Cycling associations react to EU Commission’s Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy

The European Commission has released its Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy.

The strategy is part of the European Green Deal, which aims to achieve a 90% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from transport, in order for the EU to become a climate-neutral economy by 2050.

Cycling international associations ECF, CIE and CONEBI gave a ‘cautious’ welcome to the positive statements about cycling but also highlighted that a lot more work is needed to identify how more change can be built into the Commission’s action plans.

The highlights for cycling reflect the coordinated advocacy work of the associations in recent months, particularly working with the EU Green Deal leadership of executive vice-president Frans Timmermans.

The Commission’s commitment to improving the current European framework for urban mobility will include policies and financial support that reflect the importance of urban mobility, including safe infrastructure for cycling and walking and MaaS concepts including shared bike services. Strategic Urban Mobility Plans should contain strengthened goals of zero emissions and zero fatalities, while Sustainable Urban Logistics Plans are expected to accelerate the deployment of zero-emissions solutions such as cargo bikes.

At a press conference for the launch of the strategy, Timmermans said: “Cars will be less dominant on our streets. Alliances with cities and regions will offer clean public transport and 5000 kilometres extra bike lanes. One lesson we can draw from the horrible COVID crisis, in cities with plenty of bike lanes, citizens could keep moving.”

However, the associations said the strategy does not yet set specific milestones for cycling as a transport mode in the transport system of the future, nor does it incorporate ‘specific, explicit actions’ to increase cycling uptake in its action plan.

“While we are pleased that the Commission agrees it is essential to make sustainable mobility alternatives such as cycling more widely available to citizens and mentions a target for new cycling infrastructure,” said ECF co-CEO Jill Warren, “we can only view this as a start in terms of the effective policies and funding needed to engineer the major, further shift towards more cycling that is essential to reducing transport emissions by 90% in Europe.”

CIE CEO Kevin Mayne added: “Cycling companies should be positive about this new strategy because we have made a start in getting the Commission to acknowledge the role of cycling in future mobility. A recognition that cycling infrastructure can be complemented by support for digital services, bike-sharing and cargo bikes is also welcome. Now the work starts again, we need to place cycling into the detailed EU action plans to support the growth of cycling across the EU.”

The associations said they are united in their feedback that more cycling across Europe is the most effective measure to help achieve this and to fast-track the EU Green Deal, and that the strategy needs to commit to this modal transport shift towards more cycling with ‘ambitious targets, effective policies and substantial funding’.

Therefore, they will now be analysing some of the wider policy announcements in the new Commission Strategy and in its 80-point sustainable mobility action plan, especially the flagship heading: “Making urban and interurban mobility more sustainable and healthy”, and plans to create climate-neutral cities. A detailed analysis of the new strategy and opportunities for cycling will be provided in the coming days.

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