Promoting expanded use of the bicycle in cities of developing countries and emerging economies needs not only extensive construction of better urban infrastructure and facilities but also a range of corresponding measures in urban and transport planning, experts at an international workshop agreed last week.
Seville, host of Velo-city 2011, has achieved remarkable progress in recent years towards increasing the share of bicycle use through improved infrastructure and the extensive bike rental system
Photo © UN-HABITAT / J. Jensen
The workshop was held by UN-HABITAT and Gehl Architects at the Velo-City 2011 conference in Seville/Spain, and brought together participants from Africa, Latin America, North America, Western and Eastern Europe.
The workshop on "Planning and investment for sustainable urban mobility in developing countries and emerging economies", focused on the role the bicycle can play for serving urban mobility needs and on the question how necessary investments can be mobilized.
In a lively discussion, experts emphasized several key strategies towards achieving better conditions for bicyclists: First, for attracting public visibility, political support and financial support, one promising strategy can be to package improvements for bicycles into comprehensive urban "Megaprojects". At the same time, it was also felt that catering for the needs of pedestrians and cyclists should not be restricted to special flagship projects but must also be integrated into the daily road engineering work in local planning departments and their national counterparts in charge of infrastructure investments.
To achieve maximum and sustainable impacts, participants emphasized that cycling measures should always be integrated into wider efforts for improving the liveability of communities, traffic calming and parking management measures.
Discussing experiences from places as diverse as Mexico City, Gdansk/Poland and Austin/USA, it was regarded as essential that physical investments are being complemented by communication and outreach activities, for instance through social marketing or traffic safety campaigns, and mobility management services such as bike rental schemes. Engaging civil society organisations and citizens is seen as crucial.
As a follow up to the workshop, UN-HABITAT will continue to facilitate exchange of knowledge between participating organisations.