The bicycle is the big winner at the World Cycling Championship

Author: Dries Janssens

In September of this year, Belgium hosted the 100th World Cycling Championship. Many cities, inspired by this prestigious cycling event, took this as an opportunity to celebrate cycling and cyclists of all ages and abilities. Meanwhile, the world watched these festivities via live TV.

A bicycle boost for lively streets

With the World Championship finishing in Leuven, the city, together with Handshake partner Mobiel 21, launched an ambitious project to boost sustainable mobility and the role of the bicycle in particular. The city assembled an extensive programme in the run-up to the Championship, including lectures about cycling-friendly cities by Gehl Architects and DAM, a wooden velodrome, large bicycle poems throughout the city, a World Championship Family Day, bicycle expositions and bicycle tours.

Car Free Sunday in style

The World Championship Family Day was held a week before the official start of the Championship. Leuven made parts of the official route car-free, giving its traditional Car Free Sunday a true makeover in World Championship style. As a result, the people of Leuven had the first chance to ride on the official route. Several other cities also chose to link their Car Free Sundays to the World Championship. This year 35 municipalities organized a Car Free Sunday and, once again, a day without ‘King Car’ proved to be tremendously beneficial to the ears, lungs and minds of locals.

International celebration with local impact

Unsurprisingly, the bicycle played a leading role in the entire program of the World Cycling Championships, as well as the European Mobility Week. Various host cities found inspiration in the event to promote cycling in general. Bruges, a future Handshake cycling capital, did a “We Can Ride" campaign, to help kids cycle without training wheels in only three hours!

In addition to being a top sporting event, the World Cycling Championship in Belgium has proven to be a strong source of inspiration for all forms of cycling - from the recreational or functional, to the sporting. With this international event, a local cycling culture has been thrust into the spotlight, where its shown its passion and celebration for the humble bicycle.

Image by: Mobiel 21

Image by: Mobiel 21

Image by: Mobiel 21

This project has received funding from the European Union‘s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme under grant agreement no 769177.

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