The UCI’s new Advocacy Commission met for the first time this week in Adelaide, South Australia, with world cycling’s governing body looking to work with those who campaign for better conditions for bike riders to encourage cycling as a mode of transport and not just a sport or leisure activity.
The inaugural meeting of the commission coincided with Adelaide hosting the Velo-city Global 2014 conference on cycling, bringing together more than 500 decision-makers, experts and campaigners from around the world.
The commission is chaired by UCI vice-president Tracey Gaudrey, who is chief executive officer of charity the Amy Gillett Foundation, set up in memory of the rider killed in 2005 when a teenage driver crashed into the Australian women’s team as they trained in Germany. The charity lobbies for safer conditions for Australia’s cyclists.
Also sitting on the commission are Mayor of Copenhagen Pia Allerslev, Patrick François, president of the AEC (European Cyclosport Association) and Tim Blumenthal,president of the American cycling advocacy group, People For Bikes.
The UCI says that it “sees its mission as wider than simply looking after the top of sport. It must also join in partnership with those who advocate for better conditions to encourage more people to cycle for whatever reason, whether sport, leisure, fitness or as a mode of transport.”
It also highlighted a comment made by the chief executive officer of the Tour de France, Yann Le Moenner, who said "if we don't address road safety issues, in 50 years there will be no Tour."
According to the governing body, the commission’s three main areas of focus are:
• Opportunity and access for children to cycle
• Investment in sporting and everyday cycling infrastructure
• Road safety improvements to overcome barriers to cycle.
Gaudry told the Velo-city Global 2014 conference: “The future of our great global sport depends on a healthy grassroots and a vibrant cycling sector.
“In partnership with others, we want to make our contribution to the acceptance, growth and sustainability of the cycling community.”
UCI president Brian Cookson added: “The issues we will address through this area of our work are relevant for everyone who rides a bike, whether they are Tour de France winner, an amateur racer or someone who cycles to work.
“We need roads which are safe to ride on, government investment in cycling and policies in place to encourage all children to ride bikes.”
The conference wasn’t welcomed by everyone in Adelaide, with the website Adelaide Now reporting of anger among motorists stuck in traffic jams in the city’s central business district on Wednesday morning as 500 cyclists took part in a Big Bike Ride Brekky fringe event.
Velo-city is organised by the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF) and next year’s conference will be held in the French city of Nantes.
You can find more details about the topics discussed at this year’s conference here.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.