Everything “velo” in Nantes. Velocity 2015
Paris has the biggest potential to become the most bicycle-friendly city in the world, declared Christophe Najdovski, deputy mayor of Paris, at the competition organised by the Danish bicycle embassy for the future no. 1 cycling city. With his argument that Paris, compared to Copenhagen and Groningen, has even more pristine roads that can be made into cycling zones, he checkmated his counterparts Morten Kabell, mayor of Copenhagen, and Paul de Rook, mayor of Groningen. Even if the battle between the three mayors wasn’t that serious and brought up a lot of laughter, Paris’ mayor spoke clearly about the big plans for Paris.
Therefore, the timing for a French town hosting the Velocity, the biggest international cycling conference, was perfect. Above all Paris has used this platform to promote its big project with regard to cycleways and a new car-free city centre. However, a look at the conference programme for Velocity shows that the competition between the best cycling cities is still strong. Representatives from leading cycling cities such as Copenhagen and Groningen were often on stage as experts. They shared best practice examples from their home countries – starting with tips for clear, bike-friendly communications to perfect cycling infrastructure and architecture and technical developments, like the green traffic lights wave for cyclists. But also examples from Brazil, India or Uganda found their place and impressed. A daily summary of the sessions is offered by the European Cyclists Federation.
Urban solutions for bike stations, bike sharing systems (Nextbike, Bicloo, Smoove, Sycube) in all variations, e-bike models (green on, Pro e-bike), locking mechanisms and bike hangers (Cyclehoop) for towns dominated among the exhibitors. Bike counting stations rounded off the urban bicycle offering. The visualisation tool „5MinutesbyBike“ proved to be one of the biggest attractions however: The tool illustrated to visitors how far they get on a bike in their city in 5/10/15 or 30 minutes.
Nantes itself showcased its French side and opened the cycling conference with a wine and cheese buffet. Alongside many French producers, Nantes used the exhibition to invite to cycle tourism along the Loire. At the Flanders and Réunion Island stands, more cycle tourism offerings could be found. The Flemish region enticed with a virtual bike tour through the country, while the French Réunion Island in the Indian Ocean raffled off trips to the bike island.
The highlight of the cycling conference was the bike parade through Nantes, which drew 7,000 bike enthusiasts.
In total nearly 1,500 participants from all over the world visited this year’s bicycle conference, among them also Chou Li-Fang, deputy mayor of Taipei, host of Velocity 2016, who let herself be inspired for the direction of the conference in February in Taipei. Another big event for the international bike scene takes place about the same time in Minneapolis-St. Paul. With over 100 sessions, it is worth a detour to the Winter Cycling Congress from (2-4 February 2016).
All in all, this year’s Velocity was once again a very exciting get-together of the international bike scenes. After five days people have come a bit closer, if they didn’t already know each other from Velocity 2014 in Adelaide. And like most of we are already looking forward to next year.
Image © Bike Citizens