Updates from Velo-City conference in Ghent

The world of cycling advocacy and active transport have descended on Ghent, Belgium this week. This university town is known as the home for a number of professional cyclists, the base for the Gent-Wevelgem semi-classic, and of course the Gent 6-day track race. And it’s in that short, tight and historic velodrome where the conference is taking place. This week the Derny Racing and Euro Disco is replaced instead by keynote speakers, handshaking, networking and elevator music. Bicycle Queensland’s CEO Alton Twine is at the Velo-City conference to meet with his contemporaries, and bring back global insights and learnings to improve bike riding and active transport in Queensland.

Ok, there was still a bike race for the opening ceremony.

‘Day 1 of the Velo-City conference here in Ghent underscored just how strong the global cycling movement is and how great it is to be part of this. Velo-City 2024 is the largest such conference held to date, with 1650 cycling practitioners from all over the world coming together to share their experiences and discuss what works to create more cycle friendly communities.’

‘The opening keynote address was by the ex-Transport Commissioner for New York, Janette Sadik-Khan . The changes that this amazing transport practitioner has brought to the Big Apple is nothing short of amazing, transforming key places to become bicycle and human-friendly. In a revealing presentation, Ms Sadik-Khan illustrated how a great many cities across the globe are embracing cycling and making decisions in favour of better infrastructure and programs. It’s no easy feat as there is still plenty of “bikelash” driven by those not willing to listen to their communities or to believe the data from the transformation that occurs when, as she says, you put people first.’ 

‘Of particular note today has been the story of transformation in Paris, with more people now riding than driving. There have been many factors in this success, driven by the need to keep Paris moving during the forthcoming Olympics, but also creating a lasting by legacy for the City. Progressive installation of high quality bike lanes in the City over the last 25 years is a key to their success, with cycling rates jumping markedly since 2019 on the back of initiatives such as allowing contra flow bike lanes in one-way streets and widening bike lanes to safely accommodate more cyclists.’

‘There have also been some interesting points on how to leverage more funding from the private sector for bike programs, with great examples from across the world.’ 

‘Cities like Ghent have transformed their transport systems in recent times by adopting policies that favour active transport, reducing congestion, improving safety for all road users and in the process building more liveable communities. There is a lot to be learned here.’


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