The Guest Blog

Guest blog post by Manfred Neun, President of the European Cyclists’ Federation – World Cycling Alliance.

At a time of climate worries a modern solution to society’s transport challenges would require almost no energy to run, be egalitarian, able to roll across cities easily, healthily and even be fun to use. A transition of the energy sector is crucial for limiting global warming to below 2°C (or 1.5°C). Yet this transition will be doomed to fail without a paradigm shift in the transport sector, which with its growing CO2 emissions since 1990 has increasingly become the elephant in the room. The European Parliament own-initiative report on urban mobility that was adopted recently includes interesting elements in the discussion on how to realise that paradigm shift but overall falls short in developing a vision that prioritises walking, cycling and public transport over private car use.

Let’s state this clearly: 2015 has been an important year for cycling. The Declaration of Luxembourg, an agreement signed last October between the 28 EU member states and the European Commission articulated their “commitment to promote cycling as a climate friendly and efficient transport mode”. For the first time, the Declaration calls for a cycling strategy that will show EU-wide policy benefits of cycling while identifying policies, funds and funding instruments that will increase cycling and foster cycling related employment in the EU. It also recommends that the EU and all Members States establish cycling focal points, which would be a big step in developing cycling policies across the EU.

At the same time, new technologies in cycling emerge as powerful solutions to policy problems. A baseline study carried out for the European project CycleLogistics, cargo bikes and cycle couriers could deliver 50% of the goods to and from our city centres and help the EU deliver its 2030 target of zero carbon logistics in urban centres.

When it comes to jobs, green growth and innovation, all strategically important for the European Union, the cycling sector is making the case. Electrically assisted bikes are outselling electric cars by a factor of 10 to 1 because they work so much better than cars as an urban solution and are enabling bikes to replace cars while taking pressure off congested public transport for daily trips up to 30km in length.

Looking at the bigger picture, the recent study “Global High Shift Scenario” showed that cycling could save the world up to 25 trillion US dollars in transport costs over the coming decades and contribute to eleven of the new Sustainable Development goals.

Bringing the focus back to Europe, the state-of-the-art expertise on cycling infrastructure and the untapped potential in economy and green innovation should convince decision-makers to put cycling on the agenda. Change can be achieved when we have the political will to do so.

This is our challenge in 2016: To make sure the Commission now delivers on the Declaration of Luxembourg and works with Member States, cities, industry and civil society to put cycling at the heart a new, more sustainable, human centred mobility.

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