Maud de Vries, Co-Founder and CEO of BYCS, in her end of year letter, reflects on the evolution of BYCS, and the growing movement to promote cycling around the world.
In January of 2023, BYCS will mark its 5 years of existence. What a ride it’s been. I’m so proud to reflect on our journey, pedalling our way to become the young, dynamic, and determined organisation that we are today.
Our beginnings as a social enterprise, largely focusing our activities in the Netherlands, while reinvesting profits on our flagship global Bicycle Mayor Program, set the stage for us to become a truly global NGO. By embracing this new structure, I’m confident that we are in the right position to continue increasing access to cycling, and the quality of life it grants, in more and more communities around the world.
The past years have undoubtedly been difficult. The Covid-19 pandemic brought great tragedy and ground our cities to a halt. The increasingly widespread, rapid, and intensifying effects of climate change, the inaction of world leaders, as well as the relatively small allocation of funding and resources to combat such a crisis, has at times felt demoralising.
However, what fills my heart with hope and joy, is the recognition of what we have been urging the world since our inception. The recognition by many stakeholders that the bicycle is a tool for transformation, allowing for greater urban resilience, sustainability, health, economic empowerment, and wellbeing. This is why I believe our work is so important. By positioning cycling as a means to unlock the many benefits it affords to our cities and communities, rather than an end in itself, we can build a movement that connects to climate, economic, social, and mobility justice.
In many ways, this past year has been the culmination of our organisation’s evolution and internationalisation. Our Bicycle Heroes program, carried out in schools across the Netherlands for the past 4 years, was scaled to Rome, Dublin, and Lisbon. Our research on cycling & care developed into a new global initiative that supported mothers in Mexico City, Bengaluru, and Istanbul. Our work to build capacity on cycle schools led to a gathering of women leaders in Brussels that will shape grassroots cycle schools in 9 European cities. We also had our first team member join in Delhi as a part of BYCS India Foundation, increased programmatic focus on the Latin American continent, began supporting policy-work on the African Continent, and continued to grow the Bicycle Mayor Network across the globe.
Only through the networks and the diverse partnerships we have built over the years, from neighbourhood level activist groups or individual advocates to cities, philanthropies, or UN agencies, has our small team been able to achieve so much. It is this wide constellation of stakeholders, working together towards a common vision of our future cities and mobility systems, that gives me energy and excitement for the years to come. I want to thank you for taking part in our journey, and look forward to sharing this year’s achievements in more detail in our forthcoming annual report.
We strive to be an organisation that is always open to new ideas and conversations, so in the meantime, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I look forward to working with you all towards happier, healthier & sustainable cities worldwide.
Maud de Vries, CEO, BYCS
Some highlights from the year so far: