On April 7, the German bicycle associations VSF, Zukunft Fahrrad and ZIV organised a Parliamentary Evening as a prelude to the upcoming bicycle conference vivavelo on September 22 and 23 in Berlin. High-ranking representatives from the cycle industry and politics met at the North Rhine-Westphalian state representation in Berlin. The event was held under the motto “Making Progressive Mobility Simple”. The associations analysed the continuing boom in the industry. Developments such as the electrification of cycling, the emergence of cargo bikes for a wide range of applications and the distribution of job bike leasing are strengthening the industry.
The important position of the bicycle as a means of transport was also confirmed by the Federal Minister of Transport, Dr Volker Wissing, who gave a keynote speech at the event. He acknowledged the need to catch up in the political framework conditions, reported on his own experiences with missing cycle paths and emphasised that even a small gap could devalue a kilometre-long cycle path. “Everywhere we are looking for and researching 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 a dream. But it is already existing. The bicycle combines almost all the aspects I only just mentioned,” Dr Wissing stated.
Major adjusting screws
Dirk Zedler, Deputy Chairman of the German bicycle association Zukunft Fahrrad, called on politicians to independently regulate leasing which is important for the development of the industry, and to continue to promote it. “The e-bike as prime example expands the everyday suitability of the bicycle enormously. The driver of the e-bike boom and the bicycle economy as a whole is the 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,” states Zedler.
Both the federal government and many federal states are promoting the construction of cycling infrastructure on an unprecedented scale. However, as the planning horizons are long, it is important that this funding is made permanent. “To ensure that the cycling and e-bike boom continue, we want politicians to promote the use of our products and they do this best by promoting cycling infrastructure and seamless network of cycle paths. This is why we welcome the promise of the Federal Minister to stabilize the special programme Urban & Rural beyond 2023,” states Burkhard Stork, Managing Director of ZIV.
Another challenge identified was the staff shortage in cycling planning, but also in civil engineering and infrastructure development. The cycle industry is also affected by the shortage of skilled manpower. According to a retailer survey among VSF and BICO businesses, there is a shortage of about 30 per cent, i.e. about 15,000 employees 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 Uwe Woell, Managing Director of VSF.
Further fields of action were also identified at the press briefing held prior to the event. Intermodal mobility should be promoted. In addition, it should become easier to organise company traffic participation with mobility budgets.
On the occasion of the vivavelo conference on September 22 and 23, there will be further insights into industry, services and trade. The event location is the Langenbeck-Virchow-House in Berlin.
Author: Sebastian Gengenbach
Photo: Bernd Lammel