From the EUCG President, Paul Murphy
All in all, 2017 was another good year for the EUCG , with some noteworthy successes. Positive highlights include:
- Close collaboration with the European Cycling Federation on the development of a blueprint for a European Cycling Strategy: it was a pity that, in the end, our EU Authorities did not see fit to adopt the strategy. But at least the ECF’s vast consultation exercise clarified what needs to be done and hopefully moved cycling up the collective EU agenda.
- Launch of local cycling groups: I note in particular the European Parliament cycling group. It’s hard to believe that this very dynamic group was only created in February following a very well attended inaugural EMAS/EUCG meeting with EP staff. The ECFIN cycling group also came into being following VeloMai and has been instrumental in getting official support for more bike parking space in the Charlemagne Building.
- Launch of the 1st Commission-wide VeloMai challenge: Thanks, in large part, to EUCG efforts, 2017 was the year that the Commission’s DG HR embraced cycling. As a result, cycling became part of the revised fit@work action plan and Velomai 2017 was both an official “corporate” campaign, sponsored by DG HR and the OIB, and a bottom-up experience, with participation by 1661 colleagues in all DGs and executive agencies. Indeed, the Velomai campaign won the award for best cycling practice in the “enterprise ‘” category at the Brussels bike Salon in September. This was an important recognition, from the host community of our efforts to promote cycling and I was proud to be on the podium, along with representatives of DG HR and OIB, to receive the award from Brussels Region State Secretary for Road Safety, Bianca Debaets, on behalf of the Commission’s cycling staff.
- In the Parliament, the newly created EUCG cycling group needed more time to organise their own VeloMai-type campaign, which they did in September/October, with the participation of about 250 colleagues. The participation of the European Parliament’s Director General for Personnel in the closing ceremony on 20 October augurs well for official EP participation in next year’s VeloMai campaign. Indeed the signs are, following EUCG contacts with the Council, that the 2018 VeloMai campaign will be interinstitutional.
- Finalisation of our 2020 vision for mobility in Brussels: We sent this summary of our main mobility proposals to Commissioner Oettinger in November. We would like the new Commission staff mobility plan to aim for a 20% share for staff cycling to work by 2020 with accompanying measures for infrastructure, anti-theft etc. As the 2017 OIB staff survey gave a result of 13.5% currently cycling to work, with the right support and resources, this target looks to be achievable.
- Cooperation with the Commission Local staff committee: just a few years ago, the EUCG had difficulty getting a hearing from the Commission staff committee. Now, however, many trade unions have a positive cycling policy and the EUCG has been working closely in a participatory process to help the staff committee develop sustainable mobility policies that could be could be fed into the next Commission staff mobility plan. The highlight event in this process was the lunchtime conference on 24 November with Pascal Smet, Brussels Region Minister for Mobility as keynote speaker.The Commission OIB Director and the Mobility manager at Belfius Bank also spoke at the event, which was moderated by former EUCG President and attended by over 100 interested staff members. On 30 November, 6 Focus groups did further work on the main mobility issues and it is hoped that staff committee president will be able to send the final staff contribution to the Commission in early 2018.
- Finally I note a significant increase in EUCG membership to over 2000 by the end of the year. The continuing increase in our membership mirrors the growing importance of cycling as a means of mobility within the institutions and makes our voice one that matters in our continuing dialogue with the institutions and the wider host community.
Season’s greetings and best wishes for 2018.
If you are anything like me then you are probably suffering from a steadily growing sense of doom, as the clock ticks down and you have no idea what to buy your loved ones for Christmas.
Luckily some help is at hand for bike nerds.
For instance wired have published “12 Road-Ready Gifts for Bike Commuters” .
And there is now a startup called Parcify which will deliver your goodies to your workplace or residential address with Brussels postcodes 1000, 1040, 1050, 1060, 1180, 1210 in Brussels. The app notifies when the courier arrives, and you can ask the courier in the app to wait for me downstairs. The messengers are polite, and speak English.
Start using Parcify with the free code: EUCGVELOXMAS17
If you want to order some bike gear from bol.com, rosebikes.com, or athleteshop.be here below are some discount codes for a free delivery.
And dont forget to give your bike messenger a Euro or two’s tip. What Goes Around: A London Cycle Courier’s Story will tell you how much its appreciated.
And by the way if want Santa to put a book in your stocking, here is a a list of cycling classics.
Brussels Region Minister of Mobility and Public Works, Pascal Smet, on 7 December published the winner of the competition for a redesign of the notorious Rond Point Schuman.
Some might not be not convinced lessons have been learned from the ‘flying saucers’ effect at Gare Centrale and Rogier with the need for frequent replacement of concrete and reliance on cold and uninviting stainless steel.
On a positive note, this should signal the end of through traffic North-South or vice versa via Schuman and the main bottle neck at the corners of Schuman-Cortenberg-Archimede should now disappear. There will still be traffic flow East-West will remain with a more fluid and less chaotic arrangement on Avenue Cortenbergh and for traffic towards Rue de la Loi and Rue Archimede.
Let us know what you think.
The EUCG Committee has a subgroup for air quality. Last year we measured black carbon, in collaboration with Brussels Environment (previously called IBGE). This winter, in a project that is still ongoing, we are measuring PM 2.5, and some other indicators (noise, temperature, humidity), in collaboration with the VUB university and a Brussels NGO called BRAL.
The price of the first measuring device was 8.000 euros, and it was not very user-friendly nor motivating (no direct results via an app). The current Airbeam measuring device cost around 200 US dollars, and the linked Android app provides graphs in real-time: very motivating and interesting for the individual user. On how it works see here .
We have five measuring devices in constant use (during outside trips by any means of transport: walking, cycling, public transport, car), and the map of the Brussels Region is gradually filling up with very detailed data (gps, time, four indicators), which can then be used for lobbying, awareness-raising and campaigning.
With the aircast devices, we measured also very high levels of PM 2.5 in the Metro Brussels. In fact, we measured the highest values in general in the metro, always in the bottom of the ‘red zone’ of the measuring range of the device (it had green, yellow, orange, and red zones).
So far we have had most of measurements coming from cyclist belonging to our group but we would very much like to compare the different modes of transport. So we are still looking for volunteers who come by foot, tram or metro and in particular volunteers who come by car! Ideally one would compare the different modes for the same commute. If you are interested in this project, please contact us.
The EUCG Committee wishes you all a very happy two-wheeled 2017!
In response to some requests requests, we have posted up some general, official advice to cyclists in Belgium, including the relevant traffic rules.
Stay safe and warm on those frosty roads.