BRUSSELS, Belgium - The European Mobility Week was the perfect moment to celebrate the European Cyclists’ Federation’s (ECF) 25th anniversary on September 18 in Brussels. 100 people from the political world, European institutions, consultancies, non-profit organizations and bicycle user organizations joined the event.
ECF president Manfred Neun gave the key message: Cycling is increasingly popular throughout Europe. Authorities should support this by providing adequate resources.
Not only financially, but also in terms of human resources. Manfred Neun again emphasized ECF’s demand vis-à-vis the European Commission to appoint a so called ‘Monsieur Vélo’, following many good examples such as in France. This would be a policy officer within the Commission responsible for cycling policy.
Today, these responsibilities are shared over several ministries with the consequence that the European Commission does not have a coherent cycling policy. Neun’s second key demand was to have 10% of transport infrastructure budgets invested in cycling. This would be a huge step forward.
In the European Commission response, Mattia Pellegrini, a Cabinet staff member of Vice-president Antonio Tajani, primarily stressed the safety issue. He announced that as of 2011 all new cars should be equipped with Daytime Running Lights (DRL) which would improve visibility and save up to 2,000 lives annually in Europe.
Action Plan will be ‘moment of truth’
ECF opposed DRL as improved car visibility would make road users such as cyclists and pedestrians less visible and therefore more vulnerable. Pellegrini also referred to four different bicycle projects the European Commission supports financially and mentioned the Green Paper on Urban Mobility. The Action Plan with specific measures is to be published later this year and will be a ‘moment of truth’ for European Commission urban mobility policies, ECF believes.
Pascal Smet, Brussels Minister for Mobility said that Brussels is the capital of many things, and the he wanted it to be the capital of cycling too. “After 50 years of mismanagement we have made a big turn around in the last 4 years”, he said. "The trends are positive in the Belgian and European capital, with the cycling share of traffic at 4%, up from 1%."
Next year Brussels will host Velo-city, the largest international cycling planning conference in the world, another boost to turning Brussels into a cycling-friendly city. Smet thanked ECF for organizing this conference.
A truly urban bike was presented to the ECF by Uwe Weissflog from Dahon. The limited edition folding bike was a gift for the ECF’s 25th anniversary.