricity to thousands, and flooded the subway. I got to ride around Manhattan during a blackout, survey damage first-hand, and photograph one of the most remarkable commutes in the history of cities as a subway shutdown stranded tens of thousands of people who took to feet and bike to get to work.
And then, I witnessed bicycling emerge not just as a mobility tool, but as a power-generator, community-builder, and lifesaver.
Suffice it to say, I can’t wait to go back and see how the city’s infrastructure has evolved and changed in the past 11 years.
My itinerary has extra days beyond the Vision Zero conference, but the event’s speakers and topics will be a major focus. The speaker list includes two Portlanders: Sam “Bike Bus” Balto, and Michelle DuBarry who will represent Families for Safe Streets. I’ve covered both Sam and Michelle several times here on BikePortland, so it will be fun to see their voices lifted to a national stage.
The two conference keynotes will be given by author and Houston DOT Director Veronica Davis and The War on Cars podcast co-host Doug Gordon. There are three full days of virtual sessions, field tours (including a bike bus ride with Sam!) and breakout sessions. With traffic safety at an all-time low, there’s tremendous urgency around Vision Zero and I’m eager to hear what our country’s best and brightest have to share about it.
I leave late Tuesday night (10/17), which means I’ll have to miss Bike Happy Hour.
I’ll miss being here, and I get nervous about missing local news when I’m gone; but the break from Portland will do me good. If you are reading this from New York City and have a story idea and/or a connection or event you’d like me to make while I’m in town, please get in touch!
One last thing… this trip is a hefty expense for this little business and I need sponsors and financial support to help make it sting a bit less. If you or your company wants to come along as a sponsor, just email me at email@example.com and we’ll work something out. And if you value the work I do/will do and are able to support it, I would really appreciate your help.
Please visit BikePortland.org/support where it’s easy to subscribe or contribute funds. If you’re on Venmo, we’re @bikeportland.
And stay tuned! I’ll be sharing photos, maybe some audio and podcasts, a social media video or two — you never know what I’ll be inspired to create or what story might present itself. Thanks for all your support.