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ProWalk ProBike ProPlace: Making Active Transportation Happen

September 23rd, 2014 by


Pittsburgh’s new cycle track. Photo courtesy of Alliance for Biking and Walking

More than 1,000 attendees came to the biennial ProWalk ProBike ProPlace conference in Pittsburgh, Pa., in early September to hear the latest from experts from across the US and abroad on bicycle and pedestrian policies, projects, products and issues.

The city welcomed the participants by unveiling its first “cycle track” – a protected two-way bike lane that runs through the heart of downtown. This cycle track was the latest in the city’s efforts to encourage more bicycling and walking, and to make Pittsburgh a more livable and desirable place.

According to Mary Lauren  Hall of the Alliance for Biking and Walking, the hottest topics in active transportation are the increase in protected bike lanes like Pittsburgh’s cycle track; the increased media interest in walking; the inauguration of  “Vision Zero” programs to eliminate pedestrian deaths in major cities; and the “bikelash” against cycling that was seen in a Wall Street Journal editorial writer’s online rant about bike sharing and bicyclists in New York City.

Over the course of more than 100 sessions, walking and biking tours (of course), poster sessions and pecha kucha sessions (where several speakers each present 20 slides in a rapid-fire format), the conference offered updates on federal and state policies, peer-to-peer networking, research on dozens of topics, and best practices and practioners’ lessons learned from hundreds of projects.

New Jersey was represented in the poster sessions by NJDOT’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Unit, which had a display highlighting the department’s statewide bike tour routes, downloadable in a variety of formats.

Session highlights included USDOT Secretary Foxx speaking on his agency’s actions to promote active transportation; the mayors of Philadelphia, Memphis and Pittsburgh discussing how they need advocates to support them as they develop bicycling projects; new research on bike stress-level mapping as an alternative to level-of-service analysis; how the public-health sector is recognizing the need for active transportation; how diverse communities can be engaged in the planning and construction of bicycle and pedestrian projects; and placemaking ideas about making transit stops desirable “places” where communities can gather.

The Alliance has a roundup of event highlights here.

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