Green Cities Fit for Life

Image by C. Spahrbier

The 200th Anniversary of the Invention of the Bicycle

In 1817, a German inventor, Karl Drais, created what he called a “Laufmaschine” (running machine) which later became known as a velocipede. This marked the beginning of mechanized personal transport and the creation of the bicycle, now celebrating its 200th anniversary.  In the German city of Mannheim, home of Karl Drais, a technology museum, Technoseum, is hosting an informative exhibition on the evolution of the bicycle called “Zwei Räder 200 Jahre: Two Wheels 200 years”.

The exhibition shows visitors the technical development of the bicycle from its origin as the wooden Laufmaschine to modern forms along with the role of the bicycle in solving traffic volumes in our cities. To coincide with the exhibition, several events are taking place around the city this summer including screening of films powered by bicycle dynamos.

Zwei Räder 200 Jahre: Two Wheels 200 years, Bicycle Exhibition. Image courtesy of Technoseum

This month the Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, announced measures to reduce the number of cars in the city saying that “2017 will be the year of the bicycle”.  Mayor Hidalgo announced that Paris will accelerate its plan to double the surface of its cycling lanes by 2020. Measures will include a ban on cars from outside the Louvre museum and the addition of a new two-way 4km bicycle lane along one of the city’s most famous streets, the Rue de Rivoli. The Rue de Rivoli links major Parisian touristic landmarks and the plan announced will see space for cars along the road halved, making more room for pedestrians and cyclists.

Visual illustration of how the Rue de Rivoli, Paris will look with the new two-way cycle lane in place. Image courtesy of

The left bank (Rive Gauche) of Paris’ River Seine is already car free and in September 2016, its right bank (Rive Droite) was converted from a road into a pedestrian zone.  This formed another part of the Mayor’s policy to reduce both the number of cars and levels of traffic pollution in the city.

The world’s largest cycling conference, Velo-City, organised by the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF), promotes and encourages cycling as part of our daily transport and recreational needs. The event aims to target and influence decision makers to improve policy and the planning and provision of cycling infrastructure in our cities.  Hosts of the event can showcase their cycling policies and infrastructure. The conference has previously been hosted by some of our European Green Capital’s, namely Nantes (EGC 2013) and Copenhagen (EGC 2014).

Velo-City 2017 will take be jointly hosted by two Dutch cities Arnhem and Nijmegen.  Organisers are expecting up to 2,000 delegates. Nijmegen will be the European Green Capital for 2018. In recognition of the quality of its cycling infrastructure, Nijmegen won title of “Best Cycling City in the Netherlands” in 2016 awarded by the Dutch Cyclists’ Union.

In December 2016, the ECF announced Dublin as the winning city for the 2019 event. The theme for Dublin’s event will be “Cycling for the Ages” and will promote the health, environmental, social and economic benefits of cycling. Dublin City Council says it wants to show the evolution of cycling in Dublin through the ages and into the future. Commenting on the choice of Dublin for the 2019 event, Velo-City’s Series Director, Marcio Deslandes said that “Dublin is a great example of a city moving towards a more liveable, safe, and active environment for its citizens.”

Happy 200th Anniversary of the Bicycle!

Velo-City 2017

Image courtesy of Velo-City 2017