I just got back from the Velo-City conference in beautiful Vancouver, BC. It was the first time I’d been to the pacific side of Canada so I was pretty excited. Velo-City is a huge cycling and cycling community conference, and we were there to talk about helmets in bikeshare programs. Being a pretty small company at the moment, we have limited funds so I was glad to find the economical housing option of staying at the YWCA. I was surprised and impressed with the location and quality of the facilities, minus the WiFi (though that’s a trend that I noticed repeated everywhere).
A travel mixup meant I didn’t get in until 8p on Wednesday instead of the 10a I had planned, but most of the important talks I wanted to go to were on Friday anyway, so it wound up ok. When I popped in to check in Thursday morning, I found a nice little not in my badge from someone who wasn’t going to be able to make our roundtable session, but wanted me to contact her because she was very interested. Nice little start to the day.
Thursday was mostly filled with perusing the booths in the showroom and learning what other people were doing. Helmets, bike storage and repair stations, lane partitions, and of course the bikeshare kiosk makers (those were what I was most interested in seeing). Everyone I talked to seemed pretty interested in what we were doing, which helped soothe my nerves before the roundtable. I really didn’t have much of an idea of how many people would show up or what they would think or say for our session, but it actually went quite well. One gentleman articulated our value to the community particularly well, saying that regardless of whether or not a city had helmet laws or how the individuals felt about helmets, making them more available to people who want them could only be a good thing for bikeshare users. Nail on the head in my mind.
Friday I went to several presentations of bikeshare programs around the continent, including Chicago, Chattanooga, and Mexico City. Chicago mentioned that one of the barriers for users is the perception of safety, and that 60% of people in a survey said they’d use a bikesharing program if they felt safer in it. Making helmets readily available should definitely help make that possible. Some people from Vancouver also pulled me out to chat about our project, which I found particularly exciting since it would be a great reason to come back!
The conference was thoroughly enjoyable, and I loved meeting everyone and hearing what they’re doing. Next year it’s in Vienna, and I’d love to get a chance to go back! A year seems like a lifetime away though given how long our workdays have been here in the office. But there are some exciting things brewing in HelmetHub HQ, so I don’t mind the long days.