Two wheels, two days: Wilder School to host international cycling symposium
By Tiffany Murray-Robertson
Bicycle Urbanism Symposium II will feature keynote addresses by U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer. D-Ore., founder and chairman of the Congressional Bike Caucus, and Ralph Buehler, associate professor of urban affairs and planning at Virginia Tech’s Alexandria Center
With less than 60 days to the UCI Road World Championships in September, Damian Pitt, an assistant professor of urban and regional studies at the VCU Wilder School, says all eyes are on Richmond.
But it isn’t the attention of the elite cyclists, the half-million spectators projected to attend or the inevitable scores of television broadcast crews that Pitt is hoping to attract — it’s you and me.
Pitt is the driving force behind Bicycle Urbanism Symposium II, an international conference hosted by the VCU Wilder School at the University Student Commons on Mon., Sept. 28, and Tues., Sept. 29. The symposium, which follows on the heels of cycling’s pinnacle event, aims to promote the use of bicycles as an alternative mode of transportation. According to Pitt, the conference is designed to engage practitioners, academics, policy makers and advocates along with “regular folks” who are interested in reaping the environmental, economic and health benefits of cycling.
“I really see the excitement and attention generated by the UCI as an important opportunity to generate a long-term discussion about mainstreaming the use of bicycles among ordinary citizens.”
– Damian Pitt
“I really see the excitement and attention generated by the UCI as an important opportunity to generate a long-term discussion about mainstreaming the use of bicycles among ordinary citizens. And in Richmond, these discussions are well underway,” said Pitt.
He cited plans to improve the city’s existing bicycle infrastructure through the construction of 12 new bike lanes over the next four years, as well as four new bike boulevards similar to the recently constructed Floyd Avenue project as evidence of a growing bicycling culture in metro Richmond.
Nonetheless, Pitt added, “We need more citizens and a diverse array of public service professionals at the table to realize these goals, not just in Richmond but in cities all over the world.”
The two-day symposium will feature keynote addresses by U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer. D-Ore., founder and chairman of the Congressional Bike Caucus, and Ralph Buehler, associate professor of urban affairs and planning at Virginia Tech’s Alexandria Center. Session discussions will focus on issues of health and safety, innovations in urban design as well as new policies and programs designed to promote the use of bicycles as a primary mode of transit.
The event will kick-off with a presentation by Blumenauer on Sept. 28 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the University Student Commons that is free and open to the public. Registration fees for the full symposium start at $150 but a special student rate of $50 is available. Bicycle Urbanism Symposium II is made possible in part by the generous support of Bike Walk RVA and the University of Washington.