A conference done right

I attended the Transportation Equity Summit in Sacramento today. Unfortunately work obligations will prevent me from attending the advocacy day tomorrow. I’d like to comment on the conference.

Though short, the conference was GREAT. In the lunch-time plenary session, three good speakers laid out some basics, but plenty of time was reserved for questions from the moderator and the audience. This was followed by a half hour networking session (with coffee and cookies), then three breakout sessions, then another networking break with tea and cookies, and two final breakout sessions. In the two breakouts I attended, at least one-third of the time was devoted to questions from the participants. In the evening there was a social function at the hostel, with a brief but very interesting presentation, three short awards, and much more networking over beer and wine.

This is the way a conference should be done. Too many conferences in Sacramento over the last few years, on transportation and livability topics, seemed to intentionally exclude participation. The speakers filled up all the available time, there was no planned time for networking, and the overall feeling was that the experts were telling the rest of us what we needed to know (the sage on the stage), though ironically there was far greater expertise in the audience than on the stage. It is my hope that we never need suffer another one of those authoritarian conferences in Sacramento, and that the Transportation Equity Summit sets a bar that all others must now reach. If you have the opportunity to participate in future transportation related conferences in Sacramento (or anywhere), I hope that you will ask very tough questions about the program format before you sign up, and if the conference is clearly not going as advertised, stand up and object strenuously, and in fact make sure the conference doesn’t proceed until it is fixed. Obviously I have strong feelings about this. I’ve been burned by the lies of conference organizers, and will not ever trust many of them again.

Thank you to Transform and California Bicycle Coalition, their leaders, and Katie for a great conference, done professionally, and inclusively, and with humanity.

Embassy Suites is pedestrian hostile

sign adjacent to Capitol Mall sidewalk at Embassy Suites
sign adjacent to Capitol Mall sidewalk at Embassy Suites

The sign at right is posted prominently at the eastern driveway of the Embassy Suites Sacramento, on Capitol Mall at Tower Bridge. The sign is illegal, as no sign on private property can direct people on public property what to do, particularly when the sign uses the standard red octagon which is reserved for official stop signs. But more importantly, it is offensive to anyone who walks. What is the hotel saying by posting this sign? That we welcome people who drive cars, who should not have to stop for pedestrians even on the sidewalk, and we reject people who walk, because they are second class citizens, not our customers? This sign has been here at least since December 2013, and I have talked to management at the hotel twice about it, and it is still there today. They really don’t care.

TransForm’s Transportation Choices Summit took place today at the Embassy Suites. I’m not sure how many participants approached from a direction that they would have seen this sign, but I would guess that everyone who saw it was offended. This sign directly works against the efforts of every single person who attended the summit.

I have to publicly ask that TransForm, and everyone else, boycott Embassy Suites until this sign is removed.

Transportation Choices Summit

Bromptons at the summit, including Cynthia Rose of Santa Monica Spoke
Bromptons at the summit, including Cynthia Rose of Santa Monica Spoke

Yesterday I attended the Transportation Choices Summit, sponsored by TransForm, at the Sacramento Library Tsakopoulos Galleria. The purpose of the summit was to bring together advocates and others in the areas of transportation, health, and housing. Speakers were Brian Kelly, Acting Secretary, CA Business, Transportation & Housing Agency, Mary Nichols, Chair, California Air Resources Board, and James Corless, Director, Transportation for America. There were plenary panels on Building California’s Future, and Cap & Trade Auction Revenues to Support Sustainable Communities. Breakout sessions were held on a variety of issues.

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