Karl Saidla at Velo-city 2023 in Leipzig

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Last week I was lucky and proud to represent the Mobility Lab at Velo-city 2023 in Leipzig. Velo-city is the world’s largest and most famous international cycling conference having been held since 1980 and now taking place every year with roughly 1500 participants.

Leipzig leading by example with its beautiful pedestrianized and bike friendly city-centre. Photo by Karl Saidla

The overarching theme for this year was leading the transition, i.e., how cycling can assist in the urgent transition toward sustainability. I was there to present my research findings concerning Tartu’s innovative and highly successful public bike share system – now a well-established component of sustainable transportation in Tartu.

My favourite topic!
Discovering interesting corners of Leipzig by bike. Photo by Karl Saidla.

In addition to being able to interract with leading international experts on topics related specifically to the role of bike share, I learned about groundbreaking policies and approaches to cycling and sustainable transportation in jurisdictions from around the world. I also experienced vibrant Leipzig on foot, by bike, and by public transit – thanks in part to the innovative solution of all conference registrants being able to use public transport and two forms of bike share (Swapfiets and Nextbike) free of charge throughout the week.

: Learning about policy for safe urban transportation from Oskari Kaupinmäki of the City of Helsinki. Photo by Karl Saidla.

Some specific personal highlights include:

  • Learning from Carlos Moreno about 15-minute cities, 30-minute territories, and the role of cycling within them.
  • Participating in a workshop on bike share best practices with both public and private sectors.
  • Learning about success in sustainable transportation policy from places like Helsinki – where traffic fatalities have been steadily reduced via long-term efforts to lower vehicle speeds and make safer streets.
  • Riding every day between beautiful downtown Leipzig and the conference venue along a very-well marked route designed specifically for the conference.

I would certainly make a very strong recommendation to participate in Velo-city (taking place in Ghent in 2024!) for professionals and volunteers alike with an interest in promoting and supporting cycling and sustainable transportation!

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