Velo-City Global 2010 from Velo-city Global 2010 on Vimeo.
Velo-City, the annual international conference about everyday urban cycling, provides an excellent focus for cycling advocacy best practice from around the world. Last year’s event in Copenhagen was, not surprisingly, wowed by that city’s track record in encouraging more people to cycle as part of their everyday lives. Though it must be repeated, much of the wowing can also be put down to PR. We ourselves have worked in Bremen, which has more than twice the amount of off-road cycle paths as Copenhagen – and that excludes green areas like parks and riverbanks. And of course it has been well documented elsewhere that much of the Netherlands has far superior standards than Copenhagen.
The 2011 event opened yesterday in the Spanish city of Seville. To coincide with this year’s event, a new magazine called Cycling Mobility is being launched there. Darlington is featured in the publication via an article about Beauty and the Bike. But there is also a substantial piece about Seville itself, and how the city transformed itself in just a few years from a car-dominated and congested regional capital to a cycling-friendly place to live. In less than six years, Seville has increased cycling’s share of journeys from 0.2% to 6.6%, with the number of people cycling daily from 2,500 to 70,000. This compares with Darlington’s figures, regarded in the UK as a great success, of 1% to 3% over five years.
Spain is not noted for its cycling-oriented mobility culture. So how come Seville has been so successful? The article lists seven action points that were central to the plan:
- DO have a thoroughly researched master plan that develops cycling as an integral part of the transport system
- DO create a fully linked network of routes that offers the public a practical, pleasant and convenient means of transport
- DO ensure that cycle lanes are safe, and physically separated from cars where necessary
- DO make sure that cycle lanes follow main routes where there are shops, public transport points and people
- DON’T go for the easy option. Creating routes around the back streets is straightforward but not always best.
- DO expect stiff political opposition when trying to fund projects like these.
- DO remember that the alternative is to continue to spend billions on new roads which will simply add to the problem.
Seville offers an example of what can be done with strong political will. Most of these action points echo exactly what Darlington Cycling Campaign has been advocating for our own town. With local elections looming here in May, there is precious little sign that such political vision will be on offer for the voters of the borough.
We adore Seville. One of the great joys is grabbing a hire bike from the many Sevici stations and pootling into the heart of the city along the super-smooth, wide green-paved bike paths.
Still too many men talking. Look at one of the last takes: Eight men standing on an uprising and another man shaking their hands.
There is a conference in Germany today: Velokonzept in Berlin, and tonight there is a panel about urban cycling with 12 (twelve) men and no (0) woman talking. When will these conference organisers understand that urban cycling has to include the needs of women? Most of the planners and road engineers are men: We know the result. The litmus test for sustainable transport is expressed by the amount of women cycling.