Wollongong Gains Global Recognition as a ‘UCI Bike City’
In a stunning overnight coup, Wollongong became the first city in the southern hemisphere to be awarded the globally-recognised ‘UCI Bike City’ label.
Just 14 cities held the definitive label before the sport’s governing body, Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), added Wollongong and three other cities to the prestigious list.
The award comes on the back of Wollongong meeting the two key assessment criteria – hosting UCI events (Wollongong will host the 2022 Road World Championships next September 18-25); and investing in a broad spectrum of cycling initiatives, including infrastructure, road safety, mass participation events and closed road events, and training for children.
The UCI label provides instant credibility in the city’s quest to host more cycling events, ratify an extensive mountain biking network on the Illawarra escarpment and position cycling tourism as a viable and growing pillar in the visitor economy.
Destination Wollongong General Manager Mark Sleigh said this was a significant step for Wollongong.
“This is a globally recognised accreditation and gives us the chance to boldly promote Wollongong as a cycling city and tourist destination, with backing from the world governing body,” he said.
“There are so many layers to this which will benefit the community, even if you’re not a regular cyclist. It’s not just the fact we have one of the most widely watched sporting events coming to town. This Bike City label vindicates the city’s investment and will lead to community infrastructure projects, training programs, business opportunities, traffic improvements, health and safety benefits, and global marketing opportunities.”
Wollongong City Council’s comprehensive cycling strategy, ratified last month, was a key component in the city’s application. The 10-year vision committed to: increased safety measure and targets for cycling participation, an additional 50km of on-road routes and 35km of off-road trails, connecting missing links for commuter travel, supporting cycling tourism initiatives, launching a Ride Nation school as an Australian-first pilot program, and several legacy projects.
The UCI World Road Championships is expected to attract 300,000 spectators and 200 million viewers, with economic impact calculated at almost $100 million. Destination Wollongong also recently announced that both the Junior and Masters National Road Cycling Championships will take place immediately before the global UCI event in 2022.