Official Journal of the European Union

C 88/49

Opinion of the European Committee of the Regions — An EU Roadmap for Cycling

(2017/C 088/10)


Kevin Peel (UK/PES), Member of Manchester City Council



Paradigm shift and an EU Roadmap for Cycling


recalls that from the 1950s onwards, transport, city and land-use planning has systematically prioritised individual motorised transportation over active mobility and public transport in many places across Europe. Car use has become the dominant mode of transportation, even for many short-distance trips. This evolution has significantly contributed to a number of severe challenges, notably climate change, air pollution, noise, road safety concerns, congestion, low quality public space, land use segregation, oil dependency within the transport sector and a drag on consumers’ purchase power, insufficient levels of physical activity among a large part of the population, etc.; the latter in particular leads to further problems (e.g. late development of motor skills, particularly in children, obesity, concentration problems etc.);


calls, in order to address those challenges, for a paradigm shift in transport and planning/land-use policies which requires a new sustainable travel hierarchy, prioritising incentives and measures to make active modes (walking and cycling) safer and more attractive first, accompanied by the promotion of public transport second, the development of car-sharing/pooling third and private individual car use last and enabling the necessary integration of the different modes of transport. This needs to be translated into all aspects of traffic planning, including prioritisation of traffic flow for active transport users, investments in infrastructure, road space allocation, prioritisation in highway codes, etc.;


acknowledges that a paradigm shift in transport policy is a joint effort between all levels of government, from local and regional to national, European and indeed even global governance. Therefore calls for improved integration between levels of planning, particularly local and regional, involving the active engagement of all players in civil society, including business, NGOs, trade unions, academia, etc.;


points to the need to promote improved accessibility for pedestrians and cyclists at public transport stops and the provision of safe and attractive spaces and parking facilities available to all for bicycles and potential bike-sharing schemes at transport hubs in regional planning instruments;


points out that changes in policies and the allocation of resources, both in human and monetary terms, are driven by ambitious political targets, and therefore advises the Commission to embrace a target of doubling cycling across EU Member States over the next 10 years (from currently approx. 7-8 % share of bicycle trips in the transport modal split to approx. 15 %);


urges the Commission to analyse the potential for cycling in the EU transport modal split in the long-term (2030/2040/2050), to estimate the investments and other measures needed to realise this potential and to conduct a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis. It should base this analysis upon existing, well-tested tools like the World Health Organization’s Health Economic Assessment Tool for Walking and Cycling, and develop them further by taking into account a cross-cutting approach to cycling with regard to sectors such as the economy, environment, climate, energy-efficiency, the transport sector, education, health, sport, etc.;


strongly welcomes the initiative taken by the European Parliament (1) and Member States (2) in asking the European Commission to present a European roadmap/EU level strategic document for cycling. Member States’ ‘Declaration on Cycling as a climate friendly Transport Mode’, endorsed during the Luxembourg EU Presidency in October 2015, also calls for the establishment of a European Cycling Focal Point at the Commission;


welcomes the 2014 Paris Declaration adopted by the Transport, Health, Environment Pan-European Programme (THE PEP) and strongly supports the development of a pan-European Master Plan for Cycling Promotion by its Member States, the WHO, UNECE and other stakeholders (3);


calls for an EU Roadmap for Cycling to be included in the Commission Work Programme 2018. The roadmap should address the growing demand for coordinated action at the EU level to help unlock the well-documented environmental, health and economic benefits of cycling; while ensuring that within this roadmap there are actions that allow the raising of awareness and the dissemination of such benefits, in order to create an habit or culture of cycling;


points out that, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, the strategic development of a national network of cycle routes falls within the competence of the Member States and the EU should therefore play a supporting role, primarily at these networks’ cross-border connections, in strategies developed by countries and regions with lower numbers of people who cycle every day, as well as coordinating and developing the European cycle route network;


stresses, however, that LRAs are the principal players in shaping the conditions for tomorrow’s urban and regional transport and mobility system, with the full application of the principle of subsidiarity and proportionality as urban mobility and urban transport are a competence of LRAs. In that respect experience shows that detailed cycling plans can be mainstreamed into local transport strategies in order to develop ambitious visions for cycling that communities can support. In turn regional transport partnerships and strategies can also mainstream cycling in regional policies and provide support programmes for cycling;


reiterates, therefore, the CoR’s call for LRAs to be more actively involved in the decision-making process (4) and believes that, as the voice of LRAs, the CoR should lead the discussion on EU initiatives for the promotion of cycling because cities and regions are expected to benefit most from such actions;


also sees cycling as one central element for sustainable urban mobility, and as a centrepiece of an integrated EU urban agenda;



points out that there is strong academic evidence that investments in cycling infrastructure come with a benefit-to-cost ratio of at least 5:1 (5). Economic benefits are coming from different directions: firstly, in terms of creating mainly local jobs in bicycle manufacture and the retail trade, repairs, infrastructure construction or maintenance, as well as in fields such as cycling tourism and transport and other services. Secondly, in terms of improved public health due to increased physical activity and less air and noise pollution. Thirdly, less traffic congestion leads to a decrease in blocked roads, in delays and lost working hours, and in wasted fuel. This will lead overall to a better urban quality of life and at the same time increase attractiveness. Finally, economic benefits can be seen in terms of more efficient land use;


reiterates, therefore, the call of transport ministers in the ‘Declaration on Cycling as a climate friendly Transport Mode’ for an EU-level strategic document on cycling that identifies ‘EU policy and funding instruments that are already mobilised or that should be mobilised to increase cycling’s mode share and to foster cycling related employment in the EU, and include cycling in (…) EU policies and funding instruments’ (6);


calls, moreover, for a forward-thinking EU transport investment policy, that should also improve public health and that invests, with full consideration of the Paris Agreement at COP 21, EU’ transport funds in cycling (7);


proposes, as a general rule, that every relevant infrastructure project co-funded by the EU should take cycling into consideration as much as possible, including to avoid a possible negative impact on cycling due to the construction of motorways, railways, etc. (i.e. the ‘Cycling in all infrastructure projects’ principle). Moreover, in the 2018-2020 work programmes of the research and innovation programme of the European Commission, Horizon 2020 (Mobility for growth), cycling should be introduced as a stand-alone funding priority;


requests that the European Commission establishes minimum cycling infrastructure quality criteria for relevant projects co-funded with EU money, particularly network design criteria that focus on safety, functionality and signage, so as to ensure value for the European taxpayer’s money; requests, in addition, that the Commission works with Member States and local and regional authorities to develop national guidance documents as well as a best practice database and knowledge exchange for the provision of cycling infrastructure. Similarly, calls on the European Commission to establish criteria for the financing, management and economic viability of the main measures;


proposes to include EuroVelo, the long-distance cycle route network (8), in the TEN-T, thereby improving cross-border connections, developing tourism opportunities and fostering better inner-city accessibility, and suggests the use of Connecting Europe Facility funds for urban nodes, e.g. for the construction of urban and suburban (fast) cycling routes;

Road safety


recalls that fear of accidents when cycling amongst motorised traffic contributes to the widespread perception that cycling is a dangerous activity. This fear is to some extent unfounded, since most accidents involve the cyclist alone and no other vehicle, but it does have the effect of discouraging cycling and can be a barrier to its success;


recalls that low speed limits in built-up areas and enforcement of those limits is one of the most important factors in decreasing road fatalities. Collisions between cyclists and vehicles travelling at speed are a major cause of death and serious injury for cyclists. The CoR calls, therefore, for the EU to propose to national, regional and local authorities recommendations on better speed management and on the creation of traffic-calming measures via the introduction, among other things, of streets in urban areas with a default speed limit of 30 km/h (or 20 mph) and that take bicycles into account, making it possible for various users to coexist: pedestrians, bicycles, cars, heavy goods vehicles, emergency vehicles (ambulances, fire engines, etc.). In addition, intelligent speed assistance systems should also be phased in through type-approval for all new motorised four-wheelers, buses and heavy goods vehicles to be licensed on EU public roads; points out that there is a clear discrepancy between the actual, objective safety of cycling and many people’s subjective perception of safety. In order to minimise this discrepancy, there should also be an emphasis on soft information and communication measures, such as effective public information campaigns. Only if people’s fear of cycling can be reduced and the subjective perception of safety improved, will reluctant cyclists feel at ease and use the bicycle as a form of transport;


recalls, moreover, that despite the relatively low number of larger and heavier vehicles in urban areas compared to the overall number of motorised vehicles, they are disproportionately involved in cycling fatalities;


regrets the excessively slow decrease in cyclist fatalities and supports, in this respect, the adoption of an EU-wide serious injury target and the exploration of possible under-reporting of serious injuries. In this regard, it must be a working principle of the EU Roadmap for Cycling to move towards the goal of zero fatalities and to be a world leader in cycling safety and protection;


calls for the timely revision of the General Safety Regulation, particularly in relation to direct vision improvements concerning drivers of heavy goods vehicles, which could be complemented by other obligatory active safety systems, such as sensors to detect cyclists and automated braking systems in order to avoid collisions;


calls for an update of the Regulation on the type-approval of motor vehicles with regard to the protection of pedestrians and other vulnerable road users (9) to also include testing procedures for cyclist protection if impacting the front of a car;


calls for consideration to be given to incorporating specific measures to improve safe cycling in existing EU directives such as the EU Infrastructure Safety Directive on tunnels and TEN-T infrastructure (10) for urban and rural roads;

Urban mobility and Intelligent Transport Systems


requests that the upcoming Commission guidelines on urban logistics (11) should recognise the tremendous potential to shift the delivery of services and goods of up to 250 kg to e-cargo cycles and hence recommend cycle-logistics deliveries to be the preferred option wherever possible;


points out that urban and transport planning must be closely coordinated and integrated with local mobility in all areas;


insists that education on road safety, traffic laws and road rules as well as some bicycle-specific rules starting in schools is paramount and it will contribute to the reduction of accidents involving cyclists; the European Commission should help in facilitating the dissemination of tried and tested local school schemes that bring together schools, police and other stakeholders in making junior cyclists aware of good cycling techniques as well as core notions on how to measure the force and velocity of potential impacts on the road while also promoting the benefits of cycling as a social, healthy and essentially safe mode of transportation;


reiterates the CoR’s position that national and municipal urban access regulations and road user charging can be effective instruments to manage the competing demands for urban road space and to address crucial problems such as congestion, pollution and urban sprawl (12) and stresses, in that context, that the Commission’s forthcoming non-binding guidelines on urban accessibility (13) should consistently prioritise cycling; recommends to LRAs that revenues from access restriction schemes and road user charges should be partially reinvested in cycling so as to create attractive alternatives for car use;


points out that combining cycles and public transport is mutually beneficial and that multi-modality is crucial for successful seamless urban transport networks; reiterates the CoR’s call for the obligatory publication of timetables and other travel information and full accessibility for all EU citizens (14), as well as the development of IT systems and route planning applications that take intermodality into account, and demands that, as regards multi-modality, cycling and bike-sharing schemes should be fully integrated into technical standards, EU legislation and EU-funded R & D schemes, in particular as regards journey-planning, ticketing, parking, etc. The infrastructure in and around bus and train stations, as well as public transport amenities themselves, need to be improved to facilitate easy switching between trains, buses and bicycles (15);

E-mobility and public procurement policies


proposes that electromobility policies at all governmental levels should always take into account e-cycling;


advises the Commission to include cycling in its revision of the EU Green Public Procurement criteria for transport. Procurement criteria should not only strive to make marginal improvements to cars and light commercial vehicles (LCVs) bought by public procurers, but also to achieve a modal shift towards environmentally friendly transport modes like cycling. Therefore, it should be an obligatory step in procurement procedures according to the EU Green Public Procurement criteria to check if bicycles (including pedelecs) can be bought instead of passenger cars and cargo cycles (including electric and electric-assist cargo cycles) instead of LCVs. Similarly, it advises incorporating innovation-related public procurement criteria to facilitate all aspects of technological development and dissemination among the Member States;

Climate change mitigation and air quality


acknowledges that a jigsaw of policies is needed to mitigate climate change, meeting the EU’s decarbonisation objectives for the transport sector and improving urban air quality. This includes technical solutions, policy shifts, and incentives to avoid unnecessary trips. Ambitious cycling delivery programmes should be an integral part of any climate change mitigation and air quality strategy, no matter the governance level. Ambitious cycling policies can also contribute to delivering on 11 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (16);

Cycling data


stresses that reliable and comparable data is essential to making informed decisions and measuring the impact of policy and funding interventions, and therefore advises the Commission (Eurostat) to develop a common data collection methodology and harmonised definitions for national and urban data on cycle use;

Cycling Focal Point at the European Commission and the exchange of best practice


welcomes the appointment of a cycling contact person within DG MOVE but points out that this position should be upgraded to a Commission-wide Cycling Focal Point equipped with at least 1 FTE in staff resources, and complemented with cycling contact points in all relevant Commission DGs ensuring an efficient inter-service consultation and intra-Commission coordination;


asks the Commission to support a clearing house, equipped with adequate resources, to address Member States’ and LRAs’ need for access to best practice, case studies, reports, funding possibilities, etc. on cycling (17).

Brussels, 12 October 2016.

The President of the European Committee of the Regions


(1)  2015/2005(INI) calls for ‘an EU roadmap for cycling to be included in the Commission Work Programme 2016’.

(2)  Declaration on Cycling as a climate friendly Transport Mode, informal meeting of EU transport ministers, Luxembourg, 7 October 2015. http://www.eu2015lu.eu/en/actualites/communiques/2015/10/07-info-transports-declaration-velo/07-Info-Transport-Declaration-of-Luxembourg-on-Cycling-as-a-climate-friendly-Transport-Mode---2015-10-06.pdf

(3)  http://www.unece.org/fileadmin/DAM/thepep/documents/Déclaration_de_Paris_EN.pdf

(4)  Opinion on the ‘Implementation of the 2011 white paper on transport’, rapporteur: Spyros Spyridon (EL/EPP) (OJ C 195, 12.6.2015, p. 10).

(5)  The UK Department for Transport put the benefit-to-cost ratio (CBR) of cycling grants at 5.5:1, in Department for Transport, ‘Value for Money Assessment for Cycling Grants’, 2014; Transport and Mobility Leuven estimated investments in the Capital Region of Brussels to deliver a CBR of 5:1-9:1, in Transport and Mobility Leuven, ‘Impact et potentiel de l’usage du vélo sur l’économie et l’emploi en Région de Bruxelles-Capitale: Les effets directs et indirects de l’usage du vélo en 2002, 2012 et 2020’, 2014; CBR in Helsinki was estimated at 8:1, in City of Helsinki, ‘Helsinki Bicycle Account 2015.

(6)  Policies mentioned in the Declaration include: Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans in the 2013 Urban Mobility Package, Policy Orientations on Road Safety 2011-2020, CIVITAS 2020, ELTIS, URBACT and the European Mobility Week and relevant funding instruments (including European Structural and Investment Funds, COSME and Horizon 2020).

(7)  This includes infrastructure but also mobility services, such as bike-sharing, ITS systems, cycle-friendly rolling stock, etc.

(8)  http://www.eurovelo.org/

(9)  Regulation (EC) No 78/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 January 2009 on the type-approval of motor vehicles with regard to the protection of pedestrians and other vulnerable road users, amending Directive 2007/46/EC and repealing Directives 2003/102/EC and 2005/66/EC (OJ L 35, 4.2.2009, p. 1).

(10)  Directive 2004/54/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 on minimum safety requirements for tunnels in the Trans-European Road Network (OJ L 167, 30.4.2004, p. 39). Directive 2008/96/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 November 2008 on road infrastructure safety management (OJ L 319, 29.11.2008, p. 59).

(11)  http://ec.europa.eu/transport/facts-fundings/tenders/index_en.htm

(12)  Opinion on the ‘Urban Mobility Package’, rapporteur: Sir Albert Bore (UK/PES) (OJ C 271, 19.8.2014, p. 18).

(13)  http://ec.europa.eu/transport/themes/urban/news/2015-11-27-guidance-acces-regulations_en.htm

(14)  Opinion on ‘Multimodal travel information, planning and ticketing services’, rapporteur: Petr Osvald (CZ/PES) (OJ C 19, 21.1.2015, p. 36).

(15)  Bitibi-project supported by Intelligent Energy Europe.

(16)  World Cycling Alliance/ECF, ‘Cycling delivers on the Global Goals’, 2015. https://ecf.com/sites/ecf.com/files/The%20Global%20Goals_internet.pdf

(17)  The ELTIS urban mobility observatory has collected many good practice examples (www.eltis.org).