The largest conference devoted to cycling will also feature representatives of True VeloFriends
Velo City has been rated as the largest world-level conference focusing on cycling. This year, Velo City is hosted by the Netherlands, over June 13 and 16. Two Romanians will be among those who will be tackling the problems faced by cyclers in their communities. They are the president of the Romanian Cyclists’ Federation Radu Mititean and the Federation’s president Mihai Deneş. The latter will attend the aforementioned conference also in his capacity as representative of the True VeloFriends. When and how the community of the True VeloFriends came into being? Mihai Denes told us.
“Six years ago, my colleague Iulian Ene set up a group out of the sheer wish to offer cyclists in Bucharest a proper framework for them to cycle around the city. Then, two years ago we set up an association, True VeloFriends, so that we could negotiate with the authorities on an equal footing. We’ve mounted over 500 cyclo-tourism races so far and pedaled more than 30 million kilometers with more than 15,000 members in Bucharest. Now the group has 9,000 members and together we have done great things for the world of cycling.”
We asked Mihai Denes when they actually decided to be part of that great event, Velo City, for which more than 250 speakers from 40 countries have registered. Also, we wanted to find out what changes they hoped the event would bring about, if not on paper, at least in people’s perception.
“In February 2017 we saw a call of the Dutch Cycling Federation encouraging people from developing countries to participate there. We wrote a project and we thus succeeded to win a grant worth 1,000 euros that enabled us to partially cover the expenses for that conference. We’re determined to create new contacts with the attending associations, to conclude new partnerships so that we may develop such a cycling trend in Romania as well.”
Here is the representative of the true VeloFriends Mihai Denes once again, this time speaking about what the talks agenda includes at the 2017 edition of the Velo City conference.
“The main point is infrastructure. As you may know, cycling infrastructure is almost inexistent in Romania. We’re nearly 50 years behind Western countries where the authorities took measures to curb the rate of accidents through the construction of infrastructure for cyclists. The lack of infrastructure means fewer cyclists in urban areas. We believe that there would be many more if the infrastructure were adequate. A second point is the issue of cyclists, of people. People are different, and adopt cheap means of transportation. Cycling is very cheap and doesn't pollute, and is suitable for big cities. Another important theme will be urban planning, the city, and generally big cities have to have road planning and an infrastructure for bicycles. Last but not least it’s the so-called cycling advocacy, in which associations such as ours put pressure on the authorities for them to introduce bike lanes at local and national level and issue clear regulations for cyclists, so they can ride freely, without impeding traffic or being impeded by traffic.”
Bike tourism and cycling have earned Europe 513 billion Euros in the last few years, as a result of developing infrastructure. One major announcement is that this year's edition of Velo City will be opened by the king of the Netherlands, Willem-Alexander. Velo City was hosted in previous years by major cities across the world: Copenhagen, Brussels, Barcelona, Taipei, to name just a few. We are nearing the 200th anniversary of the invention of the so-called 'running machine' invented by German baron Karl Drais, the first bicycle. (Translated by E. Nasta)