This year I was fortunate to be able to attend the ECF AGM as the representative of Cyclist.ie. It took place on 31 March and 01 April 2023.
After my two days at the ECF AGM in Brussels, I better understand the role of this umbrella group and our place within it. I learnt lots, gathered stories and ideas for change. I saw things differently. I listened. I was proud of Ireland. And I drank some great beer.
Some key take-aways from my experience include the following:
- There is, rightly, both much confusion and quiet excitement about the forthcoming Cycling Declaration(s), the EU Cycling Strategy, and the potential European Year of Cycling in 2024.
Developments are well worth following as these strategies / declarations etc. have the potential to bring about greater emphasis, greater political will and more funding for cycling.
The ECF has influenced the need for and wording of many of these strategies and declarations either directly and indirectly – highlighting their key role at the European level.
- Building on ECF’s open letter at COP26, which was signed by 350+ organisations and managed to secure a last minute addition acknowledging the need for a wider system transformation, last year’s COP27 saw ECF presenting an open letter calling for more investment in walking and cycling to tackle the climate emergency. 400+ organisations from 73 countries signed it – including Cyclist.ie (see our article on this from Nov 2022 here).
As a result of the COP26 open letter, ECF alongside Walk21 and other organisations co-founded PATH – Partnership of Active Travel and Health. This global coalition calls on governments to make a real commitment to and greater investment in walking and cycling as key solutions to climate, health and equity solutions. It also provides expertise that makes the case and can be a useful resource.
- There was a useful workshop on the ECF re-branding and a panel discussion on membership – both of which are pertinent for us as we embark on our own re-branding and membership recruitment drive.
- It was also great to see Ireland almost at the top of a cycling leader board! The image below shows the total annual investment in cycling per capita (in Euro per capita) – Ireland is second from the right behind Flanders and ahead of Norway, the Netherlands and Germany. We just need to help ensure that level of investment continues and results in quality infrastructure that has the potential to cater for real journeys.
- I’m also pleased to report that Dr. Damien Ó Tuama, Cyclist.ie’s National Cycling Coordinator, was elected by members to sit on the ECF Nominations Committee.
I would highly recommend attending an ECF AGM.
The 2024 edition will take place in Zagreb, Croatia – get your names down quick!