By Paul Halychuk
The 2008 annual international Towards Carfree Cities conference will be held in Portland, Oregon, on June 16-20. The conference brings together people who are working to promote alternatives to car dependence, and the theme of this year's conference is "Rethinking Mobility, Rediscovering Proximity." The program will focus on urban livability, mixed-use development, local agriculture, pedestrianization, strong neighbourhoods, accessible public space, and sustainable transportation.
Meghan Sinnott, one of the organizers of the conference, described the people who are expected to attend. "It's quite surprising the range of people we draw to the carfree movement. Parents concerned about their child's future, architects, city planners, engineers, activists, transportation wonks, hardcore bikers, you name it. That's one of the best things about this conference. You can have a well-respected, well-paid, and influential city planner hanging out, drinking a beer with a bike activist!"
The conference will not be all serious discussion. There will be fun events open to the public, such as an art show at city hall, a movie night, square dancing in the street, and a depaving project where volunteers will tear up part of a parking lot and convert it to a more people-friendly use. The conference is also timed to coincide with Pedalpalooza, the annual three-week festival celebrating cycling in Portland.