Ponferrada: 2014 UCI Road World Championships boost bike culture
Ponferrada, Castile and Leon, Spain. Venue for the 2014 UCI Road World Championships which will see the world’s elite cyclists battle for the coveted rainbow jersey and title of World Champion.
The Spanish city is already well known as one of the major staging posts on the Pilgrim's Road to Santiago de Compostela, which attracts walkers and cyclists.
In addition, cyclotourists visit the region to take advantage of the beautiful roads and to ride mountain passes made famous thanks to the Vuelta a España. At 1750 metres, the el Morredero is one of these mythical climbs that attract riders looking for a challenge. Ponferrada is also a haven for mountain bikers, thousands of whom come to participate in one or more of the six popular races organised each year in the Bierzo Mountains. These mountains, such as the Peregrinos and the Mountemplaria, are a wonderful playground for off-road specialists.
Cycling in the city of Ponferrada is also developing and is recognised as a safe and healthy alternative for short trips such as shopping and commuting. There is an increasing demand for cycling infrastructures from the inhabitants, more and more of whom are taking to their bikes on a daily basis. New bike lanes are being created and recently a new bicycle route opened through the centre of Ponferrada.
Initiatives to encourage people to use bikes include widespread bicycle parking throughout the city and free transport for bikes on buses outside peak hours.
On September 1st a free bike hire scheme will be introduced to promote sustainable transport. Bikes will be available for hire from seven points in the city and users will be able to consult the availability of bikes at each station on the city's website. 300 bikes will be available at first, and it is envisaged to increase this number to 600 in the future.
Among other initiatives, the City has provided five electric bikes for daily use by its personnel. The aim is to replace motorized vehicles and inspire local residents to follow their example.
Samuel Folgueral, Mayor of Ponferrada City, expresses the importance of using alternatives to the car to get around town: "These initiatives reinforce the idea that Ponferrada was a black city and is now a green city."
The City of Ponferrada does not stop there, and is working on a mobility plan to increase the number of cycle paths in the city.
With the 2014 UCI Road World Championships taking place in Ponferrada in September, cycling will get a boost in and around the city. Over the space of nine days, the best riders in the world will convene in Ponferrada and put the spotlight on cycling.
“The event will show our citizens that cycling is the most environmentally friendly way to move in and around our city,” says Mayor Folgueral. A welcome boost for the plans to introduce more bike paths and make Ponferrada a more human city.