The European Commission has prioritised cycling in its latest policy, as the EU aims to become a net-zero continent by 2050.
Presenting the Efficient and Green Mobility package, the European Commission has elevated walking and cycling as essential factors in limiting fossil fuels, easing congestion and keeping noise pollution to a minimum. The package would require the EU's largest towns and cities in the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) to create sustainable urban mobility plans.
Four proposals are discussed within the framework to reduce carbon emissions. These include creating a smart and sustainable TEN-T network, increasing long-distance and cross-border rail traffic, providing smart mobility and intelligent transport services, and focussing on public transport, walking and cycling.
The Urban Mobility Framework of the policy states: "Active mobility modes such as walking and cycling are low-cost and zero-emission forms of mobility which can also bring about health co-benefits associated to more active lifestyles.
"In order to develop their full potential, they should be properly addressed in urban mobility policies at all levels of governance and funding, transport planning, awareness-raising, allocation of space, safety regulations and adequate infrastructure."
The focus on cycling relates to the expansion and improved infrastructure for bikes, e-bikes, scooters and pedestrians to safely move around cities, with protection against fatal accidents essential in the policy too.
Improved infrastructure will help reduce travel times for cyclists, thus encouraging greater usage among the population. There are also economic benefits in regard to medical costs, because creating safer areas for movement will limit risks and accidents.
The European Cyclists' Federation has highlighted the policy as its first to prioritise cycling and walking in reducing carbon emissions.
The UK government has made steps to prioritise walking and cycling, for example, giving priority to active methods of travel in the new Highway Code, as part of Boris Johnson's 'golden age of cycling.
The federation said: "This is the first time in history that the European Commission prioritises investment in these modes as the backbone of urban mobility."
Jill Warren, CEO of the European Cyclists’ Federation said: “We have long been advocating for safe cycling to be unequivocally prioritised alongside walking, public transport and shared mobility services over individual motorised transport.
"For the benefit of people who cycle in Europe, and those who would like to, we welcome what is effectively the Commission’s strongest commitment to cycling to date.”
Later this year, the European Commission will make recommendations to EU Member States about how to approach their mobility plans. These recommendations will focus on the policy, which will feature cycling as an essential aspect of creating sustainable cities.
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