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"First time in history" EU prioritises cycling in major overhaul of urban infrastructure

Proposed plans would require 424 largest cities to prioritise active travel for urban mobility by 2025

The European Commission has proposed an overhaul of urban infrastructure which would prioritise cycling and walking to aid the EU's net-zero goal by 2050. 

The significance of the plans was summed up by the European Cyclists' Federation, which said it is "the first time in history" the Commission has prioritised investment in active travel as the "backbone of urban mobility".

Although still to pass, if approved the Efficient and Green Mobility package would require the 424 largest cities in the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) to form sustainable urban mobility plans based around active travel by 2025.

It is an unprecedented level of backing to active travel, according to the Cyclists' Federation, and the European Commission said it hoped it would see transport emissions cut by 90 per cent.

At the heart of the TEN-T overhaul is focusing on public transport, walking and cycling as the backbone of urban travel, while also increasing long-distance rail routes.

It is hoped the EU can reduce fossil fuel vehicle use, ease congestion and reduce pollution while also contributing towards its decarbonisation goal of becoming a net-zero continent by 2050, and to reduce emissions from cars by 55 per cent by 2030.

The EU has already tripled its spending on cycling and walking in recent years. Between 2007 and 2013 the EU spent €700 million on cycling and walking initiatives. This figure had more tripled to €2 billion between 2014 and 2020.

"As the experiences of many European regions show, the implementation of ambitious cycling policies is one of the best responses to the twin challenges of climate change and public health that the world is currently facing," the European Cyclists' Federation said.

"More people cycling means lower greenhouse gas emissions, lower noise levels and better air quality, as well as greater physical activity for citizens and hence much better personal and public health."

Speaking about the latest plans, Executive Vice President for the European Green Deal, Frans Timmermans explained: "Europe's green and digital transition will bring big changes to the ways we move around.

"Today's proposals set European mobility on track for a sustainable future: faster European rail connections with easy-to-find tickets and improved passenger rights support for cities to increase and improve public transport and infrastructure for walking and cycling, and making the best possible use of solutions for smart and efficient driving."

Dan joined road.cc as live blog editor last year. He has previously written about various sports including football and boxing for the Daily Express and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been enjoying life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends exploring the south of England.

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