THE City of Wollongong has ridden into rarefied company, becoming the only city in the Southern Hemisphere to be awarded the prestigious UCI Bike City Label status.
Announced by the world governing body for cycling, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), in Switzerland overnight, Wollongong is one of 18 global cities or regions granted the prestigious moniker since it relaunched in 2015. These include Copenhagen, Glasgow, Paris, Tirol and Vancouver.
The accolade is a significant vote of confidence in Wollongong’s major event hosting capability, and a powerful endorsement of the city’s visionary Cycling Strategy. Wollongong met the two key criteria to earn the designation by being named host of the 2022 UCI Road World Championships, and adopting the City Council’s 2030 Cycling Strategy. The strategy will expand Wollongong’s cycling network and infrastructure while engaging in initiatives to promote cycling and cycling safety within the region.
Wollongong Council General Manager Greg Doyle said the purpose of the UCI Bike City Label is to not only recognise the elite cycling cities of the world, but to award cities or regions that aspire to become cycling cities and have invested in an outstanding long-term cycling strategy.
“Cycling is fast becoming the buzz word here in Wollongong. As of early this year, we’ve begun to roll out the new Pop-Up Pilot Cycling Routes program to four community areas. This is a trial program that looks to test and evaluate quick changes to cycling infrastructure in Port Kembla, Thirroul, Towradgi and Wollongong CBD,” said Mr Doyle.
The Thirroul cycleway will connect the railway station to the beach. The route will follow existing and newly-constructed shared paths in Thomas Gibson Park to Newbold Close and on-road to the existing road cycling route in Surfers Parade. Work is expected to start in early 2021.
“This is a project developed by our community for our community that tests and evaluates changes to on-road parking, installation of temporary shared paths and additional traffic-calming measures that benefit both cyclists and pedestrians.”
Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said receiving the UCI Bike City Label would raise the city’s international profile as a lifestyle destination catering to cyclists of all standards and styles.
“We are immensely proud that Wollongong has been recognised by the UCI in this way. This recognition endorses council’s vision and commitment to supporting the growth of cycling within the city, whether that be for fun, sport or active transport,” he said.
“Our Cycling Strategy provides a clear approach to how we support cycling in this city and the UCI Bike City Label status is recognition of what we are aiming to achieve.”
NSW Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney Stuart Ayres said the UCI Bike City Label, along with hosting the 2022 UCI Road World Championships, had the potential to create many new and valuable opportunities for the region.
“It’s fantastic to see Wollongong receive the UCI Bike City label, which will give us a new avenue to promote Wollongong, Sydney and surrounds to cycling enthusiasts and amateur riders looking for their next ‘must-visit’ destination,” Mr Ayres said.
“This acknowledgement demonstrates the long-term benefits an event such as the UCI Road World Championships can have for a region, which is why the NSW Government is ambitious in securing world-class events for our state.”
Wollongong 2022 Chair Dean Dalla Valle said securing the UCI Bike City Label status was an encouraging early vote of confidence in Wollongong’s preparations to host the 2022 UCI Road World Championships and a testament to the support shown by the Illawarra community and businesses to the event, and to the growth of cycling within the region. “The Wollongong community should be really proud that their city has been elevated in this way, alongside some of the most famous cities in the world,” he said.
“This is a strong building block into the 2022 UCI Road World Championships, which will be the biggest event ever to take place in Wollongong, and a great opportunity for Wollongong to celebrate this accomplishment together.”
Chair of AusCycling Duncan Murray welcomed the announcement saying it was a significant honour for Wollongong and the future of cycling in NSW and Australia. “This label tells the world Wollongong is committed to the cycling community, not just for elite athletes but for novices, families and commuters,” he said.
Mr Murray said the annoucement also reinforces the shared ambition of all participants to ensure the 2022 UCI Road World Championships delivers a lasting impact that benefits cycling in Wollongong and across NSW.
The 2022 UCI Road World Championships will run from September 18-25, 2022.
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