The Velo-city conference series organized by the ECF is the most important
international cycling planning conference series in the world. Its aim is to encourage cycling as an important mode of daily urban transport.
The conference series is well known for gathering all those involved in policy, promotion and provision for bicycles. It is a recognised meeting point – and for the host city, a welcome opportunity to present and launch extraordinary bicycle initiatives. Fortunately, advocating for the multiple effects of the use of bicycles is gaining massive support in an increasing number of countries and cities where the bicycle is seen as an efficient, healthy, quick, cheap and environmental form of transportation. With input from a wide range of experts, officials and NGOs, this world’s largest cycle-planning conference shows how cycling development can be enhanced faster.
Objectives of the Velo-city series are:
Spread high quality knowledge, good new information about cycling, and transport planning at the international
Cities with good cycling policies showcase the benefits for their citizens, businesses
Encourage the recognition of cycling as an efficient, healthy, environmentally-friendly mode of transport, and to promote
its use use.
Integration of cycle planning into transport, land-use planning and other cycling - relevant policy sectors
Seek involvement from all relevant stakeholders.
The Velo-city Conference was held in Seville from March 23rd to 25th 2011. Seville was elected as host because the city had
established a Director-Plan of Cycling (2007–2010) with two main elements:
The city succeeded in designing, constructing and establishing a comprehensive network of cycle-lanes within a very short
time. Within four years they established a network of 140 km of secure separated cycle tracks with the first 80 km ready to use in the end of 2008 after only after two years. Immediately after
finishing the first phase of construction a public bike system was opened.
As a result, Seville increased the total modal share of bicycle trips from 1% to 7% between 2007 and 2010. The number of cyclists
has been multiplied by 10, rising from 6.000 to 60.000. Seville is a fantastic example for cities without cycling tradition that want to start doing something significant in promoting cycling as
an urban transport mode.
In the end of 2009 I was asked to take a leading role in the Content management of the Velo-city 2011 in Seville, which I gladly accepted.
My responsibility within a team of 4 persons was the management of the content and programme for the congress.
The first step was to define the following set of 4 main topics:
- Healthy living in liveable cities
- Education and change of mobility habits
- Efficiency of public investments in mobility
- Economic impact and employment: The social component of cycling
Generally the Conference had the aim to emphasise on countries that did not have a big tradition of cycling or had lost it during a couple of car-centered decades.
Their specific conditions, potentials and problems had never been treated on a Velo-City Conference before.
A focus was set on the global south, especially South America, Africa and the entire Mediterranean area.
In the following year we designed the programme, contacted with over 250 potential
speakers and organised a worldwide selection process based on a call for papers. Due to the big number of proposals we set up a content committee for any of the three focus areas mentioned
before relying on a network of contacts we had established on trips to important meetings and congresses of cycling associations in each one of them. It was our main goal to make sure the chosen
contributions would meet the high expectations.
The congress turned out to be a huge success with over 900 participants from over 50 different countries from 5 continents.