Cyclist.ie was once again delighted to be able to attend the recent AGM of the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF) in person! Cyclist.ie is the member for Ireland of the ECF. It was held in Berlin and hosted by ECF Member German Cyclists’ Association (ADFC). This followed two years of online AGMs where we craved some real interaction, workshops, socialising and guided bike trips with our European colleagues.
Cyclist.ie was represented by Mary Sinnott from the Cyclist.ie Executive Committee, Damien Ó Tuama (Cyclist.ie’s National Cycling Coordinator) and Colm Ryder (former Chair of Cyclist.ie).
Overall ECF is in good shape after another year of high impact campaigning at an EU level. At the AGM, ECF members welcomed four newly elected and re-elected board members – Jan Vermeulen (from Belgium) as Treasurer, and Camille Thomé (France), Francesco Baroncini (Italy) and Prof. Angela Francke (Germany).
ECF also welcomed six new member organisations. They were Cycling UK, Biciklo.me (from Montenegro), Marakli t’Biciklave (from Kosovo), and Tüm Bisiklet Dernekleri Federasyonu (TUBIDEF – the Federation of all Cycling Associations of Turkey) as Full members, as well as Polish Union of Active Mobility (PUMA) and Cycling & Health Tech Industry R&D Center (CHC from Taiwan) as Associate members.
Cyclist.ie is especially happy to see Cycling UK (formerly known as the CTC / Cyclists’ Touring Club) back to being part of ECF and we look forward to liaising with them over the coming years. Sarah Mitchell, CEO of Cycling UK, informed us that it was the pressure from her members that pushed them to rejoin ECF, and break that Brexit hoodoo. As a membership organisation of approximately 70,000 members, it also represents a significant boost to the ECF to have them back on board.
The most impactful and emotional presentation from the AGM was, undoubtedly, that made by the two members of U Cycle in Kyiv, Ukraine, who managed to attend against all the odds. Even their journey to the AGM was highly eventful as they were delayed at various points along the way due to the attacks on their transportation system. But what the volunteers from U Cycle have achieved since the war started has been inspirational – and, as the women stated in their presentation, bikes have become central to the movement of people and goods in their war-torn cities. Do check out their presentation here.
Workshops were also held around Data and Cycle Campaigning, which gave much food for thought including impressive statistics on the growth of cycling in most EU countries during Covid. We recommend you take a look at these presentations too. In particular, there is a huge amount happening on the data front that we need to keep abreast of and use in our own plans in Cyclist.ie. Additionally, there were several presentations from smaller ECF organisations showing some of their recent successes. The ones from Croatia, Portugal & Slovakia were particularly impressive.
One of the most enjoyable parts of any ECF AGM is the half-day bike tour with other delegates, where one experiences a good sample of cycling infrastructure and cycle-friendly areas. We observed that Berlin is a city with a lot of space given over to cars, both parked and moving, but some better quality cycle routes have been built during Covid. That said, the quality of the cycle infrastructure in the city is decidedly mixed. What is perhaps most impressive though is the myriad of parks dotted around the city, complete with table-tennis tables, playgrounds, mature trees and some fine street art. There does appear to be quite a strong cycling culture in Berlin with far more cargo bikes about, and a greater age diversity of people on bikes than one finds in Irish cities.
All in all, it was a great trip to Berlin and we look forward to the 2023 event.
You can read more about the ECF AGM here.