Cycling is worth at least €150 billion a year to the economy of the European Union (EU), according to a new report from the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF).
Published ahead of the forthcoming Multiannual Financial Framework – more commonly referred to as the EU budget, and covering the seven-year period from 2021-27 – the ECF’s report, titled The Benefits of Cycling: Unlocking their Potential for Europe, urges the EU to draw up an integrated cycling strategy to maximise the benefits of cycling.
The €150 billion figure, covering all 28 current member states of the EU, is comprised not only of economic benefits directly derived from cycling, such as cycle tourism and the bicycle market, but also those in areas such as the environment, public health and transport. Here is how it breaks down.
Health makes up the biggest single component, with people leading longer and healthier lives worth €73 billion a year across the EU, and less absenteeism from the workplace providing an annual benefit of €5 billion.
Cycle tourism is worth €44 billion a year and the bicycle market €13.2 billion, while easing road congestion returns a benefit of €6.8 billion a year and saving on construction and maintenance costs for road infrastructure costs for motorised vehicles €2.9 billion.
As far as environmental benefits are concerned, CO2 emissions savings are valued at between €0.6 and €5.6 billion a year, reduction of air pollution a rather more precise €0.435 billion and reduction of noise pollution €0.3 billion.
The ECF, which highlights a recent European Commission study that quantified the negative costs to the environment, health and mobility from motorised road transport at €800 billion, said: “The benefits of cycling appear not only in specific, isolated fields like transport or environmental policy, but in many other areas where the EU has competences as well, like industrial policy, employment, health and social policy.
“This makes the case for an integrated EU Cycling Strategy that includes these fields and considers cycling in all relevant policy areas and will therefore enable the whole EU to reap the benefits of cycling.
“A large number of European countries still have a lot of potential to reach higher levels of cycling,” it continued.
“To increase the number of cyclists and decrease the negative externalities of motorised road transport, not only an integrated European policy framework, but also adequate funding is needed.
“With the next Multiannual Financial Framework coming up, the EU now has an excellent opportunity to increase the financial means available for promoting cycling in all relevant funding streams, including amongst others regional funding, research programmes, and support for SMEs [small and medium-sized enterprises].
It added: “The benefits for all European citizens will be substantial.”
The full report can be found here.
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.