With the right infrastructure, cycling is probably the best way to go around town or cover short distances. This is why one can rejoice that the European Parliament adopted in October a resolution calling to double cycling in Europe by 2030. This is the most ambitious initiative on cycling to date in Europe.
The European Parliament, the Council and the European Commission solemnly proclaimed the following joint Declaration on Cycling with a very ambitious statement :
We aim to unleash the full potential of cycling in the EU. This Declaration 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. The Declaration should serve as a strategic compass for existing and future policies and initiatives related to cycling.
The declaration sets out a comprehensive action plan to reach this ambitious objective. Among such action points are :
- Developing and strengthening cycling policies
- Encouraging inclusive and affordable mobility
- Creating more and better cycling infrastructure
- Increasing investments and creating favourable conditions for cycling
- Improving road safety and security
- Supporting green jobs and the development of a world-class European cycling industry
- Supporting multimodality and cycling tourism
- Improving the collection of data on cycling
These are good news as cycling has many an advantage and with electric bikes becoming much more common, it’s easier to climb a hill or go further and farther than one would envision with one’s own strength. Going around by bike is good for one’s health and finances, it’s good for the community with less traffic congestion and local air pollution, and it’s good for the country and the planet with less greenhouse gases emissions. Transport is the first greenhouse gas emitter in France.
But helping cycling becoming more prevalent in our cities and communities is just not about bike paths, or even better, protected bike paths. These need to be operating as a full network, not just some random spots. Additionally, there is need for “better links with public transport, secure parking spaces, the deployment of charging points for e-bikes and bike highways connecting cities with rural areas” as the European Commission points out.
Paris has shown that with some courageous leadership, and millions of euros of investments, rapid transformations can take place. I blogged earlier this year about that very topic. There were no less than 1094 kms (680 miles!) of bike paths in Paris proper in 2021. What if this was replicated in all larger cities around the European Union ?
Let’s hope this declaration will be followed up. France has taken up some interesting progress on cycling but we are not exactly on par with the Netherlands or Denmark just yet.