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.  

7 Comments. Leave new

Despite all the headway being made there are still a heap of issues with commuting by bike. least of all SAPOL’s latest crackdown, $150 for taking the top of my phone out of my pocket, not the whole thing I might ad, to check the time. stupid biased assholes let 4 people driving on the phone past looking for other things wrong with my bike. took about 15 min before they would let me leave.

Mark Horner
June 11, 2015 9:09 am

Great to see constructive, progressive dialogue openning up space for people in our transport systems, not just cars. I hope common sense will prevail for the current SA Govt plan to extend the Oban express track through the parklands.

Jonathan Giles
June 11, 2015 7:17 pm

Thanks for sharing some of the work Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads has been doing. Have a look at the Selection and Design of Cycle Tracks guideline on our website: http://www.tmr.qld.gov.au/~/media/busind/techstdpubs/Technical%20notes/TN128.pdf


Great summary for those who couln’t make it – thank you


This should have been titled “6 incredible lessons from the world’s biggest cycling conference”.
It’s right there in the photo of the Velo Parade.
You don’t have to look hard…
Got it yet?
Yes, 7,000 ordinary everyday people of many nationalities choosing to do a safe, ordinary, everyday activity and one (Australian?) cyclist who has been scared into believing he will die without “protection”.
Did you miss or deliberately ignore the elephant in the room.
As long as BikeSA and the other cycling orgs willfully ignore the negative effect of MHL’s on participation, Brisbane, nor any other Oz city (possibly bar Darwin) will ever actually “go Dutch”.

Denise Morris
June 12, 2015 4:10 am

I have just been in Vancouver Canada where I witnessed how they have a different cycle lane to walk lanes and away from the traffic to make it easier to get around the city. Business owners complained that people were not able to park outside their shop due to the cycle lanes. The governor of Vancouver, who is a keen cyclist, said bad luck we need to encourage people to cycle!


An interesting article. Having town planners leading the charge is very promising. Greg


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