Today I sit at my desk, looking out on a cloudy fall day in Vancouver, and reflect on all that we've experienced in the last two weeks. It's still hard to grasp that just a little over forty-eight hours ago we were in Auckland sharing our story with over three hundred and fifty people, providing a little inspiration of what can be achieved in terms of bike culture with some vision and the demand from the public. We spoke to so many people during our trip that see the potential for their areas in New Zealand, be it large city centres or smaller towns, and are grateful to have heard their stories of triumph and the challenges they face. Not only for cycling, but also walking and public transport, all key pieces to the overall goal of providing the means to multi-mobility for households throughout their small nation.
Tuesday was our main event, the Auckland Conversations presentation, and the reason we first endeavoured on this cross-Pacific journey. To the aforementioned large crowd, Chris and I presented our observations as the end users in Vancouver's emerging bike culture, a story frequently overlooked amidst the discussions around infrastructure design, implementation and city policies. Of course, in our home town, infrastructure has played a key role in the quick growth of cycling in Vancouver, but it has really been the qualitative successes that we feel are making the biggest impact. Namely, the "normalizing" of the act of cycling which has transformed the image of cycling from one of sport and recreation to an every day act done by a wider variety of citizens, including an increased number of women and children. Overall, our images and ideas were well received, and the questions we answered after the presentation left us feeling like we had succeeded in progressing the conversation past the nuts and bolts to look at the bigger picture when it comes to increasing ridership, and to focus on making it accessible to all ages and abilities.
Following our presentation, and being sure not to waste a single moment in Auckland, Wednesday we had the pleasure to present to a smaller group of members of Auckland Council, Auckland Transport and local consultants MRCagney, with our focus being how to promote cycling to achieve the bicycle culture you want as a city, not the one you already have. The more intimate presentation allowed us to offer more specific feedback and advice, focused largely on the imagery we at Modacity and Chris' work with Vancouver Cycle Chic have been producing for the last several years. Again, the receptiveness to the ideas we presented was very positive, and we are eager to continue these discussions in the months to come and help Auckland and others in New Zealand succeed in transforming their cities for all their citizens.
Leaving New Zealand late Wednesday evening was bittersweet. We were obviously excited to come home, see our children, and get back to enjoying the place we call home, even in the dreary fall and winter months. However, our time in New Zealand allowed us to experience first-hand the excitement bubbling under the surface, just waiting to be given the opportunity to really explode onto the streets and landscapes of their beautiful country. Sparks of that potential can be seen in the work from groups like Frocks on Bikes and Generation Zero, who have done so much already locally and nationally to change the direction of the conversation around multi-mobility. Chris and I have returned to Vancouver feeling so thankful to have been able to take part in that excitement and honoured to share our own story. Speaking with so many people who appreciated the work we have done and continue to do has been a definite highlight in this exciting year, and words could never fully express our gratitude for allowing us to come to your part of the world and share our words of wisdom. Kia Ora, Aotearoa! Till next time!