Background

Cycling is an old but fast growing segment of European cities’ mobility management schemes. However, despite extensive re-introduction of cycling, there is still significant potential for further growth – with some urban areas having gathered valuable experience and others still exploring the field. Cycling has strategic importance for the mobility management schemes and the sustainable development of European cities. Current levels of motorised transport modes have significant negative effects.

Challenges and benefits from cycling for urban mobility management schemes are:

  1. Reduced congestion: 30% of car trips in Europe are under 3km and 50% are under 5km – a 15 minute bike ride (EEA Report No 5/2009). Reducing car use and increasing cycling will unclog roads and reduce congestion and its associated delays, lost working hours, wasted fuel, and so on.
  2. Value for money: Bicycle infrastructure offers excellent value for money (& environmental impact) compared with other types of transport.
  3. Reduction in external costs: Motorised transport imposes high costs on individuals and society, both directly (road construction and maintenance) and indirectly (casualties, obesity, pollution, congestion, etc.). COM 2009/279 estimates the external costs of road transport (mostly individual motorised transport) at 2.6 % of GDP. Other studies suggest as much as 4% and 8%. Shift from car to cycling provides an opportunity for huge cost savings.
  4. Lower-carbon footprint: Some 40% of Europe's CO2 emissions from road transport and 70% of other pollutants are due to urban traffic. As recognised in EU Communication 2009/279, urban transport accounts for 40% of CO2 emissions, and 70% of other air pollution, in particular PM10 and NOx emissions, from transport. Tripling the modal share of cycling would save 5% of transport CO2 emissions by 2020. This would make a significant contribution to mitigating climate change and decreasing dependency on fossil fuels.
  5. Reduced land consumption: 10 bikes can be parked in the space required for one car. One lane of typical road can accommodate 2,000 cars per hour – or 14,000 bikes.
  6. Health benefits: Increasing the modal share of cycling enhances physical and mental health. Accidents involving cars are associated with cycling and walking, too. Nevertheless, on balance, the benefits to life expectancy of choosing to cycle are 20 times the injury risks incurred by that choice (WHO, 2000). Higher proportions of commuter cyclists are correlated with lower risks of casualties. Car drivers are used to the presence of cyclists and are more likely to be cyclists themselves.
  7. Fostering of investment and neighbourhood revitalisation: Cycle-friendly cities attract individuals & businesses investment, encourage neighbourhood revitalisation and can improve a city’s quality of life and environment.
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