Three days ago, Ottawa’s local cycling advocacy group Citizens for Safe Cycling organised its Annual General Meeting (AGM). Usually AGM’s are boring events, but CfSC tends to spice it up a bit. The first part of the evening consisted of speakers, the second part of the official AGM, with approval of minutes, an overview of what CfSC did over the year, election of new board members, reports etc. If CfSC organises its AGM, it is in the news. The next day, I was at the dentist and she had seen the AGM on the news, and most of my wife’s patients had seen or heard about the AGM on radio and TV and in the Ottawa Citizen’s CitizenCycle section. Not bad for an AGM evening. And certainly not for a group of volunteers.
The evening started with a one hour mingle, where many of the cycling advocacy Ottawa scene meet.
Local politicians of all colours, like Paul Dewar (MP NDP), Yasir Naqvi (MPP Liberal) and David Chernuchenko (if there were a Green party in the local councillor election system, he’d be the green councillor of Ottawa) dropped by, journalists ask their questions and cycling related organisations were participating with booths. The number is steadily increasing and is up to eight booths now.
Over the past years, CfSC served pizza and pop, but this year the food -wraps and salads- was provided by social enterprise Krackers Katering, a spin-off of Causeway Work Centre. CfSC also works with Harvest House, for the printing of the newsletters.
There was a surprise too. For all existing members and new members, there was a bike seat cover available. The covers are made by Peter Brebner, locally, from left over materials. Sturdy multi colour covers to protect your parked bike seat against the rain.
There was lots of good news to share: Ottawa’s mayor just announced 24 million for cycling over the next 3-4 years. Note the word “announce”, as in the past, cycling has never really been an announcement. It was usually hidden in Infrastructure or Parks. Also the safety program is getting an overhaul. The same week, there was a two day “Ottawa Moves” summit with three speakers and a work shop to redesign the downtown to make walking, cycling and other forms of sustainable transportation a priority.
CfSC is moving to another location. They have been using a storage space locker and ran the organisation from “laptops and cell phones” and renting meeting space in different locations over the year. Causeway work centre has offered to lease space to CfSC. This is an excellent combination, as Causeway runs two bike programs themselves: Rightbike and Cycle Salvation.
CfSC invited four speakers: Colin Simpson and Zlatko Krstulich from the City of Ottawa, Charles Akben-Marchand of Rescue Bronson and Hayley Richardson from the city of Bellevue in Washington State, near Seattle.
Colin gave an overview of planned cycling projects, from new bike and pedestrian bridges to applications for terraces and outdoor patios at Laurier for next summer. Clearly, shop owners see opportunities now the bike lanes are open. Just yesterday, I noticed that Presse Café is opening a new café on Laurier. Earlier this year, I blogged about the patios on Laurier.
See the post on Laurier patios here: ten patios on Laurier
Zlatko gave an insight in the bike counters and the numbers. Laurier appears to be pretty steady with 8000-10000 bike rides every week, while the counter at the Ottawa River Pathway gradually falls after the summer from 18,000 a week to 4,000-6,000 after mid October (this might be a tourist effect). Mid October, Laurier overtook the Ottawa River pathway as the busiest route, as Laurier is likely used by commuters, who keep cycling until it is getting too cold or snowy.
The counters at Alexandra bridge, Colonel By and Canal pathways show numbers of around 8,000-9,000 a week dipping gradually to 2,500-4,000 a week. I have rounded the numbers a bit, for easy reading. Collecting data is important for the discussion on cycling and CfSC happily supports the Open Data so that everyone gets to work with the data and build their own overlays, harnessing the creativity of the population.
Charles has been very active in trying to improve Bronson Ave. Bronson is a really ugly artery that runs west of downtown Ottawa and feeds the downtown as well as the bridge to Quebec (vice versa). It is a fifties design and Rescue Bronson is trying to convince city engineers and consultants “to put Bronson on a diet”. Other cities have been doing similar experiments, but despite lots of data collection, and convincing arguments, it appears that the city choses to rebuild it old style, nervous that the city may turn in complete chaos, when the Light Rail project starts next year or so. Charles was advocating for safer and more pedestrian facilities on Bronson.
The key note speaker was Hayley Richardson. Hayley, a lovely 26 year old whirlwind of energy, is definitely from a younger generation than most of the attendees. With lots of visual material, and a rapid fire presentation, Hayley delivered a talk on cycling and social media. CfSC had set a special hash tag for the event (if you want to check it out, go to twitter.com and search for #ottbike11) .
Somewhere during the evening, #ottbike11 was even trending at Twitter. In the back of the room, Apartment 613 and CitizenCycle were live blogging: what a great way to get the public into the topic of the evening. Hayley gave examples of the effects of Twitter (from a pulled GM ad to the Middle East) and many tips on how to reach your audience.
Two new board members were elected at the AGM, Simone and Schuyler. Not really coincidently, Schuyler works for the Causeway Right Bike project that sees its first bikes out in spring 2011. I will definitely write a blog about the experiences, as this is a community based bike share.
I MC’ed the evening, which was fun to do. Preparing an event like this takes months, but with the whole board involved, each with a task, I am already looking forward to next year.
“Great AGM. Good to see everything moving in the correct direction. Press got out and TV was there. Plus some of the politicians. All good. And the move in with Brenda and group at Causeway, great price. Done well.” – Manny
“Congratulations on an excellent turnout for the event last night. I didn’t stay for the AGM, but enjoyed the displays and speakers. I have renewed by membership in CFSC. Keep up the good work.” – Catherine
“I attended part of the AGM last night. Excellent meeting, lots of positive energy…and good news to share which always helps! So encouraged by the new tone & approach of CfSC that I’ve just renewed my membership for the first time in several years. Keep up the great work.” – Wally
“Congratulations on the very successful AGM last night, I was listening to positive reports in CBC radio this morning. Please keep up the good work!” – Robin
“It was an up-beat event!” – Zlatko
“An excellent night! I’m happy to see how CfSC has grown to a healthy and large-but-sustainable state!” – Charles
“Excellent and positive talk” – Liisa
“I had a good time at the agm, met lots of people” – Diana