From June 13 to June 16, the cities of Arnhem and Nijmegen, in the Netherlands, were the world capitals of bicycle. They hosted the 2017 edition of Velo-City, the premier global conference on urban cycle mobility and urban cycle planning. The iCS sent a delegation of six people, including four representatives of the government (Sergio Avelleda, the Municipal Secretary of Transport of São Paulo, Eveline Trevisan, the Coordinator of PedalaBH in the city of Belo Horizonte, Sideney A. Schreiner Jr., the Executive Director of Mobility Planning of the Municipality of Recife, and Natalia B. Magaldi, the Cyclo-mobility Director of the Municipality of Brasília) and two civil society representatives (JP Amaral, the coordinator of the Bicicleta nos Planos project, and Blé Binnatti, from Transporte Ativo).
One of the main concerns of Instituto Clima e Sociedade, according to Walter Figueiredo de Simoni – coordinator of the institute’s Urban Mobility Portfolio – is to include the bicycle as part of a wider mobility system, which is something that countries like the Netherlands do very well. For this reason, participation in Velo-City is fundamental, since it makes it possible to learn from the positive practical results achieved by other cities, in addition to socializing and debating with decision-makers and public policy-makers who have already faced dilemmas similar to those that Brazil is facing now.
“By being immersed in these meetings, we could gather relevant information to broaden our repertoire and understanding of the role of cycling in a low carbon society, as well as deepen our technical and practical knowledge relating to this theme. Another important aspect was the opportunity we had to invite the individuals responsible for cycling legislation in São Paulo, Brasília, Belo Horizonte and Recife. They will now be able to promote a more complete and multi-sectoral discussion about the use of bicycles within their cities and try to translate it into real life”, said Walter.
According to JP Amaral, one of the most recurring themes in Velo-City was governance, such as, for example, the convincing techniques used to show public officials the importance of including bicycles in the public mobility system – something that is of fundamental importance in the eyes of the government members that were part of the iCS delegation. Another important aspect was the meeting between public officials and members of civil society attending the conference, which is considered fundamental to ensure effectiveness to the cycling policies of the cities.
“It was clearly very important, due to the exchange of a large volume of information and contacts, mainly the sharing of common challenges and opportunities. There are already internal movements in the municipal governments to discuss the experiences of Velo-City, based on past demands and difficulties, which is great. In fact, the work carried out by the iCS is essential, since the institute acts as a catalyzer of political influence by bringing together key people from municipal governments who can, in fact, generate practical results. This is a very positive theory of change”, said JP.
The next edition of Velo-City will take place in Rio de Janeiro from June 12 to June 15, 2018.