Pro Walk / Pro Bike / Pro Place 2018 in New Orleans

Posted by Dan Favre on September 15, 2016 in Events

The premier conference in North America for walking, biking, and placemaking professionals from the public and private sector is coming to New Orleans in 2018.

Pro Walk / Pro Bike / Pro Place was founded on the belief that greater access to walking and bicycling will create healthier individuals, cohesive neighborhoods, and vibrant communities. Every two years, this highly-sought conference gathers the energy and expertise of over 1,100 biking, walking, and placemaking professionals to a different city.

New Orleans has been engaged in unique and inspiring placemaking throughout its almost 300-year history, and in recent years, Greater New Orleans has been making strides towards better biking, walking, and transit. Of course, we still have a long way to go to become a truly resilient, prosperous, equitable, and healthy region. Improved mobility and community engagement in place will be important factors in achieving those goals. For those reasons, The City of New Orleans, Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Bike Easy worked with many partners to put together a successful bid to host Pro Walk / Pro Bike / Pro Place in 2018 as part of the City’s Tricentennial celebrations.

At Bike Easy, we’re excited for the inspiration and motivation this will provide over the next two years as we all work together to implement great biking, walking, and transit infrastructure projects to highlight at the conference. And the conference being in New Orleans is a fantastic opportunity for practitioners from all across the region to have easy access to the energy and expertise that Pro Walk / Pro Bike / Pro Place creates for a different city every two years.

The conference started with a hundred idealistic cyclists in 1980 that called themselves Pro Bike. Then it evolved because we found common cause with walking: streets that are unsafe for biking are also difficult to cross for pedestrians. In 2012, under the stewardship of Project for Public Spaces, the final piece was added: Place. The conference meets every two years for three days and has grown over 10-fold in its 30+ year history.

The 19th Pro Walk/Pro Bike/Pro Place in Vancouver drew 1,100+ city planners, transportation engineers, public health professionals, elected officials, community leaders, and professional walking and bicycling advocates. The breakout sessions, panel discussions, and poster sessions address the latest trends, research, and best practices. Plenary speakers bring perspectives from other disciplines, and other experiences to help improve and expand our practice.

Bike Easy Executive Director, Dan Favre, was in Vancouver today to invite all of this year’s conference attendees to come gather again in New Orleans in 2018. You can read his prepared remarks below:

“Hello! I’m Dan Favre, Executive Director of Bike Easy, and I am thrilled to invite all of you to New Orleans in 2018!!!

I’ll explain why you should be excited in a moment, but first, a round of thank you’s is in order. Many thank to the New Orleanians in the room who have been such a big part of bringing the conference to New Orleans – Melissa Lee of the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority and Dan Jatres of the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority. Thanks to those who couldn’t be here today including Mayor Mitch Landrieu and his team, Jennifer Ruley from the City of New Orleans, and Keith Holt of Bike Easy. And of course, many thanks to Mark Plotz and the team at Project for Public Spaces.

So, how many of you have been to New Orleans??

Well, your trip there in 2018 for Pro Walk Pro Bike Pro Place will be especially important – you’ll help our great city celebrate it’s 300th birthday!

New Orleans has a long history of placemaking – from the historic French Quarter to the 1950’s African-American neighborhood built around a community-envisioned Pontchartrain Park to innovative stormwater management projects and the new Crescent Park that is reconnecting the people of the City to the Mississippi River.

We’ve also been making strides recently in active transportation! The number of people who ride bicycles regularly has tripled in the last 15 years, our bikeway mileage has grown tremendously and is on its way to becoming a network, and bike share will be on the ground by this time next year. New ferry, streetcar, and transit hub projects are coming online. And the streets of our downtown core are as busy as ever with people walking to their destinations!

Of course, we’re nowhere near Vancouver yet. As I’ve admired your city this week, I’ve been inspired. I also can’t help but think of the challenges we face in New Orleans to reaching this level of mobility and place.

Being situated in America’s Deep South means New Orleans is built on a history of racial and economic injustice that persists today in huge wealth gaps, maddening health disparities, and deep scars from past, unfair transportation infrastructure decisions. Being located on the Mississippi River Delta on the edge of the Gulf of Mexico puts our city on the front lines of the impacts of climate change including stronger hurricanes and sea-level rise. While Metro New Orleans was not affected this time, as we meet here today, many people outside of New Orleans in southern Louisiana are gutting their homes after 2 feet of rain falling in 4 days caused unprecedented flooding.

The stakes are high, but we know that improved mobility for all and community engagement in place will improve social equity and community resilience in our region. My organization, the City of New Orleans, and many many others in our metro area are working hard to realize that vision.

There are also many small cities and towns throughout the Southeastern US who are fighting against the odds to improve their transportation systems and public places. We’re happy to make the energy and expertise of this incredible gathering more accessible to them.

As we celebrate the tricentennial of New Orleans, we’ll be reflecting on our past and looking towards a more equitable and resilient future. I can’t think of a better way to help catapult us toward that future than having all of you come to share ideas, learn with us, and explore where we’ve been and where we’re going.

And, of course, whatever hardships we’ve faced, New Orleans has never forgotten how to have fun. Our city creates beautiful moments and explosions of joy on a regular basis. From the live brass band music echoing through the neighborhoods and Cajun & Creole culinary delights to Secondline parades and our growing social ride scene – you’ll have the opportunity to experience our famous culture that make New Orleans live so large in the imagination of the world.

And we’ll gather together to imagine how we use improved mobility and placemaking to create a healthier, more just, and more resilient future for our city, for all of your cities, and the world.

I look forward to seeing you in two years, the year of our tricentennial, in New Orleans for Pro Walk Pro Bike Pro Place!”

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