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In Bicycle Heaven: Velo-city Conference Review

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At the world’s biggest cycling summit „Velo-city 2017“which took place mid-June in Arnhem-Nijmegen in the Dutch province of Gelderland, Cycle Competence Austria had the great opportunity to present cycling knowledge “Made in Austria” to a broad audience. The conference itself and the cycling nation number one  convinced the attending 1.500 experts. Being a nation with still a lot of potential for a larger bicycle mode share, but with quite exhaustive experiences and a growing body of knowledge, Austria can serve as fore runner for so called climbing nations, in which the modal share is about to rise from low numbers and which invest significant effort into supporting this trend.

radzunahmeAustrias cycling kilometers are rising while the injuries are not increasing in the same extent: safety by numbers!

Velo-city Impressions

In many ways the conference has set new benchmarks in the universe of the decade-long Velo-city-event series. Right in the middle of the heartland of cycling and in its community Nijmegen awarded “Cycling City 2016” almost all wishes were fulfilled: impressive cycle fast routes like the 20km from Arnhem to Nijmegen without traffic lights. The project took 18 years of construction and shows what is possible in cycle traffic. But is also shows such projects are only possible with persistence and perseverance over several years. The expert workshops on the Dutch planning guide “CROW-Manual” passed on the most elaborate cycling knowledge to an international audience. More than 1,500 cycle traffic experts from all over the world exchanged their visions and their knowledge and presented current findings in eight rooms.

20 km cycling on Arnhem-Nijmegen bicycle freeway without to yield
(STREETFILMS on Vimeo)

This diversity and the large number of visitors also was a challenge increased by the continuous switching between two conference buildings. This hindered in-depth discussions of topics as most of the speeches had to be squeezed into short formats. But a joint best practise tour of 800 delegates in a special train to Amsterdam, the world’s cycling capital, helped to forget small conference shortcomings. Nowhere else excellent cycle traffic planning is as close to the needs of people. And nowhere else it is based as much on the full faith in the self-organised abilities of traffic participants to interact. Not only was the term “swarm intelligence” used several times on the conference stages it was also confirmed right in the centre of Amsterdam’s cycling traffic streams.

Our Cycle Competence Session: The way up!

In our session, six members of the Cycle Competence network presented their respective contribution to a prospering cycling environment and tried to show different elements of the way up to a better cycling environment – a joint effort of exchanging and developing further knowledge.

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National goals: Martin Eder, Austrias national bicycle coordinator, started the series of presentations with an overview of national activities for bicycle promotion. He put special focus on the second edition of the national masterplan, which contains the official goal of 13% in the modal split by 2025. In order to reach this, several national initiatives, such as the research funding program “Mobility of the Future” and the climiate program “klimaaktiv mobil” are launched and supported.

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Cycling master plans: After Martin, Andrea Weninger from Rosinak & Partner shared her extensive experience in the bicycle masterplan creation process. She came up with a list of six points she regards to be essential for successful planning processes. Two of these success factors are to go for user-tailored masterplans inspired by locals:

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Cycling data collection and analysis: Andreas Friedwagner (Verracon) went on with a GIS-based analysis of accessibility and travel time analysis in the province of Vorarlberg. His beautiful maps clearly indicate which areas are well-covered in terms of bicycle infrastructure and where improvements need to be made in order to motivate people to switch from car to active mobility. Interestingly, Andreas found in his studies that speed limits for cars (30 km/h within residential areas) have the most direct impact on overall cycling safety. The colleagues from BikeCitizens with their CEO Daniel Kofler do a great job in packing routing and navigation, promotion with gamification components and bicycle intelligence into a single app: the BikeCitizens app.

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Scientific research: The session was completed by two contributions from research institutions. First, Martin Loidl of University of Salzburg’s Z_GIS mobility department gave an overview of three current research projects to emphasize his approach of providing scientific outcomes for evidence based policy decisions. “Bikealyze” collects data via smartphones and puts them in spatial correlation  with cycling infrastructure, “Gismo” analyses data for optimizing health programs and “Famos” evaluates cycling trip data.

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After his presentation, Markus Straub from AIT presented two projects, each with a spatial optimization component: the EMILIA project seeks, among other things, to optimize parcel deliveries in cities. For this to work the last miles from central distribution hubs to the consumer should be done by cargo-bikes. Markus and his colleagues have developed a route optimization algorithm for the delivery cyclists. In the BBSS project a spatially explicit planning tool for optimizing the location of bike sharing stations was developed. This tool allows planners to estimate the potential demand for any location in a city.ait

Download: you will find the presentations of the conference on the webiste of ECF European Cyclists Federation.

Posted on June 27, 2017