Not despairing in Vienna (1)

Great to be here in Vienna, lots of cycling highlights (and a few lowlights)

First post has to be about our cycling melting pot. Over 80 people from nearly 30 countries thrown together for three days to talk cycling. If you could capture the energy you could power entire cities, it is just fantastic.

Vienna is the ideal location for this sort of cultural melting pot because it is so accessible to the countries of the east and south of Europe and Eurasia. We have had Dutch and Danish stories for 30 years, they are so far ahead in cycling its hard to catch up. But here we have a whole new community who are starting from a similar position as everybody else, cycling got lost along the way. But they are starting from a totally different political perspective, and one where there is often less heritage of civil society campaigning, especially on cycling. Yesterday ECF was joined by new members from Greece,Turkey,Byelorussia and Georgia, joining relatively new members like the Ukrainians and Bulgarians.

Vienna Tour by Bike

Vienna Tour by Bike - 8 country peleton

OK lots of frustrations, lots of discussion about overcoming cities and governments that just don’t have a clue. If I had a pound or euro or dollar for everyone who says “they are just not interested in cycling” I wouldn’t have a job raising funds for cycling.

But the chance to share those frustrations is so valuable, and then to grab at new ideas and concepts and friends who offer ideas about how to go forward.

A group from Minsk (Byelorussia) who tell us that you can be a cycling activist in Europe’s last dictatorship, but you can’t be a dissident. Get them talking to the Germany HPV club about infrastructure, and throw in some Danes to bring Nordic cool.

ECF gathers for a ride in Vienna

The meeting point - Vienna tour for delegates from Byelorussa, Germany, Switzerland, Ukraine, Spain, Ireland, Holland

Roll around the historical palace area of central Vienna in a bike convoy with the Irish and French and an Austrian guy based in southern Turkey who are all working to convince governments to take cycling seriously, but in different ways.

Dinner table – US, Luxembourg, Norway, Denmark, Greece, Italy, Croatia, The Netherlands and UK. Common language – cycling. But from cycling talk flows around stupid politicians, history of European empires, infrastructure, bike sharing schemes, green politics, tourism, crap facilities, best bikes, land ownership and collective farming, and concludes close to midnight with a discourse about swimming in sub-zero seas. You couldn’t write a script that says cycling will take you to all these places.