When the North American Bikeshare Association asked me to present on media relations at its 2017 conference in Montreal, I couldn’t say yes fast enough. When I got to Montreal, I couldn’t believe the bike-friendliness of the city. And when I got on a bikeshare bike, I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face.
The presentation was called, “Advance Your Game: Tips for Speaking to the Media: Workshop”. I had beautiful and simple handouts and a powerpoint presentation that was 100 percent gif’s. I felt ready.
Let me tell you how I got here.
Up until this point, I had overseen the media relations for the North American Bikeshare Association (NABSA) for a little more than a year. With its first executive director ever and its fourth annual conference, the organization was making serious headway on its mission to become the industry leader for bikeshare in North America.
On the first day, I had the opportunity to introduce myself, Mixte and what we do for the members of NABSA in the far, far away and sunny land of San Diego. My everyday contacts for our work were spread across major cities in the US and Canada, which means I was meeting most of my colleagues for the first time in Montreal.
Face to face, they were even more of a delight than I could have hoped. Everyone was cheerful, unbelievably intelligent and more than anything, visionary. Each person I met shared the notion that bikeshare really can change people’s lives.
So when it came time for me to present, I was already on a high from being surrounded by the very best in the field. And they would be listening to me speak about media?
On Thursday, I spent an hour and a half engaged in a room of dialogue with people from around the world about how to navigate media and interviews in their respective cities. I was ultimately pleased that my audience took me seriously when I told them I didn’t want to talk at them, but I wanted the next 90 minutes to be an engaged conversation. Perhaps they really got the hint when I refused to use the microphone, or stand behind the desk / podium.
We laughed, talked and strategized together, and it was the best feeling in the world. I remember wishing all presentations were this interactive and fun.
Afterward, four different people thanked me and asked me more specific questions about their systems and cities. One person even told me I was the highlight of his conference, to which I couldn’t say thank you fast enough.
As for the city?
Well, let’s just say I feel head over heels in love with Montreal. If I weren’t so dedicated to bringing Montreal’s reality to life in San Diego, I’d probably just pick up, pack up my touring bike and make my way north east.
Most of all, Montreal showed me that successful bike infrastructure isn’t rocket science. The city was crawling with bicycles, bike lanes and bike stop lights. Cars and buses operated seamlessly on the road with bikes, and every corner had bikes stacked up on racks. Every business had bikes locked up outside. It just… worked.
It is possible. It’s more than possible. It’s fantastic.
And after experiencing that, I couldn’t imagine a city operating any other way.