Only time will tell whether the speech delivered by the EU Commission’s Executive Vice President Frans Timmermans at the Copenhagen Bicycle Summit last June was historic. From my perspective, having worked in cycling advocacy for the best part of 25 years, it certainly felt like the culmination of years of efforts.
The speech was crystal clear: growing cycling is now as key topic for the European Union, and for the first time the importance of growing the industry, alongside developing infrastructure and improving mobility, is on the radar of top EU officials.
The EU has come to terms with the fact that more cycling needs to be unleashed
The EU has come to terms with the fact that more cycling needs to be unleashed to achieve its climate, social and economic goals.
More people riding bikes means greener and more livable cities, a more efficient transport system and healthier citizens. In turn, more people buying bikes calls for growing the number of bikes made in the EU, re-skilling workers from other sectors and a more focused approach on the key components and raw materials to support sustainable production.
This gives Cycling Industries Europe (CIE) a tremendous opportunity to tell the European Union which policies are needed to grow the cycling industry in Europe. If we’ve learned anything from the pandemic, it’s that if the infrastructure is there, people will cycle. Even post-covid statistics show that once converted, people still ride. Granted, that is, if they feel safe.
This is why investment in infrastructure, safety policies, and key enabling technologies are paramount elements in increasing the number cyclists and distance traveled.
The EU is ideally placed to bring additional and significant funding towards safe cycling infrastructure, helping local and national authorities to fine-tune and better coordinate their approach in the process. What may seem more complex at first glance, however, is how the EU can grow cycling as an industry in Europe.
A closer look at EU industrial policies reveals that funding support and initiatives are already at hand. Reskilling and scaling up the workforce, developing digital tools to improve industry collaboration and transparency, mobilizing R&D support to deliver cutting-edge technology, examining supply chains and strategic dependencies to secure raw materials and components sustainably.
Work of the European institutions
The question now is to which extent these plans can be channeled towards growing the cycling industry in Europe. The EU cycling strategy gives us the possibility to make that happen.
The call of the EU cycling strategy is also a unique occasion for all cycling stakeholders to collaborate. CIE is working closely with European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF) and the Confederation of the European Bicycle Industry (CONEBI) to deliver a comprehensive picture of what is required to grow cycling as the means of mobility of the future, an industry of the future, and an enabler for the growth of services of the future in fields like logistics and tourism.
Collaboration within the industry is also essential. We can count on expertise of roughly 100 cycling companies, as members of CIE, to draw the expertise and deliver our messages. By joining CIE, cycling companies can make a key contribution to the discussion and be in a better position to reap the expected benefits of the EU cycling strategy. I hope that many more companies will see the importance in taking part in the change we are helping deliver. If you want to be part of the frontrunners shaping the cycling sector forward, join CIE today!