Velo-City 2015 attracted 80 or so members of the bike industry (Cycleurope, for instance, staged a 20-person company meeting at the conference) but Velo-City 2016 will benefit from an even larger industry presence – and that’s because it will be staged in the “bicycle kingdom” of Taiwan, and will overlap with the Taipei cycle industry trade show.
Pic shows Manfred Neun, ECF President, and Chou Lifang, Taipei’s deputy mayor.
To be staged February 27th to March 1st, Velo-City 2016 will not attract as many European bicycle advocates as Nantes (there were 1550 participants from 80 countries at this year’s conference) but with so many bike factories on the doorstep, and so many industry types already planning to visit the trade show, it’s a distinct possibility that, for the first and perhaps last time, industry executives will outnumber policy wonks and there will be more bicycle engineers at the show than road ones.
At this year’s show the Cycling Industry Club – a progressive initiative from the European Cyclists’ Federation, instigator and owner of the Velo-City concept – staged an eve-of-show dinner for industry leaders, with 35 crammed into a small restaurant. The following day was billed as the “industry day” for bike trade types, with Kevin Mayne of the Cycling Industry Club collating a menu of talks and plenaries that would tickle the fancies of cycle execs.
The opening plenary saw a video message from EU Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc – she cycles to work, and stressed that cycling didn’t just have health and environmental benefits but was also a jobs generator. In a meeting to discuss a 2014 report on the 650,000 EU jobs that are sustained by cycling, German Green Michael Cramer, chair of the Committee on Transport and Tourism in the European Parliament, asked why widen a harbour for cruise ships when the same money diverted to build cycleways would lead to more cash being generated but he added there was still a “lack of political will” to support cycling across Europe.
Kevin Mayne said cycling offered “solutions for big problems” but that cycling had to “grow up” and talk in language that politicians understood. “Economics is the mathematics of politics,” he said. “If we wish to have influence in modern society we all need to become economists. We don’t play with the big boys if we don’t talk jobs and economic growth.”
Raymond Gense, Director Future Technology & Public Affairs at PON Holdings, owner of Gazelle and Cervelo, said: “We need more support in terms of regulation, data, information and projects to promote bikes and e-bikes.” PON employs 13,000 worldwide, mostly via its automotive interests, and bought into cycling as a key part of its transport portfolio. Gense said electric cars would be part of the future but that they don’t solve the problem of congestion. “We don’t agree that e-cars are the solution [in cities],” he said. “That’s taking too many wheels into the city, only *seems* to cure air-quality problems. Transporting one person should be done on two wheels.”
Cycling, he said was “clean, healthy, not-congested, fast, fun, and affordable.” Don’t forget about fun, he stressed.
Tony Grimaldi, CEO of Cycleurope, said: “We need to be aware of what’s happening here with advocacy. We are engaging. It will benefit us all to have a unified movement.”
That was echoed by Randy Neufeld, director of the SRAM Cycling Fund of the US. He said: “It’s essential to meet the army of people who are growing our business. The industry voice is very important in advocacy – we don’t just write the cheques.”
He has been to numerous Velo-City’s: “There’s so much wisdom and experience in the room at these conferences” he said.
And now that wisdom and experience moves to Taiwan.