Archive for the ECF Category

ECF CEO Jill Warren’s key takeaways from Velo-city 2021 Lisboa

09/15/2021 0:02
ECF CEO Jill Warren’s key takeaways from Velo-city 2021 Lisboa

On behalf of the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF), we have truly enjoyed working with Mayor Fernando Medina and Deputy Mayor Miguel Gaspar and with the Municipality of Lisbon and EMEL on the 2021 edition of Velo-city that took place on 6-9 September.

We are grateful to our Lisbon partners for their continued support and hard work that have made this successful event happen under unprecedented circumstances.

What you have achieved for cycling in Lisbon is truly inspiring. You’ve gone from 3km of bike paths in 2001 to a network of about 155km today, and you’re aiming for 200km by the end of 2021.

You are progressing Cycle Diversity by making cycling more accessible to people of all ages and abilities, not only by building safe infrastructure but by enabling youngsters to cycle to school, by supporting measures to repair old bicycles to give them to those who need them and by providing purchase premiums for bicycles and cargo bikes.

Thank you for hosting Velo-city, the world cycling summit, at such an exciting time in your cycling development.

Key points and takeaways

There are many key points and takeaways from Velo-city 2021 Lisboa, but I will limit myself to just a few.

Firstly, it cannot be said enough: there is no conceivable way to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, the European Green Deal or climate-neutral cities without significantly more cycling.

We heard it at Velo-city from European Commission Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans: enabling significantly more cycling is a no-brainer investment. But the policy and decision-making brains have to put their money where their mouths are and actually commit to concrete plans and investments – now.

We heard it at Velo-city from DG MOVE Deputy Director-General Matthew Baldwin: “The cycling community should be less modest. You should push us more.” The European Cyclists’ Federation, Cycling Industries Europe and our cycling association allies all say “challenge accepted!”

We cannot afford to lose the opportunity and momentum for cycling that is right here, right now. But we could lose it, if powerful and entrenched interests continue to prevail and get more than their fair share in all the mobility budgets and plans that really matter.

We understand the principle of subsidiarity. But we also understand the principles of equity, fairness and a just transition. If it’s okay for billions of euros in EU funds to be earmarked for scrappage premiums and other incentives to purchase electric vehicles, then surely there is much more scope for incentives for cleaner, cheaper, less-congesting, smaller and healthier forms of e-mobility such as e-bikes.

And much more investment is needed – now – in safe cycling infrastructure to enable and encourage more people of all ages and abilities to cycle and to cycle more often. It is a no-brainer investment, and we have all the brains with experience and expertise who can help implement this. 750 of them joined us at Velo-city in Lisbon and a further 1,000 tuned in digitally.

Key recommendations for European policymakers

I urge European policymakers to give us the right policy frameworks, action plans and investments to make this happen as quickly as possible. For example:

  • An EU Urban Mobility Package that truly prioritises cycling as active, healthy and climate-friendly mobility.
  • Targets and benchmarks on: modal share for cycling; the kilometres and types of cycling infrastructure to be built (including bicycle parking); effective Vision Zero measures and indicators for reductions in road deaths and serious injuries; and requirements to adopt Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans (SUMPs) in order to benefit from EU funding for urban mobility measures.
  • There also needs to be more EU investments in truly green cycling tourism.
  • We also need systematic benchmarking and data collection on all of these things.

This list is by no means exhaustive!

Invest in cycling by investing in ECF

At ECF, we will continue to do our jobs as cycling advocates as best as we can. Good, solid, evidence-based advocacy and awareness raising require dedicated, passionate professionals and adequate resources. We have the dedicated, passionate professionals. But we don’t always have enough resources. We are very grateful to all those who support our work. To seize all the opportunities before us, we need more resources.

Given all the positive societal impacts that more and better cycling delivers – from carbon-emission reductions and better health to more liveable, equitable cities – we hope additional funders who identify with our cause can be persuaded to support the expansion of our important and urgent work and contribute to the lasting, positive change that people truly want. You won’t regret it.

Change is a key word associated with our next Velo-city conference in Ljubljana taking place in June 2022, and we all look forward to continuing the inspiring discussions that were sparked at Velo-city 2021 Lisboa.

Jill Warren is CEO of the European Cyclists’ Federation. This article was adapted from her closing keynote speech at Velo-city 2021 Lisboa, which can be streamed along with all plenaries and sessions for one year. Digital tickets are available for sale for a limited time.

FURTHER READING AND DIGITAL ACCESS

  • Velo-city 2021 Lisboa: Monday Daily Report – Cycle diversity and climate crisis take centre stage.
  • Velo-city 2021 Lisboa: Tuesday Daily Report – The route towards sustainable tourism and cities of the future.
  • Velo-city 2021 Lisboa: Wednesday Daily Report – Women in Cycling and a Bike Parade through Lisbon.
  • Velo-city 2021 Lisboa: Thursday Daily Report – The annual world cycling summit wraps up, heralding cycling as the new normal.
  • Digital access: purchase a digital ticket to get exclusive access for one year to the full four days of content, including 50+ sessions and 250+ speakers in HD quality! Digital tickets are available for sale for a limited time.

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Summary: 

At the world cycling summit in Lisbon on 6-9 September, Jill Warren made it clear that there is no conceivable way to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, the European Green Deal or climate-neutral cities without significantly more cycling.


Categories:ECF

Final analysis: Cycling becomes mainstream in EU member states’ COVID-19 recovery plans

08/19/2021 12:02
Final analysis: Cycling becomes mainstream in EU member states’ COVID-19 recovery plans

Since April 2021, 25 member states have submitted their National Recovery and Resilience Plans (NRRPs) to the European Commission, outlining priorities for the funds that will be disbursed from the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF), which is part of the EU’s €750 billion COVID-19 pandemic recovery plan.

According to the General Dutch Press Agency (ANP), the two countries that have yet to submit their plans to the Commission are Bulgaria, which has published a draft but not submitted it yet, and the Netherlands, which wants to wait for a new government to form after the election that took place in March. In the meantime, some countries have already started receiving money from the Recovery Fund, including Belgium, Portugal and Luxembourg.

So what has changed since ECF’s last analysis in May?

New recovery plans

Five countries eventually published a recovery plan for the first time, with direct or indirect cycling content:

  • Bulgaria includes measures for an urban mobility reform addressed to the implementation of infrastructure for safe urban mobility aimed at vulnerable road users, namely pedestrians and cyclists.
  • Estonia includes investments for local authorities to use on walking and cycling infrastructure, with €5 million going to the development of 24km of cycling and walking paths. This includes: 1) completing walking and cycling connections with railway stations and public transport stops with the rest of the network; 2) developing paths outside larger urban areas to help eliminate unsafe bottlenecks for cycling.
  • Malta envisages two reforms that indirectly include cycling. The first is the creation of more open and car-free spaces across Malta and the island of Gozo and the adoption and implementation of policies promoting the sustainability of the transport sector, including by encouraging the use of multimodal transport. The second is an investment directly aimed at the creation of purchase incentives for e-bikes in the private sector.
  • Slovenia’s recovery plan section on sustainable mobility mainly focuses on rail and alternative fuels. However, cycling is mentioned in the sustainable tourism section, where investments in cycling trails and walking paths are envisaged.
  • Sweden’s plan includes cycling in a very general pillar dedicated to local and regional climate investments, which “can be about everything from biogas and infrastructure, such as cycle paths, to the destruction of nitrous oxide and to replace heating systems from oil for district heating.”

Improved recovery plans

Several countries published updated versions of their recovery plans, with good news for cycling:

  • Cyprus provided more details about the measures included in their already existing Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan (SUMP), where investments in the sustainable transport component now include: the development of pedestrian areas, 36km of new connected cycle networks as well as 4km of upgraded ones, safety for all road users with new cycle crossings and cycle hubs, creation of urban corridors, cycling parking and 30km/h areas.
  • Czech Republic specified the budget addressed to business incentives for e-vehicles (€37 million), which include e-cargo bikes.
  • Hungary clarified that €120 million will go to cycling infrastructure.
  • Romania added cycling references in many investment sectors, including the establishment of a national bicycle coordination centre and the development of: 1) specific studies regarding cycling routes; 2) a national network of cycling tracks and cycling routes; 3) a national “E-Velo” platform, 4) multimodality with the adaptation of modernised wagons for bicycle storage; 5) the digitisation of bicycle tracks and routes.

No improvements

Since ECF’s last analysis in May, some recovery plans did not change or improve in terms of their cycling content.

  • Ireland published a recovery plan, but it does not mention cycling.
  • Luxembourg does not contain any relevant reference to cycling, even in the latest updated version of its plan.
  • Finland and Germany did not update their plans, confirming their “red” category as containing no (relevant) mentions of cycling.

This brings the total of countries mentioning cycling in their plans to 21. Of these, 10 have good cycling content, while 11 mention cycling but leave room for much more (see table below), resulting in a final amount of €1.7 billion of the RRF dedicated to cycling investments.

Belgium is by far the country that dedicates the highest percentage of its national share of the RRF to cycling investments (7%), followed by Denmark (4.4%), Hungary, Latvia and Slovakia (tied at 1.7%), and Cyprus (1.4%). Five plans do not mention cycling at all (Finland, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, Portugal), while the Netherlands remains the only member state without a publicly available plan.

 

Overview table of National Recovery and Resilience Plans and their links to cycling: updated version (integrations in red)

 

State 

Description 

Investments for cycling

km

planned

 

 

 

Declared

Estimated*

 

GOOD CYCLING CONTENT

Belgium 

Dedicated investments of €746 million (55% covered by RRF) for cycling and walking infrastructure (bike sharing schemes, subsidies to local authorities for infrastructure development), with the aim to increase and coordinate efforts to develop safe cycling infrastructure (separate cycle paths and safer crossroads; attention to school environments); connectivity between cities and hinterlands with “bike corridors”; stimulate multimodality (with “Hoppinpunten”: mobility points); Velo Plus project (cycle paths along the main roads, structuring and developing cycle routes along railways, canals, motorways.

€411 million

(7% of the RRF**)

 

188 (new), 1,356 (to renew)

Cyprus

The implementation of the already existing SUMP has been inserted as an investment in the sustainable transport component and it includes: development of pedestrian areas, 36km of new connected cycle networks + 4km of upgraded ones, safety for all road users with new cycling crossings and cycle hubs, creation of urban corridors and cycling parkings and 30km/h areas.

 

€14 million

(1.4% of RRF)

36 (new), 4 (to renew)

Denmark

Dedicated component on “Green transportation and infrastructure”, with an e-bike infrastructure scheme, cycling infrastructure investments on main roads and bicycle subsidy scheme for municipalities to make cycling attractive especially outside urban areas, developing a coherent cycling network.

€70 million

(4.4% of RRF)

 

 

Hungary

Dedicated investment for the development of the EuroVelo-compliant bicycle route (260km) especially for commuting purposes, to increase connectivity of remote areas and the competitiveness with the car, and a 950m long Danube bridge with cycle tracks on both sides.

€120 million

(1.7% of RRF)

 

260

Italy 

Dedicated investment for the “Reinforcement of cycling mobility”, with plans for cycling infrastructure maintenance and the realisation of new 1,200km of touristic paths and ~570km of urban cycle tracks. 

€600 million 

(0.3% of RRF) 

 

1,770 

Latvia 

Development of cycling infrastructure for daily mobility with a unified, uninterrupted network to ensure local and neighbourhood connectivity + integration with the EuroVelo network. Integration of PT, cycling infrastructure and micro-mobility to serve the last mile.  

 €34 million

(1.7% of RRF)

 

 

Malta

Two reforms indirectly including cycling, such as the creation of more open and car-free spaces across Malta and Gozo and the adoption and implementation of policies promoting the sustainability of the transport sector, including by encouraging the use of multimodal transport; plus an investment directly addressed to the creation of purchase incentives for e-bikes in the private sector.

 

€2 million

(0.7% of RRF)

 

Romania 

Construction, and operationalization of medium / long cycle routes, including EuroVelo routes, with the aim to create a national network; changing the legislation in force, by promoting a normative act on cycling routes. It also envisages the establishment of a national bicycle coordination centre, and the development of 2) specific studies regarding cycling routes; 3) a national network of cycling tracks and cycling routes; 4) a national “E-Velo” platform; 5) multimodality with the adaptation of modernised wagons for bicycle storage; 6) digitisation of bicycle tracks and routes.

€120 million 

(0.9% of RRF) 

 

 

3,000 

 

Slovakia 

Increase the share of cycling in the modal split by

  • Improvement of the quality and safety of cycling infrastructure, with emphasis on secure separated bicycle infrastructure in urban and extra-urban areas; 200km of new lanes; provision of 5,000 secure parking shelters for bicycles at railway stations. 
  •  Adoption of a new methodology for assessing project applications in the field of cycling infrastructure, to allow a more efficient allocation of financial resources. 

€105.1 million 

(1.7% of the RRF) 

 

 

200 

 

Spain

It mentions a plan for sustainable, safe and connected mobility in urban areas; improve e-mobility (incentive for bike sharing schemes); establish low emission zones and to guarantee connectivity of people who live in depopulated or remote areas. Recently declared €3.6 billion for sustainable mobility measures, of which 2.5 are going to Autonomous Communities and Local Entities.

 

€135 million

(0.2% of RRF)

 

CYCLING MENTIONED,

but potential for a lot more

Austria

  • Inclusion of its Mobility Master Plan 2030 in the NRRP, with the aim to increase the share of walking and cycling, public transport and shared mobility.
  • investments for zero emissions vehicles, including purchase incentives for e-bikes and e-cargo bikes.

But it lacks in concretely defining cycling-related spending and projects. Define spending!

 

Bulgaria

Included measures for an urban mobility reform which includes the implementation of infrastructure for safe urban mobility aimed at vulnerable road users, namely pedestrians and cyclists.

 

€1 million

(0.02% of the RRF)

 

Croatia

€120 million action for “high-value tourism products” which includes investments for cycling infrastructure and the protection and development of active tourism, also with attention to the application of digital solutions on data monitoring for the rental/use of bicycles.

But still no definition of cycling spending, and absence of cycling in the transport section. Define spending!

 

€6 million

(0.1% of RRF)

 

Czech Republic 

Aim to reduce road fatalities with dedicated spending on road safety for vulnerable users (€23 million); set modal share targets for active modes in the SUMPS; implement reforms on road traffic (e.g. safe distance when overtaking cyclists); purchase premiums addressed to businesses for the purchase of 1,000 e-cargobikes (included in a €37 million package for e-vehicle incentives). 

 

 €25 million

(0.35% of RRF)

 

Estonia

Estonia included investments addressed to local authorities for walking and cycling paths, with €5 million of the RRF going for the development of 24km of cycling/walking paths. This implies 1) to complete walking/cycling connections with railway stations and public transport stops with the rest of the network; 2) development of paths outside the larger urban areas, that helps to eliminate bottlenecks that do not enable safe cycling.

The investment is quite limited.

€5 million

(0.5% of RRF)

 

24

France

In the last version of the plan there is no more mention to specific cycling investments or active mobility in the transport component. The only clear mention to cycling is a reform for secure cycling parking in stations and the development of bike-on-train measures.

Define spending!

 

Greece 

The plan largely speaks about green tourism / ecotourism / non-seasonal tourism but the only cycling-related investment is the development of walking and cycling routes in the forest of Tatoi 

Be more ambitious!

 

 €4.5 million

(0.03% of RRF)

 

Lithuania

Cycling is now mentioned also in the component “Component “Development of a sustainable transport system” which includes the development of walking and cycling infrastructure, but it still lacks of details in spending and concrete plans. Define spending!

It also added the reform ”moving without polluting,” which sets specific targets for e-cars. Insert e-bike targets as well!

 

Poland

Punctual interventions to improve road safety, including cycling (in national roads). There are plans for building a coherent cycling network integrated with PT, but they have been moved from grants to loans.

Without any earmarked funds, this is only words. Define spending!

 

€14 million

(0.06% of RRF)

 

Slovenia

The sustainable mobility component of the plan mainly focuses on rail and alternative fuels; cycling is explicitly mentioned only in the sustainable tourism section, where investments on cycling trails and walking paths are envisaged.

 

€1 million

(0.06% of RRF)

 

Sweden

Very general pillar dedicated to local and regional climate investments, which “can be about everything from biogas and infrastructure,such as cycle paths, to the destruction of nitrous oxide and to replace heating systems from oil for district heating.”

 

€25 million

(0.76% of RRF)

 

NO (relevant) REFERENCES: Finland, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, Portugal

Not publicly available: Netherlands

*= some countries foresee general envelopes for sustainable mobility. An estimation was based considering a realistic percentage of funding going to cycling on the basis of the interventions declared.

**= intended as each country’s share of RRF.

Topics: 

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News category: 

Summary: 

Since ECF’s last analysis, most EU countries now mention cycling in their COVID-19 recovery plans, with €1.7 billion earmarked for cycling infrastructure, safety, tourism and promotion, confirming its importance for Europe’s sustainable recovery.


Categories:ECF

EuroVelo & Cycling Tourism Conference 2021

08/3/2021 12:02

Date: 

05 to 07 Oct, 2021, 00:0000:00

The premier European cycling tourism conference will take place from 5 to 7 October in Barcelona, which will also simultaneously host the XVIII Iberian Congress “Bicycle and the City” and the 7th International Congress of the Bicycle. Register now!

Regions: 

Public: 

Public

Visible to trusted contacts of: 

External website?: 

Yes


Categories:ECF

No energy-efficient buildings without adequate bicycle parking and e-bike charging infrastructure

07/20/2021 12:02
No energy-efficient buildings without adequate bicycle parking and e-bike charging infrastructure

On 14 July, the European Commission published its immense “Fit for 55” package with several new legislative proposals destined to help achieve the political target of reducing Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030. Transport and buildings are two of the main sectors that have been singled out if the EU is to deliver on this goal.

While the transport and building sectors each have their own individual targets, there are clear interlinkages. These were confirmed during the 2018 revision of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD), which set minimum requirements for charging infrastructure for e-cars. ECF welcomed that recognition but believes there is still a lot of room for improvement when it comes to a holistic view on (e-)mobility. This shortcoming must be addressed, and a Commission proposal for revising the EPBD is expected for November 2021.

The European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF) is proud to publish a new position paper, “Making buildings fit for cycling by revising the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive,” which shall inform the revision process.

The importance of parking and battery charging

Beyond charging infrastructure for e-cars, parking is a major determinant of an individual’s mobility choices; this is true for bicycles, cars and other personal transport modes. Put simply, if there is easy and convenient parking available at the beginning and end of a person’s journey for a specific mode of transport, this person is far more likely to choose that transport mode over another one on a regular basis.

ECF therefore recommends to legislate the following provisions in the forthcoming EPBD revision:

1. Introduce minimum requirements for bicycle parking.

Only six EU member states have minimum quantitative requirements in place, and another three require local authorities to set such rules. ECF recommends to follow the Bulgarian example, which requires a minimum of 1.5 bicycle parking spaces per residential unit in apartment buildings.

2. Introduce minimum requirements for e-bike charging infrastructure.

5.1 million e-bikes were sold in the EU and UK in 2020, accounting to about 25% of total bicycle sales. The bicycle industry predicts that e-bike sales will grow to 17 million units in 2030. As most e-bike batteries are removable, ECF recommends to equip only 10% of bicycle parking spots with charging infrastructure, ie 1.5 e-bike charging points per ten residential units.

3. Improve the social, environmental and mobility performance of buildings by better regulating requirements for car parking.

About half of EU member states have set minimum car-parking requirements at the national level. These are often arbitrary and built beyond demand. Underground parking is also very expensive (on average nearly €30,000 per unit) and has its share in making new housing ever less affordable.

ECF therefore recommends, at the very least, that all minimum car-parking requirements in urban centres that are well served by public transport as well as by safe walking and cycling facilities should be eliminated and replaced by maximums, ie no more than 0.5 parking spots per residential unit).

As the whole economy will become electrified over the next 30 years, demand for electricity will increase manifold. This brings the need for energy-efficiency back into the picture. The bicycle is the most energy-efficient mode of transport. Other than walking, it is also the most space-efficient and affordable mode of transport.

ECF believes the bicycle must play a crucial role in the recast of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive if the EU is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030.

Read ECF’s position paper: “Making buildings fit for cycling by revising the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive”

Links: ec.europa.eu/info/law/better-regulation/have-your-say/initiatives/12910-Energy-efficiency-Revision-of-the-Energy-Performance-of-Buildings-Directive_en

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Summary: 

The transport and building sectors are both crucial for the EU’s 2030 goal of cutting emissions by 55%. A new ECF position paper outlines how to include bicycle parking and e-bike charging infrastructure in the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive.


Categories:ECF

Lessons learned: Building a regional cycling network in Poland’s West Pomerania region

07/20/2021 0:04
A section of EuroVelo 10 and 13 along the Baltic coast in Kołobrzeg, Poland

How do you create a regional cycling network? By using EU funds to rapidly create the backbone of a regional cycling network, the Polish region of West Pomerania has succeeded in opening 800km of high-quality cycle routes – including 350km of new dedicated cycle tracks – in only five years since the concept plan was adopted in 2015.

Within the framework of the EU CYCLE project, the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF) has analysed the process in depth to assist other regions that seek to follow their example.

Timeline

2014 West Pomerania starts working on the idea of a regional cycling network
2015 Inventory of existing infrastructure and “low-hanging fruits”; concept plan developed and adopted by the board of the region
2016 Implementation starts: technical documentation, land acquisition, followed by construction works and signage
2018 First new cycle tracks completed 
2021 Provisional continuity of all four main routes defined in the concept plan
2025 Expected completion of the network

Planning

The four priority routes of the network.West Pomerania is a voivodeship (region) situated in the north-west of Poland, bordered by the Baltic Sea to the north and Germany to the west. In 2014, the region started working on a regional cycle route network concept.

The first stage consisted of compiling an inventory of existing and already planned infrastructure: cycle tracks and cycle lanes, but also paved forest roads (non-public), that could be easily integrated into cycle routes. The team contacted around 140 stakeholders – including municipalities, counties and road and forest administrations – to collect information, which was then verified and supplemented by field work. This initial stage revealed that, while there was a lot of existing cycling infrastructure in the region, it was very fragmented and rarely formed coherent routes.

Based around main traffic generators such as cities, train stations and important tourist attractions, four priority corridors were selected for further analysis and detailed development. The choice was related to the degree of current development, touristic attractiveness and the need for socioeconomic activation. While Velo Baltica, part of the EuroVelo 10 and 13 cycle routes, connects the areas in the region most frequently visited by tourists, the other routes aim to encourage better dispersion of tourist traffic.

Components of the West Pomerania regional cycling network. Terms “existing” and ”new” refer to the situation in 2015, when the concept plan was adopted.

Crosschecking the corridors with existing and planned infrastructure allowed for a comprehensive proposal about the investments that the project would require. Most of the network (64%) could follow existing infrastructure – cycle tracks (22%), public roads with low traffic (35%) and asphalted non-public forest roads (7%) – but the construction of 410km of new cycle tracks (36%) was needed to ensure the high quality of the routes. The total cost was initially estimated to be €51 million.

“Around 14 people from the regional planning office were involved in developing the concept plan,” recollects Wanda Nowotarska, the regional cycling officer who was hired in 2014 to start the process.

Cycle track on a disused railroad crossing the town of Barlinek. Photo: West Pomerania

Implementation

Implementing the plan did not come without its fair share of challenges. For many critical stakeholders such as the forest administration and the water management authority, cycling infrastructure is not part of their core business and they lacked interest or capacity to improve route sections. Furthermore, local divisions of the forest administration were interpreting regulations differently, and municipalities or counties along a route would have varying priorities. Land acquisition for cycle tracks turned out to be more complicated and time consuming than for roads for cars. In some cases, investments in the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) created additional barriers for the routes.

The regional road administration has assumed a leading role in obtaining and managing funding, producing the required technical documentation and constructing and signposting the cycle routes. This allows for smooth project management and tendering as well as stringent quality control with the help of the road administration’s own laboratory to analyse surface samples. Municipalities are responsible for acquiring land and providing rest areas, and they will maintain the completed routes.

As of June 2021, three full-time employees worked in a dedicated cycling team at the Marshall’s Office, led by Nowotarska, to coordinate the continued development of the network. Additionally, 24 people from the regional road administration are involved with documentation, construction, tendering, finances and EU project management – but only spend part of their time working with the cycling investments.

The Oderbrücke Bienenwerder bridge on the German-Polish border, built in 1892 and turned into a cycle and pedestrian track. Photo: West Pomerania

Costs and financing

As of June 2021, €59 million have been committed, including €48 million in EU funding (€38 million from the 2014-2020 EU budget and €10 million already provisionally allocated from the 2021-2027 budget). The amount covers implementing almost 800km of cycle routes, including the construction of 350km of dedicated cycle tracks. The most expensive component was the adaptation of a 330m-long railroad bridge across the river Odra on the Polish-German border, with a price tag of €3 million.

The cost of completing the remaining 336km (including 76km of dedicated cycle tracks) has been estimated to run to €15 million. In total, the whole network of 1,135km cycle routes, including 426km of new cycle tracks, will cost €73 million. The EU contribution to completing the network is expected to reach €60 million.

Costs and length of the implemented and remaining routes (June 2021):

 

Total costs
(€ million)

EU funding
(€ million)

Total cycle routes
(km)

New cycle tracks
(km)

Committed – 2014-2020 budget
(Regional Operational Program + Interreg)

46

38

799

350

Committed – 2021-2027 budget

12

10

Remaining

15

12

336

76

Total

73

60

1,135

426

“For most projects, the EU has provided 85% of financing, with the remaining costs split 50-50 between the region and the local municipalities,” explains Wojciech Grela from the cycling team at the Marshall’s Office. In practice, the share of EU financing in West Pomerania has been somewhat lower, 82%, as not all expenses could be qualified.

Key lessons learned

  • Focus efforts and resources on a few carefully selected routes. Completing a continuous high-quality route creates stronger momentum for further development than many isolated sections.
  • Regional cycle routes are best built by the regional road administration, as many rural communes do not have capacity for proper tendering or quality assurance. Additionally, regional priorities differ from local ones: an important route connecting two cities can for example have a 3km stretch passing through the peripheral area of a rural commune that is not really interested in the route. Moreover, tendering at a regional level allows for the benefits of economies of scale.
  • Lack of legal tools to facilitate land acquisition for independent cycle tracks. Such tools exist in Poland for road or rail construction but not for cycle routes. A better legal framework would not only speed up implementation but also allow some routes to be built cheaper. Additionally, being able to acquire land further away from a public road could for example reduce the need to incorporate drainage or barriers in the design, elements which are often more expensive than the cycle track itself.
An interactive map of the routes is available at: www.trasyrowerowe.wzp.pl

For pictures and news, follow: https://www.facebook.com/PomZachodnieRowerem

Cover photo: A section of EuroVelo 10 and 13 along the Baltic coast in Kołobrzeg. Photo credit: West Pomerania

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Network/Project Involved: 

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Summary: 

The region of West Pomerania in Poland used EU funds to rapidly create the backbone of a regional cycling network. In only five years since adopting the plan, 800km of high-quality cycle routes have opened, including 350km of new cycle tracks.


Categories:ECF

Cycling organisations react to the European Commission’s “Fit for 55” package

07/16/2021 0:02
Cycling organisations react to the European Commission’s “Fit for 55” package

On 14 July, the European Commission released its much-awaited set of proposals to implement the European Green Deal in a package called “Fit for 55.” It is an ambitious plan containing a raft of legislative and policy measures aimed at reducing the EU’s carbon emissions by 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels.       

Below is the initial reaction of the cycling organisations European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF), Cycling Industries Europe (CIE) and Confederation of the European Bicycle Industry (CONEBI) to “Fit for 55,” with a focus on plans to reduce transport emissions.

First, there must be no shortage of political commitment to use and improve upon the Commission’s plan to reduce the EU’s carbon emissions as quickly as possible given the growing urgency of the climate crisis.

Second, the EU cannot achieve its ambition to reduce carbon emissions by 55% by 2030 if there is not a bigger and more systematic uptake of cycling across the entire European continent.

According to the European Commission’s own analysis, transport makes up nearly a quarter of Europe’s carbon emissions and is the main cause of air pollution in cities. It is the only sector where emissions have not decreased. Road transport is the worst culprit, accounting for more than 70% of greenhouse gas emissions. The Commission concludes that “greenhouse gas emissions from transport will need to be at least 60% lower than in 1990 and be firmly on the path towards zero.”

But will the Commission’s proposal to completely phase out the sale of new polluting cars by 2035 and install regular charging and fuelling points on Europe’s major highways get us there?

Electrifying motorised transport should be part of the plan to decarbonise the transport sector. But there is a serious hitch in this plan, which is that scaling up the existing technology to electrify motor vehicles and recharge electric car batteries for widespread use will not happen fast enough to make the significant impact needed. To decarbonise transport, much quicker and more decisive action must be taken.

The technology for rapidly reducing road-transport emissions already exists. It has existed for more than 200 years. It is a solution that is already widespread on our streets if not sitting idle in garages and basements. It is vastly more economically efficient to manufacture, sell and create space for. And it cleans up the climate very quickly. It is the bicycle.

The bicycle was already a serious mode of daily transportation and leisure throughout Europe until motorised transport became dominant in the mid-20th century. The promise of the internal combustion engine to provide people with mobility freedom soon gave way to an ever-worsening kind of mobility poverty. We ceded our public spaces to multi-lane highways, tore up bustling communities and city centres to build broad avenues and parking lots.

Now, we are feeling the weight of these consequences: the dependency on having a car to move around, paying the high costs of purchasing and maintaining motor vehicles, the social and community divides rendered by roads and highways, and – worse than all others – the massive toll wrought on our climate and our ability to live sustainably on this planet.

The Commission’s “Fit for 55” package was a big opportunity to propose a more radical transformational shift away from polluting road transport. But it has missed this major opportunity by focusing too much on electrifying vehicles at the expense of more quickly boosting and realising the potential of cycling, which is a zero-carbon transport technology already in our grasp that can be scaled up effectively at a vastly lower expense than electrifying motor vehicles.

The environmental and climate benefits of cycling are obvious but bear repeating. ECF’s own analysis reveals that cycling already saves emissions of more than 16 million tons of CO2 equivalents per year in the EU and reduces air pollution. In 2018, the European Environment Agency reported that the economic value of reduced air pollution through cycling is €435 million. Then there are the savings in fuel: even just the present levels of cycling in the EU correspond to a fuel savings of more than 3 billion litres per year.

There are the savings in production. In a 2016 report by ECF, we concluded that the full impact of producing bicycles means that they release about 21 grams of CO2 per passenger-km travelled, compared with 271 grams of CO2 for passenger cars. Finally, there is the undeniable savings in emissions: anywhere from 33 to 72 million tons of CO2 if cycling levels were to triple in Europe.

Just as importantly, (e-)cycling delivers a wide range of other societal benefits that cars do not, such as improved public health, reduced congestion and noise, much lower consumption of raw materials, fewer road deaths and serious injuries, more liveable cities, better rural connectivity, greener leisure and tourism options, more vibrant local economies and more inclusive societies.

The bottom line is this: if the EU truly hopes to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030 – and by extension road-transport emissions, which make up the biggest chunk – and do this fairly and truly effectively, then the EU has no other choice than to significantly scale up cycling across all of Europe in addition to – and, we would argue, as a priority over – plans to electrify motor-vehicle transport.

Jill Warren, CEO of the European Cyclists’ Federation: “Boosting cycling is already the best means-tested way to quickly cut carbon emissions from transport on a massive scale, so the EU and member states must prioritise cycling’s further development as a matter of urgency to have any hope of achieving Fit for 55’s climate goals.”

Philip Amaral, Director of Policy and Development at the European Cyclists’ Federation: “Cycling needs to be a major recipient of the Fit for 55’s €72 billion Social Climate Fund to support EU citizens most affected or at risk of energy or mobility poverty.”

Kevin Mayne, Chief Executive of Cycling Industries Europe: “The cycling industries of Europe are ready to continue leading the world in the change to e-mobility. Fit for 55 must support this with investment in cycling and cycling infrastructure, which flows straight through to green European jobs.”

Manuel Marsilio, General Manager of the Confederation of the European Bicycle Industry: “Electric bikes, which replace many car trips and avoid polluting emissions, are fast becoming consumers’ preferred choice and are the most-sold electric vehicle today. Fully 80% of the 4.5 million e-bikes sold in Europe last year were produced here. Fit for 55 needs to maximise the enormous further potential of e-bikes to decarbonise emissions and create additional jobs.”

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Summary: 

The European Commission’s “Fit for 55” package missed a major opportunity to propose a radical transformational shift away from polluting road transport. To cut emissions by 55% by 2030, the EU must significantly scale up cycling across all of Europe.


Categories:ECF

“Bikes and trains is a winning combination”: new report ranks Europe’s train companies

07/10/2021 0:03
Cyclists love trains: How bike-friendly are Europe’s rail companies?

How bike friendly are Europe’s rail companies? As part of the European Year of Rail, the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF) has published an ambitious report analysing and ranking 69 railway companies and services across the continent according to their bicycle friendliness.

Over 600 participants registered for the report’s launch event on 7 July 2021 to experience a number of high-level speakers discussing the report and the future of bike-and-train intermodality in Europe. Notable figures in attendance included Georges Gilkinet, Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Mobility, Anna Deparnay-Grunenberg, Member of the European Parliament, and Isabella Grahsl, Head of Business Performance and Development at Deutsche Bahn Connect,

“I’m delighted to see this kind of meeting, which puts cycling and rail back at the heart of mobility policies in Belgium and throughout Europe. It’s very important to share experiences, it’s a good way to improve ourselves,” said Gilkinet at the event. He praised bike-and-train travel as a winning combination that is both sustainable and effective and welcomed the report as “a strong message from the European Cyclists’ Federation and all its member associations.”

What does the report tell us?

The publication of “Cyclists love trains: An analysis of the bicycle friendliness of European railway operators” has shone a spotlight on the best practices that help facilitate intermodal travel, while also reflecting on the widespread shortcomings of most railway undertakings.

“We know that cyclists all over Europe increasingly want to be able to take their bicycles with them on trains,” said ECF CEO Jill Warren. “This extensive piece of research can be used by policymakers and industry leaders alike to benchmark their performance, study examples of shortcomings and best practices, and understand where the potential for improvement is.”

The report has evaluated and scored European railway undertakings on six different indicators, including the number of bicycle spaces on trains, the cost of bike space reservations and the functionality of booking and reservation channels.

The overall conclusion of the report is that there is still much work to be done to achieve seamless intermodal travel between bicycles and trains in Europe. Of the 69 railway undertakings analysed, only one (NS-DB Intercity Berlin) is ranked as “excellent.” This result pales in comparison to the 15 undertakings which do not currently accept non-foldable and un-dismantled bicycles, thus being ranked as “very poor” in terms of bike friendliness.

The report also highlights a need for more unified interventional policy at the EU level to ensure better accommodation of bicycles on trains throughout EU member states.

Map detailing railway undertakings across Europe

“The current situation is quite a disjointed European rail ecosystem,” concluded Charles Carnegie, ECF Policy Intern and author of the report, at the event. “The disjointed nature of European rail infrastructure is emblematic of the complex and often confusing rules and regulations regarding bicycle carriage. Making it easier for the passenger must be a priority. Build it and they will come.”

Within the report, ECF has also provided recommendations for how railway companies can improve their services to better accommodate bicycles. The core premise underlying these recommendations is flexibility for the user, particularly regarding the following key issues:

  • Acceptance of non-foldable and un-dismantled bicycles on all train services.
  • Dedicated bicycle spaces which are accessible and easy to use for all types of passengers.
  • Investment and promotion of bicycle sharing schemes.
  • The provision of clear and concise information on bicycle services.
  • A pan-European journey planner and coordination of bicycle carriage rules.

“Now it’s time for implementation”

The launch event gathered representatives from rail operators ranked in the report as well as from EU institutions and the French government.

“We are convinced that a strong railway system is very much important for the climate but also for people,” said Isabella Grahsl of Deutsche Bahn Connect, who welcomed the report’s insights. “It’s a great source of inspiration for all railway companies regardless of where they rank.”

Speaking on behalf of SNCB-NMBS, Intermodality Manager Denis Brachet mentioned that bicycle use is on the rise in Belgium, and deemed it a challenge “to meet the demand of cycling to the station and the facilities needed to park bicycles at the station.” Nevertheless, he insisted that it is something that is important to support.

It seems likely that the upward trend of bicycle users will continue, both for commuters and for holiday travellers. “The last figures on bike tourism are really exploding in France, so I’m sure lots of things will happen in the coming years,” commented Thierry du Crest, Interministerial Coordinator for the development of bicycle use at the French Ministry of the Ecological Transition. “Now, after having published laws and decrees in France, it’s time for implementation.”

“Bikes and trains are a really perfect match for sustainable tourism, for greener mobility of the future,” said Anna Deparnay-Grunenberg, who is also the European Parliament’s rapporteur for the European Year of Rail.

Event moderator Laura Laker and MEP Anna Deparnay-Grunenberg

The future of bikes on trains

Despite the disappointing results for many European train companies in terms of encouraging sustainable intermodal transport, the “Cyclists love trains” report also shows some promising signs for improvement. Countries and railway operators with designated strategies for integrating cycling and rail journeys have scored quite well, such as Belgium’s SNCB/NMBS, which ranks joint second with Switzerland’s SBB. This shows that planned investment in intermodal transport facilities does indeed pay dividends.

“Today we are celebrating progress. It’s important, it’s one more step,” said Georges Gilkinet. “But we will not lose sight of the work the remains to be done. This is just the beginning, we have to work for better information, better material and cheaper rates for cyclists.”

The relationship between cyclists and trains certainly has the potential to grow and improve in the coming years. “Like any good relationship there is love and there are challenges and we must find a balance in meeting the needs of all of our customers – cyclists included,” said Lisbeth Blum, Senior Manager of Product Innovation at DB Regio AG.

“Cyclists are deeply in love with trains, but most train companies don’t realise that they are being loved,” said ECF President Henk Swarttouw in his closing remarks at the launch event. “This is so surprising because, with a view to our climate goals, emissions goals and sustainability of our transport, we are such natural allies.”

Download the report here.

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Summary: 

ECF’s latest publication, “Cyclists love trains,” sets a benchmark for intermodal travel on Europe’s railways. The report ranks the bicycle friendliness of 69 European rail operators and was launched at a high-level online event organised by ECF.


Categories:ECF

The decade of the bicycle

06/3/2021 0:03
The decade of the bicycle

World Bicycle Day, 3 June, may only come around once a year, but this decade could see the bicycle reclaim a central place in our societies – and mitigate the worst crisis of our times.

History books will kick off the story of the 2020s with the devastation of COVID-19. The global pandemic has claimed over 3.5 million lives to date, and it has influenced every aspect of our lives, from our social relations and physical and mental health to the way we work and move about.

As tragic and challenging as it has been, the pandemic has also made more people all over Europe adopt cycling as their way of getting around. New and old cyclists alike flooded our previously car-dominated cities and towns during lockdown, and bike shops have struggled to keep up with demand.

Across the continent, politicians acted quickly. Many either accelerated existing plans for cycling or introduced cycle-friendly measures for the first time, often by introducing quick, temporary measures such as “pop-up” cycle lanes – also known as tactical urbanism.

A recent study using data from the European Cyclists’ Federation showed that pop-up cycle lanes increased cycling levels by up to 48% in European cities. Perceptive authorities in many places are now making those pop-up lanes permanent. In many countries, there is renewed political momentum for investing in cycling, not least in national economic recovery plans.

Meeting Europe’s climate goals

But if we are to overcome the most urgent crisis of our times, much more cycling investment and commitment is needed. Put bluntly, Europe’s climate goals will never be met without significant emission reductions in the transport sector, which in turn cannot be realised without significantly more cycling. Transport is a major contributor to climate change, responsible for almost a quarter of global CO2 emissions, and a major shift from private car travel to truly sustainable transport modes like cycling will be key to meeting the climate goals we have set ourselves.

Governments are placing a lot of hope in technology such as electric and/or autonomous vehicles, but they will at best only be part of the solution. Electrification will take a long time and will not help solve other problems such as traffic congestion and lack of physical activity.

We must prioritise and invest in solutions that are available now. Once produced, the bicycle is a net-zero emitter, and more cycling delivers a range of positive societal impacts in addition to cleaner air: reduced congestion, improved health and well-being, more attractive and liveable cities for all, better rural connectivity and greener leisure and tourism options.

Cycling is an equaliser. It offers people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds access to jobs and places of social and cultural exchange. It helps create more inclusive societies and contributes to vibrant local economies through higher patronage of local business and more local jobs.

Seize the momentum

So what should policy- and decisionmakers do? How can they enable more cycling in their countries, cities and towns?

First, they should openly commit to prioritising cycling as a sustainable and healthy mode of transport, as Ireland did in the government’s coalition agreement in 2020: “Cycling and electric cycling have enormous potential to facilitate a high proportion of daily trips if we provide an environment which protects and prioritises this mode of transport.”

Second, they must allocate budgets and re-allocate public space for the provision of safe, connected and direct cycling infrastructure. Perceived lack of safety is the biggest barrier for people to choose cycling for their daily trips. Hence, high-quality, protected cycle paths are a must. To become truly cycling-friendly, cities must follow the lead of cities like Amsterdam, Copenhagen and, more recently, London and Paris.

Third, cycling should be supported and incentivised through measures such as purchase premiums, tax breaks and cycle-to-work schemes. France’s recent announcement to give e-bike purchase premiums of up to €2,500 when scrapping a polluting car is an example to follow.

We must seize the momentum of the current crisis and European countries’ green recovery plans to create the more liveable, sustainable and healthy Europe that we want to live in. As European Commission Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans said last autumn, investment in cycling is a “no-brainer and no-regret.” That’s why we must invest heavily in cycling, which is a good deal as cycling measures have a high return on investment.

If we succeed, the 2020s will certainly be remembered for COVID-19 and the climate emergency, but also as the decade when the way we transport ourselves stopped being the problem and became part of the solution.

The European Cyclists’ Federation works for more and better cycling for all, because we strongly believe that cycling is the best solution we already have. It’s worth remembering that we don’t always have to reinvent the wheel. Happy World Bicycle Day to you all!

Henk Swarttouw is President of the European Cyclists’ Federation.

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Summary: 

The world will need much more cycling if we are to overcome climate change, the most urgent crisis of our times. If we succeed, the 2020s could be the decade when the way we transport ourselves stopped being the problem and became part of the solution.


Categories:ECF

“The bike is our secret weapon”: European cycling cities and EU institutions meet to share best practices

06/3/2021 0:03
Celebrating Cycling Cities: Sharing Europe’s Best Practices

High-level speakers from all over Europe met on 1 June 2021 to share best practices for how to shape more cycle-friendly urban mobility systems. “Celebrating Cycling Cities: Sharing Europe’s Best Practices”, an online event co-hosted by the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF) and the Dutch Cycling Embassy (DCE), formed a part of the official EU Green Week 2021 programme and featured a packed line-up of city cycling experts, officials and politicians from all over Europe.

For the event’s first keynote, Daniel Mes, Member of Cabinet of European Commission’s Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans, noted that despite the great strides being made at the EU level that “a lot of action will still need to take place locally and that is why this event is so crucial with cities coming together to share their success stories.”

Matthew Baldwin, Deputy Director-General of DG MOVE and Mission Manager of “100 Climate-Neutral Cities by 2030”, followed up this message by underlining the role cycling had to play in achieving climate neutrality. He also encouraged city officials to apply for EU recovery funds for cycling and to apply pressure on national and regional governments to implement more cycle-centric policies.

This celebration of cycling cities was a packed event with speakers from across the continent sharing their stories of best practices. Dutch State Secretary for Infrastructure and Water Management Stjentje van Veldhoven spoke from experience when describing the collaborative efforts that crucially underpin the successful development of cycling infrastructure.

Stjentje emphasised that the number of cyclists in a city will grow, provided that mobility networks are combined with high-quality infrastructure and policy that takes cycling seriously. She explained, “The bike is our secret weapon against so many of the problems we are facing”, and that the Dutch willingness to share these lessons is matched by a desire to learn from advances being made elsewhere on the continent.

Highlighting Europe’s best practices

The ensuing round table discussions exemplified the incredible breadth and depth of the progress being made in implementing more cycling across the continent. From the success of hybrid-bike share systems in Dublin, to the benefits of youth focused cycling schemes in Gdansk, and detailed economic analysis of the economic benefits of more cycling in Helsinki that is helping to inform public officials in their decision-making, the roundtable lived up to its inspirational expectations.

Great strides have also been made in cities such as Valencia and Lisbon in recent years. Deputy Mayor of Valencia Giuseppe Grezzi proudly listed the milestones surpassed so far in his city’s journey to becoming “the Mediterranean capital of bicycles”. This included 1.5 million bike users in the metropolitan centre, 64% of city streets having a 30 km/h speed limit and better bike lanes being continuously implemented since 2015.

This has all resulted in 16% of modal share being made up of walking and cycling and crucial reductions in pollution for citizens and the planet. When asked what he would achieve if more funding were to be available, Giuseppe responded “build even more bike lanes and even some bike bridges” to further connect surrounding municipalities to the city by bike.

Meanwhile in Lisbon, Deputy Mayor Miguel Gaspar urged those who had not recently been to the city to visit again this coming autumn for Velo-city 2021 and witness the amazing progress made towards the 200 km bike lane target in the last two years.

“Our goal is to make the city more green. We want everyone to have the choice to bike. We have promised to make a better city to our children. We want to return public space to people and then people will use it,” he said during an interview with Velo-city Director Caroline Cerfontaine.

Collaborating cities

One emerging theme throughout the event was the potential for cities to learn from one another’s own experiences in implementing cycle-friendly urban-mobility systems. For example, Helsinki’s efforts to emulate Oulu’s success in winter cycling saw the Finnish capital turn to lessons learnt in Copenhagen to best prepare cyclists and infrastructure for the climatic conditions of coastal winters.

Representatives from Amsterdam and Ljubljana both extolled the benefits of creating road systems in city centres that are more selective of the type of traffic using them. To encourage citizens to make more beneficial choices, such as going by bike. Simona Berden, Senior Advisor of the Development Projects and Investments Office, Ljubljana, added that in trying to make a more cycle-friendly city, city officials had “made communication with citizens stronger”, much to the benefit of all.

ECF Board Member and Head of Cycle Superhighways for the Capital region of Copenhagen Sidsel Birk Hjuler echoed calls made in Valencia to improve rural connectivity. Citing Danish research showing that average long-distance commutes by bike are only 1 km less than the average commute made by train. Meaning that the lessons learnt around Cycle Superhighways in Copenhagen provide strong evidence in favour of more elaborate infrastructure. Such as the bike bridges desired by the Deputy Mayor of Valencia.

Economic benefits a bonus

Aside from an improved urban environment, representatives also alluded to the economic potential cycling cities have to offer. Baldwin began by highlighting how “if you increase cycling you increase your footfall and therefore retail sales – vitally important in the face of online shopping”. He went on to urge cities to claim EU Recovery Funds for this purpose when attempting to regenerate in the wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Lord Mayor of Dublin Hazel Chu later added that the unprecedented take-up of cycling had resulted in a bike industry boom never seen before in Ireland, while Miguel Gaspar of Lisbon also sought to highlight the economic benefits to Portugal’s own bike manufacturing sector.

Call to action

Attendees were also given an exclusive preview of the upcoming Civitas Handshake self-assessment tool. An EU funded project to enable better collaboration between existing cycling capitals and cities attempting to improve cycle-friendliness.

The scale of progress being made in cities across the EU, and the commitment to 100 Climate-Neutral Cities by 2030, all serves as “a signal that the EU is not backing down on the Green New Deal” according to Baldwin who encourages all in favour of cycling to contribute to the upcoming open public consultation being conducted by the Commission.

It is certainly clear that cycling cities have a critical role to play in the coming years and that by working together the goal of more cycling will be easier to achieve. But for now, in the words of ECF President Henk Swarttouw, “it is time for homework. If you are a city, go and complete the Civitas Handshake self-assessment, make plans and consider responding to the call to become one of the 100 Climate-Neutral cities by 2030.”

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Network/Project Involved: 

Summary: 

Over 1,300 participants were registered when politicians and officials from European cities, EU institutions and the Netherlands met for an event on the role of cycling and cities in shaping better mobility systems and tackling the climate crisis.


Categories:ECF

Cycling in Scotland: A Year Like No Other

05/3/2021 12:03
New data reports a 47% increase in cycling in Scotland
New data reports a 47% increase in cycling in Scotland from March 2020 to March 2021 compared to the previous year. Local cyclists accredit this growth to more cycle-friendly roads during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Between March 2020 and March 2021, 47% more cycling journeys were recorded in Scotland compared to the same period the previous year, according to data released by Cycling Scotland. The increase coincides with the introduction of the country’s first COVID-19 restrictions, which were first implemented on 23 March 2020.

Cycling Scotland, a member of the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF), has been issuing continuous updates on the number of cycling journeys being undertaken since lockdown measures came into effect. Using the country’s nationwide network of automatic counters to compile the data, they have reported an increase in cycling for eleven of the twelve months. 20 of the counters even recorded an annual increase of more than 100%!

As stated by Keith Irving, Chief Executive of Cycling Scotland, “it has been a horrendous year, but one of the few bright spots has been more people getting back on their bikes. Cycling has a key role to play in people getting exercise and fresh air, managing the ongoing pressure on our transport system and, crucially, tackling the global climate emergency we face.”

This information was collected as part of the National Monitoring Framework, managed by Cycling Scotland, to monitor cycling rates across the country.

Cycle-Friendly Roads: Unlocking the Benefits of Cycling

The relaxation of car traffic during lockdown has played a major role in encouraging people in Scotland to get out on their bike. Once individuals take the initial step and begin cycling more, they begin to realise the resulting health benefits and positive impact it has on their lives.

Claire Sharp, a charity worker from Glasgow, began cycling during lockdown and is a typical example of how people are more likely to cycle on roads that are not dominated by car traffic. “I live next to a main road that leads into the city centre to my work; it’s an easy route but the traffic there is so heavy. I was too scared to attempt it in the past”, she told Cycling Scotland. “I’ve also found going for a cycle after work helps me process things that have happened during the day and makes me less stressed.”

Asif Sattar, an IT worker from Motherwell, also took up cycling over the past year, explaining that “cycling was a way for me to break free of the lockdown gloom. As I was working from home, getting out on my bike helped me exercise, clear the mind and refocus on my health during the pandemic.”

However, less cars on the road is only the beginning for improving cycling infrastructure in countries like Scotland. Increased investment in permanent cycling infrastructure is the only way to a ensure a long-term modal shift towards cycling, improving transport sustainability and reducing carbon emissions.

As explained by Irving, “to get even more people cycling, we need to invest more in infrastructure, so people feel safe to cycle. We need more dedicated cycle lanes, separated from vehicles and pedestrians. We need to reduce traffic, especially on residential and shopping streets. And we need to increase access to bikes and storage to tackle the barriers too many people face so anyone, anywhere can enjoy all the benefits of cycling.” 

A Cycling Boom

The past twelve months has been a prosperous year for the cycling industry in Scotland. Like many other countries across Europe, the whole of the United Kingdom has experienced a major cycling boom. The latest figures from the Bicycle Association show sales of bikes, bike parts, accessories and services increased by 45% across the UK in 2020.

Public investment in long-term cycling infrastructure is a sure-fire way to ensure that this trend continues, especially with the increasing growth in popularity for electric and electric-assisted bicycles across Europe.

Scotland’s statistics on the increase in cycling have been outstanding. However, with the end in sight for lockdown restrictions in the UK, it is now important to ensure these figures are sustained going forward. Increased investment in long-term cycling infrastructure is essential for this. The past year has shown that people have the appetite to cycle more; it is now time to ensure these figures are sustained.

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Categories:ECF

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