Velo-City 2013 - the 5 best presentations

Cycle infrastructure in Vienna is well marked, but often shared with pedestrians
CTC's Chris Peck attended and spoke at the biggest cycling advocacy conference in Vienna in June 2013. Here is his own presentation, and the pick of the crop from other sessions.

Velo-city is an annual global conference of cycling academics, practitioners and campaigners, organised by the European Cyclists' Federation.

It's been running for well over 30 years, with recent conferences in Vancouver (2012), Seville (2011), Copenhagen (2010) and Brussels (2009). 

CTC has presented at most of the recent conferences, and I was privileged to present some work on the way risk is analysed and how the pressure to reduce cycle casualties can conflict with efforts to increase cycle use.

Measuring the risk of cycling correctly

This is a topic that CTC has noticed emerging time after time - local authorities (and Government) say that they want to increase the number of people cycling, yet also want to reduce overall numbers of casualties.

Despite pressure from CTC on Transport for London, the new Road Safety Action Plan aims for a 40% reduction in serious injuries and deaths, whilst simultaneously, another part of TfL, is aiming to increase cycling by 400% over the same period. This - impossible - task, means the risk of cycling has to reduce by 85% in order to satisfy both targets.

It doesn't have to be this way. CTC's position has always been that if you get the measurement of safety right, you won't have internally conflicting targets. The solution I proposed is to measure the absolute risk of different modes, taking into account their different public health impacts, such as the risk to other road users (ie, how many pedestrians killed or injured by cars or bikes) and the wider public health consequences of different modes.

Cars not only kill more people per mile travelled, they also emit air pollution which kills hundreds more, while the presence of fast moving cars deters people from cycling and walking - activities that would benefit their health. My presentation can be downloaded below (view in slide show mode). 

5 of the best

Velo-City is a big conference: over 1,300 delegates were in Vienna, and almost a hundred presentations spread over 4 days.

In my opinion, the 5 best presentations were:

  • 1. What do you get for €133m? That's the amount the Danish Government is investing in cycling from 2009-2014. Although only €5 per head per year, projects must put up large amounts of match-funding. 
  • 2. There's always room for cycling infrastructure! Philip Loy, from the London Cycling Campaign, explained how the refrain that there wasn't room for cycling infrastructure on London's busy streets was a myth, since large amounts of space can be found for other projects, like the 2012 Olympic Games lanes, centreline hatching or major construction projects.
  • 3. 10 cycling mistakes of the Dutch and Danes, and how to avoid themWe look to the Netherlands and Denmark to see how to design high quality infrastructure for bikes, but even there some mistakes made, such a rough surfaces to cycle tracks, barriers erected on cycle paths and spatial planning that excludes cycling.
  • 4. Cyclelogistics - bike powered cargo delivery in the NetherlandsAmazing stories about how huge numbers of small deliveries of goods are being moved from vans to electrically assisted cargo bikes. This is, of course, easier in a country that is pretty much pancake flat! 
  • 5. From sidewalks to main streets. Language barriers mean we don't hear much about Japan, the developed country with the third highest level of daily cycling. Yet despite around 1 in 8 trips being made by bike, cycling infrastructure in the country is almost non-existent: cyclists are expected to share the - often narrow - footways with pedestrians. This has led to conflict between users skyrocketing, and now designers are trying to encourage more cyclists to use the roads, rather than the pavements.

For a full list of all the presentations at Velo-City 2013, please visit their website.

Next year's Velo-City takes place in Adelaide, Australia. That's perhaps too far for anyone from CTC to attend!

The 10 cycling mistakes of the Dutch and the Danes can also be viewed as an hour long presentation, filmed at Velo-City, below.