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Velomondial: Ambitious But Powerless

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AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (23 June) — 600 cycling advocates from 47 different countries met in Amsterdam (June 18-22) to discuss the world’s cycling topics. Common factor is, that all those present were keen and conscious cycling advocates with no other intentions than to promote cycling as an environmentally friendly, healthy and cheap means of individual transportation. […]

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (23 June) — 600 cycling advocates from 47 different countries met in Amsterdam (June 18-22) to discuss the world’s cycling topics. Common factor is, that all those present were keen and conscious cycling advocates with no other intentions than to promote cycling as an environmentally friendly, healthy and cheap means of individual transportation. But the topics varied from third world lack of infrastructure and poor availability of heavy-duty bicycles to the car-congested cities of the western world were bicycles could be helpful as a complementary means of city transport. In short, there was a 100% status difference between the bicycle in the poorest and in the richest countries. Unfortunately, most participants for the conference were not the political decision-makers or the leaders of the bicycle industry, but lobbyists, university students and civil servants, mostly on their taxpayers’ money. Biggest foreign delegation came from the USA (86) with a total of 447 from other rich countries, 27 from Eastern Europe and 67 from third-world countries. China, India and the Russian federation sent no delegates at all. All of them came to Amsterdam for inspiration: the Dutch capital with the literally hundreds of thousands of daily bicycle users. Holland not only counts 16 million people owning 16 million bicycles, but it is also the world’s number one country in strategic cycling policy. The final political declaration of the conference, although full of ambition, does not have much political enforcement power. (OB)

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