Today, the European Commission released its landmark cycling declaration that is intended to transform the mobility landscape across Europe.
Eurocities has long advocated for this move: for the first time, the EU considers cycling to be a stand-alone, fully-fledged mode of transport and recognises its potential to pursue the Green Deal goals.
The Commission’s document will serve as a basis for inter-institutional discussions ahead of the adoption of a final version of the cycling declaration by the European Parliament, Council and Commission, expected for next year.
The Commission’s text “recognises cycling as one of the most sustainable, accessible and inclusive, low-cost and healthy forms of transport and recreation, and its key importance for European society and the economy.”
This development takes on board Eurocities’ advice published ahead of the cycling declaration. Over the past months, a dedicated task force of cycling-friendly Eurocities members led by Copenhagen formulated a set of recommendations on urban cycling to inform the Commission’s decision and included in a 12 September policy paper, “Pedal-powered progress – Towards an EU cycling policy.”
In line with Eurocities’ recommendations, the Commission recognises that more investment in cycling is needed to fully unleash the potential of cycling in Europe.
Likewise on data collection, the EU executive body lays out an ambitious proposal to create an EU-wide database to gauge progress on cycling infrastructure as well as keep track and measure cycling-related injuries.
However, elsewhere in the text, the Commission fails to set specific targets and key performances indicators to assess the long-term impact of the declaration as it has for electric cars or rail freight in previous EU strategies.
In addition, the Commission’s text doesn’t aim to double the number of cycled kilometres in the EU, as the European Parliament requested when it tasked the EU executive body to develop the cycling strategy last January.
As the EU institutions gear up to debate a final joint text on cycling, Eurocities invites the co-legislators to consider that monitoring progress on the implementation of the cycling declaration will be essential to keep the momentum.
Failure to do that would considerably weaken the cycling declaration and inevitably relegate it to the next European Commission’s dusty shelves. To avoid this scenario, Eurocities and its members urge the EU executive body to appoint a coordinator for active mobility whose task would be to coordinate the declaration’s implementation.
“With today’s declaration, the Commission broke the glass ceiling by recognising cycling as a stand-alone and powerful ally in the fight against climate change. We urge the EU to seize this unprecedented opportunity to revolutionise the way people move around. We encourage the EU to take the next step and create the right conditions to foster uptake of this healthy, cheap and sustainable mode of transport,” said Thomas Lymes, Policy Advisor for Mobility and Air Quality at Eurocities.
Eurocities reaffirms its commitment to supporting the EU institutions’ work on cycling under the next 2024-2029 mandate.
For decades, cities have taken trailblazing steps to foster cycling uptake, acquiring long-standing experience in this field. Eurocities members remain convinced that their unparalleled knowledge on urban cycling would be a powerful resource for EU policymakers and Member States as they continue to promote a shift towards sustainable modes of transport.
Top photo: Cyclists in Brussels. Photo: Daniela Berretta