For many years it has been the same pattern: There was a trade fair or a conference of the cycle industry - but federal politics had no interest in it. Yes, German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited the Eurobike Show in 2013. But in 16 years as chancellor, this was the only time she came to the global leading trade fair of the cycle industry. With this in mind, the Parliamentary Evening of the Vivavelo Conference, organised by the German cycle associations Verbund Service und Fahrrad (VSF), Zweirad-Industrie-Verband (ZIV) and the German cycle association Zukunft Fahrrad (BVZF) on April 7 at the State Representation of North Rhine-Westphalia in Berlin, was all the more promising. Federal Minister of Transport Volker Wissing (FDP) gladly accepted the invitation of the associations and presented a welcoming address. As expected, he had to go to his next appointment afterwards, but both his address and his presence created a positive mood among the more than one hundred participants, among whom were also some members of the German parliament.
Minister Wissing hit the right note
This was also due to what Wissing said: “Everywhere we are looking and searching for the mobility solution. It should be efficient, climate-friendly, affordable, clean, independent of fossil fuels and, if possible, also convey a feeling of freedom. That sounds like an unrealistic dream. But it has already become real. The bicycle combines almost all the aspects I just mentioned.” In general, Wissing spoke in his address about a father's feelings of happiness at his offspring's first metres of cycling as well as about his own first metres of cycling and herewith hit the right note. He was aware that the conditions for cycling were not optimal in cities as well as in rural areas. “That’s why we want and need to do more for cycling. By we, of course, I mean those responsible in the municipalities, administrations and not least in the ministries.” Consequently, Wissing stated: The better the conditions are for cyclists, the better it will be for old companies in the cycle industry. Those present had hoped for exactly such words. ZIV Managing Director Burkhard Stork emphasised on his part the importance of reliable and long-term funding of cycle traffic promotion by the federal government: “The bicycle is a great product and an excellent means of transport for everyday life and leisure. To ensure that the cycling and e-bike boom continues, we want politicians to promote the use of our products and they do their best by promoting cycling infrastructure and seamless network of cycle paths. This is why we very much welcome the promise of the Federal Minister to stabilize the special “Urban and Rural” programme beyond 2023.”
The success of the last few years has made the cycle industry bolder. From a strong position, targeted demands are now being made (...). Dirk Zedler, the deputy chairman of the board at the German bicycle association BVZF, calls for the systematic and sustainable promotion of bicycle use in the mobility mix: “Our sector is growing and offers climate-friendly transport solutions in addition to the great innovation potential. The e-bike as prime example extends the everyday suitability of the bicycle enormously. The driver of the e-bike boom and the bicycle economy as a whole is job bike leasing. Half of all DAX companies already offer bike leasing, and the trend is rising. This offer finally needs to be stabilized by the legislator with an independent regulation in the Income Tax Act.” VSF Managing Director, Uwe Woell, focussed the topic shortage of skilled manpower. According to a retailer survey among BICO and VSF businesses, there is a demand gap of about 30 per cent, i.e. about 15,000 vacancies in the retail sector alone: “For the near future, we need easier ways of qualification, support for the conversion to modern, modular training and, on a broad scale, a comprehensive strategy to secure skilled manpower. A reasonable immigration policy facilitating the access of migrants to the German labour market could cushion a good part of our shortage,” explains Woell. With all the euphoria, it must unfortunately not be forgotten that there is war in Europe. Moving words in this regard were spoken by Bernhard Lange, Managing Director of Paul Lange and member of the ZIV Presidium, who is directly affected by a subsidiary in the Ukrainian capital Kiev and above all by the sorrows of his employees.
New date for the Vivavelo Conference 2022
In a panel discussion Mathias Stein (SPD), Swantje Michaelsen (Alliance 90/The Greens), Berlins District Councillor Saskia Ellenbeck (Alliance 90/The Greens) and Sandra Wolf (Riese und Müller) discussed the measures necessary to achieve a strong, cycle-mobile future. For the first time, the Parliamentary Evening was organised jointly by the three associations in order to provide as complete and varied an insight into industry, services and trade as possible. It was declared that the Vivavelo Conference has been scheduled for September 22 and 23, 2022. After the first events have been held in the State Representation of North Rhine-Westphalia, they will now take place at Langenbeck Virchow House in Berlin. It would be nice if Minister Wissing or other high-ranking politicians would again find the time for the cycle industry.
Author: Alexander Schmitz