In mid-2011 an open call was made for cities and municipalities to become candidates for the 2012 award. There are three award categories:
- Cities with more than 50 000 inhabitants;
- Cities between 20 000 and 50 000 inhabitants, and;
- Municipalities with fewer than 20 000 inhabitants.
In late 2011 a 10-member jury chaired by the Flemish Foundation for Traffic Knowledge came together to nominate municipalities and cities within each category. This was done based on a list of criteria (infrastructure, bicycle racks, bicycle allowance, police co-operation, schools, co-modality, etc.). An external agency was then appointed to visit the nominees in order to determine the actual award winners, and in mid-2012 reported back to the jury. The winners of each category received a prize worth up to €50 000 in ‘cycling hardware’ that directly benefits cyclists in the municipality, such as cycle-parking racks, service bicycles or a cycle-counting pole.
Interest in urban cycling in Flanders is widespread with 71 cities and municipalities (more than a fifth of all Flemish cities and municipalities) entering this first Flemish Cycling City Award competition. In mid-2012 the winners were announced at a festive award ceremony which took place in the Flemish Parliament. The winners were:
- Winner in the 'fewer than 20 000 inhabitants' category. The jury praised it for being the only municipality having a local bicycle policy featuring all aspects of cycling and was stated as an ideal bicycle model for the rest of Flanders;
- Winner in the '20 000 to 50 000 inhabitants' category. The motivation of the jury: a fine local cycle network, very high bicycle-use with a pronounced positive trend and also a low accident risk for cyclists. It makes a clear choice for sustainable mobility policy;
- Winner in the 'more than 50 000 inhabitants' category. The motivation of the jury: 'Antwerp invested a lot in improving the quality of cycling in recent years. Functional bicycle use went up…The bicycle policy and bicycle parking plan are very complete…A unique, active and proactive analysis of road accidents involving cyclists used to avoid future accidents... Cycling is monitored... Antwerp is the most far-reaching in its choice for the bike and the last six years has made the most progress.'
Honourable mentions went to the cities of Bruges and Ghent. The awards ceremony show that in Flemish cities and towns a lot is happening to create more and better cycling. Based on the information that all 71 participating cities and municipalities provided, a good practice book was produced: Cycling City 2012: Realizations for a strong cycling policy in Flanders. The book provides many examples of quality cycling infrastructure and policies, which will assist other cities and municipalities to improve their own cycling policies.