Posted on: 6 August 2018    

It’s true, Palmy rocks!  This was confirmed at the 2WALKandCYCLE conference, held from 30 July - 1 August 2018 in Palmerston North.  I had heard earlier in the year at the Urbanism NZ Conference that there was a big push to revive the heart of the city through events and funky urban initiatives such as parklets and street art. I wasn’t disappointed, as the Palmerston North City Council (PNCC) had laid it on with some tactical urbanism right in front of the conference centre.  Overnight they had painted the drop off area and adjacent intersection, and chucked some bean bags around on the entrance forecourt – boom! 

painted intersection 

The conference is held every two years and always has great keynote speakers - this year was no exception with London’s Lucy Saunders and her ‘Healthy Streets’ bringing together walking and cycling into essentially great street design.  She isn’t a fan of terms such as multi-modal, it’s just about places for people.  On top of her clever 10 healthy street indicators she gave us much more to think about regarding the language we use, particularly when engaging with the community.  I mean do the public really understand and care about levels of service, NOPs, AADTs etc.

As with the Transportation Group Conference this year, the theme of community engagement was woven throughout the proceedings; it a critical part of what we do - speakers had successes and lessons to share from both NZ and international projects.  There were also technical talks, NZ Transport Agency updates, talks about NZ cycle trails being developed and much more.  It was really hard to choose between some of the parallel sessions as it was all so interesting.  To see more go the presentations that are available at  http://www.2walkandcycle.org.nz/.

The field trips were well attended and offered people a range of places to visit on foot or bike.  I went on the city centre walking tour and discovered more painted intersections, parklets and many street art projects involving the community and council working together.  The ‘Little Cuba’ precinct was particularly cool.  Thanks Keegan and Dave from PNCC.

And of course, no good conference is complete without the social events including a Japanese-themed Welcome Function on Monday evening. The dinner on the Tuesday night was also the 2018 Bike to the Future Awards event, where the dedication of all the cyclists, people and organisations pushing to make cycling a more attractive transport choice were acknowledged. Christchurch’s Uni-cycle Major cycleway took out the supreme award – well done!  Lucy Saunders noted the following day that she has never been to a conference dinner like it, seems they are well behaved in the UK, no stage diving for them?!  Looking forward to the next one and hopefully the host town will rise to the challenge regarding painted intersections!

Blog written by Jeanette Ward, Associate Transportation Engineer

Keegan Aplin Thane photo