The UCI Bike City label recognises cities and regions that act as inspiring examples of how elite and everyday cycling can contribute to creating better, safer, healthier and more sustainable communities.
On January 30th, the programme saw its first official party being thrown: UCI Bike Region Drenthe organised a first-year anniversary celebration, which included visits to the province’s landmark projects. Its objective was to unite all stakeholders involved in the region’s cycling projects, inform the public of the progress made, and celebrate the projects and people which help ensure cycling in all forms continues to grow throughout the region. The province aims to increase bike use by 20% by 2020, as well as become the healthiest province in the Netherlands by the same year.
“Drenthe is a shining example of what can be achieved for the benefit of a community by a group of dedicated stakeholders aligning on a clear vision for a region or city. The UCI Bike Region Label provide the perfect catalyst to give everyone the direction and momentum they needed. The UCI is very proud of what Drenthe has been able to achieve” said UCI Management Committee member and UCI Mass Participation and Advocacy Commission president Tony Mitchell who was present at the event, along with UCI Advocacy and Mass Events Manager Isabella Burczak.
The day started with a visit to the provincial government offices to meet Henk Brink and Henk Jumelet, both deputies who have been instrumental in the implementation of projects ensuring better cycling conditions for the public.
Henk Brink: “Being awarded this label is something we achieved by working together in Drenthe. We are proud of this unique cycling region and everyone who contributes to it. The label is for Drenthe and everyone who is committed to cycling in our province.”
Henk Jumelet: “We are happy to show what Drenthe has to offer cyclists and what makes this province a real cycling region. We consider the UCI Bike Region Label as an encouragement to share our showcase projects with each other and with other people, and to continue our development as a cycling province.”
The UCI team then joined a large group of city officials, project managers and dedicated volunteers on a tour of cycling projects being delivered across the region. The tour consisted of 3 main stops:
- De Lindelaar elementary school, winner of the Golden Bike award in 2015-16 and very active in the implementation of the “Op Fietse naar School” (by bike to school) programme.
- The VAM-berg (VAM-hill), known as the “roof of Drenthe” (“Dak van Drenthe”), a landfill hill that is being transformed into an attractive recreation area for cyclists, mountain bikers, trekkers and nature lovers. Local television RTV Drenthe came along and prepared this short clip.
- The hotel Wesseling, the oldest family-run hotel in the region and staunch cycling supporter, which has partnered with professional athletes: for example, it regularly hosted Annemiek van Vleuten’s annual “Professional for 24 Hours” experience for fans wanting to discover first-hand what it’s like to eat, sleep and ride like a pro.
The group learned about the numerous initiatives led by Op Fietse (“Go by Bike”) in Drenthe, a specific marketing identity for the region’s cycling activities, as well as the province’s strategy for hosting and promoting events. In 2019, it will deliver the 2019 UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships, and also hosts numerous annual events for cyclists of all ages and levels, including a 4-day festival, the Drentse Fiets4Daagse, which brings together thousands of recreational riders from across the Netherlands.
The tour then took on a more festive character with the start of the “UCI Bike Region label party”, hosted at the Drenthe TT circuit, with former elite cyclists Marijn de Vries and Gert Jakobs animating a series of interactive roundtable interviews. Guest speakers representing all areas of elite and everyday cycling promotion enabled the wider public to learn about the impact of the UCI Bike Region label, the development of cycling talent in Drenthe and the international promotion of the region through sporting events. One of the hot topics of the evening was the 2023 UCI Road World Championships, which Drenthe will be vying to host. The evening also saw trophies awarded to the region’s best male and female cyclists in 2017.
More detailed information about Drenthe’s plans and progress in all areas of cycling can be found (in Dutch only) on its website.