Our festival’s been around for a while, and you’ll be glad to know we are just getting started… We would like to incorporate new and different programming, so that’s where you come in… if you are interested in getting involved in setting priorities for Edmonton’s Bikeology: Festival, please join our crew, October 26th, to do just that!
We’d be delighted to hear what sort of bikey events Festival City can handle, and what you’d like to see happen here!
Come back for more details, like place, and time, closer to the event, but otherwise, please mark your calendars!
I am discussing how the bicycle celebration leads to more transportation choices year-round. A history lesson has revealed two separate transportation timelines that Edmonton has straddled for more than half a century.
Bikeology. n. Joyous observance of the world’s most efficient mode of transportation and its transformative effect on our human condition.
Three quarters of Edmontonians must get into a car and drive for every purpose in life. Fixing this is a job for engineers, not party planners. But futures begin in the imagination, and active citizens have been laying claim to this territory for generations. (I’ve been discussing cycling advocacy, but we also have groups promoting public transportation, car/ride-sharing, bipedal locomotion and other modes.)
Bikeology Festival, for me, is a product of what we used to call “culture jamming.” It’s a series of bikey events that, when connected on the June calendar, sketch out an alternate future city. My goal is to see our public spaces filling with bicycles: gathered for a day in the park, overloading the bike racks outside cafes and shops, starring in movies, their blessings highlighted in media coverage, people trying them out… in a controlled manner. I bear witness to the Edmonton cyclist re-weaving our urban fabric, moving at human speeds as though the city was built for human needs.
Draw a dot in space and time – then start drawing a line.
The dot represents a monopole, which is mainstream transportation marketing around the car in North America. During Bike Month, for 30 days, Edmonton’s transportation conversation becomes a continuum, with cars holding down the left and bicycles pedaling energetically to the right. As electricity courses along a wire moving between two magnets, new ideas flow, and we redirect this human energy toward local designs for change.
This bipolar tension has since opened up with the introduction of Edmonton’s new municipal plans. After a decade of consultation with a diverse range of citizenry, we are again officially favouring multimodal options over the single occupant automobile trip and are going to start building more mixed-use, higher-density, diverse neighbourhoods than strictly car-dependent ones.
In conclusion, maybe it’s more accurate to say the bicycle celebration “connects” to a hearty, intermodal network on our alternate transportation timeline. But who cares when facing 2014’s scintillating spectrum of choice? On the left we have the single person automobile trip. The mighty force of eco-mobility, with its universal accessibility, occupies the centre. And then there’s the bicycle, with its unique charisma, leading us ever onward.
On re-reading, I wish to inhibit possible misconceptions…
The power of language and imagery in our society is a reminder of my goals as I communicate from my experiences as an environmental media activist. I want the reader to come away with two powerful realizations. The first is that we have everything we need to move our civilization onto a sustainable path. We know what to do; we’re still figuring out how to do it. The second realization is the need for 100% inclusivity. Saving our world is a full employment opportunity. My mission begins to fail if my writing somehow convinces even one person they are not part of the sustainable way forward.
Eco-mobility is a conceptual solution, born internationally and given a vibrant start at life right here in Edmonton. Studying eco-mobility brings about both realizations. The car is not a villain but a valuable component of our urban transportation systems. In a well-organized society, the car is operated in harmony with bicycles, public transit and good, old-fashioned walking and wheeling. It’s all in “how” we use – and design for – each mode.
A second misconception would be if members of the general public read these articles and believed that cyclists and cycling advocates are anti-car. Indeed, with secondary research, I was informed that some of the unique bicycle cultures we celebrate are inspired by twentieth century motorized vehicle cultures.
The challenge is to get the most enjoyment out of life with the fewest natural resources and not to engage a war of all against all.
As I see it… our family car backs me up when contending with heavy loads or light planning. It takes me on fun day-cations to visit family or explore our beautiful province. While we are lucky enough to walk to a grocery store for fresh items, twice a month it arrives home laden with goods for our pantry. That’s pretty sweet!
Barbara J. Allard
I’m explaining how a month-long celebration of bicycles leads to more transportation choices year round. A look at some of Edmonton’s multimodal transportation history is helpful.
Edmonton’s Alternate Transportation Timelines
In 1913, Edmonton opened our High Level Bridge, a uniquely multimodal engineering feat that was among the highest river crossings by streetcar in the world! Edmontonians of all backgrounds and income levels proudly rode our famous Radial Railway system. Self-propulsion was also a perfectly acceptable way of getting around.
In 1951, Edmonton ended the streetcar age as we veered onto the auto-road. The marketing industry relentlessly promoted a new normal throughout North America. And thus Edmonton grew. Low-density, suburban neighbourhoods overtook the farmland that had once made the city food-secure. Personal automobiles raced from luxury to necessity. Families and friends moved apart, stratified. The walk to school became legend, and the car commute a sentence.
In the energy-aware 1970′s, citizen activists protested a proposed freeway through the central river valley so vehemently that city council began looking for options. In 1978, Edmonton was the first medium-sized city in North America to open a light rail transit system.
The global energy scarcity of the 1970’s also caused a rush for jobs and investment in Alberta’s oil and gas sector. There was a frenzy of new, car-dependent development in Edmonton. In 1981, the world price of oil began to fall, leaving the City struggling with a larger municipal area and recessionary budgets for public transit and other services. We started going broke.
In the 1980’s, Edmonton’s bicycle commuters apparently all knew each other by name (at least the winter cyclists!) For six years, this dynamic group hosted the Lunar Cycle, a month of celebrations to showcase the many virtues of traveling by bicycle. They also consulted with forward-thinking municipal and provincial public servants on enhancing options for bicycle commuting. In 1992, Edmonton adopted our pioneering Bicycle Transportation Plan.
Through the 1990’s, the city built extra-wide curb lanes to accommodate cyclists on the road. Parked cars absorb these spaces, and bicycle-transportation planners work street by street to reclaim them.
In 2001, the International Panel on Climate Change issued their five-year studies with three earth-shattering announcements. Science had confirmed the human fingerprint on global warming; climate change would spin out of control; and the safe timeline for reducing anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions to zilch was brought forward by 35 years.
“Are there any bicycles in it… Yes? It’s in.”
- Barb Allard, c. any June
It was time for another bicycle showcase. Commuter cycling advocates, plus one environmental media activist, invited every type of cyclist to come in from the trails, tracks and terrain – for one day – in July 2002. Mountain bikers and town cruisers, trials, group and low-riders, racers on recumbents, teams on tandems, BMX’, DH’ and XC’ers, trackies, tourers, tri-, uni- and hand-cyclists, retailers and messengers – come together! Bring your bikes.
This one-day expo of bicycles + ecology became an official month to celebrate Edmonton’s bicycle culture in 2004.
In 2009, Edmonton adopted a new transportation master plan. “The Way We Move” aims to replace single occupant automobile trips with the alternate modes of eco-mobility. Following suit, “The Way We Grow,” declares the neighbourhood of the future has walkways and bikeways linking residents to local jobs, shopping, services – and each other. Meanwhile, our central river valley wilderness trails enticed admiration and envy from international experts in urban design.
Do these select examples from history demonstrate how a civic bicycle celebration kicks in at the right time to accentuate this healthy choice for our city? Are you inspired, dear reader, with the idea that futures are not set in asphalt but re-created everyday? Are you convinced that our willingness to get on out there and advocate, activate – and celebrate – has kept Edmonton’s multimodal transportation timeline alive?
History lesson isn’t enough? Then, in the next article, I have no choice but to try using pseudoscience.
Bike Month Adventures
I was excited to retrieve my ride after leaving it in the expert hands at my local bicycle shop. She was tuned and trued, with missing parts replaced. I also got a new bell. It’s purple and has a clear, satisfying ring.
I had perma-grin as I rode my bike for the first time in a couple years. I pulled over between two parked cars so I could text home, “Wheeee!!” There was a magpie walking up the sidewalk, chattering animatedly to itself. We used to call that behaviour insane. Now, I’m looking for tiny headphones! A lady approached, and we both laughed at the sight.
June has long come and gone. In this case, having Bike Month run all summer is working for me…
Barbara J. Allard
Oy vei… the Bikeology Ride-Up Movie is awash with change – even the NAME!! …
keep up, kids, we’ve moved the location to Edmonton Bicycle Commuters, South Side Location, 9:30 onwards, because, yes, the PARK is CLOSED!….so join us (and NOT all the mozzies and NOT outside), on September 6, 9:30 for a viewing of Grand Budapest Hotel, which my fine friends, has bicycles in it…yes indeed…
Oy vei… the Bikeology Ride-In Movie is awash with change… to SEPTEMBER, AND LATER, kids… so join us (and NOT all the mozzies), on September 6, 9:30 for a viewing of Grand Budapest Hotel, which my fine friends, has bicycles in it…yes indeed…
SO, hope to see you then, there, at Victora Park Cricket pitch where we will not be inundated with mosquitos, nor threatened with storms…
Oh, Alberta weather… how you mock us…