In a landmark resolution, European lawmakers endorsed cycling as an essential, sustainable way to reach EU climate goals and acknowledged its long list of benefits, including on people’s health, air quality, traffic congestion and the economy.
“Cycling should be recognised as a fully-fledged mode of transport,” reads the text approved today by the European Parliament’s Committee on Transport and Tourism (TRAN).
Although cycling is already part and parcel of EU mobility strategies along with other modes of transport, today’s resolution is the first exclusively dedicated to this activity.
In order to pass, the text will now need to be approved by the European Parliament’s plenary session in a decision expected on 16 February.
“With this vote, the European Parliament is one-step away from adopting its very first position on cycling and finally asserting that cycling is a transport mode that should be put on equal footing with all others,” said Karima Delli, the Chair of the EU Parliament’s Committee on Transport and Tourism.
“The decision sends an important signal about the need to gear up cycling in the EU,” said Thomas Lymes, Eurocities’ Policy Advisor on Mobility and Air Quality. “Recent progress in our member cities shows that whenever strong political will is backed by adequate infrastructure, mobility habits can change fast,” he added.
To further encourage travel by bike, lawmakers ask the European Commission “to develop a dedicated European Cycling Strategy with an aim to double the number of cycled kilometres in Europe by 2030.” They also call to “ensure a harmonised collection of data” that could fill current gaps on cycling figures and better guide policy decisions.
The resolution takes on board the recommendations of a November 2021 Eurocities policy statement to bring urban mobility to the next level.
In another significant move, the resolution recognises the cycling industry’s potential to boost the economy. Lawmakers estimate that the sector could generate two million jobs by 2030 and absorb reskilled workers from other areas.
“Calling for a dedicated European strategy and for the cycling industry to be recognised as a key partner in the European industrial strategy are important steps toward this change of mind-set within our institutions and will have tremendous impact on the ground,” Delli remarked.
A big role for cities
The resolution is a de facto recognition of European cities’ long-standing work: for years, urban leaders have been embracing cycling as a sustainable mode and building infrastructure that turned it into a safe, appealing and convenient activity for urban dwellers.
More recently, Russia’s war on Ukraine and the ensuing energy crisis have prompted many to take up cycling as a cheaper alternative to driving a car.
Now EU lawmakers are asking to ramp up these efforts. The resolution encourages local leaders to maintain and expand existing structures and exploit cycling’s potential to connect cities with their suburban and rural areas.
To further foster cycling uptake, the text asks municipalities to provide secured parking and offer theft-preventing measures. At the same time, the resolution specifies that safety should be treated as a priority and that new structures should be built according to EU road safety legislation.
Lawmakers additionally ask to include “cycling lanes along railway tracks and inland waterways” to integrate travel by bike to urban nodes of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T).The request takes on board the European Commission and cycling associations’ call to create synergies between cycling and other sustainable means of transport.
Cycling should be an inclusive activity and within everyone’s reach, lawmakers highlight as they call to remove physical and economic barriers that prevent some groups from embracing this practice. This includes ensuring “accessibility to cycling for persons with reduced mobility” and tapping into the European Social Climate Fund to help low-income residents to buy bikes or rent them from mobility sharing services.
“We all agree about the many benefits of cycling: better health, less congestion, more livable cities, but so far we were lacking a strong signal from the EU institutions that recognised the central role of cycling in our societies,” Delli added.