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Pollution in Spanish Cities Hits World News – Velo-city 2011 Highlights Bicycle as Solution

release by Velo-city 2011

February 14, 2011 (Seville, Spain) – Last week, the air pollution in Madrid and Barcelona reached alarming levels, exceeding limits set by European legislation. In Seville, however, the winds of change have blown in a breath of fresh air. A statement issued by the municipal office for Environment in Seville, underlines that Seville enjoys some of the cleanest air in Spain.

Seville has not been on alert for high levels of contamination for one single day in the year 2010. What’s more last week’s alarming air pollution levels did not faze Seville.

One wonders why? Could it be the 60,000 trips a day that Seville’s cyclists contribute to the daily reduction of cars? Especially, when one considers that more than 30% of these ‘new’ cyclists actually made the switch from their car to a bike?

This year’s edition of Velo-city shows how a change in a city’s transport model is possible when alternatives to motorized traffic are fostered. Local experiences are a good example for spreading such practices nationwide. Seville’s success story is a prime example that clearly proves the need for central governments to adopt and stimulate successful local policies that emphasize active citizen participation. Last week, during the press conference of the Executive Committee of Velo-city 2011 Antonio Rodrigo Torrijos, Deputy Mayor of Seville, and Manfred Neun, President of the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF) announced the latest information with regard to the event’s program and the further use of its results.

Antonio Rodrigo Torrijos, Deputy Mayor of Seville comments: “We are off to a great start. The conference is just four weeks away and already 730 participants have registered. Not only will Seville benefit directly from the event (estimates range from 1,5 to 2 million Euros); Seville will also be put on the map as we are sure that every visitor will enjoy this beautiful, cycle friendly city that will serve as the centre of the world debate on cycling as a means of urban transport.”

Manfred Neun emphasizes the high quality of the presentation and the revamped conference format: “The decision to hold Velo-city 2011 in Seville was magnificent; Seville’s accomplishments serve as a perfect backdrop to the many new topics, such as the link between science and cycling.” Scientists from the Seville Hispalense University and the Pablo de Olavide University will for the first time, open a fresh debate on the Velo-city conference floor. The Velo-city 2011 conference in Seville represents as a milestone of change between last year’s conference in Copenhagen and the 2012 edition in Vancouver.

The conference conclusions will focus on all the benefits of cycling for citizens and the society and will be captured in the ‘Declaration of Seville’. This final document will be included in the agenda for the next world summit of Ministers of Transport hosted by the International Transport Forum (ITF) in Leipzig in May 2011.

Representatives of more than 50 countries will meet in Leipzig to discuss the theme “Transport for Society”. A wide range of topics is on the agenda for this meeting such as energy efficiency, changing passenger transport habits, the reduction of CO2 emissions, to mention just a few.

For the first time in the history of the International Transport Forum (ITF), the participants will not only focus on the technical aspects of transport policies; the significant impact that the social aspects of transportation policies may have on the overall outcome will be considered as well.

The presentation of the Declaration of Seville during the International Transport Forum (ITF) will clearly show global policy-makers how the city of Seville has been transformed as a result of the unwavering local decision to promote cycling as a means of urban transportation. The city of Seville truly is a showcase; it shows policy makers how a sound decision making process, followed by resolute action, will ultimately lead to astounding success.

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