POLIS pens letter to EC for an effective European Cycling Declaration

Cycling is nothing short of essential in the shift towards more sustainable urban mobility. The European Commission has demonstrated its commitment in its European Cycling Declaration. However, in an open letter to its authors, POLIS warns that there is still must progress to be made, and we must keep our eyes on the prize.

Cities and regions across Europe have placed cycling at the heart of their sustainable mobility goals, and from Brussels to Bologna, Groningen to Gothenburg, we have seen unprecedented development in cycling infrastructure.

The European Commission plays a critical role in supporting local governments in such continued efforts, and following Vice-President Frans Timmermans' announcement of a European Cycling Declaration at the CIE Summit in 2023, we reflected on the benefits this Declaration promises, and the opportunities for further progress.

The importance of safe, accessible, and just active mobility

Active mobility is a fundamental Human Right and must be treated as such. This means enabling the free movement of people and their freedom of choice towards active transport modes such as walking and cycling in a way that is comfortable, convenient, and safe. Without these elements, urban mobility cannot become sustainable: safety fears are often cited as the most important impediment to taking up cycling, including by parents who feel they must drive their children to school.

Roads and streets must be made structurally safe for people to embrace sustainable modes, through measures such as segregated bike lanes, but also reducing the speed of motorised vehicles through a combination of reduced speed limits, network management (e.g., super blocks), and physical traffic calming measures.

Cycling must also be made accessible to everyone, through measures that: facilitate access to affordable cycling; take into account gendered cycling experiences and their intersectionality; enable the freedom to choose active mobility modes for people with disabilities, taking into account their specific needs.

The need for capacity building and clear funding commitments 

Political commitment is indispensable, but not enough – we must ensure there is organisational capacity to deliver on that commitment. Thus, the Declaration must encourage capacity-building for professionals to implement effective pro-cycling policies and promote capacity-building programmes, while also accommodating the unique differences between cities and regions.

This must also be coupled with clear funding commitments at the EU level and from their respective Member States. Transport budgets should be put in place specifically for sustainable and safe active mobility, including cycling, and the Declaration should propose a minimum level of investment from the Member States in this regard.

POLIS and its members are here to help!

While the letter provides some key elements to consider for the Declaration, we realise this will also require efforts to put them in place. Promoting sustainable urban mobility is a core mission of POLIS, and many of our members are stepping forward and ‘pedalling’ hard to advance and accelerate much-needed changes. Thus we are available and committed to actively participate in the development of this European Cycling Declaration and in its subsequent implementation.

Read the full letter for an effective European Cycling Declaration here.