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First-ever Leaders' Panel at Taipei Cycle Show puts heads together to get more people on bikes

Published March 2, 2016

TAIPEI, Taiwan (BRAIN) — The principals of major companies from around the world shared the stage on the opening day of the Taipei Cycle Show for the first-ever advocacy Leaders' Panel. The representatives came together to build on the themes discussed at the Velo-city Conference, held in Asia for the first time in Taipei the weekend before Taipei Cycle.

The discussion, which was moderated by Raymond Gense, director of future technology and public affairs at Pon and vice chair of the European Cycling Federation Cycling Industry Club, focused on how the industry can come together to make advocacy efforts work — and effectively grow the market — in the coming years.

The panel included:

• Claus Fleischer, Bosch E-bike Systems
• Tony Lo, Giant Bicycles and the Taiwan Bicycle Association
• Scott Rittschof, Cycling Sports Group
• Rene Takens, Accell and CONEBI
• Robert Wu, KMC and Taiwan's Cycling and Health R&D Center

Besides discussing how investments in cycling infrastructure not only make cycling safer but create jobs, the panel discussed how harmonizing efforts between governing bodies, nonprofits and the private sector is the way forward.

Giant's Lo used the island of Taiwan as an example of how this collaboration can transform the culture.

"Fifteen years ago, Taiwan was a cycling desert. But by working together with the government, we have added bike paths and lanes, launched a successful bike share, and are working to make Taipei cycling friendly," he said. "But we want the country to become a cycling paradise, and at Velo-city, people saw some of that for the first time."

"If Taiwan can do that, so can other countries."

But the broader issue of how the industry has historically focused too heavily on sport and recreation cycling, both from a marketing and product standpoint, was also addressed.

For some European nations where cycling as transportation is almost a part of their DNA, there is still a push for further investment in infrastructure. But the need to convert existing riders into bike commuters isn't as strong as in the U.S., where the culture was built on sport.

"We have work to do. I'm not critical that our world of cycling was built by sport," said CSG's Rittschof. "The great brands in America were built on recreation and sport cycling, but here we are now. We have to go back and put in that infrastructure and it's a big job in a big, spread-out country."

No current discussion about bikes and mobility would be complete without e-bikes — and today, that dialogue most often revolves around the challenge of managing a diverse array of regulations, from helmet laws to maximum speeds — and in the case of e-MTBs, access.

"The e-bike is still largely European, but as they become more common in other countries we need support to deal with the regulations in every country," said Bosch's Fleischer.

Or, in the case of the U.S., in every one of the 50 states. Most of the panel agreed that improving the consistency of regulations governing e-bike use would make the adoption of pedelecs and other electric-assisted bicycles easier and would help get people to start using e-bikes for transportation.

"The 50 states are all trying to agree on laws, and all are different. Trying to get laws approved in groups of states is very difficult," Rittschof said. "However, as an industry we are addressing together through advocacy via BPSA and People for Bikes."

Everyone agreed that harmonizing efforts will be the key to moving forward in getting more people using bikes for transportation.

Lo summed it up the best: "I'm glad to see the market now more stable, and it's a time to collaborate and help each other, not a time for competition. Much of the world is having or will have the same problems: global warming, more traffic in cities and we all drink and eat to much and get fat.

"The bike is the one solution for all those problems, and the industry needs to support really solving them," Lo added.

 

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