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Global Ideas Reporter | Reporter's Log Rio+20

Superhero of bicycles

Mati Kalwill: “Cycling is like flying.”

Author: Kerstin Schnatz

Ever heard of a bike-a-lator? If your answer is “No” we highly recommend you to visit the library of solutions on Mati Kalwill from Argentina launched the online platform at the Rio+20 summit, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development.

“Instead of protesting against people using cars, we celebrate what we stand for. So we take the best of a party and the best of a bike ride to combine it to a bike party.” To support Mati and his team from La Vida en Bici (Life on Bike) one of the hottest clubs in Buenos Aires even put up a VIP bike rack in their entrance hall. Mati loves the fact that “when you come on your bike, you don’t just get into the club more easily, but you also get free and save parking.” Through, he is hoping to share good ideas like these with the world.

Climate Champion
The bike activist’s trip to Brazil was sponsored by the British Council who elected him for their Climate Champion programme. The project supports young people around the globe who tackle global warming.

Mati Kalwill talking to Global Ideas reporter Kerstin Schnatz at the Rio+20 summit

Climate Champion Mati already accomplished his first mission: The final document of the Earth Summit includes a recommendation to strengthen cycling infrastructure in cities around the world.

How to make UN conferences more bike friendly?
“When I first came to the conference center on my bike, I was surprised there weren’t any bike racks.” Mati admits that even with more bike racks most conference visitors would probably still take a shuttle bus to get to the Summit.

Mati and the activist team from “La Vida en Bici” (Life on bike)

Bike lanes do not exist on the outskirts of Rio where the Earth Summit is taking place making cycling a dangerous sport. “But you need to start somewhere.” Mati smiles knowingly. While he is speaking to us, a new bike rack is set up outside the huge congress center “Riocentro” – thanks to his campaigning.

Mati is dreaming about his next action at the COP 18 Climate talks in oil-rich Qatar this December: “Of course I hope that our goal of 51% of city trips made on bikes rather than cars will be reached before 2030. But if we can make the next big UN conference more bike friendly, this would already be a big step into the right direction.” For his trip to Qatar, he hopes for the support of the British Council’s Climate Champion programme once again.

Mati Kalwill, 31

Mati’s new online platform is a wiki where everyone can post good ideas on how to get more people to ride a bike rather than driving cars: If you have a great project for a greener world yourself check out the British Council’s Climate Champion programme.



June 22, 2012



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