FRIEDRICHSHAFEN, Germany (BRAIN) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel delivered the opening address at Eurobike yesterday, highlighting the important role of bicycles as part of the transportation system and as an economic driver.
Addressing an invite-only audience of media and industry leaders, Merkel spoke of the bicycle as a mobility solution on par with automobiles. “I believe it is just as important as the international auto trade fair that I am going to open in a few days,” Merkel said of Eurobike. “ The bicycle combines what is pleasurable and useful. It is friendly to the environment and promotes health.”
Merkel said 70 million people in Germany ride a bike, showing that Germany is not only an auto nation but also a bicycle nation. She also noted the surprising adoption of electric bikes, noting they have potential appeal to a wide audience. “It may widen the group of consumers,” she said.
She said it is worthwhile for the country to create an atmosphere conducive to bicycle growth, including the necessary conditions for bicycles. Her government earmarked 70 million euros to build bicycle trails and set goals as part of a 2020 bicycle transportation plan. “It is not an either-or choice,” she said of bikes and other forms of transportation. “It is an integration of bicycles with all modes of travel.”
Merkel also spoke to innovation of products such as e-bikes, which have helped the bicycle industry withstand times of economic weakness. In a country with 3 million people unemployed, the industry’s ability to provide young people with training, apprenticeships and jobs is important to driving the country’s economic growth, she said.