Meetyoo, a Berlin based tech company and Jens Voigt, a cycling legend came together to co-host the 1st season of the Virtual Cycling Conference called the “Digital WorldBike”.
The online exhibition and conference format saw a number of industry professionals and cycling fans engaging live on programs concerning different dimensions of cycling such as Mobility, Technology and Sport on 31st March 2020 on a common platform created by meetyoo.
With Covid-19 derailing major events, Digital WorldBike served as a valuable forum for the fraternity where it discussed Industry Trends, Solutions and Future of Cycling with structured presentations and panel discussions.
The smartly designed user friendly virtual set-up allowed visitors to navigate through 3 different auditoriums and view speaker presentations and focused discussions being delivered on predefined topics and participate in live chat rooms.
The expo area had top notch exhibitors with custom curated booths for companies like De Rosa, Wahoo & Sufferfest, Jinga, Schwalbe, Scicon, Terrano Systems, Scope, Bartali, Roula, Ryzon, Citkar, Elite, Joe’s, Tree Frogs and Taga Bikes.
I visited the booth of Taga Bikes and interacted with their AI driven virtual assistant ‘Tzac Goren’. Always interested to know about cargo bikes, I made some general inquiries about the family cargo bike and saw their brand video. Responses to my questions were swift and the help desk even offered a discount code.
My next visit was to Scicon Sports which specializes in bike travel bags to transport bicycles by air travel and sells a variety of cycling merchandise. I visited the booth for the fact that the company has designed a select range of products in response to corona virus outbreak and support improvement of public health.
In the main conference hall, Tony Kula, CEO meetyoo and Jens Voigt in their welcome speech refreshed Jensie’s famous quote “Shut Up Legs” to “Shut Up Corona”.
I heard the best speakers from the cycling world who shared their rich experience in form of insights, opinions, research studies, views and counter views backed with data.
Kevin Mayne, Chief Executive of Cycling Industries Europe in his talk on post pandemic recovery said “A recovery plan starts with you, and I hope Digital WorldBike is the beginning of our cycling recovery as we all sign-up for this conference today”.
Making some practical suggestions Kevin added “Do not do things alone. Isolation does not mean apart, isolation means meeting in the digital world, meeting in collected, connected communities. Reach out to the local cycling bodies, associations, retailers and lend your support to them in whatever way you can. From this darkness, there are numerous routes to look forward to and I think collectively we can come out of this”.
The Virtual Conference witnessed over 7000 participants making Digital WorldBike the global connecting point for the industry knowledge exchange and a carbon free sustainable model allowing everyone to participate conveniently from their homes at no cost.
The conference concluded with a group ride for Zwift users led by the Pro – Jens Voigt in support of Gino Bartali School.
I raised few questions to the speakers, and I would like to thank Kelly Reed, Director Marketing and Public Relations at Digital WorldBike for helping me in procuring their responses.
How was the response to the 1st edition of Digital WorldBike and what are the long term goals?
Our first Digital WorldBike was well received and exceeded our expectations. We are convinced that virtual events like these strike a chord with the audience. A virtual conference has huge advantages such as no travel costs and zero carbon emissions, plus it overcomes time zone differences.
The virtual platform by meetyoo was flexible and provided a win-win situation for our partners who used the latest tech to showcase their offerings and engaged with the participants sending out real time responses to their queries.
In the future, we plan to move from 1 show a year to 1 every quarter. This will unlock the possibilities for the industry to stay connected and updated with the latest trends and developments in the cycling world. Our effort is also to facilitate the brands to use our platform for major announcements, product launches and reveal the latest bikes and equipment using live stream format.
Finally, we have received a lot of positive feedback and with our learnings, the forthcoming editions will have improved visitor experience with high quality output of our content. Join us!
The Dutch cyclists communicate using gestures, facial expressions and body language. Can this mobility language be taught or it must be learned through on street practice?
We regularly do studies into this by asking international visitors to record specific diaries in which they map their experiences, feelings and thoughts. We see that they experience a high level of anxiety in the first 3 days because of a perceived lack of rules and order (even experienced cyclists in their home contexts).
Around day 5 many slowly get used to all the hidden signals and in a week some even report being ‘distracted, singing a song, thinking about a class’ while riding with full confidence. One described it as a process of a slowly widening viewpoint from intense focus to lateral vision. (Read: The Handicap of a Head Start)
In the past decade use of e-bikes have surged in the Netherlands, will it change the DNA of Dutch cycling in the future?
Definitely, and already did. Many of the ‘negotiation in motion’ happens with information in peripheral vision and through deeply rooted heuristic. I found that, I apparently calculated the speed of a person in my peripheral vision based on body posture and pedal frequency. Once e-bikes came into the mix this all got disturbed. This also applies the other way around: sitting on a bike in which your control is mediated through a heavier/motorized intermission decreases your ability to join the fine-grained choreograph which happens on a very high level of detail. (Watch: Cycling as language)
Covid-19 crises have literally collapsed cycling businesses and a quick recovery seems uncertain. Are there any plans to bring the world cycling community together and set-up a contingency fund to safeguard the industry?
In terms of bringing the community together Cycling Industries Europe has already linked to many national and international NGOs and trade bodies in the sector to try and coordinate, work that is ongoing.
Our shared priority for creating funds is to expand the money available for advocacy in both the business and NGO sector, because government and institutional funding is critical during both the survival and recovery phases of the pandemic. It is governments that decide the amount and quality of infrastructure for cycling in all forms, from bike lanes to mountain bike trails.
In the results of a survey published by Cycling Industries Europe (CIE) on 2nd April 2020, we show that 67% of CIE members have already applied for state aid packages in some form to cover short term challenges, showing the criticality of this resource. (Read: Corona Virus Business Impact Survey)
What are the key transportation lessons worth taking into account as the pandemic will leave us with opportunities to reset our lifestyles and plan our cities better?
My sincere hope is that images of deserted streets around the world will help us realize how much of our shared public realm we’ve sacrificed to the private motor vehicle. As a large number of essential trips are being shifted to the resilient and reliable bicycle, its critical role in keeping our cities moving – even in the most difficult of circumstances – has never been more clear.
Auckland, Berlin, Bogota, and countless others are responding by rolling out temporary bicycle networks; proving that the only barrier to this reallocation of road space – and the decision to protect vulnerable users – is a political one.
I hope we can turn this moment into a movement for lasting change.
Registered participants can re-visit the speaker presentations which are available till 30th April 2020. People who haven’t registered can do it right away to access the conference material – www.digital-worldbike.com
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Author: Vijay Malhotra, Mumbai