From trails to streets: Integrating mountain biking to cycling cities at Velo-city 2024

25 June 2024

From trails to streets: Integrating mountain biking to cycling cities at Velo-city 2024

Velo-city is the premier annual gathering for cycling advocates, planners and industry leaders to exchange inspiring stories, learn about innovations, and network with peers from around the globe.

Advocacy officer Hans Stoops was present to represent IMBA Europe and promote the inclusion of mountain biking in cycling plans and strategies. While there he moderated the session “From Lycra to Jeans: How recreational cycling leads to daily cycling” with panelists from the UCI, the City of Paris and Utrecht all sharing initiatives which are helping to make mountain biking more accessible in communities.

The lessons included how the UCI encourages everyday cycling in the cities and regions that host their events, how the Olympic games will contribute to the transformation of Paris into a leading cycling city, and how Utrecht is using mountain biking to reach communities not yet familiar with cycling. This panel was well attended, quickly over-subscribing the capacity of the venue, indicating that the subject was clearly of interest to conference attendees.

Discussion was able to continue immediately following the session at the German Cycling Embassy booth, where ZIV, the German Bicycle Industry Association provided a coffee reception to discuss mountain biking, bicycle touring and the German Forestry Law. “Recreational cycling is serious cycling!” Burkhard Stork, CEO of ZIV,  insists.

What trail advocates can learn from Velo-city

But Velo-city offers so much more for cycling advocates to take in. Besides the networking opportunities and social events such as the popular bicycle parade (which featured over 3000 participants and included a section of motorway viaduct) the conference featured over 80 sessions on everything from policy making to include bicycles on trains to ensuring a circular economy in the bicycle industry to promoting cycling among youth in schools.

Highlights included hearing Janette Sadik-Khan share the story of transforming New York city streets from a sea of yellow cabs to zones friendly to cyclists and pedestrians to hearing stories of planning transnational cycling routes and creating sustainable standards for their design and maintenance, and how cycling advocates successfully lobby local, regional and national governments on the behalf of cycling. Women in Cycling had a great panel to discuss the challenges women face in engaging more in the cycling world,  and the stories shared in the panel “Cycling for everyone: Building an inclusive bicycle culture” were inspiring and broad-reaching.

But the main takeaway this year is that more and more people engaged in the cycling community are clearly seeing recreational cycling as a critical component of bicycle planning and that our mountain bike community can provide valuable insights to contribute to our cycling cities. It should go without saying that anyone interested in learning more about advocacy work and being inspired by the lessons of more mainstream cycling planning should consider attending the next edition of this exciting event, scheduled for June 2025 in Gdansk!

Read more of our recent activities by subscribing to our newsletter here.