2.5 Stakeholder interview European Cyclists' Federation
‘Accell gives us a strong voice in Brussels’
The European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF) promotes the interests of cyclists and cyclists’ unions from more than 40 countries and lobbies internationally for cyclist-friendly policies. The organisation’s aim is to get more people to cycle and do this more frequently. Accell Group has been associated with ECF as an industry partner since 2011 and supports the organisation in its efforts to promote the bicycle as a sustainable and attractive mode of transport. Kevin Mayne, ECF Development Director in Brussels, explains how both parties are benefiting from this cooperation.
Why do cyclists need representation in Brussels?
“The European Commission produces a lot of policies and legislation related to urban development and traffic. It is important that the interests of cyclists also have voice at the table, and not just the automotive industry and public transport sector. Cycling offers immeasurable opportunities to resolve issues such as increasingly congested cities and rising healthcare costs and should be included in every form of transport policy. But we don’t just operate in Brussels, as we also help national organisations to professionalise and help them to apply for EU funding for national and regional cycling projects.”
What role can Accell Group and the bicycle industry play?
“The ECF started 35 years ago as a consumer organisation. Over the years, other organisations with the same goals have joined us. Accell is one of the founders of the Cycling Industry Club and in that capacity is associated with the ECF as a sponsor. The fact that Accell Group, one of the largest bicycle manufacturers in the world, supports us carries a great deal of weight. They boost our voice in Brussels and add weight to our arguments. Not many people know that the bicycle sector represents some 600,000 jobs in Europe, which is even more than the steel industry. Politicians and policy makers are sensitive to those kinds of economic arguments and that helps us to get issues such as safety and sustainability on the agenda. Another example of the cooperation is the expertise they provide. This can be information on technological developments, such as the speed pedelec, but they also make specialists available for workshops.”
How does the ECF contribute to the development of the bicycle industry?
“I believe the bicycle industry benefits a great deal from our presence in Brussels and far beyond. We are their eyes and ears, we know what issues are being discussed at any given moment and what policy papers are currently being developed. We need to be at the table right now to demand a strong position for bicycles in the mobility mix of the future. One of our biggest successes of the past few years is that the European budget for cycling policies has more than tripled. That is worth over a billion euros to the industry.”
How do you see the future of the bicycle in Europe?
“In pioneer countries on cycling front, like the Netherlands and Denmark, 80% of the population uses a bicycle on a regular basis, but we regularly forget that there are also 200 million adult Europeans who never use a bicycle at all! At the moment, bicycles account for 8% of total European transport. If we can double that figure, that would have a tremendously positive effect on health, the environment and the economy and the cycling industry would benefit from ten million additional bike sales per year. The potential is huge.”