More than one hundred industry execs rode to the show on yesterday’s Leaders’ Ride, organised by the European Cyclists’ Federation and its Cycling Industry Club. The ride started at Friedrichshafen railway station and wended its way to the show ground on bike paths.
ECF president Manfred Neun made a passionate appeal to the assembled execs: “We organise this ride to show all those stuck in the terrible traffic jams: you are members of the bike biz so take your bikes and ride!”
The Cycling Industry Club’s Kevin Mayne stressed that getting more Europeans riding to work would pay dividends: “We need more people to cycle to work – the potential market we’re missing is worth five billion euros.”
Many of the industry execs on the ride said they encourage their employees to ride to work. Yuasa Sato, senior executive vice-president of Shimano’s bicycle division, said from the saddle: “A lot of our executives ride to work. At our new headquarters, there’s a big space for bicycle parking in the building. One third of our employees use bicycles to get to work.”
The Leaders’ Ride wasn’t just for industry execs there were also leaders from advocacy groups, including Saskia Kluit, CEO of Fietsersbond, the Dutch cyclists’ union. She said it’s important for cycle advocates to keep pushing for better conditions:
“It’s my first time at the show,” she said, “and I am looking for new developments – can you get a smarter bicycle, can you get smarter cycling in cities? New technology can bring more safety, more intelligence – if all the traffic lights would turn to green when you cycle up to them that would be a brilliant advert for cycling.”
Bob Margevicius, executive vice-president at Specialized, said that cycle advocacy and the industry had to work together to get the many positives about cycling known by the wider world:
“We have low oil prices all around the world. The automobile industry is working very aggressively to stimulate people to drive more. As an industry we have to gather together and identify ways to get people to use bikes more. I don’t think we’ve done a great job of communicating that position, and we’re fighting other industries that have much more power, much more influence, and a lot more opportunity to communicate their messages.”
And the bike to work message doesn’t even always get through to the cycle industry, including exhibitors at Eurobike:
“We offer bicycles to rent out for free,” said show organiser Stefan Reisinger, pictured above.
“We offer secure parking space to leave your bike during the day. We tell people that the fastest way to arrive at the show is by bike. Of course, we also have to respect that people travel from far away, including hotels in outlying areas, and they need to take the car or public transportation. We have to offer a good combination of transport. But, yes, more people on bicycles would be good for the show, and good for the whole of society, of course.”