The countdown is over! Last weekend, Brussels hosted the Grand Départ of the Tour de France, one of the biggest sporting events in the world (actually third after the Olympic Games and the FIFA World Cup). Thousands of enthusiastic spectators cheered on the presentation of the teams and the first two stages of competition, which was long anticipated and prepared for by the City of Brussels. Of course, much had to be done in order to host the mass of cyclists and fans. But Brussels’ effort was not limited to the logistics around the racing horde of men in lycra. The prestigious race also served as a means to promote the practice of daily cycling in the European capital.
One hundred days before the starting signal and a hundred years after the introduction of the “maillot jaune” - the famous yellow jersey - Brussels Mobility launched the campaign #TourEnsemble. The bicycle campaign shares the same iconic colour scheme as the Tour de France: yellow.
Under the symbolic lead of record-breaking cyclist Eddy Merckx, the 23rd and biggest team of cyclists was supposed to be Brussels itself. The city's residents were invited to cycle everyday leading up the Grand Départ. The campaign set out to motivate and mobilise bicycle users in Brussels with a carefully designed and ambitious communication strategy. According to the motto “Tour Ensemble” which translates to “ride together” the city came up with a range of yellow-branded events. They organized a massive “Bourse à vélo” –– a second hand bicycle market –– as well as a “Bike Repair Day” with free bike-consultations across the city and celebrations of the “Fête du Vélo” one day before the International World Bicycle Day.
But new cyclists weren’t the only demographic the campaign addressed. By putting on a pedestal and spoiling those who already cycle, they hoped to inspire those who might still be in doubt. Facebook and Instagram were the tools of choice to share messages, clips, and special events with the citizens. Daily bicycle users of Brussels could nominate their friends to receive a yellow jersey and be featured with their bicycle on social media. A beautiful yellow bicycle was passed around 10 influencers of Brussels –– most of whom had never used a bicycle to commute before –– to share stories and pictures with the borrowed bicycle on Instagram. The fancy bike was then raffled. On a hot day, bicycle users were rewarded with an ice cream straight off the bike. Lastly, upon online registration for the “biggest team”, bicycle merchandise was given out to the participants and a donation for a project teaching mums how to cycle was made. All these activities are only small gestures in a city where many obstacles still lie in the way for the masses to spin their bicycle wheels. But with the encouraging hashtag #tourensemble in bright and shining yellow, they conveyed a clear message: the bicycle is back in the minds and back on the streets of Brussels. It’s a playful campaign to further increase the cyclists’ visibility and to solidify their place in the city!