If the European Union is to achieve the ambitious and increasingly urgent goals of the European Green Deal, it needs a large increase in cycling levels. With road transport emissions accounting for 26 per cent of the EU’s CO2 emissions, there is no conceivable way to meet the target of cutting transport emissions by 90 per cent, or achieve climate-neutral cities, or seriously reduce our dependency on fossil fuels, without a lot more people cycling.
In addition to generating climate benefits, more cycling will make our cities and towns more liveable, safe and inclusive. It will improve public health and contribute to a just and equitable transition.
In addition to generating climate benefits, more cycling will make our cities and towns more liveable, safe and inclusive.
More cycling also goes hand in hand with a stronger cycling industry. “Bikenomics” can be a major contributor to the EU’s Mobility Ecosystem Transition Pathway and sustain 2 million green jobs in Europe by 2030.
For all these reasons and more, cycling should be elevated to a strategic priority at the EU level.
The timing for such a move has never been better. Cycling has been experiencing a boom for a number of years and bicycle sales have grown substantially. E-bikes have proven to be a game-changer for people’s daily mobility and for cycling tourism and leisure, as well as an industrial success story.
European cities are increasingly making way for the bicycle, and half of EU Member States have a national cycling strategy in place or are in the process of developing one. On 3 June of this year – World Bicycle Day – six Member States signed a European Bicycle Declaration calling on the European Commission to develop a “proper action plan at the EU level” to prioritise cycling.
The European Commission acknowledges that cycling has an important role to play in delivering key policies. In the Efficient and Green Mobility Package published last December, the Urban Mobility Framework stated that “a clear priority should be placed at national and local level on the development of public transport, walking and cycling, as well as connected and shared mobility services.”
This summer MEP Karima Delli, Chair of the Committee on Transport and Tourism (TRAN), and Executive Vice President Frans Timmermans announced their ambitions for inter-institutional cooperation to grow cycling, and numerous MEPs expressed their support for cycling initiatives in a parliamentary debate in July.
To build on all this positive momentum, and to unlock cycling’s enormous potential to help achieve strategic EU goals, a comprehensive and decisive strategy at the EU level is needed. European leadership that provides for a consistent and coherent framework and more centralised and coordinated policy and funding support for cycling is an important missing link. Without it, fragmented initiatives will lead to uneven progress and poorly distributed resources and could even jeopardise progress achieved across Europe so far.
To unlock cycling’s enormous potential to help achieve strategic EU goals, a comprehensive and decisive strategy at the EU level is needed.
The European Cyclists’ Federation, together with our industry partners Cycling Industries Europe and the Confederation of the European Bicycle Industry, urges the EU to develop an EU Cycling Strategy to rapidly implement such support for significantly growing cycling.
The strategy should recognise, prioritise and promote safer cycling as a fully fledged mode of transport. Further, it should champion “Made in Europe” bicycles by stimulating supply chain re-shoring and security. Finally, it should also serve to unlock the potential of cycling to generate innovation and accelerate the transition of adjacent industrial ecosystems such as retail, tourism and health.
The strategy should be very ambitious in line with cycling’s enormous potential to help address the climate and energy crises we face as well as the important additional co-benefits it generates. The strategy should aim for 100 million more Europeans cycling longer average distances and more than doubling the total number of kilometres cycled by 2030. It should also ensure the EU cycling industry can build on its strengths as a powerful green, digital and industrial champion supporting millions of green jobs in Europe.
This is an opportunity Europe cannot afford to miss. We stand ready to help develop and implement an EU strategy that will grow cycling in Europe and materialise these ambitions.