• Getting Transport Ministers to Take Cycling Seriously: The International Transport Forum
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  • 15.05.2012


ECF demanded National Transport Ministers take cycling seriously at the International Transport Forum in Leipzig, Germany earlier this month. Thanks to intense lobbying, attitudes are beginning to change.

As 53 National Transport Ministers gathered to discuss how to make transport “Seamless”, ECF presented cycling as the “Seamless Choice” when it comes to global transport policy. 

We know that cycling is playing an important role in Seamless transport,” said Manfred Neun, ECF president, “and what we are doing here [in Leipzig] is to introduce how cycling can help… how cycling is part of the solution.”

ECF President Manfred Neun talking about using bicycles for last mile delivery

Neun pointed to a detailed ECF produced Manifesto, telling ministers that congestion wastes 3% of GDP per year in OECD countries and shifting just 10% of traffic from cars to bicycles can reduce car travel times by more than a fifth. Highlighting the bicycle industry’s ability to innovate, ECF also promoted the use of cargo bicycles in cities to deliver goods for the last mile, gaining unique coverage from business media such as Forbes magazine. 

Ministers Started to Listen

After hearing ECF’s demands, some ministers were quick to jump on the bicycle bandwagon in a plenary discussion on Transport for Growth.

“We’re doing a lot of that low-cost, but very smart and very efficient investment… We’re putting a lot into cycle networks which can be very efficient. We’re putting in cycle ways and cycle parkings so that more people can cycle to stations,” explained Leo VaradkarIrish Minister for Transport. 

Ireland's Transport Minister leading a bicycle parade during the forum

Norman Baker, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (UK) also voiced his support for cycling:

“I shall be looking to increase our investments in cycling. The evidence from Germany and elsewhere suggests that cities that have got civilized town centres where people don’t have to have cars everywhere, where they cycle and they walk, are not simply cleaner, but have actually got better and stronger economies than those which are clogged up with cars.”

Still Some Work To Do

While signs are positive, Europe’s bicycle advocates still have some work to do. Many ministers don’t understand the importance of cycling when it comes to transport policy and are often distracted by other lobby groups.

“We definitely made a huge impression,” adds Neun, “but we’ll need to work harder if we’re going to take on the multi-million dollar lobbying campaigns of the shipping, car and airline industries.”

It may have only been our second time at the International Transport Forum, but there’s little doubt the Ministers will need more advice from ECF in the years to come.


More photos can be seen on our Flickr Page

ECF Brochures and Resources at the Forum

Press Coverage of ECF at the Forum

 About the Author

 Founded in 1983, the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF) is the umbrella federation of the national cyclists’ associations in Europe, reinforced by similar organisations from other parts of the world. ECF seeks to change attitudes, policies and budget allocations at the European level. ECF stimulates and organises the exchange of information and expertise on bicycle related transport policies and strategies as well as the work of the cyclists’ movement.


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Last Updated May 16, 2012