Q&A with the City of Hamilton

This September, NABSA will convene its annual conference in Hamilton and Toronto, Ontario. The NABSA Annual Conference is the leading global venue for shared micromobility and transportation leaders, practitioners, operators, and equipment providers to tackle important issues facing the industry. 

We caught up with Peter Topalovic, Project and Program Manager of Sustainable Mobility at City of Hamilton to talk about the conference, shared micromobility, and more! Here are some of his thoughts:

Q: What is the significance of the conference being hosted in Hamilton & Toronto?
A:This will be the first NABSA conference that is hosted in two locations – giving us the opportunity to compare and contrast the different contexts in these two proximal cities. There are a lot of people who commute between Hamilton and Toronto and the context of this conference gives us the opportunity to think about the multi-jurisdictional nature of mobility and what this means for micromobility; especially between a large and mid-sized city connected by inter-regional transit.

Q: What does hosting the conference mean for the City of Hamilton, and why did you want to host?

A: Micromobility continues to grow in Hamilton like never before and we want to share our experience. We are growing and expanding our bike share program, including a geographic expansion and the potential addition of e-bikes. There is also a new Adaptive Bike Hub, which is featured on one of our mobile tours, where people can try out all kinds of bikes for all kinds of abilities. We also recently launched a shared e-scooter program in the city which will be expanding to various areas of the city.

As an early adopter of free-floating bike share in 2015 and an early adopter of Complete Streets designs, the city is excited to bring people from around the world together to learn from each other and further the successes of the industry.

Q: What’s your favorite experience from a past conference?
A: It was an amazing opportunity to have our first conference in Mexico. The social atmosphere and being able to connect with and learn from others who are passionate about micromobility was our favorite part. Not to mention the amazing food and venues that allowed us to explore the city and its rich history.

Q: What are you most excited about for the 2023 conference?
A: We are most excited to introduce Hamilton to our micromobilty colleagues and showcasing some of the great bike lanes, bike share innovations, equity programming, adaptive bike share, e-scooter systems, hot spots, natural areas and culture our city has to offer. Hamilton has been working on creating a connected active transportation and trails network for several years and we are really starting to see it coming together.

Q: What do you want people to experience in the mobile workshops?
A: The mobile workshops have been designed to give participants a taste of the city, and an overview of how people move around it. No matter which workshop you choose, you will see some of our notable neighbourhoods and destinations, and our micromobility infrastructure. On our east tour, you will see Gage Park, our largest urban park which includes a tropical greenhouse. On our walking tour and our western tour, you will go to the West Harbour and experience Hamilton’s amazing waterfront.

Q: If there’s one place people should see while they’re in Hamilton, where should they go?
A: Hamilton’s Waterfront is a key destination in the city. The West Harbour in particular is easily accessible from the conference, only a 10 minute ride/scoot, with lots to see and do. From the music and food at Pier 8 to the walking trails at Bayfront Park, it is easy to spend a day by the Waterfront. Two of the mobile workshop tours include a visit to the West Harbour so you can enjoy the area. 

Hamilton is also the ‘Waterfall Capital of the World’, with more than 100 waterfalls in our City limits. It may be difficult to fit in a visit, during the conference so plan to come to Hamilton early if you want to see any. Notable waterfalls include: Websters Falls, Tews Falls, Tiffany Falls, Sherman Falls, and Albion Falls to name a few. The waterfalls are connected through the escarpment lands and the Bruce Trail which is part of an 890 km trail network from Niagara to Tobermory.

Q: What’s a recently completed project that you’re excited to share with conference attendees?
A: This year, we launched our first shared e-scooter program – taking learnings from experiences in other jurisdictions and prioritizing opportunities for equity. E-scooters are still relatively new in Ontario, with Hamilton being the 3rd city to implement a shared program. Learning from other locations who have had e-scooters longer, the city implemented some measures to improve the impact on sidewalk users such as a lock-to mechanism that prevents e-scooters from cluttering the sidewalk.

The City of Hamilton also put a requirement in our RFP for a per vehicle fee that goes to funding the Everyone Ride’s Initiative in Hamilton, an equity program run by Hamilton Bike Share. Our e-scooter system also includes Equity Zone Pricing, which gives a discount for trips that start in historically disenfranchised neighborhoods in Hamilton.

We also recently built the Keddy Trail multi-use path that ascends the escarpment and has amazing views of the city and Lake Ontario.

Q: Why do you value your NABSA membership?
A: Our NABSA membership allows us to keep pace in the fast-moving field of micromobility. As a NABSA member we are connected into a strong network of people doing similar work across the continent. Through webinars and events like the annual NABSA conference, we can learn from others and share our own experiences. NABSA membership also gives us access to research and data in the field of micromobility to help improve our programs. As we come together to strengthen the industry, we have the ability to work with various levels of government to establish micromobility as an important mode of public transportation.

For more information and to register for the conference, go to nabsa.net/2023conference.