Where's the bike trade at Velo-City, asks Shimano's van Vliet

As Shimano Europe's corporate communications manager, Hans van Vliet is a regular at international transport conferences. He's here at Velo-City Dublin to give a talk on 'cycling: a smart way of moving' and has also presented papers at previous Velo-City conflabs. Such advocacy get-togethers are essential, he says, so why does the trade stay clear?
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At Velo-City Paris, held in 2001, van Vliet said he was one of only a few representatives of the bicycle industry at Europe’s premier conference for cycle advocates. He complained that the European bicycle trade was more interested in volume than quality products, or effective marketing to increase the number of cyclists.

“What the cycle industry wants is a low price and quick delivery but we should appeal to people’s intellects not just their wallets."

Not much has changed since 2001. Van Vliet is still only one of a minority from the bicycle trade among the 500+ delegates and he still bemoans the fact that much of what the bicycle trade produces is "rubbish", not fit for the aging, more demanding customers of today or of the future.

His main complaint, though, was the lack of a trade presence.

"Where is the industry?" he asked BikeBiz.com.

"OK, there's Eddie Eccleston, Brian Montgomery and some speakers from Dublin bike shops but who else? Everybody is too interested in tariffs, and squeezing prices, not looking to the future.

"We should be looking at producing comfortable personal transport, bikes for the city, for people. We focus too much on MTB and racing bikes. There is a danger here, we will be thought of as 'sport', not transport."

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