In order to develop the full potential of the active modes of transport, cycling and walking have to be taken seriously in urban mobility policies, including in the allocation of space and in the allocation of budgets. A comprehensive network of active mobility infrastructure which is well-designed and safe, is critical / a basis requirement for making cycling or walking a viable and attractive option in everyday travel.
Nowadays in many cities pedestrians and cyclists must deal with incomplete networks, unnecessary detours, inappropriate surfaces, bad or no signage of routes, not enough or inconvenient crossings, long waiting times at traffic lights. In many cities, safety concerns – often linked to the absence or poor development of walking and cycling infrastructure, as well as bad inappropriate driver behaviour and poor traffic law enforcement – remain a major barrier for more people to walk or cycle to work or school.
Walking and cycling infrastructure is developed mostly using local and regional resources and knowledge. In some parts of Europe there is a long and successful history for implementing ambitious cycling polices. In other parts of Europe, however, there is little experience with the development of cycling policy and the design of good cycling infrastructure, never mind walking. There are no European level standards or recommendations on how to design safe, comfortable, direct and attractive infrastructure for the active modes and the knowledge is missing in several member states, cities. Most of the member states do not have a good national standard for walking and cycling infrastructure. The quality of implemented projects varies. It prevents a quicker increase of the share of walking and cycling and decreases the effectiveness of the public (including EU) funds used for financing such projects. This applies both to dedicated active mobility projects and elements of pedestrian or cycling infrastructure in other investments (e.g. in public spaces, road or public transport).
Developing walking and cycling as active modes of mobility in urban areas offers great socio-economic benefits: it helps reducing the emission of noise and air pollutants, as well as greenhouses gases. It encourages a healthy lifestyle and creates a more attractive urban environment. It can also increase the accessibility of public transport, by covering first & last mile of the journey and increasing the catchment areas of public transport stops. The reduction of car traffic and thus congestion (better accessibility, reduction of loss of travel time) improves the economic competiveness of the urban area. In monetary terms, investing in active modes can bring a very high return: as an example, one euro invested in a cycle highway generates between two and 14 euros in health benefits alone.
Getting more people to walk and cycle helps reduce congestion not only within city centres but also within functional urban areas and, especially where cycling highways are built, along the main road arteries such as the TEN-T corridors. Within poly-centric areas cycling helps to get a more accessible region, where in cities walking and cycling may become a mobility alternative for socially excluded - in this way also tackling transport poverty.
In light of the above the action should focus on two areas:
1. Infrastructure for active modes:
- Develop European guidelines for walking and cycling infrastructure, with minimum quality standards and with examples of good implementation practices. The infrastructure guidance should take the increasing variety in the types of bicycles (size, speed, etc.) into account as this creates both new challenges as well as opportunities.
- Encourage Member States to develop their own standards on this basis, taking into account varying environmental and historical context.
2. Financing for active modes:
- For the current 2014-2020 programming period, keep the EU Funding Observatory for Cycling updated in order to inform about funding opportunities for cycling, highlight successful cycling projects and best practices. Take the different development stages of countries / cities into account when defining good practices as well as the impact of good practices on well defined indicators.
- For the next financial period (2021-2027), ensure that funding for active modes of transport to support the development of comprehensive walking and cycling policies, relevant research and innovation activities, and the large-scale implementation of high quality walking and cycling infrastructure is properly included in the relevant European funding programmes, and encourage Member States, regions and cities to propose ambitious targets in that regard.
- Introduction to the Draft Action Plan of the Partnership on Urban Mobility
- Draft Action 2
- Draft Action 3
- Draft Action 4
- Draft Action 5
- Draft Action 6
- Draft Action 7
- Draft Action 8
- Draft Action 9
- Background document
- Urban Mobility full Draft Action Plan
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