UCI and UEC call on the European Union for a clear cycling strategy
More people on bikes, safer roads, more cycling infrastructure… these are all part of the Union Cycliste Internationale’s (UCI) mission to increase cycling across the world.
To strengthen that mission in Europe, the UCI has teamed up with the Union Européenne de Cyclisme (UEC) to join a campaign calling on the European Union (EU) to adopt a cycling strategy across its 28 member states, which together make up 10% of the world’s population. Led by the European Cyclists’ Federation, which represents the interests of millions of daily cyclists across the continent, the campaign wants to see cycling as a mode of transport given more prominence in EU policy-making, with specific targets to increase cycle use, improve safety and harmonise the approach to cycling across the member states.
UCI President Brian Cookson, together with UEC Vice-President Madis Lepajõe, recently met with EU Commission Vice-President Andrus Ansip, to discuss EU cycling policy and to press for the Commission to commit to a cycling strategy. Although some schemes and infrastructure investment in cycling already exist, they represent only a very small fraction of EU transport investment, far below the 10% of transport budgets which is recommended by commentators such as the United Nations Environment Programme.
The UCI has introduced a UCI Bike City label for cities demonstrating that they have a long-term cycle strategy, including political support, dedicated budgets and concrete plans for new cycling schemes. While some cities have such plans in place, no strategy exists at a European level to support local policies, and cycling is neglected in European policy making. The European Cyclists’ Federation suggests that the EU cycling strategy should include requirements to improve cross-border cycle routes, support cycling schemes as part of regional development, and also improve the tax, public health and environmental strategies to make cycling a more attractive transport option.
The campaign wants to see the EU set targets to eliminate vehicles and their pollution from city centres, reduce CO2 emissions from transport and double cycle use across the EU. Only around 7% of trips are currently made by bike, ranging from less than 1% in some states, to 26% in the Netherlands.
Substantial increases in cycle use would have far-reaching effects: if every adult walked or cycled an additional 15 mins per day, over 100,000 premature deaths would be prevented each year. Research supported by the UCI last year found that if the world reached the level of cycling currently achieved in the Netherlands by 2050, 10% of the greenhouse gas emissions from urban transport would be saved, and there would be $25tn in reduced expenditure on transport infrastructure and maintenance.
The UCI and UEC will continue to support calls for an EU cycling strategy, drawing attention to the need to improve road safety for cyclists and to increase programmes that engage people in cycling as a form of leisure and transport.
The UCI hopes that by working with other organisations, such as the European Cyclists’ Federation, a better, safer future for cyclists and cycling can be secured throughout Europe.