Velo-city 2017: Day 4 Highlights
The last day of Velo-city 2017 was one of governance, a spectecular closing ceremony and cycling festival Velofest.
After answering the questions why we must invest in cycling and how, this day had to bring the answer: who. It was an ambitious answer. It was no less than EU commissioner Violeta Bulc who received the European Cycling Strategy of the European Cyclists’ Federation in person. The goals of the Strategy are ambitious though necessary: a reduction of 50 percent in the road toll under cyclists, an European investment of 9 billion euros in the next decade and 240 million trips a day by 2030, a third more than now.
The European Commissioner of Transport and over twenty Mayors from across the world embraced the freedom of cycling, recognizing that humans should be at the center of urban planning. In an informal setting where they could be open with each other, the mayors agreed that although there are many challenges, cycling is vital for the future of climate and environment. Everyone felt inspired by the Dutch freedom of cycling and discussed ways to make cycling part of their own DNA by adjusting its principles into their own culture. As a sign of commitment, they even took their bikes to work!
The advantages are impressive, the ECF calculated. The benefit of cycling will rise to a staggering 760 billion euros and the number of jobs in the cycling industry will increase to 875,000. Commissioner Bulc received the strategy with the words: ‘Be careful what you wish for, you’re gonna get it.’ She stated that cycling is more on the European agenda than ever and that it will be one of the key themes in the next European Year of Multimodality.
From a Dutch point of view, Marc Frequin of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment told how the Dutch national government invested large sums of money in better infrastructure and cycling facilities near stations. Right now, with government funding, the largest bicycle storage in the world (12,500 in one building) is being constructed. Andre Dzikus of the UN Habitat put cycling in a worldwide context and told about the challenge to create a cycling culture in cycling-unfriendly environments.
Philosopher Rene ten Bos, also professor on the Radboud University in Nijmegen took an whole other approach on cycling. He got in depth in how cycling related to bureaucracy. The two are opposites, he stated. “Cycling is a form of testing bureaucracy. The activity itself is the opposite of what bureaucracy is. Bureaucracy is indoor, tends to hold on rules and organisation from above. Bureaucracy is a mechanic, cycling is a machine. Bureaucracies only see what they want to see. It is held by inattention.” But cycling is balance and bureaucracy is control: balance will always beat control, Ten Bos explained. How? To start to sing in tune with power. And slowly, you start to sing slightly out of tune. The others will follow you without noticing.
The closing ceremony was one with a bang. The host-to-be Rio de Janeiro treated the attendees on a mini-version of Brazilian carnaval, including a samba drum band, capoeira and salsa danceresses. “On the way to Rio”, Manfred Neun of the ECF said, “In Nijmegen, all cyclists are King”, referring on the grand opening with his Majesty the King Willem-Alexander, who himself is fond of cycling. He closed with the real deal: “I’m a grandfather. Don’t we all want our children and grandchildren to be raised in a clean, healthy and equal society and the freedom of cycling?”
After the closing ceremony the closing festival wrapped up Velo-City 2017 in style. Velofest showed a community celebration with great art, food, and cycling culture in Arnhem's Sonsbeek Park.