That is the ambitious and exciting task of the European Commission following the European Parliament’s Resolution on developing a EuropeanUnion (EU) Cycling Strategy.
The Resolution leaves no doubt that cycling should be considered a legitimate mode of transport and helpmeet long-term objectives for the climate and clean manufacturing. On 16 February, the European Parliament’s Resolution was almost unanimously adopted in Strasbourg (France). It sets out a 17-point action plan to develop more cycling infrastructure, lay fertile ground in Europe for bike, component and battery production, and grow two million jobs in a cycling ecosystem covering manufacturing, tourism, retail, health and sports that already employs one million people in Europe today.
The European Parliament’s resolution is applauded by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), which has placed sustainability at the heart of its Agenda 2030, promoting the bicycle to tackle climate change and to improve health and at the same time working to make cycling safe and accessible for all. To help with its objectives, the UCI created the UCI Bike City and Region Label network which currently comprises 22 cities and regions worldwide that meet strict requirements for getting their populations on bikes, not least by integrating cycling into public policies and long-term strategies. The European Parliament’s resolution for an EU Cycling Strategy is legally non-binding, but is a key document to shape future policy priorities and decisions for which the Parliament can hold the European Commission accountable.
The Resolution calls for a range of specific actions to enable and grow cycling, including but not limited to:
- Significantly increase investments in safe, separated cycling infrastructure and integrate cycling into urban frameworks
- Take cycling into account when building or upgrading Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) infrastructure
- Include the cycling industry in the mobility ecosystem of EU industrial strategy
- Support the production of “Made in Europe” bicycles and components
- Enable the creation of additional high-quality green jobs in the cycling industry
- Increase the accessibility and affordability of bicycles
- Accelerate the development of the EuroVelo network, the European cycle route network, and its 17 routes
- Promote cycle friendly workplaces
- Enable safe and secure bike parking spaces and charging capacity for e-bikes
- Designate 2024 as the European Year of Cycling
The European Parliament’s Resolution delivers on a pledge made by MEP Karima Delli to create a European cycling declaration last June at the Connecting Europe Days in Lyon (France) and at a cycling summit organised by the City of Copenhagen (Denmark) ahead of the Grand Départ of the 2022 Tour de France. Speaking at the same event in Copenhagen, Commission Executive Vice President Frans Timmermans pledged his support and acknowledged that the EU has a role to play in formulating cycling policy, saying, “We must support more and new measures to grow cycling in Europe.”
According to the European Cyclists’ Federation, with whom the UCI closely collaborates as part of the Partnership for Active Travel and Health (PATH), momentum for a more strategic approach to growing cycling continues to build among EU Member States. To date, 11 EU countries have signed the Belgium-led European Cycling Declaration – launched on World Bicycle Day 2022 – which calls for an EU action plan to prioritise cycling. Twelve member states have a national cycling strategy or similar policy document in force. In total, the ECF therefore notes that together, a total of 17 Member States – a clear majority – have either signed the European Cycling Declaration, have a national cycling strategy currently in force, or both.
UCI President David Lappartient said: “The Union Cycliste Internationale commends the European Parliament for its proactive and comprehensive approach to strengthening cycling as a mode of transport across Europe. Supporting the international agenda for active and sustainable transport has been one of the main pillars of the UCI’s Cycling for All programme for many years, and remains a key focus of the UCI’s Agenda 2030.
“The resolution reveals, particularly since the Covid-19 pandemic, the important role of cycling in promoting soft mobility, sustainability and safer, healthier societies.Cities in Europe are increasingly implementing major cycling initiatives, and the European Parliament’s Resolution will significantly fuel this growth. The UCI will continue its work with key cycling advocacy partners to build on this momentum.”