Just before Christmas the organising committee for the next NZ Cycling Conference agreed it was time to seriously consider holding a joint walking and cycling conference. This would replace the biennial cycling conference earmarked for late 2011. Discussions were held with Living Streets Aotearoa (organisers of the NZ Walking Conference series) and agreement in principle was reached on this concept.
The proposed joint event would be called the NZ Walking and Cycling Conference and the intention is to hold it in late February or early March 2012. Representatives from LSA have joined the conference organising committee to help plan the event.
Those who have been involved in past NZ walking and cycling conferences will know that this joint concept has come up regularly over the years. The arguments for and against still hold. On the one hand, it provides a great opportunity to attract a larger number of delegates and speakers, while creating a wider audience and leverage for "active transport". It also enables both of the respective walking and cycling sectors to address issues within a broader context of transport and mobility planning, creating opportunities to tackle shared barriers and opportunities.
However, the committee members readily acknowledge that cycling and walking should not be lumped together for convenience's sake. Among the downsides of doing so is that issues unique to each sector could get lost or downplayed in a joint conference. It will be important therefore to get the programme content and structure right to alleviate this.
This decision does not necessarily signal the end of the separate conference series for walking and for cycling; any such reviews will be held after the conclusion of this event.
A venue for this conference is currently being finalised. A call for presentations will then be put out for submissions. We look forward to your involvement in this exciting initiative!
If you have any feedback or questions about this proposal, please forward comments to Glen Koorey (email@example.com).