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On yer bike – EU looks to boost cycling

The EU has thrown its weight behind cyclists with a declaration recognising bike-riding as a healthy form of transport worthy of more investment.

With its European Cycling Declaration, Brussels wants authorities across the bloc to ensure better connectivity for bike users on public transport, improve rules concerning cycling and boost investment in the sector.

“It reduces pollution, eases urban congestion, and promotes healthier lifestyles,” EU transport commissioner Adina Valean said after signing the document.

“Embracing cycling aligns with the EU’s industrial strategy and its objectives,” she said following a meeting of EU transport ministers.

One of the ministers, Germany’s Volker Wissing, noted how popular cycling has become in recent years, with electric bikes become more common and extending the distances riders can go.

The declaration said people should be encouraged to cycle to work

“As a result of the new ranges achieved by electrifying bicycles we also need new transport infrastructure,” he said, evoking the problems many bike-riders in Europe still encounter when trying to get their bicycle on trains or buses.

The declaration urges national, regional and local authorities in the bloc to step up “to unleash the full potential of cycling in the EU”.

They should encourage workers to cycle to work and businesses to provide bike parking and, where possible, supply e-bikes, among other nonbinding initiatives listed.

By signing the declaration, the European Commission, European Parliament and European Council also committed to seeing infrastructure was improved to give better road safety for cyclists and to work towards “coherent” cycling networks in cities.

Bicycles parked at Trinity College

Urban planning should also better accommodate the need for charging points for e-bikes, and European industry should be encouraged to increase production of those and regular bicycles, the declaration said.

Finally, cycle tourism should be promoted and catered to, and data-collection on the sector – and how well Europe is improving it – should be developed, it said.

The Confederation of the European Bicycle Industry welcomed the new declaration, calling it “a major step forward in promoting the benefits and development of cycling and the cycling industry across the European Union”.

The body’s president, Erhard Buechel, said it should serve as a “guiding compass for EU and national policymakers” and hailed its emphasis on creating jobs contributing to the bloc’s green transition and industry.

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