2009 Bike Summit Success
Well, we did it. The Ontario Bike Summit was, by all accounts, a great success and now it is our pleasure to thank those who made it possible.
A huge thank you to all who attended, to our sponsors, our volunteers, the City of Waterloo and the Region of Waterloo , our volunteers and our host hotel, the Waterloo Inn.
We are now beginning the process of looking through the evaluation forms and the response is that those who attended found our sessions useful and informative. And we have great feedback already on what worked and didn’t and what we should be looking at for next year – thank you for your input!
Here are some of the highlights:
- We brought 170 cyclists, advocates, political leaders from municipal and provincial governments, government officials from several departments, planners, engineers, industry, public health officials and international guests together to share information and discuss how to create a Bicycle Friendly Ontario. It was so great to see all of the hallway discussions and business card exchanges!
- We announced the launch of the Bicycle Friendly Communities program in partnership with the League of American Bicyclists, the Bicycle Trade Association of Canada, and Trek bicycles. Great news for our municipalities and our province!
- We attracted sponsors and partners from a wide variety of sectors: Transport Canada, the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, Mountain Equipment Co-op (who gave us all a beautiful memento from the Summit, our very own “Ontario Bike Summit” bag); the Bicycle Trade Association of Canada, the City of Burlington, Metrolinx, the University of Waterloo, the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation, the MMM Group, the Sports and Exercise Medicine Institute (SEMI). Thank you for helping make the Ontario Bike Summit a great success -- we could not have done it without you!
- We were inspired by international examples – Andy Clarke from the League of American Bicyclists in Washington, Mayor Dave Cieslewicz from Madison Wisconsin and Phillip Darnton from Cycling England. And we heard from those closer to home – Jean Francois Pronovost (Velo Quebec) and Marc Panneton (Quebec Ministry of Transportation) as well as colleagues from municipalities such as Cambridge, Kitchener, Waterloo, St. Catherines, and Markham and the Regions of Waterloo and York.
- We began the process of building a bicycle policy for Ontario by seeking your input on what the priorities for the Ontario Government should be. This, along with our pre-Summit survey, will be turned into a report for key stakeholders including the Ontario Government. Stay tuned as we begin to compile this report which we hope will serve as a guide for policy development and the creation of new initiatives and programs.
- We had two government Ministers with us, including Transport Minister Jim Bradley and Colleges and University and Research and Innovation Minister John Milloy. And we had MPP and NDP Critic for Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy Peter Tabuns as well as Green Party Leader Frank de Jong all sharing their vision for a Bicycle Friendly Ontario and the role for advocates in this regard. Progressive Conservative Critic Frank Klees was unable to join us, but his colleague Kitchener MPP Elizabeth Witmer brought greetings from her colleague, and on behalf of Caucus, and said that they will be looking to us for ideas as they begin to develop policies on cycling.
- For his part, Minister Bradley signaled that there is much to do, but that he looks forward to working with us and to our post-Summit report. Having two Government Ministers at the Summit is an excellent sign that the government is committed to hearing our input, and developing mechanisms for establishing policy and initiatives for cycling in Ontario. The message was clear: the Minister said he is listening and that his door is open. As I walked with the Minister from the room he told me that he is looking forward to our next discussion and to working through the next steps for the Ontario government as regards cycling.
- We should all be pleased that Queen’s Park turned out in such great numbers – this is a positive sign that cycling is capturing the imagination of our provincial politicians. It is also a powerful signal that they are looking for our advice in terms of how best to move forward in this area. We have much to do – but this is an excellent beginning!
Finally, we had presenters who spoke with heart, humor, passion and clarity about what we need to do to advance the cause of cycling in Ontario. There were moments of celebration as we applauded the work of bicycling retailer Dennis Mizerski, owner of Racer Sportif, philanthropist and community builder. We look forward to your nominations next year, and to hearing from you about who you think should receive next year’s “Bicycling with Heart” award. In the meantime, our sincere congratulations to Dennis and his family.
And who will forget the moving presentation from Anne Paliwal, and her powerful message of hope from the “Kanata Five” – all on the road to recovery. Anne’s message was an important reminder that while our work must be rooted in facts and data, we need to remember that there is human face to cycling which reinforces the importance of sharing the road.
Many of you have asked whether or not we will be posting Summit information, including presentations, on our website. Good news – yes we will. Please bear with us as we seek to do so over the next week. I should caution that we will do what we can – not all presenters used presentations but we will do what we can to get this information to you -- as soon as we can.
In our closing remarks, we wanted to share with you our vision for moving the cycling agenda forward in Ontario and how we will be continuing to work very hard to put in place an organization that is rooted in the values of partnership, is inclusive and grassroots in nature. The Summit was our opportunity to demonstrate to you our desire to bring together best practices we can all learn from, seek input on building a public policy framework for cycling in Ontario and invite provincial politicians to share their ideas and listen to ours.
Working with you we know that we will be successful. Working together, we can create a Bicycle Friendly Ontario. We look forward to your continued support and input.
Here’s to the next Ontario Bike Summit!
Yours in safe cycling, Eleanor McMahon.