Viewpoint : August 2013

Velo-city 2013 Vienna: Some Interesting World Trends

In June, Vélo Québec attended Velo-city Vienna, the annual gathering of biking professionals and activists from around the world. It should be noted that the first Velo-city conference was held in 1992 in Montréal upon the initiative of Vélo Québec. This year, 1,400 participants from 50 different countries assembled in Vienna for a few days to take stock of the situation.

Here are a few trends emerging from this cyclist brainstorming session...

Self-serve bicycles
Self-serve bike services have experienced unbelievable growth virtually around the world. Of course the BIXI team was in Vienna, but competition is developing. Systems that try to stand out from the rest are multiplying, but not successfully. What we will soon see, in certain cities at least, are fleets that include traditional and assisted bikes.

Power-assisted bicycles
This is a real trend in Europe, mainly in Switzerland and Germany. The Netherlands, with a population of 16 million, already has more than 1 million power-assisted bikes, in addition to 18 million traditional bicycles. The main users are people aged 55 and over. The use of power-assisted bicycles in the Netherlands has increased the number of kilometers travelled by 5%.  In addition, 39% of users are motorists. Several European studies are currently analyzing this trend.

Safety of biking against traffic
A new study presented by Bruxelles Mobilité confirms that biking against traffic is safe. The study will be published later this summer.

Transportation cocktail
A partnership is developing between German urban transporters and the TERN folding bikes company. A package launched last fall in Munich makes it possible to obtain a discounted folding bike with an annual transit pass. In Nantes, 250 folding bikes are available for rent with an annual public transit membership.

SRAM bike mission
The SRAM components company is actively involved in the promotion of biking in American cities through the SRAM Cycling Fund. Over the past few years, it has motivated elected officials from Chicago, New York, Portland, San Francisco, Washington D.C., Austin and Minneapolis to visit inspirational cycling cities. A new mission will travel to Copenhagen in September.

It is clear that the situation is evolving rapidly in many locations around the world. Keep an eye out: the best is yet to come.