2016 Keynote Presenters

Gil Penalosa, MBA PHDHC, CSP

GIl WEBGil Penalosa is passionate about cities for all people. Gil advises decision makers and communities on how to create vibrant cities and healthy communities for everyone. Because of his unique blend of pragmatism and passion, Gil’s leadership and advice has been sought out by organizations in more than 200 different cities across six continents.

Gil is the founder and chair of the board of the internationally recognized non-profit organization 8 80 Cities. He is also chair of the board of World Urban Parks, the international representative body for the urban parks, open space and recreation sector.

Gil also works for the Danish firm Gehl Architects as an urban expert on mobility and citizen engagement and serves on the board of directors of City Parks Alliance.

Gil holds an MBA from UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, where he recently was selected as one of the “100 Most Inspirational Alumni” in the school’s history. In 2014 Gil received a Doctorate Honoris Causa from the Faculty of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning at the prominent University of Sweden SLU.NZTA20Logo20CMYK print


Wednesday - Sustainable Mobility: Moving people toward a brighter, healthier, more equitable future

What if walking, cycling and public transport, instead of roads and highways were at the heart of urban life? Gil provides a compelling case of how sustainable mobility projects around the world are transforming transportation systems while also addressing our most important global challenges.

Thursday - Open Streets, Open Minds

From Bogota to Guadalajara, Los Angeles to Bangalore Open Streets are spreading around the world. Gil, the founder of the New Ciclovia in Bogota and international advisor on Open Streets, gives a brief overview of how open streets programs are changing cities’ culture of health.

 Dr Ben Rossiter

Ben Rossiter WEBAs Executive Officer for Victoria Walks, Ben has a long interest in walking, sustainable communities and urban environments. He has a background in cross sectoral partnerships, research, policy and program development, community development and health promotion.  Ben has presented papers and published articles and book chapters on walking and urban experience. The theme of his doctoral dissertation was walking in cities.

Ben is the Vice President of the International Federation of Pedestrians, member of the Smart Roads Reference Group (VicRoads) and VicHealth's Leading Thinker Expert Reference Group. He was on the International Technical Committee for Walk 21, Sydney 2014 and numerous government committees including, the Victorian Pedestrian Advisory Council, Victorian Bicycle Advisory Council, Hoddle Street Study Stakeholder Advisory Group and the Station User Panel.

Thursday - Walking promotion and advocacy – an Australian story

Introduction to the work of Victoria Walks that was established in 2009 with funding from VicHealth. This evidence-based walking health promotion organisation provides internationally recognised walkability leadership and walking promotion.  

Ben will outline the need for walking specific organisations using the Victoria Walks Model for effective advocacy. He will include how the organisation starts conversations and connects people with walking and each other through digital media to build support for walking and walkability.


Friday - Tripping hazards for walkable design

People on the street have always been the measure of successful cities.  Walkers are the indicator species for the health and liveability of urban areas. Ben will describe key issues relevant to planning for walking with particular attention to the experience of the ‘walking dependent’ – those dependent on their feet or others to get around. He will draw on Victoria Walks’ three comprehensive research studies: Senior Victorians and walking: obstacles and opportunities; Fall-related Injuries While Walking in Victoria; and Shared paths – the issues, to highlight how current policy and infrastructure investment may not have significant benefits for walkers. He will describe how combining walking and cycling as ‘active transport’ can end up selling both modes short.


Dr Alessandro Melis PhD, MArch (Florence)

alessandro WEBAlessandro teaches Sustainable Design at the School of Architecture and Planning - University of Auckland. His specialist teaching, supervisory and research interests are in the fields of climate sensitive design, radical theory and criticism, architecture technology, sustainable urban strategies and scenario analysis through advanced digital tools. He has been a guest professor in institutions such as die Angewandte (University of Applied Arts Vienna) and Hochschule Anhalt (Anhalt University of Applied Sciences - Bauhaus Dessau) and honorary fellow at the Edinburgh School of Architecture.

He recently was a key speaker at the Museum of Modern Art New York (MoMA; Open City event), at the China Academy of Art (International Forum of Architecture) and at the Venice Biennale 2014 (Biennale OFF).

He has written several books, articles and essays published in Europe, Oceania and USA. In 1996 he founded Heliopolis 21, an international firm based in Italy (Pisa) and Germany (Berlin). H21 received a number of awards and its projects have been widely published in international magazines such as GA Document (Tokyo) and exhibited at the Venice Biennale and at the MoMA.

Urban Power

Alessandro’s presentation will focus on the need to radically re-interpret the urban fabric through the climate-sensitive design and the consequent rethinking of its infrastructure from energy intensive to generating energy. In the Western countries, around a third of the energy is used to move people and goods from one place to another and, at the same time, the car oriented transportation has a major role in the negative effect on the population’s health. Therefore the transformation of the city into a high comfort/ low impact urban model depends on the improvement of alternative transportation infrastructures such as pedestrian and bicycle facilities. Considering the feedback phenomenon, due to climate change, are already in place the mentioned transformation needs to be radical, effective and addressed now.


Prof Karen Witten

Karen Witten WEBKaren Witten is a social scientist with research interests in how neighbourhood design and infrastructure influence the social relationships, transport choices and well-being of residents. Kids in the City, a study of children's use and experience of diverse Auckland neighbourhoods, is one of a number of studies she has led at the nexus of urban design, transport and health.

She is a Professor of Public Health at the SHORE & Whariki Research Centre, Massey University.

Healthy places and spaces: bringing a children’s voice to city planning

To take account of children’s wellbeing as our cities grow we need to think beyond provision of parks, playgrounds and skate parks and consider how to embrace children’s presence city-wide. What will it take for children to feel welcome in public spaces and to move safely and independently between home, school, shops and other daily destinations? And how can children have a voice in city planning; one that is heard amid the clamour of more powerful stakeholders?

The presentation will draw on the experiences and findings of several studies: Kids in the city and Neighbourhoods for active kids, projects that have developed novel approaches for investigating children use and experience of urban neighbourhoods; and a child-friendly city audit of Freyberg Square in central Auckland in which children’s imaginative engagement with urban space inspired the inclusion of interactive elements in the design for its rejuvenation.

Ryan Martinson

martinson cycle track 2Ryan is a leader in the Active and Sustainable Transportation field and his passion for his work is made clear to clients and stakeholders he works with. Based out of Stantec’s Calgary office, Ryan has been involved with numerous game-changing transportation projects; all with the goal of creating stronger communities and better cities. He’s just finished working on the Calgary Centre City Cycle Track project, an initiative that will improve connections in downtown Calgary and make the roads safer for cyclers. His next project is the Lethbridge Bicycle Master Plan.
Because of his approach to transportation planning and his understanding of how these concepts apply in real situations, Ryan has been invited to be involved with communities, municipalities, and professional organizations to provide strategic guidance, design recommendations, and concept design possibilities to make places better for people to travel through on foot and by bicycle. When he’s not working, he’s volunteering for community organizations or spending time with his family.

Calgary Cycle Track Pilot

Calgary, Alberta. Not the same ring as Portland, Vancouver, or Copenhagen when it comes to bicycling infrastructure or culture, yet Calgary put itself on the map with an ambitious implementation of a network of cycle tracks in their downtown core in 2015. It took a dedicated team of city administrators, advocates, business representatives, and city builders to implement this game-changing project and Ryan Martinson was fortunate to lead the technical program for the consulting team. In the course of two years, conditions for bicycle travel in the downtown went from hair raising to family-friendly. Now, more trips than ever are being made by bicycle and the city is generating excitement across North America about the possibilities associated with the rapid implementation of bicycle facilities.
Ryan will walk us through the challenges and opportunities his team faced throughout this project and the ‘team’ approach to the cycle network study and implementation. By providing lessons learned and special considerations for treatments, he hopes to share the possibilities that other cities have in fulfilling their bicycle-friendly aspirations.


Other International Speakers

Rasmus Frisk

RasmusRasmus has extensive national and international experience working on large scale masterplans, building design and specific public space projects, collaborating with a wide range of clients including city authorities and private developers as well as with a distinguished list of architect and landscape architect firms. He is the co-founder and CEO of arki_lab in Copenhagen, an urban design, strategy and research office specialising in democratic processes and co-creation. His firm focuses on designing cities with people, and more specifically young people. Before this, he worked in leading positions at top firms like Gehl Architects on projects in Australia, China, the US, South America, and most of Europe.

In addition to his work at arki_lab, Rasmus is also an Associate Professor at DIS, the Danish Institute of Study abroad, teaching international students in Architecture and Urban Design. Rasmus is a well-known guest speaker around the world, and has appeared at previous International Urban Design Conferences. His main focus area is the human dimension in architecture, urban design and city planning.

Tyler Golly

Tyler Golly at City Hall 2Tyler Golly is a professional engineer specializing in the creation of multi-modal solutions for urban transportation planning and design projects. Tyler has delivered innovative policies, plans, designs, operational practices, safety reviews, research, education programs, and public engagement initiatives for pedestrian, bicycle, transit, and street networks. Tyler has led teams that developed, sought approval, and implemented complex and controversial strategic transportation and parking plans/policies, street design guidelines, complete streets projects, transit oriented developments, and active transportation plans and designs. His work has received awards acknowledging their positive and progressive contributions to communities and the transportation industry.

Communities Designing Communities

Our communities are changing. People are increasingly thinking about the way their communities are designed and function and are having concerns for their safety and the safety of their children and older adults. These concerns over safety, and the supporting statistics, have driven the creation of Vision Zero programs in communities around the globe. And while some are seeking and attempting to change their communities to address these problems, others are concerned that changes will have significant impacts on the way they move. A great way to address these different viewpoints is to use pop-ups and temporary installations.

This session will share experiences of using pop-up, temporary, and pilot installations to assist communities in conversations about how they are designed. The installations allow for testing design ideas and reviewing the outcomes of those designs without spending significant time or money. The session will show how this approach has been used to test ideas, engage communities, tweak the ideas, and lead to acceptance, permanent installation, and/or the creation of permanent programs. Examples that will be shared will focus on walking-oriented initiatives including community walking maps, rainbow crosswalks, pop-up neighbourhood greenways, and bicycle corrals.