Thanks, Bike Town. That was a long night at T&T.

Thanks so much to everyone who volunteered so many hours of their day yesterday to attend the Standing Policy Committee on Transportation and Transit. Especially thanks to everyone who took the day off work to sit in City Hall for the entire day. We didn't hear the recommendation we were hoping for, yet I'm optimistic that with a strong showing over the next ten days we'll have a permanent and expanding cycle track network for our little Bike Town. 

From my perspective (and I think I speak for Carla and Sean here, too), it's insane to see this much local scrutiny for a style of urban design that has been shown to be most effective in cities around the world. New York. London. Copenhagen. Amsterdam. Barcelona. Berlin. Montreal. These are not second-rate cities. They all have developed an incredible network of protected cycling infrastructure that enables individuals from 8-80 years old to engage in their city's streetscape from a bicycle. The bicycle is a humble, empowering transportation machine gives health, wealth, happiness, and street-level community to its users. For broader society, large-scale bicycle adoption lowers pollution, increases economic mobility, decreases road maintenance costs, eases congestion, and supports local businesses. How anyone could be opposed to something with so many benefits is beyond me. 

If anyone else feeling a little frustrated this morning, I certainly share that feeling with you. For all the people who volunteered their time, it was disappointing that three people decided they'd had enough for the day and wanted to go home, pushing the decision off to full council. Councillors Woolley, Pincott, Demong, and dad-joke-maker-in-chief Keating voted in favor of finishing the job, but a 2/3 majority was required to change the end-time of the meeting. Even Mayor Nenshi, who showed up at the last minute to try to salvage the meeting, couldn't change the votes that had already been cast. This is how politics works sometimes. It sucks. Yet if disappointment, frustration, and cynicism win your heart, and you decide to stop advocating for change, that's when change stops. So please, don't despair. From my perspective, I saw dozens of incredible people coming to voice support, some of whom were terrified to speak, but did an amazing job. Many other people were in council chambers yesterday who did not speak, but quietly supported the cycle tracks. There were relatively few opposed, and we appreciated hearing their perspectives, too. I'm sure all city staff, and certain councillors are feeling quite the same way you are. Cycle tracks aren't going anywhere as long as we keep showing the phenomenal support for this project. December 19 is the next council meeting. Let's pack the chambers again, and we'll finally be able to say "Yay Cycletracks" for future generations. 

Thanks to all of you, from Bike Town. 

Ben

Episode 9: Urban Gangsters of Bike Town

Every great Bike Town is full of Urban Gangsters. Five term councillor Druh Farrell and two term councillor Gian-Carlo Carra joined us to discuss the visionary transformation of our city from car city to Bike Town. Councillor Farrell has been a leading voice for urbanism in our city for more than a decade, and Councillor Carra is part of a new wave of young leaders who are determined to see a different city built for the next million Calgarians. We discuss the challenges and reasons for success of the rapid transformation of bicycle infrastructure in our town. Saddle up for a fun ride with us. 

This is the third of three episodes dedicated to the advocacy, technical, and political aspects of an urban cycling transformation in Calgary that has led to more than one million cycle track trips in an 18 month pilot project. We hope you enjoy the mini-series! 

Hosts: Sean Carter & Carla Hills

Produced and edited by: Ben Cowie

Song: Bicycle Race
Artist: Queen
Album: Jazz
Label: EMI

Episode 8 - Internal gear: the inner workings of city hall

When Tom Thivener and Katherine Glowacz were hired by the City of Calgary to develop bicycle infrastructure within the Livable Streets Department, there was little infrastructure, competing advocacy interests, and a culture of building roads from "behind the windshield of an automobile". On the podcast this episode, Tom and Katherine share their secrets of where, when, and how infrastructure actually gets built in the city, and how the city actively engages citizens on new projects. This was a fascinating technical discussion, with many insights into how projects go from creative input to concrete on the road.  

This is the second of three episodes dedicated to the advocacy, technical, and political aspects of an urban cycling transformation in Calgary that has led to more than one million cycle track trips in an 18 month pilot project. We hope you enjoy the mini-series! 

Hosts: Sean Carter & Carla Hills

Produced and edited by: Ben Cowie

Music:
Song: Nothing's Ever Easy
Artist: The Permanent Residents
Album: Visa Vis

Episode 7 - Effective advocacy

Kimberley Nelson and Peter Oliver aren't shy about their love for cycling in cities. Their hard work and dedication has resulted in an organized cycling community that is helping to make changes to our little Bike Town. Our conversation with them shares the story behind the results. Thanks for your efforts, Kimberley and Peter! 

This is the first of three episodes dedicated to the advocacy, technical, and political aspects of an urban cycling transformation in Calgary that has led to more than one million cycle track trips in an 18 month pilot project. All three episodes will be released in close succession over the coming week. We hope you enjoy the mini-series! 

Hosts: Sean Carter & Carla Hills

Produced and edited by: Ben Cowie

Music

Song: Painkiller (Summer Rain) 
Artist: Turin Brakes
Album: Ether Song
Label: Source Records

Β 

We need your support

Dear listeners, 

When we started The Bike Town Podcast, we hoped to share some of your amazing bike stories, enabled by our new downtown cycle tracks. Now we're asking for your support. On December 8, the Standing Committee on Transportation and Transit will meet to make a recommendation to city council on the downtown cycle track pilot project. This will determine the future direction of urban cycling in Calgary. Despite overwhelmingly favorable data, the vote is not assured, and we need to show our support. Bike Calgary has laid out an excellent guide, giving concrete actions you can take to participate in the discussion at this crucial moment. If you say "Yay, cycle tracks!" every time you ride, now is the time to write a letter, make a phone call, and show support for the network. 

Bike Town has written a letter to each councilor, and we encourage you to do the same. Make your letter personal, and tell your story about how cycle tracks have changed your life for the better. We will also attend the committee meeting on December 8 at 9:30 AM, to read our letter in person. If you have the day off, and would like to attend, citizens who arrive on time can put their name on the list to present their views for five minutes. If you have a unique perspective, we'd love to hear you step up to the mic and share it with the city. 

Here is our letter to council

The time for action is now. We'd love to hear your stories about cycle tracks in the comments section below, and are happy to help you with your letter if you write to us!

Yay cycle tracks! 

Ben, Sean, and Carla

Episode 6 - Women's Roundtable

Episode 6 - Women's Roundtable

This month Carla sat down with Kristi Woo, Rebecca Cleaver Burke, and Nadia Smiley to talk about how cycletracks have changed the transportation landscape for women in our little Bike Town. Despite choosing to ride their bikes before the cycletrack installation, they all agree that it's easier and safer to ride downtown with the new infrastructure.

Read More

Episode 2 - Commit2Commute

This month we talk about commuting. At Bike Town, we think of commuting as using your bicycle to make your life easier: groceries, appointments, ice cream, the pub, to school, these are all commuting activities that are rarely counted in mode share survey data. Kim Fisher and Kayley Fesko are two amazing women who challenged each other to bike through an entire winter, and succeeded! During their challenge, they created a story about urban cycling that they have shared around the world. We're stoked to speak with them this month about their experience in our little bike town. 

Hosts: Sean Carter & Carla Hills

Produced and edited by: Ben Cowie

Music

Song: Oh, the boss is coming!
Artist: The Arkells
Album: Jackson Square
Label: Dine Alone Records

Song: The Bike Song
Artist: Mark Ronson and the Business International
Album: Record Collection
Label: Columbia Records

Welcome to Bike Town

Dear listeners,

Bike Town is a podcast about any city in North America. Each month, we will bring you stories about ordinary people and families who have used a bicycle to transform their day-to-day lives. This might sound a little mundane in theory, but it is transformational for the thousands of people who can live healthier, happier lives by choosing to ride a bicycle. At a bigger scale, we think this idea is essential to an entire city in the midst of a transportation revolution. When Calgary installed its cycle track network in the downtown core, as a single large piece of infrastructure, it was controversial. Yet today, with the number of cyclists using the cycle tracks far exceeding projections, and the wildest expectations of even those in the cycling advocacy world, the all-at-once network approach developed here in Calgary can be considered nothing short of a great success. We believe the Calgary model to be appropriate for any city in North America that wants to transform its streets into places for people, and not just for cars.

Bike Town started as an idea. About six months ago, I had recently returned to Calgary after two years in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and I decided to attend the Bike Calgary Annual General Meeting to catch up with friends in the bike community. After the meeting, over a couple of beverages, we discussed what we thought was missing in the conversation about cycling in Calgary. We came to the conclusion that stories about people transforming their lives because of the great new infrastructure were completely absent, and we decided to do something about it. With commitments from Sean Carter and Carla Hills to host the show, we spent the winter planning and preparing for today, the launch of our new podcast. None of us had ever done anything like this before, and we had to learn everything from square one. Despite our inexperience in media, we are excited to help tell the stories of people in our community. We aim to inspire you, our listeners, to take action in your community, whether that be riding your bike more often, writing your city councilor to tell him or her that bikes are important to you, or starting a bike-fun event in your community. Similarly, if you have a great story to share about people on bikes, we want to hear from you! This show is about ideas. This show is about you.

From all of us, welcome to Bike Town. We hope you enjoy the show.

Ben Cowie
Producer

ps - we've received a little help from bike friends along the way, in particular Colin Sproule (@cawlin) who designed our sharp logo, and Steve Coutts (@SteveCoutts) who takes beautiful photos of bicycles. Thanks, all, for your support so far!

Episode 1 - The Suburbs

Welcome to Bike Town! This week we talk about cycling in the suburbs, and how the bicycle could transform the North American suburban experience.

We're working on getting our little podcast onto iTunes, in the meantime, please copy this address into your favorite podcast software to subscribe. http://www.biketownpodcast.com/episodes/?format=rss

Hosts: Sean Carter & Carla Hills

Produced and edited by: Ben Cowie

Music

Song: Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)
Artist: Arcade Fire
Album: The Suburbs
Label: Merge/City Slang/Mercury Records

Song: Subdivisions
Artist: Rush
Album: Signals
Label: Mercury Records

Song: Extreme Suburb
Artist: Mike B Fort
Album: Hello Guys! 2
Label: https://soundcloud.com/mikebfortofficial/mike-b-fort-extreme-suburb-buy-free-download

Song: Suburban Devastation
Artist: Eric & Magill
Album: In This Light
Label: https://ericandmagill.bandcamp.com/

Song: The Suburbs
Artist: Arcade Fire
Album: The Suburbs
Label: Merge/City Slang/Mercury Records