Angela Merkel Steals the Show at Eurobike Opening
FRIEDRICHSHAFEN. Germany – Nobody anticipated that the German chancellor would tell some jokes or correct the Friedrichshafen mayor on the remarks he made in his speech as well as present an insight on how the German government looks at bikes. The highest ranking German politician, Angela Merkel, really stole the show at yesterday’s opening of Eurobike 2013.
German chancellor Merkel presented an impressive speech at the official opening ceremony of Eurobike 2013 that was witty, funny but also contained a serious approach to cycling and all the promises it holds for clean urban individual mobility. Funny was for instance what she said about her bike being ‘stolen’ in her young years by Soviet soldiers that had too much beer. “I came over that experience and contrary to what has been said; it doesn’t affect my dealings with Russia.”
Combining joy and functionality
She started her speech by quoting one of the first bicycle manufacturers in Germany; Adam Opel. The man that later went into cars said that no other vehicle is capable of combining joy and functionality as good as bicycles. She further noted to hold the same interest in opening Eurobike as the International Automobile Exhibition IAA that she would open next week as, “Bicycles must have the same opportunities for good usage as cars have.” With that Angela Merkel told more about the Bike Traffic Plan her government developed to bring bicycle usage in Germany to higher levels. By 2020 the German government wants to increase the usage of bicycles in cities to 15% of all trips up to 5 kilometers. Currently this stands at about 5%.
Interpretation of traffic rules
In this regard she also noted that the bike sector should be more aware of safety as the casualty numbers for people riding bikes are, relatively, not dropping as with other vehicles. On that she noted that, “Cyclists do have their own interpretation of traffic rules. But we are not pushing hard for obeying the rules, but for better and more bike paths and as far as helmets go for cyclist, we focus on the voluntary usage and not bringing in laws for that.”
Angela Merkel ended her speech in the same way as she started it, by quoting somebody that once said, “The bicycle is like the economy. If it doesn’t move forward you stumble over.” After she was thanked with a thundering applause.