2023 UCI Mobility & Bike City Forum: a look back at the wide-ranging discussions
The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), in partnership with VISITFLANDERS and the Belgian City of Bruges, welcomed some 120 participants to the fifth edition of the UCI Mobility and Bike City Forum. The two-day event (25-26 October) was held at the state-of-the-art Bruges Meeting and Convention Centre (BMCC), which in May 2023 was awarded with the Green Key label, the international sustainability labelfor event locations.
OFFICIAL WELCOME SPEECHES AND AWARDS
The Forum was opened by UCI Cycling for All & Sustainable Cycling Commission President Tony Mitchell, Deputy Chief of Cabinet for Flemish Minister Lydia Peeters, Wouter De Ruyter; President of the Royal Belgian Cycling League, Tom Van Damme; and Mayor of the City of Bruges, Dirk De fauw.
The new UCI Bike City Label trophies were awarded to representatives of the two cities and two regions that joined the UCI Bike City & Region network in 2023: Aigle (Switzerland), Montréal (Canada), South of Scotland (Great Britain) and Saalfelden Leogang (Austria). The UCI Bike City Label aims to maximise the legacy impact of cycling events by creating examples around the world of how cities can create better, safer streets for all people on bikes, regardless of age, level of fitness or cycling activity.
LAUNCH OF UCI SUSTAINABILITY REPORT
The 2023 UCI Mobility & Bike City Forum featured the launch of the UCI’s first Sustainability Report, covering the years 2021-2023. This report is part of the UCI’s commitment to reduce the impact of its operations on the environment and, together with its stakeholders, increase cycling’s contributions to sustainable development worldwide. It presents a comprehensive overview of the UCI’s work in the domain over the past two years, unveiling its carbon footprint and climate transition plan as well as outlining the sustainability strategy leading up to 2030.
Following the launch, Carly Gilbert-Patrick, from the United Nations Environment Programme, illustrated different ways in which cycling can play a key role in the fight against climate change, air pollution and premature death from inactivity, with a particular focus on examples from countries in the Global South.
SAFER CYCLING AROUND THE WORLD
Another key report launched at the Forum tackled the issue of safety. The International Road Assessment Programme (iRAP), in partnership with MAPFRE Foundation, the UCI and PTV Group, revealed Safer Cycling around the World, the first major pilot project of CycleRAP. Carried out in cities in Europe, South America and North America, the pilot project demonstrated the application of a traffic simulation tool, providing tangible examples of how cities can use the CycleRAP model to help improve the safety of their cycling networks. The report includes in-depth case studies showcasing examples of safe cycling infrastructure, data collection methods, risk mapping, evaluation of safety options and specific risk analysis.
A panel made up of representatives from UCI Bike City Fayetteville (USA), Bogotá (Colombia), the UCI, PTV Group and iRAP, then discussed the importance of understanding infrastructure risk for cyclists and light mobility users, and the valuable impact this new tool can have on ensuring better road conditions for users around the world.
A CATALYST FOR SOCIAL INCLUSION
The Forum’s keynote speech was given by Belgian Paralympic medallist and former UCI World Champion Ewoud Vromant, who shared his story about second chances and new dreams, following the discovery of a cancerous tumour in his right leg 11 years ago.
Social inclusion initiatives focused on widening access to the bicycle for people of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds, were the focus of a panel discussion involving Scottish Cycling, World Bicycle Relief, as well as Flemish organisations G Sport Vlaanderen, MOBIEL 21 and Velo vzw.
INNOVATION IN PUBLIC POLICY
The proposal for a European Declaration on Cycling, adopted in early October 2023 by the European Commission, was welcomed with enthusiasm by cycling advocates across the continent. The Forum’s closing session allowed attendees to learn more about the Declaration from Daniel Mes, Member of the Cabinet of Commissioner for Climate Action, Wopke Hoekstra. He explained that European Cycling Declaration is the Commission’s most ambitious initiative on cycling to date, which elevates cycling to a strategic priority and acknowledges the vital role cycling has to play in generating enormous benefits for Europe.
European organisations involved in the Commission’s stakeholder consultation were also present at the UCI Mobility and Bike City Forum: the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF), the Confederation of the European Bicycle Industry (CONEBI) and Cycling Industries Europe (CIE) joined the UCI in Bruges to discuss the impact this new declaration will have on strengthening the bicycle’s role as a key mode of transport across Europe.
WORKSHOPS AND BIKE TOURS
Strengthening opportunities for networking and interactive learning, the second day of the Forum featured workshops led by external experts:
- CycleRAP: increasing safety of cycling infrastructure
- Flanders Classics and The Women Peloton: promoting women in cycling
- Strava Metro: better communities for cyclists and pedestrians
- GCI & 261PI: impact measurement tools for the sport of cycling
Finally, participants had the opportunity to discover some of the reasons Flanders received the UCI Bike Region Label in 2021: during four different bike tours through the streets of Bruges, they discovered the city’s initiatives for children’s cycling, sports and innovation, road safety and cycling infrastructure and services.