At a time when our national government is cutting back on budget for cycling infrastructure, it was good news for cycling that EU Transport Ministersmade a commitment to cycling at October’s “EU Cycling Summit” in Luxembourg, which resulted in a “Declaration of Luxembourg”, an acknowledgement of the benefits of cycling and a call for the EU to develop an EU level strategic document on cycling.
Details are provided on the website of the ECF – the European Cyclists’ Federation, of which the UK’s Sustrans is a member. They don’t explain why there was no UK minister present, although the UK was represented by Graham Pendlebury, Director of Local Transport, Department for Transport. I wonder whether a senior civil servant would be empowered to sign the Declaration of Luxembourg, and what the government’s ministers would think of the content.
For ECF, the creation of an EU-wide policy framework for cycling has been a long-standing ambition. This summit can be regarded as a climax in our efforts of careful lobbying and positioning cycling at the European scale so that at one time we have the support of the EU Parliament, the Transport Commissioner and now enough enthusiastic member states to lift cycling to this next level. Key steps have included the development of the pan-European Master Plan for Cycling Promotion under the umbrella of WHO and UNECE, the initiating of “Cycling Forum Europe”, ECD’s 6bn campaign, establishing the cycling economy and building the evidence as a growth and job engine, together with our members, the Bicycle Industry and many other stakeholders.
Dr Bernhard Ensink, ECF’s Secretary General, told the ministers (and the occasional civil servant!) that Cycling Delivers: In terms of addressing the many transport challenges Europe is facing; in creating 650,000 jobs with the promise of 400,000 more; in offering people realistic options in switching from car use to e-cycling for distances up to 20km and beyond. More than 1.1 million electric bikes hit the road in 2014 in Europe; new bicycle sharing schemes are being deployed, expanded or upgraded with electric bikes; and numerous cycle highway projects see the light in many cities and regions. This is not just a Dutch or Danish success story, it is happening across Europe!
Speaking on behalf of ECF and the wider cycling community in Europe ECF Secretary General Ensink also told the summit “We welcome the proposal of an EU strategy for cycling. We can see the impact that will be achieved when 15 directorates of the EU Commission work together with 28 member states and 4 EFTA countries. ECF is eager to support this collaboration and coordination of policy and resources to double cycling in Europe.”
The meeting and a declaration on cycling is an initiative of the Luxembourg Presidency of the European Council, led by the Luxembourg Transport Minister François Bausch. The Declaration calls for a cycling strategy that will show EU-wide policy benefits of cycling while identifying policies, funds and funding instruments that will increase cycling and foster cycling related employment in the EU.
It also recommends that the EU and all Members States establish cycling focal points, which would be a big step in developing cycling policies across the EU.
ECF has been closely cooperating in the development of this declaration and is very happy with the achievement of a significant milestone for cycling.
Bernhard Ensink said “We are a big step closer to our ambition for all EU policies to recognise the strategic importance of cycling as a transport mode. We congratulate the Luxembourg Presidency for this achievement and we look forward to working with Commissioner Bulc to complete the EU cycling strategy in the near future.”
The key points of the Declaration are:
Ministers and State Secretaries call upon the Commission to consider, in full respect of the principle of subsidiarity, the following actions:
1. Integrate cycling into multimodal transport policy, including smart mobility, stressing the need to promote physical infrastructure and behavioural change programs.
2. Develop an EU level strategic document on cycling. This strategic document should (1) list all the goals within EU competence that would benefit from an increase in cycling’s mode share, (2) identify EU policy and funding instruments that are already mobilized or that should be mobilized to increase cycling’s mode share and to foster cycling related employment in the EU, and (3) include cycling in the above EU policies and funding instruments.
3. Set up a European focal point for cycling (1) to serve as a one-stop-shop for cycling related questions, (2) to facilitate the exchange of best practices among Member States, notably on cyclists’ road safety, and (3) to monitor the implementation and the impact of the EU strategy for cycling.
Ministers and State Secretaries recognize that Member States can contribute to increasing cycling’s mode share by:
4. Designating a national focal point for cycling to gather and disseminate best practices within the Member State and to cooperate with the European focal point for cycling as well as with existing forums, such as the United Nations’ Transport, Health and Environment Pan-European Programme.
5. Ensuring that national transport infrastructure projects consider and aim to strengthen international, national, regional and local cycling networks.
Ministers and State Secretaries welcome initiatives by urban, local and regional authorities to:
6. Include cycling in urban, local or regional projects, both as an efficient transport mode and as a recreational activity.
7. Draw on national and international best practices, co-funding opportunities and guidelines by working with national and European focal points for cycling and with other stakeholders.
Ministers and State Secretaries gathered in Luxembourg are committed to promoting cycling as a climate friendly and efficient transport mode.
Let’s see how many national, regional, local and urban improvements come out of this. I’m not denegrating what the ECF is doing or has done; it’s the absolute opposite of that! I just lack faith in our local and national politicians to implement and FUND proper cycling infrastructure.
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