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Velo-city Seville Reflections

Guest blogger: Virginia Tech cyclist Lyndsay McKeever, intern for Transportation and Campus Services at Virginia Tech, is guest blogging from Velo-City Seville, Spain.

It’s been two weeks since Velo-city Seville 2011 and its concluding Ciclovida.

Sevilla family biking to the start of Sunday's Ciclovida

Seville family biking to the start of Sunday's Ciclovida

Now, conference attendees are home, avidly working off of shared best practices, inspiring success stories and valuable networking gained during this year’s Velo-city conference. With each Velo-city, we get one step closer towards global bicycle mobility and sustainability; however, we still have much work to do. For now, let us learn from the lessons of Seville’s bicycle revolution, celebrate its successes and reflect on this years Velo-city. Here are a few highlights that really put the “vida” in the conference:

1. The social marketing campaign entitled Radlhauptstadt München announced Munich as the cycling capital of Bavaria and Germany and has been instrumental in igniting a bicycle culture change. In just six years bicycle traffic has increased 40 percent in the city! The remarkable presentation given by city of Munich officials and “The Bicycle Mayor,” deputy mayor of Munich Hep Monatzeder, detailed the German campaign’s success thanks to a devoted Green Party in Munich, cycling council in the central transport ministry and grassroots mindset from residents, especially from students and young people. With the two goals of increasing cyclists and safety, Radlhauptstadt München has been highly effective in promoting cycling as an important mode of transport.

Part of the Radlhauptstadt München marketing campaign, they digitally altered a photograph of one of the city's most famous monuments to embed the bicycle deep into local culture

Part of the Radlhauptstadt München marketing campaign, they digitally altered a photograph of one of the city's most famous monuments to embed the bicycle deep into local culture

With the campaign ridding Munich of the common misconception that cycling is only for “sweaty blokes in lycra,” the marketing strategy has proved an effective way to invent a real bicycle culture. A final message of the presentation concluded that there are lots of ways to celebrate and attractively communicate the bicycle as a modern urban means of transportation.


Radlnacht in Munich

2. “The Cycling Girl in Copenhagen and Beyond,” presented by Ms. Marie Kastrup, explored the history of women and cycling in Danish culture. The presentation emphasized the role of women bicycle commuting as indicators of healthy societies (ie. 54 percent of all cyclists in Copenhagen are female, 46 percent are male). The concept of mixing womens fashion with bicycling culminated in an analysis of the famous Copenhagen Cycle Chic blog which has been responsible for a global womens movement in promoting gender balance with cycling.

targeting women

The idea that cycling infrastructure should fit around the needs of women in high heels might seem odd to many transport planners but if everyday cycling cultures are to flourish, the findings of projects such as Beauty and the Bike in Bremen and Darlington should be taken seriously. This is a great place for women in the U.S. to take hold of promoting bicycling for safe, healthy, sustainable societies and urban mobility. If more women in U.S cities started their own Cycle Chic blog or Beauty and the Bike project, could you imagine the results?

Regarding women in developing countries, a number of presentations focused on bicycles as a powerful tool for economic self-sufficiency and a way out of poverty. SRAM, main sponsor of the conference, says ‘in the hands of a girl, a bike is an agent of change.’

3. In the exhibition area, one ambitious Spanish bicycling project stood out among the rest. ConBici, the well-known bicycle advocacy national federation in Spain since 1992, is pushing for 1 million more cyclists in Spanish cities by 2015. Currently there are 23 million bicycles in Spanish homes, but only 2 million people cycle on a daily basis. ConBici hopes to facilitate an increase in daily usage of bicycles by 50% in five years, reaching 3 million cycling individuals that commute daily.

4. Since Velo-city Seville has come to a close, here are two ways to stay connected on the most innovative, up to date international bicycle conversations:

-subscribe to Cyclingmobility and read visions from the European Cycling Federation on what the future of urban mobility will look like

-follow and then attend Velo-city Global 2012 in Vancouver, Canada from June 26-29. The conference is on our landmass next year; save the date!

This concludes my guest blogging for the League. From a student intern at Pro Walk/ Pro Bike back in the fall to now, I hope my blogs will encourage young professionals in the field, the next generation of bicycle advocates, to redesign our cities to achieve sustainable urban mobility. Velo-city Seville 2011 was an incredible experience, and I leave inspired.

Adios Seville! Your tapas were tasty and your bike culture rich and remarkable.

– Lyndsay McKeever

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