It is an evidence that in our days environmental issues are one of the biggest challenges for the governments. Many researches on this matter have made clear that transport is a major contributor to overall greenhouse gas emissions and the second-biggest element after energy generation. In particular, road transportation in the UE makes up about 20% of all emissions, and it is still tending to rise.
On the other hand, the European Cycling Federation (ECF) has stated in recent researches that if all the EU’s nations achieved Dutch levels of cycling this alone would account for between 5% and 11% of the emissions reductions needed to reach the EU’s official 2020 emissions targets. Other figures mentioned in the EU Cycling Strategy documents are: “134 billion kilometers cycled annually prevents EU from suffer 15 billion kilograms of CO2 emissions. That means 2 billion EUR benefits per year including associated climate change damages avoided”.
Following this, it seams to be obvious that, at this stage, it is time to consider the role that bike can play in fighting global warming.
Having said that, we should not forget that in order to effectively combat climate change, both cities and individuals will have to get more involved in the fight. Getting more people on bikes instead of cars will have one of the biggest impacts. Increasing the cycling modal share to 20-30 % carbon emissions from urban passenger transport could be reduced nearly 11% by 2050 and would save more than 20*1012 euros in above mentioned costs. But we only could be closed to these targets if every nation put in place a Dutch or Danish style network of bike infrastructure and took other measures to encourage people to go onto two wheels.
The EU Cycling Strategy mentioned above, gives us a safe track to move to a greener, safer, healthier transportation system, such as the development of mandatory policies that encourage people to cycle more and safer, that should include quick ROI cycling-friendly infrastructure (including EuroVelo and other cycle route networks) and cycle parkings as a start.
Other measures like a pro-cycling vehicle regulation to boost cargo bikes usage in last mile deliveries, an e-biking deployment and the inclusion of cycling in the smart transportation policies, intelligent transport systems and the Digital Agenda, are also urgently needed.
But integrating cycling into the mutimodal transport system is a big challenge, as this should be done in a way that walking, cycling, taking public transport and sharing services ((such as bike and car-sharing services) would be easier to use and more cost and time effective for the people, in order to reduce the abusive use of the car.
We should not forget either the importance of building a new financial and fiscal status for cycling with includes subsidies, (such as incentives for purchasing electric bicycles), greater investments and a clear bias to real cycling-friendly taxation systems.
Finally a political will is crucial to implement this changes and get more people to bike in order to decarbonize our car-centric societies and let to the next generations a more liable and resilient cities as legacy.