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Bikes vs Cars?

UN Environment has co-organised the screening of the ‘Bikes vs Cars’ documentary, helping address mobility challenges ahead of a major UN conference on the topic taking place later this month and contributing to European Mobility Week.


The screening - attended by over 300 people – was held at the Italian Cultural Institute on 21 September in Brussels. It was jointly organized by the United Nations Regional Information Centre, UN Environment and UN-Habitat.


Addressing what is considered by many as a continuous conflict between car and bicycle users in urban spaces, the film revealed the tough reality faced by cyclists in megacities such as Los Angeles or Sao Paolo, coping with poor safety on streets dominated by cars. The film also highlights the role of the car industry and the politics behind urban planning.


The screening was followed by a discussion with Pascal Smet, Minister of Mobility and Public Works of the Brussels Capital Region; Jérôme Pourbaix, Director of Regional Offices and Services of the International Association of Public Transport (UITP); and Frédéric Saliez, Human Settlements Officer at UN-HABITAT.


The discussion mainly focused on the challenges of the Brussels transport system – such as commuting, public transport and missing bike lanes. Minister Smet elaborated on the cultural dimension of biking: commuting by bike is more of a Nordic habit than a Latin one, which may cause discrepancies in a culturally mixed region like Brussels, he believes.


‘Bikes vs Cars’ provides some solutions for creating more space for bike users, noted Frederic Saliez from UN-Habitat - but the approach should be much broader, he suggested. There are many different political components playing a role in enhancing mobility and making cities greener, Mr Saliez stressed.


Jerome Pourbaix of UITP meanwhile noted how mobility in cities worldwide has progressed well. For example, in Singapore, public transport alternatives to cars are on the rise and giving way to ‘cycle-ride-walk’ combinations, he noted, stressing the importance of spatial organisation in cities.


During the event’s question and answer session, topics relating to governance, cyclist’s rights and health, and the distribution of bike lanes were raised, leading to a lively discussion.


The Habitat III Conference on Human Settlements takes place on 17-20 October and will see policymakers and stakeholders aim to forge a new and more sustainable global urban agenda.


To read a handout on the film screening please click here and for more information contact

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