Interview – Manfred Neun -President (ECF) : ‘Cycling is the fastest as well as easiest means of transport’

May 10, 2013

Atul Mathur, Hindustan Times

Manfred Neun is the president of European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF) since 2005. He is a key figure in the world of global cycling advocacy. Excerpts from an interview:

Can cycling become equally popular in hot and humid cities of south Asia?

The Dutch say ‘there is no such thing as bad cycling weather, only bad clothing’. Cycling in a city is a low-level physical activity. You don’t need to sweat if you go peacefully as you would do for walking. When you look at the map of cycle-friendly European cities, you will find some in all climates — from the snowy north of Finland, to the hot south of Spain or the more continental Germany.

 What efforts should the govt make to create an environment for cycling?

In Europe, the biggest trigger was political will. Once that is achieved,  first focus on making cycling safe in the city. Develop a decent and safe network of cycle paths and other bicycle infrastructure, such as parking. And finally, promote it through several campaigns.

How can we integrate cycling with public transport?

Cycling and public transport benefit from each other. Bicycles increase the reach of public transport: The 10-minutes’ catchment area of a bus stop grows by 15 times with bicycles. For good integration, there should be bike parking provisions at main stations. It should be easy to take your cycle with you on public transport.

How beneficial are cycling-sharing systems?

Bicycle-sharing schemes are a cheap and efficient way to provide 24×7 public transport. They also give cycling a boost. Paris, for instance, saw an impressive rise in its use after their Velib bicycle-sharing system was introduced in 2007. Now 75,000 people use the service every day.

What are the benefits of cycling?

From an individual point of view, it saves you money, makes you healthier and saves time. But for the society, the benefits are even higher. Less cars mean less congestion, less pollution, and safer roads. Cycling infrastructure is also much cheaper. Surveys show that the main reason for cycling is convenience as bicycles are the fastest and easiest means of transport.


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