Here's what I haven't yet heard being said here at Velo-city Global 2012 in Vancouver: we're all going to have to look at bicycles more seriously because we're running out of gas.
Hans Michael Kloth, secretary general for the Paris-based International Transport Forum (of which Canada is a member), came the closest, in both addressing the audience of 800 urban planners, cycling advocates and manufacturers on Tuesday and in a media briefing later. (See also this intvu with Julian Ferguson of the European Cyclists Federation.)
The ITF is interested in the Big Picture of global commercial transport. Aviation access, maritime shipping, road and rail transport infrastructure: these are the big issues for the ITF. Frankly, whether a bike lane is pulled from a street or added to another, is the plankton of the ocean that this fish swims in.
So why was Kloth here at a cycling advocacy forum anyway?
It's sort of the elephant in the room: peak oil. At some point (and some say the point has passed), we are going to reach peak oil, and how is declining oil production going to square with rising economic expectations, especially from the developing world.
To the Velo-city Global audience, Kloth spoke of the global rebooting of bicycle share programs. (See this graphic from the ITF that shows the number of cities and number of bike-sharing bicycles in play in the world right now.) Kloth urged the audience to seek from their municipal leaders a creative vision for cycle planning.
In his later discussion, Kloth said international transport needs a flexible system, and spoke of a "transport cocktail" that would include cycling as a part of many "ingredients." He spoke also of the co-operation that will be required of all parties to make effective global transporttion choices.
The short version: do you want to have five cars on the road each carrying a single person to work, or do you want two trucks on the road carrying food and supplies that keep the homes and offices of those workers, working? Is those five people are going to have to leave their cars at home, how are they going to get to work. Mass transit, car-pooling, cycling.
Suddenly, all the plankton is really important to the planet's bigger fish.