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Too white, too male, too bourgeois? Diversity in everyday cycling

Blog Too white, too male, too bourgeois? Diversity in everyday cycling
Cycling knows no age, gender, religion, socio-economic status, physical appearance, or ethnicity. But why is #CycleDiversity not reflected on our streets? From September 6 to 9, hundreds of Velo-citizens will discuss this question at the world’s largest cycling conference, Velo-city 2021 Lisboa.
To unlock the true potential of cycling as a healthy and sustainable means of transport, everyday cycling must become more inclusive by appealing and being accessible to everyone. 

Historically, transport policies and hence often also cycling policies were mainly planned by bourgeois white males and consequently whole categories of the urban population were forgotten. Studies show, for instance, that the lack of safe cycling infrastructures is one of the main reasons for the dramatic gap in the number of men and women cycling in many countries. Women tend to cycle on streets with little car traffic while men prefer a more direct path, even if it goes through more dangerous streets.

Credit photo Aleksander Buczynski - ECF

The Covid-19 crisis has revealed and increased inequalities in wealth, gender, and race. It has become more evident than ever before that resilient cities are diverse cities, and it pushes us to demand change. For the cycling sector more specifically, this means including people from different backgrounds, with different needs and urban realities and to make all types of bicycles accessible. 

Many initiatives to make cycling accessible to all already exist. For example, free cycling lessons for immigrants, the Cycling Without Age Project, which takes the elderly and disabled people for a ride or the Women in Cycling Network that aims at helping women getting more visibility, impact and leads in the cycling sector. The pandemic should be seized as an opportunity to use cycle diversity as a tool for fairer cities and thus accelerate the transition towards new urban models of inclusive, green, and smart cities.

Cycle Diversity at Velo-city 2021 Lisboa

Velo-city 2021 Lisboa will kick-off with an opening plenary on “Cycle Diversity”, welcoming international experts to discuss inclusive and diverse urban environments. 

Opening Plenary session “Cycle Diversity” of Velo-city 2021 Lisboa - Monday September 6, at 9a.m. 

Meet the speakers:
  • Fernando Medina, the Mayor of Lisbon himself. Through his policy he has been showing strong will and effort in leading the Portuguese capital towards a greener and human-sized city.
  • Anni Sinnemäki, Deputy Mayor of Helsinki, whose city’s aim is to “make cycling an essential and equal mode of transportation. Whether young, or old, snowing or shining Helsinki is rolling smoothly.”
  • Erion Veliaj, the Mayor of Tirana. He has been working on tackling traffic jam in the Albanian capital by improving public transport and building cycle paths.
  • Manuel de Araújo, the Mayor of Quelimane in Mozambique. He declared “When we took office at the Municipality of Quelimane in 2011, cyclists were considered second-rate citizens, excluded and left out without rights. Today, they are called ‘Sons of Araújo’. They feel like first-class citizens, the owners of the city!”. 
  • Will Norman, the Walking and Cycling Commissioner of London, whose work is to help the Mayor make the streets safer for cycling and walking giving the chance to Londoners to move around the capital in a healthier and greener way.
  • Jill Warren, CEO of the European Cyclists’ Federation, where she leads a team of skilled and passionate experts who promote cycling as a sustainable, healthy, and inclusive means of transport and leisure.

Discover the full programme here.

By Adèle Saingenest
08th of June, 2021