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Government keen to promote cycling to help tackle overcrowding on public transport and improve air quality

Three in four Swiss voters have backed a proposal enshrining cycling in the country’s federal constitution in a referendum today.

The question of whether “promoting bike paths” should be added to an existing provision of promoting footpaths and hiking trails was supported by 73.6 per cent of the electorate.

For the constitution to be amended, the referendum required not only a majority of voters across the country as a whole to vote in favour, but also most of the country’s 26 cantons to back it.

As it turned out, a majority of people in every single canton supported the measure.

The promotion of footpaths and hiking trails has formed part of the constitution since 1977.

Back then, the Swiss federal parliament’s House of Representatives was in favour of including cycle paths within the wording, but that proposal was vetoed by the country’s upper house, the Senate.

The amendment to the constitution comes as the Swiss government is eager to promote cycling for both transport and leisure.

It is likely to result in it devising a strategy for developing a national network of cycle paths – although these remain primarily the responsibility of individual cantons – as well as mapping routes, among other issues.

The proposal was supported by all the country's main political parties with the exception of the right wing Swiss People’s Party, reports SwissInfo.ch.

In the run-up to the referendum, the country’s transport minister, highlighted that encouraging more people to cycle could ease pressure on overcrowded public transport as well as help reduce air pollution.

She also highlighted the importance of safety of cyclists, the only class of road users to have seen an increase in casualty numbers in recent years.

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.