Increasing Cycling: Push Measures


Our previous article focused on the “Pull Measures” aimed directly at Cycling in the ECF (European Cyclists Federation) report which aims to see fewer cars, more bikes and better air quality. This article now turns to “Push Measures” which are aimed at reducing the demand of other transport modes. The content is extracted from the ECF’s Report into “Cycling and Urban Air Quality”.

Low Emission Zones

Low emission zones (LEZ) are areas where vehicles that do not meet a minimum standard for vehicle emissions are restricted from entering and are subject to large fines if they do enter. LEZs are deemed restrictive measures since they affect driving habits and involve fleet renewal. More than 200 LEZ have already been implemented in Europe, with the LEZ of London (UK) and Stockholm (Sweden) the most known examples (Panteliadis et al., 2014). Other LEZs can be found in Antwerp, Athens, Prague, Copenhagen, Berlin, Bremen, Karlsruhe, Budapest, Amsterdam, Utrecht, Rome, Palermo, Verona, Lisbon, Trondheim, Brighton and Oxford.

Promoting cycling is usually included in the implementation of LEZs. Changes to ownership and use of local vehicle fleets are expected effects of the LEZ as well as transport modes. Changes in transport modes take some time to settle down, starting to become apparent in the months preceding the start of enforcement and appear to continue to change for at least one year afterwards (Ellison et al., 2013).

Despite the fact that LEZ do not specifically enhance cycling, their implementation can become an important decision factor for modal shifting. No data is available on the effects of LEZs on modal shift. Some cities like Berlin have increased their modal share of cycling by 10% between 1998 and 2014 (from 3% to 13%) due to traffic management strategies that have discouraged the use of private motorised transportation (SFCC, 2014). In London for example, the bicycle share scheme of the city is deemed an essential part of the general LEZ plan.

Congestion Charging

Congestion charging aims to reduce congestion within a specified area of the city through the application of daily tariff that enables motorists to drive in this area, leave and re-enter the charging zone as many times as required in one day. Congestion charging zones are different from LEZ because these charges are for circulation in a specified zone of a city regardless of the vehicle type, whereas LEZ restrict the entrance of a specific type of vehicles (Hamilton, 2011).

The most notable example of a functional congestion charging zone is found in London. The London congestion charging scheme has achieved a 27% decrease in traffic levels of the affected zone since its implementation in 2002 (80,000 fewer cars every day). As a result, the daily journeys by bicycle in Inner London have increased 81% (from 0.32 to 0.58) between 2002 and 2013 (TfL, 2014). Other cities such as Stockholm and Singapore have implemented congestion charging as well. As with LEZ, information on the potential modal shift to cycling originated by the implementation of congestion charging schemes is not available but some modal shift may be expected due to the fact that the scheme does not apply to bicycles.

In Stockholm, the congestion charging zone was introduced in 2007, covering a distance of approximately 5 km from the city centre. However the majority of work commuters to the central areasof the city make trips longer than 5 km. ( Jansson, 2008). The application of the congestion charging zone decreased incoming traffic to the inner city zone by 18% (SFCC, 2014).

Other congestion charging schemes can be found in cities like Bergen (Norway), Durham (UK), Gothenburg (Sweden), Oslo (Norway), Trondheim (Norway) and Valletta (Malta). Cities such as Helsinki (Finland) and Edinburgh (UK) are on the verge of applying a congestion charging scheme and are awaiting a final decision by policy makers.

Speed Management: 30 km/h (20 mph) zones

The implementation of speed management measures across urban roads and particularly 30 km/h zones follows the need of maintaining circulation speed at a safe level for pedestrian and cycling activity. Additionally, the measure is directed towards reducing traffic and noise pollution at densely populated urban centres. Several cities in Europe have implemented 30 km/h zones since these were first implemented in 1992 in Graz (Austria). A study carried out in Mol (Belgium) and Barcelona (Spain) suggested that the implementation of 30 km/h zones may have a limited effect in urban air pollution and that the most important advantage of such zones is road safety (Int Panis et al., 2006).

Barcelona introduced in 2007 a 30 km/h zone (Zona 30) in its city centre and since then, similar zones are being implemented in the rest of the city and accident rates have dropped by 27% (CDC, 2009). Since the introduction of Zona 30, the 30 km/h speed limit has been extended to 215 km2 (26% of the city) and has seen cycling trips increase by 30% overall, from around 1% in 2006 to nearly 2% in 2009. The Zona 30 areas included additional mobility measures such as street signs, rubber studs, raised pedestrian crossings and humps. In Bristol (UK), two streets were given 20 mph limits in 2011 and within 6 months, cycling and pedestrian activities increased by up to 12% in these roads (Cedeño-Tovar and Kilbane-Dawe, 2013).

Car Free Zones

Car-free zones are usually urban planning strategies that seek to regenerate spaces that are heavily affected by road-traffic. The objective of creating car-free spaces is to increase quality of life in the surrounding areas and to encourage citizens to shift from private motorisation to cycling and walking exclusively. In the European Union, reclaiming city streets for people has become a priority in environmental planning with noticeable policy examples in Copenhagen, Strasbourg, Ghent, London (Vauxhall Cross), Cambridge, Wolverhampton and Oxford (EC, 2014). According to a study carried out in Northampton (UK), reclaiming heavily congested zones through the introduction of car-free zones can reduce 15% of peak hour traffic in the immediate surroundings and helps guarantee critical mass patronage for public transport and cycling (NCC, 2007)

Parking Rationing & Charging

The use of individual motorised transportation can be discouraged through parking rationing and charging practises. Parking rationing consists in reducing the number of available parking areas in the city while parking charging consists in applying high tariffs to vehicles that use those areas, either generally or during a specific period of time. The usual parking management actions are directed to regenerate city centres and aimed to increase the viability of business by improving trade, and their outcomes are directly related to a modal shift (although not exclusively towards cycling).

Applying high parking charges translates in a reduction of traffic congestion. A study carried out by the Association of Town & City Management in 18 cities in the UK suggested that parking costs should be adjusted to the type of location being referred to in order to be effective (ATCM, 2013). A study conducted in Valletta (Malta), suggested that reducing the amount of parking slots in the central area of the city as well as introducing a charging system for non-residents (6.25 €/day) made the amount of vehicles entering the city centre decline by 7.4%, along with a 10% shift from private motorisation to public transport, cycling and walking (Attard and Ison, 2014).

Higher vehicle costs

Higher vehicle costs should be generally associated with the vehicle ownership costs and the vehicle use costs. Vehicle use costs are usually considered as the costs related to fuel consumption, maintenance and use taxes. When considering economic factors related to ownership and use, cycling is a more cost-effective alternative. In the UK, the following factors apply when counting the costs of choosing a bicycle over a car. The initial outlay of a bicycle is in general, much lower than that of a car (in its cost, the interest lost and the depreciation). The minimum third party liability and the vehicle excise duty (VED) are not mandatory for cyclists. Fuel costs are a major factor where cycling benefits over motoring, as well as maintenance and parts. In general, travelling 10 miles/day by bicycle could save of up to €2,150 each year (around £1500). This is especially related to the fact that in the UK, about one fifth of the energy consumed in transport comes from journeys of less than 8 km which could be made by foot or bicycle (Brand et al., 2014).

In a final article, we will cover some of the conclusions from the ECF Report.


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