On Wednesday, November 9, 2022, Baden-Wuerttemberg’s Circle on Cycling met for their third session on the premises of Zedler-Group in Ludwigsburg. There were not only invited the permanent members of the circle, the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Economics as well as cycle-specific interest groups, but also various representatives of the cycle industry with big players, such as Bosch eBike Systems or Paul Lange & Co. OHG as well as medium-sized companies, such as Supernova Design, an innovative lighting manufacturer located near Freiburg. This external meeting was organised by the Member of the Landtag Hermino Katzenstein (Greens), initiator of the Parliamentary Circle and spokesman on bicycle policy parliamentary group of the Greens in the Landtag. “Bicycles play an important role in Baden-Wuerttemberg, not only ecologically but also economically!” explained Katzenstein during the opening of the event.
In the keynote speech of the evening, Burkhard Stork, Managing Director of the German Bicycle Association (ZIV), pointed out the importance of the bicycle for the economy and society. According to Stork who is not only active on national, but also on European level, “The bicycle industry is one of the oldest industries in Germany, and also the origin of many other industries!” In the process, the bicycle industry has succeeded in reinventing itself several times. Most recently, it had managed its electrification on its own, tripling its turnover in the last 10 years. “The product bicycle is part of the solution to many of today’s pressing problems: climate change, lack of exercise, social participation, quality of life in the quarter and much more!” explained Stork clearly the social significance of the bicycle.
Host Dirk Zedler, founder and Managing Director of Zedler-Group, welcomed all present in his company and gave an overview of the history and fields of activity of his company. “Anyone who takes hold of a handlebar anywhere can be sure to be holding technology from Ludwigsburg in their hand,” Zedler explains proudly. However, the graduate engineer also called for a much faster expansion of the cycling infrastructure: “The usability of bicycles must be increased to make sure that the Covid sales rush is not followed by a hangover.”
In the subsequent exchange, those present worked out various ways of bringing the importance of the cycle economy into focus at the local government level as well. “The project funds of the State are full. But we also need local administrations that want and implement the expansion of cycling infrastructure. This also requires majorities in the local councils!” explained Transport State Secretary Elke Zimmer MdL the reasons for the slow pace of cycle path development. Another topic of discussion was the specific situation of the shortage of skilled workers in the cycle industry. According to the industry representatives, the sector not only lacks workers at all levels of qualification, but the problem also lies in the lack of training focus and content. “A graduate engineer that starts at our company, needs first of all an introduction to bicycle!” states Dirk Zedler. Therefore, there was general agreement on a proposal made by August Schuler, member of the Landtag (CDU): “What we need is an own study programme!” Hermino Katzenstein MdL comes to the following conclusion: “This long and intensive exchange has brought us state politicians new insights. We will pay more attention to the importance of the bicycle as an economic factor. In addition, the industry offers opportunities for transformation in the automotive sector; from a motor vehicle mechatronics technician it is not far from becoming a two-wheeler mechatronics technician.” The member of Landtag expressed his thanks to Dirk Zedler for his hospitality and all participants, some of whom had travelled long distances, for the productive exchange.
Background information on the Parliamentary Circle on Cycling in Baden-Wuerttemberg
The Parliamentary Circle on Cycling, which was founded in Stuttgart in January this year, is not only the first of its kind in Baden-Wuerttemberg, but also the only inter-factional working group on cycling in a Landtag nationwide. According to the bicycle politician Katzenstein it is the goal to bring cycling as an important sustainable form of mobility to the centre of the Landtag in order to achieve broad support across factional boundaries.” The core of the forum composed of members of various parliamentary groups represented in the Landtag meets regularly to exchange views on cycling issues and topics. Depending on the topic, the circle is also expanded by other members of parliament, various ministry representatives and external guests from the transport and cycle industry. The parliamentary circle has already envisaged the topic of "Cycling in the community" as the main topic for the next meeting.
Author: Hermino Katzenstein