Saturday, June 3 was World Bicycle Day, unanimously established by the UN General Assembly in 2018. The United Nations had a good reason to do so. The bicycle deserves to be celebrated.

As 50 per cent of all car trips are shorter than 5 km, many of them could easily be replaced by bicycle trips. Making cycling more attractive and accessible will help us reduce our transport-based CO2 emissions more quickly and much more economically than by electrifying all our cars.

In addition, more cycling trips will produce positive effects in terms of public health (lower risks of obesity, diabetes, dementia, and cardiovascular disease), less congestion, lower air pollution (small particles), safer roads, less noise, and generally more enjoyable, agreeable cities, where people like to live their lives.

That’s why the European Parliament in February adopted its resolution on an EU Cycling Strategy, calling for cycling to be considered a fully-fledged mode of transport and for more investment in safe cycling infrastructure. In March EU executive vice-president Frans Timmermans echoed this call and announced a European Cycling Declaration by the summer.

National governments are also making themselves heard. Already 16 European Governments have signed the European Cycling Declaration initiated by Belgium. On  June 1, Cyprus’ Transport Minister Alexis Vafeades was the latest member state to do so when he added Cyprus’ name to the growing list of countries who have done so. What a great way to start the celebration of World Bicycle Day!

 

Henk Swarttouw

President, European Cyclists’ Federation

Brussels