The European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF) says that if levels of cycling throughout the European Union (EU) were the same as those seen in Denmark in 2000, the EU would be able to satisfy more up to a quarter of the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions that it is aiming to achieve by 2050.
The finding comes in a report published by the ECF called Cycle more often 2 cool down the planet! Quantifying Co2 savings of cycling, and follows a recent announcement by the European Environmental Agency that technological advances and improvements to technology on their own would not enable the EU to meet the 60 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions that it has targeted.
The ECF compared cycling on pedal cycles with other forms of transport including electric-assisted bikes, buses and cars, and found that once the impact of production and maintenance as well as fuel – food, in the case of cyclists – was taken into account, cycling produced emissions that were ten times lower than those resulting form the use of cars.
As a result, if citizens throughout Europe cycled the same distance each day as the average Dane did in 2000 – 2.6 kilometres – the EU would be able to meet up to one fourth of its greenhouse gas emissions reduction target by 2050, says the ECF.
The actual percentage varies between 12 per cent and 26 per cent depending on the mode of transport replaced, with switching to bikes from private cars representing the largest potential gain.
The report’s author, Benoit Blondel, Environment and Health Policy Officer at the ECF, said: “Cycle 5kms a day and we reach 50% of the target. The potential for cycling to achieve these targets is huge. And with such little effort. Getting more people on bikes is going to be a lot cheaper than say getting more electric cars on the road”.
According to the ECF, among the key findings of the report are:
- “Emissions from cycling are over 10 times lower than those stemming from the passenger car, even taking into account the additional dietary intake of a cyclist compared with that of a motorised transport user.
- “E-bikes, despite their electric assistance, have emissions in the same range as ordinary bicycles. Considering E-bikes allows for 56% longer daily commutes and substitutes the car for 39% of trips, they have a huge potential to further reduce transport emissions.
- “Bicycle-share schemes also have the potential to reduce further emissions, considering it is a substitute for motorised transport for 50-75% of the users.
- “If levels of cycling in the EU-27 were equivalent to those found in Denmark in 2000, bicycle use would achieve 26% of the 2050 GHG target set for the transport sector.
- “With EU crude oil imports at 955 million barrels per year, EU citizens cycling at Danish levels would reduce EU oil importations by close to 10%.
- “Achieving the EU’s objectives won’t be met via technology and will require ambitious plans which foresee an EU-wide modal shift away from individual motorized transport. A combination of improvement measures (i.e. more efficient (use of) vehicles, lower carbon-intense fuels, more efficient use of the transport system) will only deliver a 20% decrease by 2050, compared to 1990 levels.”
Last week, it was announced that CTC chief executive Kevin Mayne would be leaving to join the ECF as Director of Development.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.