Spanish bicycle advocates are demanding asylum at European embassies across Spain in protest against anti-cycling legislation and compulsory helmet laws.
Cyclists in seven of Spain’s largest cities appealed for ‘cyclist asylum’ yesterday at over a dozen European embassies and consulates. Representatives from the embassies and consulates of Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany, and France met the cyclists as they delivered letters requesting asylum. Cyclists carried banners saying ‘We are Europeans. Stop anti-cyclist law’ in Spanish, English, German and French.
The cyclists are calling for asylum after the Spanish government announced its intention to prohibit cycling without helmets and force cyclists to always ride on the right side of the lane to make way for faster motor vehicles.
Protests were held in Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Seville, Zaragoza, Marbella, and Palma, and were coordinated by ConBici, Spain’s national cycling organisation.
Antonio Llopez from the Valencia cycling group ‘Valencia en Bici’ said: “Other European nations give cycling a leading role in their cities, but not Spain. The government wants Spain wants to be the only European nation that bans cycling without helmets. This will discourage millions of people from cycling – and so make roads more dangerous for the few who continue.”
-You can read more about ECF’s position on helmets here.
-For more information about the anti-cycling legislation being proposed in Spain, read ECF’s recent article.
-Our members CTC has written a fantastic piece as well as a call for action here
According to the European Commission, no other countries within the EU have a blanket ban for all ages on cycling without a helmet.
There are an estimated 35 million Europeans that choose cycling as daily mode of transport. Spain only sees about 1.6% of people cycling as their main mode of transport, yet some cities such as Seville have made huge progress with 6% of trips done by bicycle. What’s more, cycling tourism currently represents an estimated €1.5 to 2 billion every year.
These laws would be a devastating blow to a country which is finally getting more people cycling and it could be a big set-back for an already ailing economy.
Spain, do the right thing and drop this outrageous legislation.
Ceri Woolsgrove is the ECF Policy Officer for Road Safety & Technical Issues. He is from the UK and has worked extensively in London, Brighton, Liverpool (UK), Hang Zhou (China) and now in Brussels. His previous employment was for an organisation representing the transport industry in Brussels. Ceri has a Master’s degree in Globalization and International Policy Analysis from the University of Bath, and Social and Political Thought from the University of Sussex