Velo-city, one of the largest cycling conferences in the world was in Lisbon, Portugal from September 6th to 9th. The conference has been occurring annually since 1980 and has been considered to be a valuable player in promoting healthy lifestyles while aiming to reduce the earth’s carbon footprint. The conference brought together individuals involved in “policy, promotion, and provision for cycling, active mobility, and sustainable urban development.” The goal of Velo-city is to influence policymakers to develop more sustainable and active mobility.
The event started Monday, but on Tuesday the conference kicked off with a quote from Alessandra Priante, the Director of the Regional Department for Europe at the UN World Tourism Organization. She stated, “our countries need cycling as a sustainable model to support rural areas, giving people the possibility to go off the beaten path.” Leading to the theme of Tuesday, which was the important role of cycling tourism and the bicycle industry. Questions were asked from experts such as; “Is last year’s cycling boom truly sustainable?” and what can countries do to make cities and cycling roots more a part of city infrastructure?
On Wednesday the quote came from the CEO at Cycling Industries Europe, Kevin Mayne, who said “what we want to be is not a splash. We want to be a tsunami. We want things to change!” The day focused on a discussion that revolved around how intelligent transport innovation can ultimately benefit cycling, the event was moderated by Karen Vancluysen of POLIS. Additionally, Wednesday’s event had a historic event, which featured an all-women session followed by a Bike Parade in the streets of Portugal’s capital.
Finally, the event concluded on Thursday with the closing plenary encouraging individuals and decision-makers to rethink cities, with cycling as the new normal. The quote came from the CEO of the European Cyclists’ Federation, Jill Warren, who said that “it cannot be said enough: there is no conceivable way to achieve the sustainable development goals, the European Green Deal or climate-neutral cities without significantly more cycling.” A discussion was held with panelists who all agreed that there news to be a global implementation of sustainable urban development, and a focus on the most effective tools to achieve these goals.
In summary, it was unanimously concluded that there needs to be a major change if policymakers and individuals hope to strive for a greener lifestyle. Meaning there needs to be a major shift in moving away from unsustainable to sustainable. Warren, along with Deputy Mayor Janez Krozelj said that next year's event will revolve are change, “change is a keyword associated with our next Velo-city in Ljubljana'' Until then, the bike industry is expected to continue prospering, and perhaps attitudes and decisions will be made to allow cycling to become the new normal.