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  • 20.12.2011

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Europe looks set to have a pan-European network of cycle routes by 2020 after a favorable vote in the European Parliament last week.

EuroVelo, the European long-distance cycle route network, should be included in the TEN-T network”, the European Parliament plenary voted on December 15 in a non-legislative response to the European Commission White Paper on Transport. In doing so, the plenary confirmed the November vote of the Transport & Tourism Committee.

 “In 1995 we had a vision to develop a European cycle route network, to be completed by 2020. With the demand of the Parliament to integrate EuroVelo into the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T), this vision has taken a big step forward in becoming reality.” Says Bernhard Ensink, ECF Secretary General. 

About TEN-T and why it is important to EuroVelo

TEN-T is an EU policy area within DG MOVE designed to focus money on supporting trans-European transport infrastructure developments considered to be strategically important by the EU. ECF estimates that finalizing the 14 routes of EuroVelo network, totaling about 70,000 km, would come at a price tag of about € 1.5 – 2 bn. Not cheap, but little money compared to the estimated annual economic benefits of about € 5 bn that cycling tourists would spend along the EuroVelo routes when it is complete.

The plenary vote also reaffirmed its demand to the Commission to:

  • submit proposals by 2013 to develop initiatives that promote walking and cycling especially in cities with the aim of doubling the number of users;
  • develop policies aiming at halving road fatalities by 2020, with special consideration to “vulnerable” road users.
  •  present by 2014 a proposal to provide for the internalisation of external costs of all modes of transport of freight and passenger transport.
  • present a proposal where “support for [urban mobility] projects is made conditional upon the submission by local authorities of sustainable urban and built-up area mobility plans for efficient passenger and goods logistics chains, which contribute to a reduction in traffic volumes, accidents, atmospheric pollution and noise…”

Sustainable transport

Remarkably, the European Parliament also wants the EU transport sector to slash CO2 emissions by one fifth by 2020, using 1990 as a baseline.  The European Commission had aimed for the same reduction target, but using 2008 as a baseline. CO2 emissions from transport increased between 1990 and 2008 by some 35 %, eliminating to a large extent progress made in other sectors (housing, farming, industry).

Cycling and CO2 Emissions

A landmark study was conducted by ECF on the potential of cycling to reduce CO2 emissions. It demonstrates that a modal shift towards cycling can help the EU achieve 25% of its targeted emission reduction for transport. 

During the forthcoming Danish Presidency in the first half of 2012, ECF will continue to work with the European institutions and EU member states to push cycling higher unto the political agenda. Together with our Danish member, Dansk Cyklist Forbund, we have issued a Memorandum which we invite all policy makers to take into account.


About the Author

 Looking for insight into current EU policy developments? Fabian Kuster is a Policy Officer at ECF and is regularly following EU Developments and Legislation, liaising with key stakeholders and drafting key position papers on transport and bicycle related issues. He has wealth of experience in and around the EU institutions, and is an expert in the EU policy field of bicycles.

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Last Updated January 4, 2012