5 incredible lessons from the world’s biggest cycling conference
Bicycle SA spent the past week in the city of Nantes, France at the world’s biggest cycling conference – Velo-city. There were more than 1600 delegates from over 30 countries – and there were bikes everywhere. Four days of cycling expertise
Roads weren’t built for cars
How often have you heard someone say “roads were built for cars not bicycles”. Believe it or not – cyclists actually played a huge role in developing modern roadways – and it was bike advocates that influenced early road improvements – quite literally paving the way for the automobile from the 1900s onwards.
During the conference, Bicycle SA caught up with cycling journalist & historian Carlton Reid – who spoke at Velo-city Nantes and gave a copy of his book to Bicycle SA. The amount of research alone that went into the book is unbelievable. But the message is clear – roads weren’t built for bicycles, or cars – they were meant for people.
Check out info on Carlton Reid’s Book here. It’s worth sinking your teeth into.
Brisbane is actually starting to go Dutch.
No kidding – Brisbane is going Dutch. Bike SA listened to a presentation by road engineer Jonathan Gilles who was the Technical manager for the Department of Transport and Main Roads in Queensland. Jonathan has been hard at working translating some of the Dutch Road guidelines to the Australian context after having spent a study tour in the Netherlands. The guidelines have only just been published within the past 12 months – so we’re still yet to see how they will translate into real-world implementation – however it’s without a doubt an exciting development.
Global cities are about people… not transport.
Cities around the world at the conference were all talking about how they’re embracing cycling. Paris wants 15% of trips done by bike by 2020. London is seeking to build cycle superhighways throughout the centre of the city. From San Francisco to Copenhagen to Mumbai – bikes are a city planners best friend. But delegates were clear on one thing – it’s not about the bicycle – it’s about people. Bicycles just tend to be a great way to enable cities to put people first.
Sonia Lavandinho, a Geographer, and specialist in urban sociology summed up the mood of the conference when she said: “This is the century of people! Transportation is so last century!”
Pilot projects are a great way to get the wheels turning
Tim Papandreou – the strategic planning & policy director for transport in San Francisco – gave an fantastic talk on how the city has been transforming the way it moves people. He said initially – getting substantial money for cycling infrastructure was near impossible. Many local planners and politicians weren’t willing to spend money on a mode of transport that was but a minority of the city’s trips. However implementing pilot projects was a simple way to get the ball rolling.
“For just $15 million dollars – we doubled our bike share,” said Tim. Once the city saw the value of cycling – the pilot projects soon became projects in their own right.
The Velo Parade was amazing.
Nantes is a city which is relatively new to the world of cycling and it’s only in the past few years that it really has jumped on the cycling bandwagon. More than 7,000 locals turned out to celebrate cycling for the Velo Parade. If anything, the Velo Parade shows that a city can quickly build up a huge cycling culture in a short amount of time.
Check out the Youtube Video below and be inspired
In the weeks to come – Bicycle SA will continue to disseminate stories from this great week of learning – until then – keep on pedalling. In the meantime you can also listen to some fantastic interviews in a podcast.