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Key EU vote paves way for billions of euro to be invested in cycling

European Parliament's Tourism and Transport committee includes cycling and EuroVelo within TEN-T framework...

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.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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Paul M | 11 years ago

I, like many opthers, got this email from Brian Simpson MEP, chair of the EP transport committee:

"Many thanks for contacting me and for taking an interest in European Transport policy.

I agree with you that cycling has to be part of any future transport solution that is serious about tackling congestion and pollution. This is particularly the case for urban areas where because of the relatively short commuter distances there is clear potential to promote cycling and get people out of their cars.

However I do not agree that the right place to promote cycling, or more specifically the Eurovelo routes, is via the TEN-T network, which is a transport network dedicated to creating major passenger and freight transport links between and within EU countries. This is for two main reasons:

To fund European Transport policy we need money from the national Governments and as you may be aware, in light of the current economic climate and the state of play on the EU budget negotiations, it is very unlikely that the Transport budget will get the funds needed to invest in the crucial missing links and bottlenecks that leave massive gaps in our current transport infrastructure (and that would serve completely different objectives from the ones associated with the Eurovelo network).

That is why the European Parliament wants to target the available money on major transport infrastructure that will really contribute to UK as well as EU growth and jobs while meeting environmental and climate change objectives. At this moment in time massive gaps in rail and water-borne transport links across Europe hold back our sustainable transport agenda. I would argue that it is the development of rail and water-borne transport which really has the potential to reduce pollution and congestion on the scale needed, providing viable alternatives to road or air transport. This has to be a priority.

The second reason is because I see the Eurovelo network as being mainly of value for tourism purposes and I think it is important to distinguish here between where cycling can help meet EU transport objectives and where it better falls under tourism policy. There have already been several initiatives, under the EU's new tourism competence, to support and fund cycling projects, such as the Iron Curtain Trail. I fully support these initiatives and believe these are the correct place to carry on funding cycling associated with tourism. I also fully support the proposal to include bicycle infrastructure for long distance cycling paths such as the Eurovelo routes, where for instance bridges or tunnels are built/adapted with TEN-T money.

Where cycling can be part of the sustainable transport solution is for the type of cycling that I have mentioned at the beginning of my email, where cycling can be used as an option to replace car use or even public transport use in mainly urban areas. The EU only has a limited role when it comes to policy-making at local level and while I fully believe that cycling should be an integral part of national urban mobility policies, it is the responsibility of the UK Government and UK local authorities to create better bike infrastructure as part of better urban infrastructure planning. We in the European Parliament have always pushed for national Governments to do more to promote cycling within urban mobility plans, but obviously many Governments see this as unwanted interference from Brussels. We will have another stab at this mid 2013 when the European Commission comes forward with new policy proposals on urban mobility.

To reiterate, I fully agree that cycling can bring benefits in terms of reducing pollution and congestion, while at the same time proactively address health concerns. We need to ensure that EU policies are geared towards measures that promote cycling, particularly in urban areas, where cycling can really be part of the sustainable transport solution. This is something I will be committed to doing during the revision of the EU urban mobility legislation."

While I wrote to urge him to change the resolution, I have some sympathy with his responses. The TEN-T European Network needs to focus on sustainable long-distance passennger and freight transport. If this puts cycling on teh European radar that is good, but what we really need is something which gets infratsructure prokects at a local level moving.

A pool of EU cash for local projects would be good, but in my view what woudl be more useful wodl be some form of EU harmonsiation directive compelling national and local governments to observe certain standards of provision. The big problem with our local government in this country os that it is largely run by elderly amateurs who have no vision, respond to dog-whistle pressure from noisy and entitled residents, themselves often older, and they are too conservative (small c). National polliticians tend to be more thoughtful, but until local government has to build cycle infra to minimum standards as they must with roads in general, we might as well whistle for it.

apsykes | 11 years ago

I'm a great believer in the Eurovelo network and the possibilities it opens up. Not many people go all the way from Munich to Paris (although some do!) as so eruditely put by Simmo72 - but when you think of the routes as cycling motorways, they begin to make sense! You don't have to drive from London to Leeds on the M1, you can get off at junction 2 if you like  1
Andrew Sykes
Author of 'Good Vibrations: Crossing Europe on a Bike Called Reggie'

WolfieSmith | 11 years ago

I like the look of turning right at Calais and riding on down to San Sebastián. Put some decent hostels along the way and it looks like a winner to me.

CotterPin | 11 years ago

I am not sure about plans for non-stop Munich-Paris bike route but if this provides more funding for local councils to make it safer to cycle to the shops then I am for it.

DoctorRad | 11 years ago

Read the article. The fact that cycling has been included in the TEN-T funding is an important stepping stone in the campaign to get 10% of the European transport budget spent on cycling.

don_don replied to DoctorRad | 11 years ago
DoctorRad wrote:

Read the article. The fact that cycling has been included in the TEN-T funding is an important stepping stone in the campaign to get 10% of the European transport budget spent on cycling.

The routes on the UK map look suspciously like exisitng Sustrans routes, plus the UK bit of the North Sea Cycle 'trail'.

The article talks about 'trans-european' cycle routes, which to my mind means Sustrans type long distance routes. These may or may not be any good for shorter trips. This is probably good news overall, but I can't see anything suggesting that 10% of the budget is going to be spent on making our towns and cities easier to cycle in.

Simmo72 | 11 years ago

I'm not getting this. Is this a map of the network? Surely cycling needs local councils and local government drawing up plans for their own area. A European network is a waste of time. I want to know I can ride safely down my local road, not if I can cycle from Munich to Paris non stop. The EU once again is talking gobshite.

Simon_MacMichael replied to Simmo72 | 11 years ago
Simmo72 wrote:

I'm not getting this. Is this a map of the network? Surely cycling needs local councils and local government drawing up plans for their own area.

That's part of the problem. Local authorities have little interest in what's going on outside their own areas.

To use an example from a different mode of transport, while I can get a bus from the town I live in to other towns in this part of Oxfordshire, I can't get one to a town a few miles away in Gloucestershire - despite the fact that if I go out of my front door, I can actually see that town nestled on its hilltop. It doesn't seem to be a priority for either council to subsidise a route that crosses into another county.

So for the major routes concerned - and admittedly in individual countries, there aren't too many of them - in part it's a joining the dots exercise and getting over those parochial issues.

Secondly, money of course is tight at the moment. So any EU finds that can supplement money from local or national government, or outside agencies such as Sustrans, isn't a bad thing.

Third, it's not just EuroVelo - assuming the measures are adopted by the Council, we're going to see cycling included in those strategic route plans under TEN-T, and what's more the money will be there to pay for the infrastructure.

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