First UCI Bike City Forum: experts highlight the importance of the bike

Nov 23, 2018, 14:32 PM

Which invention has been around for over 200 years and may hold the key to the future of sustainable living in towns and cities across the globe? The answer is, of course, the bicycle. Few doubt the benefit of cycling as a green, affordable and healthy mode of transport, yet it remains essential to advocate for cycling in all forms around the world.


As part of the UCI’s advocacy efforts, the first UCI Bike City Forum presented by Pirelli was held on 14 and 15 November 2018. Bringing together cycling leaders, advocates, mobility experts, National Federations, industry representatives and policy makers at the Pirelli Headquarters in Milan, Italy, the Forum saw critical discussion and debate on the future of active mobility.  

UCI President David Lappartient welcomed participants and explained the UCI Bike City Label, which recognises cities and regions that host Elite international competitions while at the same time investing in everyday cycling actions. Speaking after the Forum, the President said: “Cycling can help confront pressing challenges such as traffic congestion and play a part in achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. It was excellent to see mobility and cycling leaders from across the world discussing these topics and strengthening their network at the UCI Bike City Forum. We will now build on this momentum and continue to work with our partners to promote cycling for all.”

Welcoming addresses were also delivered by Pirelli’s Chief Sustainability Officer Filippo Bettini, who stressed the company’s commitment to sustainable transport; and Marco Granelli, Milan City Councillor for Mobility and the Environment, detailing how the Forum’s host city is investing to promote cycling for transportation.

For Pirelli, the Forum was an excellent opportunity to talk about the need for sustainable transport, with Bettini commenting: “Going into the future, mobility must be sustainable, which means safer, greener and more efficient. These topics were explored in depth at the Forum, which Pirelli was very pleased to host given the strong link between our vision for sustainable mobility and that of the UCI. Whether talking about bicycles, cars or buses, the tyre is the only contact between the vehicle and the road. Pirelli specialises in top technology and innovation, and this is key towards achieving sustainable mobility”.

An inspiring keynote was delivered by Pascal Smet, Minister of the Government of the Brussels-Capital Region, responsible for Mobility and Public Works. In his speech emphasising the importance of political leadership, Smet outlined his work to transition the Belgian capital into a city that prioritises active mobility under the slogan #BrusselsForPeople.  

The first session of the day brought together Spain’s Manuel Calvo and Great Britain’s Brian Deegan, who talked about designing urban infrastructure for cycling and shared their experiences developing cycling infrastructure in Seville (Calvo) and London and Manchester (Deegan).

Two leading cycling nations, Denmark and the Netherlands, were under the spotlight in the second session of the day, with Marianne Weinreich representing the Cycling Embassy of Denmark and Herbert Tiemens representing the Dutch Cycling Embassy. While reflecting on the distinct approaches towards cycling promotion followed by these two countries, the panel shared their recommendations for other cities and nations to succeed in cycling promotion and development.

Health and cycling was the following topic of discussion, with Randy Rzewnicki (European Cyclists’ Federation), Laura-Maria Tiidla (International Sport and Culture Association), Francesco Iacorossi (Rome’s Mobility Agency) and Thanos Karagrounas (Active Well-Being Initiative) talking about the impact of physical activity and cycling on public health, including how it can be better measured and the benefits to society.

It is widely recognised that cycling can be a major contributor to sustainable development, and the final session of the day focused on this key topic. Kristina Jasiunaite, from World Bicycle Relief, UN-HABITAT’s Stefanie Holzwarth and C40 Cities Finance Facility’s Aris Moro revealed how cycling initiatives led by the three organisations in African and South American countries are helping ensure a more equitable and sustainable future, as well as contributing to the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. 

In his closing speech, PeopleForBikes President Tim Blumenthal expressed optimism about the future of cycling, highlighting key trends in cycling and mobility promotion, and explaining the role that PeopleForBikes plays in the areas of infrastructure, government relations and promotion.

On the second day of the Forum, officials from the UCI Bike Cities and Regions gathered to share ideas, projects and best practices. They were then taken on a cycling tour of Milan, which included stops at iconic locations related to cycling within the city.

We look forward to welcoming the UCI family at the next UCI Bike City Forum in 2019!