A European Parliament committee has included cycling within a crucial vote regarding funding rules, paving the way to billions of euro in potential investment in cycling infrastructure.
The vote, by the Tourism and Transport Committee, means that cycling and the EuroVelo pan-European cycle route network will be included for the first time within the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) funding guidelines,
The change will need to be ratified by a full plenary session of the European Parliament next year ahead of detailed measures being agreed upon by Member States at the Council of the European Union.
The planned EuroVelo network has been drawn up by the ECF and aims to provide a network of high-quality cycling routes criss-crossing the entire continent, suitable for both local, everyday journeys and by long-distance cyclists. The aim is to complete the network by 2020.
The EU’s TEN-T policy, meanwhile, is aimed at focusing investment on strategically important trans-European transport infrastructure.
The incorporation of cycling and EuroVelo within TEN-T follows a year of sustained campaigning by the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF), with efforts intensifying as the vote approached as national organisations such as CTC in the UK urged cyclists to lobby MEPs over the issue.
The ECF says that text adopted by the committee, which isn’t quite the same as the one originally proposed, but which still unlocks that potential investment of billions of euro that would otherwise have been ruled out altogether, reads:
“Synergies with other policies should be exploited, for instance with tourism aspects by including on civil engineering structures such as bridges or tunnels bicycle infrastructure for long distance cycling paths like the EuroVelo routes.
Being included within the text will give cycling the opportunity to access tens of billions of euro in infrastructure funding.
Bernhard Ensink, Secretary General of ECF, commented: “Our voice was heard. If the cycling world hadn’t mobilised, then cycling and EuroVelo would have been sidelined by other forms of transport. Even worse, large scale transport infrastructure projects would have ignored the needs of cyclists.
“This vote represents a significant change in attitude and a first step in the right direction. The European Parliament Transport and Tourism Committee have shown that they can improve cycling conditions across the continent by giving cycling the investment it deserves. The gates for more investment in cycling are now open.”
According to the ECF, from 2007-13, cycling only obtained 0.7% of EU funding for transport.
During the next financial period, which runs from 2014-20, it is campaigning for 10 per cent of the budget to be spent on cycling, equivalent to €6 billion.
It’s an ambitious target, and one that ECF says will need ongoing lobbying of politicians and EU institutions to achieve, but it that would have been entirely out of reach had cycling been excluded from the TEN-T guidelines.
“The fight is not yet over,” acknowledged Ensink. “We’ve got even bigger battles to come next year as the EU makes important decisions on even larger transport budgets.
“We’re going to need your help to remind the European, national and regional institutions about the strategic importance of cycling,” he added.
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.