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.
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.