UCI Cycling Worlds 2023

UCI Cycling World Championships

Article published 30/05/2023

This summer, Scotland is set to host the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships, the largest cycling event ever. In the same way business events act as a catalyst for change, we're excited to witness how this large-scale sport event will pedal positive social and economic policies for Scotland.

With World Bicycle Day being this Saturday (3 June), we spoke with Craig Burn, Director of Policy, Strategy and Impacts, at 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships to understand how Scotland will harness the power of such a historic event.

The Cycling World Championship

From 3 to 13 August 2023, the inaugural UCI Cycling World Championships will take place in Glasgow and across Scotland. It will be the single biggest cycling event ever, bringing together 13 existing UCI World Championships to welcome more than 8,000 amateur and elite cyclists from more than 120 countries.

The anticipated global TV audience will place the event in the top-10 most watched sporting events in the world, rivalling the Olympics and Commonwealth Games, placing Scotland on the world stage as a destination for elite cycling and cycle tourism. The event is being delivered in collaboration with the UCI, Scottish Government, Glasgow City Council, UK Sport, British Cycling, Glasgow Life and VisitScotland.

Impact and Legacy

We are encouraged and thrilled by the impact the new cycling infrastructure in Scotland will have on communities following the event. The long-term legacy of the Championships will inspire a new national approach to cycling and active travel and the infrastructure will empower people to enjoy riding bikes safely.

One of our core goals has been to positively change the policy landscape around cycling for years to come. Utilising the convening power of the event, a Policy Advisory Group (PAG) was established to champion a One Scotland collaborative approach and oversee a range of new and existing initiatives. As a result of this, significant public investmenthas and continues to be made across a range of Scottish Government portfolios and national agencies working towards this goal. 

At present, there are many challenges facing government and public investment, making it imperative that investment in cycling can demonstrate its impact against government priorities. A key benefit of hosting the Championships is to bring partners together and establish a compelling vision for how cycling participation can contribute to building a stronger and more resilient Scotland. A national Cycling Participation Strategy is in the final stages of being drafted that will provide impetus for future collaboration and set out ambitious targets to get all of Scotland to be more physically active on bikes, whether that be for transport, recreation or sport.

Future Investment

It is hoped that the Policy Advisory group (PAG) will continue to have oversight and support the co-ordination and collaboration of national policy and investment across cycling. The aim is to produce a national policy framework for cycling by the end of 2023, setting out the Government's overall ambitions for the activity, and the support and commitment of partners responsible for leading the key policy areas for Participation, Tourism, Transport, Industry, Sport and Events. 

The forthcoming 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships has led to the creation of new funding opportunities available to groups and communities in Scotland. The £8million Cycling Facilities Fund is led by sportscotland and Scottish Cycling. To date, £3.7million has been committed to 29 projects, across 14 local authorities, to help develop a cycling infrastructure that will inspire more people to ride in safe, traffic-free environments and provide health and social benefits for decades to come.

Additionally, a £1.4million Community Cycling Fund is led by sportscotland and Event Scotland, comprising two strands; event funding and community development. The event funding strand to date has supported 42 community events across 22 local authority areas, helping to connect local communities with the power of the bike. The community development programme provides direct investment to every local authority in Scotland to support cycling activity in their area, this provides appropriate flexibility for local partners to agree how best to use the money for their communities. Education Scotland has launched a national education resource to support the school curriculum whilst championing the power of the bike.

Supporting Policies

The 2023 UCI Cycling World Championship has set out three distinct policy objectives related to the planning and delivery of the event, which are as follows:

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: Our event embeds an ambitious equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) framework and our pledge is to deliver a world-class event that embodies the spirit of community, a sense of belonging and encourages equal respect for all. Each of our event delivery partners has an EDI champion who we work with closely to agree and embed our inclusion and accessibility guidelines and policy initiatives across the delivery of the event.

Sustainability: A strong and comprehensive framework and action plan is in place to ensure sustainability is embedded and supported in the planning and delivery of the Championships event. The event has signed up to the UN Sport For Climate Action Framework and the UCI's Sustainability Guidelines and Climate Action Charter. The principle is to reduce and eliminate emissions wherever possible and utilise the platform of this event to champion sustainability principles for the destination.

Participation Activation: Scottish Cycling has been appointed as our official event activation partner and will deliver the 'Ride the Worlds' programme, with the aim to engage as many cyclists and cycling fans as possible. Race The World is for current youth riders and will offer a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to race at the World Championship venues in front of their cyclist idols.

World Bicycle Day

On Saturday 3 June, the annual World Bicycle Day, established in 2018 by the United Nations, will celebrate the power of the bike. The humble bicycle is an incredible tool to positively impact countless lives in terms of improving health and wellbeing, as well as a being a green option for transport.

The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are at the heart of our Sustainability and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) frameworks and plans. Each of our objectives and accompanying actions are aligned to the SDGs and are a focal point for a lot of what we do in terms of climate actions and responsible consumption and production. The SDGs provide a tangible framework that will improve people's lives and we are excited for the Cycling World Championships to demonstrate that here in Scotland.