The European Commissioner for Transport, Violeta Bulc, visited Copenhagen on September 9th. The purpose of the visit was for Bulc to seek inspiration on how The European Commission can improve the promotion of cycling in Europe.
According to the European Commission for Transport, mobility and transport is playing a fundamental role in today’s world. The aim of the Commission is to promote mobility that is efficient, safe, secure and environmentally friendly. These issues and challenges require action at a European and international level.
The future of cycling in the EU
Bulc´ visit to Copenhagen was in preparation for the upcoming EU Strategy on Cycling. Bulc is a very keen cyclist herself. She also showed her devotion to cycling, when she went on a short bikeride in Copenhagen with Klaus Bondam, the CEO of the Danish Cyclists´ Federation.
Currently, no cycling strategy exists at EU level. However, there is wide support across the EU for a common strategy to integrate cycling into transport policy. The EU has taken an active role in promoting cycling, by including cycling in the Europe 2020 strategy targets. The EU aims at changing people’s behavior, through guidance, the exchange of best practices, and financial support, oriented towards local and regional authorities.
During the past 20 years, millions of European citizens have made bicycling an everyday activity. An increase in cycling has a positive influence on mobility, health and the environment. Some of the most recent bicycle trends are bicycle-sharing systems in cities, electrical bicycles and cargo bikes. These trends are transforming the cities and contributes to a broader inclusion of cycling. However, it is not without challenges, namely in improving cyclists’ safety and the complexity of mobility planning.
Denmark as an inspiration
Denmark’s flourishing cycling culture and the development of bicycle infrastructure in Danish cities is an inspiration for including cycling elsewhere in the EU. Violeta Bulc has long been an advocate for cycling, and is confident that cycling is an efficient way of using the confined spaces in urban areas, and is a healthy, clean and affordable form of transportation for all. Bulc believes that:
“Cycling has an enormous potential when we acknowledge that almost half of all car trips in cities are of less than 5 km. (…). We (the EU) want to effectively incorporate cycling into connected and smart transport networks of the future.”
Denmark is one of the frontrunner in Europe, when it comes to cycling citizens. This is mainly due to extensive Danish bicycle culture and an infrastructure designed equally for bicycles and cars. The popularity of the bike is also due to a vast array of initiatives, such as bike-sharing schemes. Results from 2016 show that city bikes in Copenhagen have so far been used on 440.000 trips, and over half of these trips occur in July and August. For comparison, the city bikes were used on 150.000 trips for the entire 2015.
To enable European member states to learn from Danish successes and mistakes on the bicycle area, the Danish experiences should be shared more extensively. Bulc’s visit to Copenhagen was an opportunity to show her some Danish cycling initiatives and the Danish infrastructure. Hopefully, the visit will encourage and inspire the future cycling initiatives in Europe led by the European Commission for Transport.