European Union Embraces Cycling: A Leap Toward Sustainable Mobility

In a landmark decision, the European Union has officially adopted its first inter-institutional cycling policy, the European Declaration on Cycling, signalling a pivotal shift toward sustainable and inclusive mobility. This declaration, endorsed by the European Council, Commission, and Parliament, underscores cycling’s integral role in the EU’s transport ecosystem. The Belgian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, during an informal meeting of EU transport ministers, set the stage for this historic signing.

The European Declaration on Cycling stands as the EU’s most ambitious initiative on cycling to date, articulating eight core principles and 36 commitments. It heralds cycling as a sustainable, accessible, low-cost, and healthy mode of transport and recreation, crucial for European society and economy. Henk Swarttouw, President of the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF), lauded the declaration as a “monumental milestone” that elevates cycling to par with other transport modes. Jill Warren, CEO of ECF, echoed this sentiment, highlighting the declaration’s potential to unlock myriad benefits for European citizens and marking a significant victory for ECF’s advocacy efforts.

The declaration’s adoption follows a series of high-level political endorsements, including the European Parliament’s Cycling Resolution and the EU Commissioner for Transport Adina Vălean’s announcement at the EU Urban Mobility Days. The collaborative efforts of civil society, the cycling industry, and governmental bodies have been instrumental in achieving this unified cycling policy. The ECF, alongside industry partners Cycling Industries Europe and the Confederation of the European Bicycle Industry (CONEBI), has been pivotal in advocating for this cause.

This declaration not only acknowledges cycling’s role in sustainable mobility but also sets a roadmap for coordinated action in promoting cycling across the EU. With the 2024 EU Parliament elections on the horizon, the ECF’s “Shift Gears for Europe” manifesto urges MEP candidates to prioritise cycling, proposing six specific actions to enhance its accessibility and reliability for all citizens.

The declaration’s implications and implementation strategies will be a focal point at the ECF’s Velo-city conference in Ghent, Belgium, in June 2024. This gathering of delegates from around the globe will further discuss cycling’s significance and the EU’s commitment to fostering a robust cycling culture.

The European Declaration on Cycling marks a significant stride towards integrating cycling into the EU’s mobility framework. According to supporters, it has the potential to transform urban landscapes, bolster the economy, and promote a greener, healthier Europe.

Photo: © Belgian Presidency of the Council of the European Union / Julien Nizet

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