The Alberta Bikes Conference was held in Canmore on Sept 17 & 18 at the Bill Warren Training Centre. For the second year in a row, participants from across Alberta and local, regional, national, and international presenters were wowed by Canmore’s bike friendly assets and enthused about the potential for Alberta to be a fantastic cycle tourism destination.
The conference was opened by MLA cycling champion David Shepherd (Edmonton Centre) who emphasized we know have the opportunity to make cycling part of the fabric of everyday life in Alberta. He also emphasized that NOW is the time to speak or write to our local council and our MLA, Cam Westhead to let him know you support apportioning some of the carbon tax revenue for cycling infrastructure and projects.
Andy Clarke, former president of the League of American Cyclists for over 12 years, pressed the point that even in tough economic times, it is not a question of having enough money, but a question of priorities. The annual spending of Alberta Transportation is $34.8 billion. It time to ask the question: “What percentage of that will go to sustainable and active transportation?”
From Scott Bricker of Travel Oregon we learned that cyclists are the best kinds of tourists. “Cyclists play hard, eat your food, and go to bed early.” Oh….and they tend to spend a lot of money!
We learned about the adventure that awaits a trip on the Great Divide Trail and that a way to enjoy it is by “bikepacking” – a fast growing activity. Indeed, there is a Bikepacking Summit taking place in Canmore, Oct 21 – 23 at Rebound Cycle.
Parks Canada piqued our interest with great plans to improve cycle tourism assets in Banff. Given 90 percent of Banff visitors come from within a one hour drive, we’d love to see them add plans to encourage combining public transit with cycling to reduce traffic congestion in the park.
Mayor Steve Parish of Ajax, Ontario (Bike Friendly – Bronze) pointed out the overwhelming importance of cycling advocacy: “we need the cycling equivalent of soccer moms and hockey dads to make sure cycling has a voice.” He also mentioned how important it was to engage schools and find champions in the classroom. We are on it!!!
We were delighted to see council representation from Mayor John Borrowman, councillor Esme Comfort and councillor Joanna McCallum at Alberta Bikes.