2023 Annual POLIS Conference

The Annual POLIS Conference 2023 took place on 29-30 November in Leuven, Belgium.

 The Annual POLIS Conference is Europe’s leading sustainable urban mobility event, providing an opportunity for cities and regions to showcase their transport achievements to a large audience of mobility experts, practitioners, and decision-makers from both the public and private sector.

After a record-breaking edition in 2022, the POLIS Team and our Conference host and former President City of Leuven welcomed another fantastic Conference in the Flemish Brabant Capital.

Annual POLIS Conference 2023

32 thought-provoking sessions, 2 unique plenaries

Across two days, the Annual POLIS Conference offered a mix of plenaries, parallel sessions, and interesting site visits — once again bringing together the brightest minds, policymakers, industry leaders, and city and region representatives from around Europe and beyond to engage in 32 thought-provoking sessions and 2 unique plenaries.

Our digital programme is available here – a PDF version is available here.

12 site visits to discover our host, Leuven

As part of our conference, our host city offered a range of site visits, showcasing Leuven’s state-of-the-art urban mobility solutions as well as cultural highlights. These took place on 30 November 2023.

Leuven, Belgium, is a mission-driven city that excels through inspiring governance models and the systems put in place for the public to innovate and get involved in critical decision-making processes.

Dynamic and diverse, Leuven is at the forefront of innovation: indeed, the European Commission awarded the city as the 2020 European Capital of Innovation for its unique cooperation model one that unites residents, institutions, and organisations and allows them to co-innovate, test, and apply groundbreaking solutions to fight climate change, foster the quality of life and education, and promote a sustainable, accessible, and inclusive mobility system.

Because of its cooperation model, the Belgian city and former POLIS President has also received many accolades for mainstreaming accessibility.

“Our cooperation model, Leuven2030, is how citizens, companies, as well as research institutes, commit to sustainable mobility and focus on inclusive mobility”

— Deputy Mayor David Dessers.

Leuven 2030 is a non-profit organisation which convenes 600 local partners and civil society representatives, all working towards the goal of climate neutrality through small and large-scale actions and projects. An active Advisory Group also supports the organisation for disabled users and advises on the different mobility rights and supporting measures for disabled people.

Still curious about Leuven?

Read our interview between former and current POLIS Presidents David Dessers and Lot van Hooijdonk. Read our interview with David Dessers and Tim Asperges on Thinking Cities. Read our latest interview with Tim Asperges along with other representatives from the Cities Mission POLIS members of Groningen, Gothenburg, and Ljubljana in our brand-new magazine Cities in motion. 

Watch our Opening Plenary:

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Watch our Closing Plenary:

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FOCUS ON: Site visits

Capacity: 60 (4 groups)

Duration: 2,5 hours

Organised by: Mobility and Public Works departments, City of Leuven

In 2016, Leuven rolled out an ambitious traffic circulation plan in the city centre, in combination with an impressive upgrade of its public space. This resulted in an increase of cycling in the urban core from 34% to 48% of all trips. This tour will show you Leuven’s complete makeover of urban space, with both temporary and permanent measures for traffic circulation. It focuses on the Leuven approach to reallocating space in favour of sustainable transport modes (walking, cycling, public transport) with traffic safety through traffic calming as a cornerstone.

Capacity: 20

Duration: 2,5 hours

Organised by: Mobility Department, City of Leuven

In the cycling city of Leuven, the basis for more cycle use is increasing bicycle ownership. A diverse range of high-quality bicycle parking facilities supports this goal and will be visited on this tour. Leuven also offers high-quality (e-)shared mobility services, including carsharing, cargo bike sharing and bike sharing, at more than 40 mobility hubs (Hoppin Points) all over the city.

Capacity: 40 (2 groups)

Duration: 2,5 hours

Organised by: Province of Flemish Brabant

Leuven is located in the heart of the cycle highway network in Flanders, with connections to all surrounding cities. Together with the province of Flemish Brabant, the city is developing cycle highways to form the backbone of the cycle network in and around the city. During a bike ride along the F24 cycle highway, you will experience top-quality cycling infrastructure and witness the integration of a cycle highway in an urban environment. Cycle tunnels, cycle bridges and cycle streets connect infrastructure along the railways, bringing cyclists straight to the heart of the city.

Capacity: 40 (2 groups)

Duration: 2,5 hours

Organised by: The New Drive

This technical visit will take you on a discovery tour around Leuven’s station area. Using a serious game, you will get to know MaaS and (shared) mobility in Leuven in a smooth and accessible way. The Mobility Safari gives you the chance, with a specially compiled toolbox with maps and apps, to ‘hunt’ for different types of shared mobility: spot them, use them and photograph them! There are also missions concerning other mobility solutions. How does bicycle parking work? How do you buy tickets?… The aim is to observe, feel and use the MaaS ecosystem.

Capacity: 40 (2 groups)

Duration: 2,5 hours

Organised by: Mobiel 21, Telraam.net, Transport & Mobility Leuven

During this bike tour, we’ll guide you through the neighbourhood of Kessel-Lo where you will be surrounded by experts (the locals) and discover how Leuven with the help of Transport & Mobility Leuven, Telraam and Mobiel 21 improved through technology, infrastructure and social programmes. You’ll experience your first cycling class, interact with citizen scientists who count traffic and get to know about schools that count. Moreover, we will pass by state-of-the-art infrastructure and traffic calming measures modelled with Traffic Scout, a low-treshold traffic tool. Join us to get inspired! Or simply join us to get your free drink at the end of the tour! 

Capacity: 40 (2 groups)

Duration: 2,5 hours

Organised by: Mobility Department, City of Leuven, Cargovelo, Urbike, Kort’om Leuven, VIL

During this inspiring bike tour, we will make a first stop at one of our 43 mobility hubs including public transport, shared mobility and parcel lockers. The parcel lockers are part of a dense network of 28 locations. The cycling spiral will take us to our next stop in a medieval hospital in the city centre, where Urbike will present its cargo bikes and bike trailers and tell us all about its approach as a cooperative in logistics. We will also welcome another local cooperative, Kort’om Leuven, and VIL, our Flemish knowledge centre on logistics. They will present a new project connecting sustainable logistics and short-chain food supply.

Capacity: 45 (3 groups)

Duration: 2,5 hours

Organised by: Departments of Neighbourhood Development and Public Works, City of Leuven

The city of Leuven is running a citizens engagement programme ‘Kom op voor je Wijk’, in which citizens are guided through a co-creation process. When redeveloping urban space, we also try to make room for nature-based solutions in relation to mobility interventions. In the Constantin Meunierstraat, a temporary installation is testing what implications mobility changes can have for the neighbourhood, whilst making room for green spaces. During this tour, you will explore various realised (temporary) redesigns of streets and squares as a prelude to the future.

Capacity: 45 (3 groups)

Duration: 2,5 hours

Organised by: Urban Planning and Sustainability Department, City of Leuven

Sustainable urban development in Leuven is visible throughout the city. This technical visit will take you on a walk through the lower town. The area is an old industrial site that over the last two decades has been transformed into a residential district, paying particular attention to sustainable mobility, energy, greening, biodiversity, etc.

Capacity: 100

Duration: 1,5 hours

Leuven has all the vibes of a big city diverse and creative, trendy and full of life, with a world-renowned history and university. But Leuven is also pleasantly small. This makes it really easy to explore the city on foot and experience it to the fullest. This tour will take you along the must-see highlights of the historic city centre, not only including the fairy-tale city hall, but also many other gems and hidden corners.

Capacity: 25

Duration: 2 hours

Leuven is completely intertwined with beer given its numerous pubs and cosy restaurants, as well as local breweries. Beer connoisseurs will take you on a unique beer walking tour etc., including some local beer tasting. As a beer enthusiast, you will not be left thirsty in Leuven.

Capacity: 30

Duration: 2 hours

The M Museum Leuven is hosting a major international retrospective exhibition starring Dieric Bouts. Never before have so many works by this Flemish Master been brought together in his hometown. What’s more, you get a whole new perspective on an oeuvre of over five centuries old through a radical encounter with today’s visual culture. Guided tour.

Capacity: 60

Duration: 2 hours

Stella Artois is part of the world’s largest brewery concern, AB InBev, and is still firmly rooted in its home base Leuven. Take part in the new interactive guided tour, experience the brewery in action, and enjoy a tasteful Stella Artois after your visit. In short, experience beer in its purest form!

Capacity: 20 (1 group)

Duration: 2,5 hours

Transport mode: cycling

Organised by Velo vzw, the social economy company of Leuven (Jos Vandikkelen)

In this cycle tour we will visit the ‘bicycle point’ and ‘bicycle depot’ at the railway station, the guarded centre bicycle parking ‘Rector Desomer’ and the Velo vzw atelier where more than 100 people in a social economy statut are doing bicycle maintenance, repair, assemblage.  Also, a range of bicycle services in Leuven and the region of Leuven is organised through Velo vzw like the back office activities for the bike sharing systems, the student bikes, the VeloKadee project, ect.

This site visit will emphasise the integration of different mobility services in Leuven linked to cycling and the connection to social economy as part of the Just Transition agenda of Leuven.


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