EU Transport Commissioner at Velo-city: ‘Cycling Potential Still Underestimated’
NANTES, France – June 2 Velo-city 2015 kicked off in the French city of Nantes which is recognized for its pro-cycling policy. The 4-day Conference is visited by over 1200 policy-makers for infrastucture as well as the bike industry.
Contrary to earlier held Velo-city’s this time the Conference was visited by a big delegation from the industry. The Cycling Industry Club (CIC) had invited all members to an informal dinner party and on Velo-city’s 2nd day industry-related sessions and networking events took place.
‘Cycling is real future-maker’
The Opening Plenary of the 5th annual Velo-city conference welcomed the over 1200 delegates from all over the world who were addressed by several high profile speakers, all eager to highlight the importance and future potential of cycling. European Commissioner for Mobility and Transport Violeta Bulc, who joined the Opening Plenary via video, was also keen to highlight the potential of cycling. “We are still underestimating the potential of cycling on growth, innovation and competitiveness”, she said.
Michael Cramer, Chair of the Committee on Transport and Tourism in the European Parliament, also said that cycling is a real future-maker. Currently 90% of all trips in cities are less than 6km long. This creates huge potential for cycling. For example, 50% of logistics trips in cities could be done by cargobikes, he said.
Manfred Neun, President of the European Cyclists’ Federation, said that no one will leave the Velo-city 2015 without being inspired on the future. Velo-city 2015 Nantes is also THE event leading up to the the United Nations Conference on Climate Change – COP 21 – to be held in Paris in December.
Cycling Industry Day
The second day of the Velo-city was full of industry-related sessions and networking events. The session “Cycling for European Growth” highlighted the economic benefits of cycling from a European policy perspective. Although the benefits of cycling are widely recognized a lot still remains to be done. Michael Cramer said: “There is no lack of infrastructure, there is lack of political will.”
Economic arguments are important in influencing that will. “Economics is the mathematics of politics if we wish to have influence in modern society. We all need to become economists in order for cycling to grow up,” said ECF’s Development Director Kevin Mayne. A booming industry gives cycling advocacy many strong arguments to promote cycling on policy level but the relationship is mutual: “We need more support in terms of regulation, data, information and projects to promote bikes and e-bikes,” noted Raymond Gense, Director Future Technology & Public Affairs at PON Holdings.
Next to plenary sessions, workshops and TV shows this year’s Velo-city also hosted the biggest exhibition ever on bike rental systems, on bike parking products and cycling tourism agencies. Some 50 booths occupied the main hall of Velo-city 2015.
Bike Europe will report extensively on Velo-city 2015 in its June/July and August print editions.