Skip to main content

Veloinfo, the european network for cycling expertise

Exploitable results

This briefing focuses on the environmental problems associated with motorised transport and identifies and discusses cycling's role as an alternative, environmentally-benign mode of transport. Transport has been described as 'one of the most polluting of all human activities'. Motorised traffic in particular is the single largest source of air pollution in urban areas. Traffic and transport's share of global environmental pollution is increasing every year. However, current planned measures to reduce vehicle emissions will have limited effect if car use continues to grow as expected. In the UK, the Department of Transport predicted that between 1988 and 2025 traffic would increase by 83-142 %. In this time, carbon dioxide emissions, the main cause of the greenhouse effect, could more than double. This will have a profound impact upon the environment. The main atmospheric pollutants emitted by motor vehicles are hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen oxides (NOx), ozone (O3), particulates (PM10/PM2.5), acidic compounds, and carbon dioxide (CO2), all of which have a detrimental impact upon the environment. Furthermore, in the majority of cities, motorised passenger transport is one of the main sources of the emission of nitrogen oxides and particulate matter, which exceeds of the air quality standards of the EU. Transport's increasing contribution to greenhouse gas emissions, predominantly through carbon dioxide, threatens the EU meeting its target under the Kyoto protocol. The Kyoto Protocol calls for an 8 % cut in total EU CO2 emissions by 2008-2012, from 1990. If current trends continue, by 2010, CO2 emissions from transport will be 40 % higher than they were in 1990. Atmospheric emissions from the burning of fossil fuels by urban transport are responsible for many environmental problems including the production of ozone, acid rain, photochemical smog, global warming and the greenhouse effect which is caused predominantly by CO2 emissions. In urban areas, low speeds, short journeys, congested conditions, cold engines and frequent acceleration and braking combine to increasing the concentration of emissions meaning that urban motorised journeys generally create more pollution per kilometre than long journeys. Noise pollution is a significant problem in many residential areas and research suggests that over 6 million people are exposed to unacceptable noise levels as a result of traffic. Cycling is contrastingly quiet to motorised road traffic. Furthermore, it is significantly less energy intensive and, 'surveys have shown that a cyclist can travel 1,600 miles on the equivalent energy of one gallon (4.55 litres) of petrol'. Cycling also makes fewer demands on space unlike cars which are making increasing demands on road space, having controversial effects on the landscape by destroying habitats, dividing communities and threatening rare wildlife habitats. Cycling has huge potential as a cost-effective way of achieving environmental objectives. For examples, much greater investment would be needed to achieve the same environmental results by expanding public transport which is also not as clean as cycling.
A key element in promoting cycling and making it an attractive alternative to car use is that it should be safe. People will not choose to cycle unless they see it as safe to do so. Fears of injury can become a major obstacle therefore, to promoting and encouraging non-motorised modes of transport. Often there is little real safety risk, but perceptions of danger may still persist and efforts must be made to ensure such misconceptions are allayed. Even where fear of risk does not deter the cyclist, professionals should seek to minimise it so as to reduce the resulting social and economic costs of death and injury. The best planning can create high road safety standards for both cyclists and all other road users. In short, high quality planning can be a catalyst for road safety. There has been a tendency to see the two objectives of promoting cycling and improving road safety as conflicting and mutually incompatible. However, it has been shown that it is possible to both increase cycling and also improve cyclists' safety. In fact, it has been shown that the safety of cyclists improves as the number of cyclists increases. This may be attributable to the introduction of specific safety measures but may also be partially explained by the fact that the higher the level of cycling, the more cyclists on the road and the more car drivers become aware of and pay attention to cyclists and hence the potentially safer the individual cyclist. The importance of speed reduction should not be forgotten. It has been suggested that urban safety and the quality of urban life might be significantly improved through a reduction in the default urban speed limit and a corresponding programme of new planning practices based upon the new reduced speed limit. Safety should not only be thought about in terms of impacts to the user, but the level of safety imposed upon other users should also be considered. Cycling imposes very little external risk upon other users, in contrast to motorised transport, where the level of external risk to other users is high. The European Transport Safety Council identifies seven key problems for cyclists in the urban traffic system: 1. Vulnerability: Cyclists pose little threat to drivers and hence drivers have less reason to be aware of them. Speed is key in determining severity of outcome of a collision. If collision speed exceeds 45 km/hour, there is a less than 50 % chance that the cyclist will survive. Even at low impact speed, cyclists can be badly injured. Speed management is therefore crucial in a safe traffic system aiming to provide for vulnerable road users. 2. Flexibility: Motorists can never be sure when or where to expect cyclists often cyclists flout road rules to make gains. 3. Instability: Cycle mistakes or failures are dangerous when they occur near other motor traffic/road users. 4. Invisibility: Cyclists can be difficult to see, especially at night. 5. Different abilities: Cyclists of all abilities and experience are present on the roads. 6. Consciousness of effort: Cyclists seek quick, easy, direct routes, so as to minimise effort. 7. Enstrangement: Cyclists are often treated as nuisances on the roads, with little regard paid to their status as road users with equal rights. Following on from this, the European Transport Safety Council outlines six key action strategies which can help improve safety: - Managing the traffic mix by separating different road users to reduce potential conflict. - Where separation is not practicable/desirable, ensuring safe conditions for the integrated use of shared road space is necessary. This includes road safety engineering measures and traffic and speed management schemes such as low speed zones. - Changing attitudes and behaviour of motorists through information, training and enforcement of traffic law. - Consulting and informing cyclists about changes being made to fit their needs. - Minimising consequences of accidents when they do occur through crash protective design and encouraging use of protective equipment such as cycle helmets (particularly in high-risk groups), safer car fronts and heavy good vehicles (HGV) sideguards. In addition to this, the National Cycling Forum held in 1999 recommends four key actions which will increase cyclist safety whilst simultaneously increasing cycling levels. - reducing motor traffic: this can make cycling safer since it reduces the potential for conflict with motor vehicles, - reducing motor traffic speed: traffic calming measures can be cycle-friendly, e.g. speed cushions. - implementing physical measures: e.g. cycle specific features (cycle lanes/Advanced Stop Lines (ASLs), or general features (e.g. redesigning junctions and traffic calming), - influencing behaviour and attitudes: e.g. road safety campaigns and teaching cycling skills, maintenance and safety. For example, the Dutch driver and rider education is extensive by the age of ten, every child has received teaching on safe walking and bicycling. Speed reduction, especially in residential areas, and an adequate enforcement mechanism of lower speed limits are important to cyclists. In conjunction with adopting cycling campaigns, changes in urban conditions in order to allow for safe increases in walking and cycling need to be ensured. A key importance to speed reduction and other measures is to encourage more responsible driving behaviour. The European Cyclists' Federation believes that the general urban speed limit of 50 or 60 km/h is no longer acceptable. It is suggested that 30 km/h might be better in terms of road safety, noise and improved quality of urban life. It has been shown that speed reductions can lead to a decrease in both the number of people receiving, and the severity traffic injuries. The creation of a sustainable safety road network, i.e. one where road users who use the network are similar in terms of numbers and vulnerability. Road users would also be travelling at the same speed and in the same direction. Any conflicts between road users must be avoided as much as possible. However, if they do exist, the differences in speed between them should be minimised. Camera technology can act as a complementary measure to the physical re-design of road networks in order to support 30 km/h zones. It enables better enforcement of vehicle speed limits and the control of red-light jumping at signalled junctions. These camera systems can support the improvement of safety at those locations where cycle routes interact with the control of motorised traffic. There are diverging views on the value of wearing cycle helmets, for both children and adults, and this topic arouses some controversy. Wearing a helmet can provide protection in some situations. However, if made compulsory, it might put people off cycling altogether. The European Cyclists' Federation says that making helmets compulsory is not necessarily the best idea, but rather that efforts should be concentrated upon preventing accidents.
A modal shift from motorised transport to cycling could have significant public health benefits. Increased cycling has the potential to directly improve the health of the individual, in terms of fitness, reduced risk of certain diseases, self-esteem, longevity and quality of life, whilst also indirectly improving the health of society as a whole by reducing atmospheric and noise pollution and reducing road danger. For the individual, cycling is an excellent way to develop physical fitness and reduce the risk of health problems. There is a need to raise awareness of the health consequences of individual travel choices and of policies on transport and land-use planning. People living in affluent countries particularly do not take enough exercise and lead relatively sedentary lifestyles. At least 60 % of the global population fails to achieve the minimum recommendation of 30 minutes moderate intensity activity daily. The decline in physical activity has impacted negatively upon public health. Physical activity is clearly connected with reduced rates of death and ill health from various causes. Particular groups are more at risk from illness, for example, older people and men under 30 in lower income groups experience the greatest combination of disease risk factors and hence it is important for their future health that they engage in physical activity. Obesity rates have increased in all OECD countries over the past two decades due to poor eating habits and lack of physical activity. There has been an increase in obesity in the developed world, this alarming escalation in the levels of obesity amongst children and adults is adding to the costs of healthcare. For many young people the opportunities to be physically active as part of daily life are becoming increasingly restricted due to parental concerns over safety. Cycling is a simple, convenient, yet effective way of incorporating exercise into everyday life. It is likely to be much more sustainable than targeted exercise initiatives in encouraging individual behavioural change in the long-term. Cycling has a functional role which means that it does not rely wholly on self-motivation. It also allows independent travel for children, which is critical for their development. In comparison to other common exercising activities, cycling is perhaps one of the most ideal forms of exercise which could contribute to health. It may also delay the ageing process by extending mobility later into life and gaining valuable life years. Cycling is a non-weight bearing form of aerobic exercise and does not tend to strain muscles, joints, limbs or ligaments whilst still providing the benefits of improved fitness and stamina. Furthermore, it reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), the main forms of which are coronary heart disease and strokes. The World Health Organisation's 'Global Burden of Disease Study' highlights that cardiovascular disease is the main cause of death in Europe (accounting for 49 % of all deaths) and also years lost due to early death. It states that an average of 31 % of all years of life is lost due to CVD in developed market economies. CVD is common, but largely preventable. An inactive individual has approximately double the risk of getting coronary heart disease than someone who is active. Cycling also reduces the risk of respiratory diseases, high blood pressure, strokes, non-insulin dependent diabetes and some cancers (especially of the colon). Physical activity has been shown to have a protective effect on colon cancer, with an average risk reduction of 40-50 %. A lack of physical exercise, on the other hand, can increase the risk of developing type-two (adult onset diabetes) diabetes by up to 50 %. An overall reduced risk of dying from cancer can also be associated with physical inactivity. Notable evidence of this exists for cancer of the colon. Helping build and maintain healthy bones, muscles and joints reducing the risk of falls, fractures and injuries through improved strength and co-ordination. Cycling also increases leg strength and bone density (which offsets osteoporosis). In addition, it is thought to be a significant contributory factor in the Europeans being closer to their ideal body weight. Between 10 % and 20 % of Europe's population are classed as obese with some countries having experienced a tripling of levels of obesity in the last 20 years. Lastly, cycling improves the psychological and mental wellbeing and self-esteem as well as reduces the risk of stress, depression and anxiety. Moreover, it is not only the individual, but also the wider public that benefits from cycling and the reduced adverse impacts associated with motor traffic. An increased level of cycling could have a major beneficial impact upon public health through the reduction in the use of motorised transport; one of the main sources of atmospheric and noise pollution. Reducing the level of motorised traffic can help to improve levels of road safety for pedestrians and cyclists. Above all, it is critical to focus on creating an environment where people feel safe to cycle, through measures such as reduced traffic speed and provision of a well-planned cycle infrastructure. In doing this, some of the risks associated with cycling can be minimised and this will help to ensure that people who try cycling will continue throughout their lives. Fear of safety can act as a major disincentive in encouraging people to cycle. The British Medical Association maintains however, that the benefits of cycling are likely to outweigh casualties from accidents. In countries such as the Netherlands and Denmark which have seen an increase in the levels of cycling, there has been a corresponding decrease in casualty rates per mile as the roads have become safer. The majority of people are relatively conscious of the health effects of lack of fitness, but have either not contemplated, or are reluctant to contemplate, cycling to work or school to get fit. Efforts must focus on promoting this and attempting to change this behaviour. Efforts must also be made to ensure that once exercise is undertaken, it is constantly maintained. Research has shown that even a small amount of cycling can lead to significant fitness gains but that upon stopping, this gain is rapidly reversed and hence retention must be guaranteed to ensure long-term health benefits.
Cycling generally falls into two categories: - utility cycling - defined as journeying for a purpose upon completion of the journey, - leisure/tourist cycling - defined as a trip that is undertaken for the purpose of the journey itself and in this sense is not a form of transport. This briefing looks at the role and potential of cycling leisure and tourism. There are three main types of cycle tourism: - 'cycling holidays' in which cycling is the main purpose of the holiday, -'holiday cycling' in which cycling is undertaken as an extra pursuit whilst on holiday, - 'cycling day visits' which involve 'trips to places outside a person's usual place of residence'. Cycle tourism is developing rapidly across Europe and becoming one of the fastest growing sectors in the tourism industry. It has the potential to become a key growth market and generate significant economic and financial reward. 'Cycling holidays now account for 2-4 % of total holiday trips in some European countries and this is predicted to increase two or three fold within the next decade to 6-12 % of all European holidays'. Holiday cycling is even more popular. Cycle tourists represent a growing and valuable tourist market for local economies. They generate local trade, support local businesses, services and attractions and promote development of cycle hire and holiday operations. In rural areas especially, they could play a major role and cycle routes could become 'key economic lifelines' for isolated villages and towns. The C2C route in northern England created a new annual tourism market of approximately 2.8 million Euros in a rural area of unemployment. Furthermore, cycle tourism is a sustainable form of tourism which has minimal adverse impact on environment and host communities. Converting leisure cyclists to utility cyclists 'Leisure cycling has an important role to play in preserving the cycling habit' and in doing so, might encourage or initiate cycling for other trip purposes, e.g. utility cycling. The most important contribution it can make is increasing enjoyment of cycling. Marketing and promotional strategies should seek to try and extend the relaxing nature of leisure cycling to urban utility journeys and encourage people to move from leisure to utility cycling, perhaps by giving priority to leisure routes that could also serve as commuter routes. Given that traffic is the main barrier to more utility cycling by leisure cyclists, this will require initiatives aimed at minimising leisure cyclists' fear of traffic or providing stress-free cycling routes.
This briefing looks at the issues and concerns regarding accessibility and mobility in urban areas, as well as the role of cycling in meeting accessibility and mobility needs. Current and projected levels of car use in cities are undesirable and unsustainable. Nowhere is this more evident than in urban areas where the problems resulting from motorised transport are becoming more apparent. Urban congestion, pollution, accidents, reduced mobility and loss of quality of life are all partially blamed on rising car use. There is increasing recognition that something must be done to alleviate these problems and that the solution to transport problems in cities must no longer simply increase transport supply in line with demand, but must instead focus on managing travel demand on the transport system and in particular, reducing the need to use the car. Accessibility and mobility are vital to a city's social and economic functioning and quality of life. Accessibility is defined as 'being able to get to something readily' (i.e., all users, including cyclists and pedestrians need safe access to and from places). On the other hand, mobility is defined as 'being able to move about readily', where 'readily' means 'without undue expenditure of resources such as energy, time or money'. The car seems to fulfill the requirements for accessibility and mobility. However, it has been 'the victim of its own success'. Too many cars on the roads has led to congestion and resulted in a lower level of mobility and choice than expected. Unrestricted car use is no longer compatible with easy mobility. As often assumed, a reduction in car use will not necessarily mean that a reduction in mobility or loss in economic growth will follow. On the contrary, reduced car use will improve accessibility and mobility for many citizens. In urban areas, there is a clear need to create a balance between providing for personal mobility whilst also providing an efficient transport system for the movement of people and goods that is ecologically sustainable. Access to basic services/goods/facilities is increasingly car-dependent due to an increase in journey lengths for all purposes but especially commuting. The average trip in the EU lasts 20 minutes, with on average one hour being spent travelling on trips per day, per person. This is due to: - increasing car ownership - increasing urban sprawl; and - an increase in work and shopping facilities located in out-of-town shopping locations. The key to improving mobility and accessibility in cities is to ensure that everyday facilities and activities can be reached easily and safely through all modes of transport, including the more sustainable forms, for all sectors of society (including the young, elderly, disabled etc.). This is also important for those who did not have regular use of a car and can help promote social inclusion. 26 % of EU households do not own a car. 'Sustainable mobility' means mobility that is economically, environmentally and socially sustainable. Three key elements are recommended for developing sustainable mobility: - land-use planning, - reduction in use of the private car, - promotion of public transport and other alternative modes. There is a need to devote attention to 'bring(ing) life back into the town centres' which tend to be more accessible by alternative transport modes, rather than facilitating the trend towards out of town developments, which tend to promote car use. Cycling and walking have huge potential roles to play as an alternative to the car. In Europe, more than 30 % of trips made by car cover distances less than 3 km and 50 % cover distances less than 5 km. Many of such trips could be replaced by the bicycle. For longer journeys the bicycle can be combined with public transport. Furthermore, if cities were planned such as to make more destinations within reach of cycle journeys, the bicycle's potential share of journeys could be greater. Cycling can offer shorter travelling times (in congested areas), reduced travel costs and hence increased mobility. The potential for increased mobility and access offered by cycling is particularly important for those who either do not have access to a car (particularly the young and the elderly) or those who do not choose to own or to use a car for some journeys. Easy access for everyone to education, shopping and leisure is vital to economic and social development. This can be offered through cycling, and at low environmental cost. Transport and spatial land-use policies must be developed together to ensure that they encourage alternative and more sustainable transport modes, such as walking and cycling, and also encourage shorter trips which might reduce the need for such high levels of car use. The spatial mixing of urban functions and encouragement of location policy can influence travel times and distances and improve accessibility and managing the need to travel. Car parking is an example of land use which requires an enormous amount of space and which reduces accessibility for other modes. Car parks should be at least the same, if not more, distance from key locations than the nearest public transport stop. This measure will increase the relative accessibility by non-motorised modes. Efforts must be made to improve the accessibility of key destinations, ensuring that infrastructure caters for cyclists' needs and taking steps to reduce travelling time by bicycle, for example through measures that improve the traffic flow, reduce bottlenecks, and create shortcuts. A key objective has to be to provide a transport system that operates efficiently yet also provides real choices for access to key locations for the whole community, including those who cannot drive. Personal mobility, choice of travel and 'the need for access is the essence of travel, and accessibility to goods, services and people is key to the quality of life'.
This briefing looks at the issues and concerns regarding accessibility and mobility in urban areas, as well as the role of cycling in meeting accessibility and mobility needs. Current and projected levels of car use in cities are undesirable and unsustainable. Nowhere is this more evident than in urban areas where the problems resulting from motorised transport are becoming more apparent. Urban congestion, pollution, accidents, reduced mobility and loss of quality of life are all partially blamed on rising car use. There is increasing recognition that something must be done to alleviate these problems and that the solution to transport problems in cities must no longer simply increase transport supply in line with demand, but must instead focus on managing travel demand on the transport system and in particular, reducing the need to use the car. Accessibility and mobility are vital to a city's social and economic functioning and quality of life. Accessibility is defined as 'being able to get to something readily' (i.e., all users, including cyclists and pedestrians need safe access to and from places). On the other hand, mobility is defined as 'being able to move about readily', where 'readily' means 'without undue expenditure of resources such as energy, time or money'. The car seems to fulfill the requirements for accessibility and mobility. However, it has been 'the victim of its own success'. Too many cars on the roads has led to congestion and resulted in a lower level of mobility and choice than expected. Unrestricted car use is no longer compatible with easy mobility. As often assumed, a reduction in car use will not necessarily mean that a reduction in mobility or loss in economic growth will follow. On the contrary, reduced car use will improve accessibility and mobility for many citizens. In urban areas, there is a clear need to create a balance between providing for personal mobility whilst also providing an efficient transport system for the movement of people and goods that is ecologically sustainable. Access to basic services/goods/facilities is increasingly car-dependent due to an increase in journey lengths for all purposes but especially commuting. The average trip in the EU lasts 20 minutes, with on average one hour being spent travelling on trips per day, per person. This is due to: - increasing car ownership - increasing urban sprawl; and - an increase in work and shopping facilities located in out-of-town shopping locations. The key to improving mobility and accessibility in cities is to ensure that everyday facilities and activities can be reached easily and safely through all modes of transport, including the more sustainable forms, for all sectors of society (including the young, elderly, disabled etc.). This is also important for those who did not have regular use of a car and can help promote social inclusion. 26 % of EU households do not own a car. 'Sustainable mobility' means mobility that is economically, environmentally and socially sustainable. Three key elements are recommended for developing sustainable mobility: - land-use planning, - reduction in use of the private car, - promotion of public transport and other alternative modes. There is a need to devote attention to 'bring(ing) life back into the town centres' which tend to be more accessible by alternative transport modes, rather than facilitating the trend towards out of town developments, which tend to promote car use. Cycling and walking have huge potential roles to play as an alternative to the car. In Europe, more than 30 % of trips made by car cover distances less than 3 km and 50 % cover distances less than 5 km. Many of such trips could be replaced by the bicycle. For longer journeys the bicycle can be combined with public transport. Furthermore, if cities were planned such as to make more destinations within reach of cycle journeys, the bicycle's potential share of journeys could be greater. Cycling can offer shorter travelling times (in congested areas), reduced travel costs and hence increased mobility. The potential for increased mobility and access offered by cycling is particularly important for those who either do not have access to a car (particularly the young and the elderly) or those who do not choose to own or to use a car for some journeys. Easy access for everyone to education, shopping and leisure is vital to economic and social development. This can be offered through cycling, and at low environmental cost. Transport and spatial land-use policies must be developed together to ensure that they encourage alternative and more sustainable transport modes, such as walking and cycling, and also encourage shorter trips which might reduce the need for such high levels of car use. The spatial mixing of urban functions and encouragement of location policy can influence travel times and distances and improve accessibility and managing the need to travel. Car parking is an example of land use which requires an enormous amount of space and which reduces accessibility for other modes. Car parks should be at least the same, if not more, distance from key locations than the nearest public transport stop. This measure will increase the relative accessibility by non-motorised modes. Efforts must be made to improve the accessibility of key destinations, ensuring that infrastructure caters for cyclists' needs and taking steps to reduce travelling time by bicycle, for example through measures that improve the traffic flow, reduce bottlenecks, and create shortcuts. A key objective has to be to provide a transport system that operates efficiently yet also provides real choices for access to key locations for the whole community, including those who cannot drive. Personal mobility, choice of travel and 'the need for access is the essence of travel, and accessibility to goods, services and people is key to the quality of life'.
Education about cycling can take two forms: - educational schemes and campaigns which inform people about, and promote, the benefits of and issues concerning cycling; - educational programmes which provide information on road safety skills. Both of these approaches are widespread and well-established in some European countries. In the UK, the average adult receives 25 hours training and is examined before being permitted to drive on the roads. In comparison, most cyclists, who use the same roads, are given no formal training. Cyclist training and education have a vital role to play in improving cycling knowledge, skills and behaviour and hence they have been encouraged on this basis. If people learn the appropriate cycling skills then this can greatly enhance their ability to safely use the roads. Not only that but it is likely that increasing general awareness of cycling is likely to increase levels of cycling. The way forward to encouraging cycling might be to teach cyclists the necessary skills to help them to cope better with the road system in its current state. There are three key elements/requirements of an education programme: - need to tackle the behaviour of both cyclists and motorists, - need to support enforcement, - need a long-term role people's habits must be reinforced or they are likely to revert. Following on from this, education must teach new cyclists/drivers, as well as improving the behaviour of existing cyclists/drivers. Cycling education may target all sectors of the population, including the young, the elderly, and all other adults who may be unaware of the advantages of cycling. Educating adults Adult cycle training has an important role both in encouraging non-cyclists to consider cycling and also, in improving road safety skills of both those who already cycle and those who do not. City Councils and cycling groups can establish cycling schemes for inexperienced adult cyclists. Cycle training could be offered when working with companies and developing 'cycle to work' schemes. Educating children Cycle training for children and other vulnerable road users is important in teaching the inexperienced how to cycle safely in an environment which is typically hostile to their needs. Training should seek to help children interact with traffic rather than trying to reduce contact with it. Past research has shown that training can improve children's cycling behaviour (for a certain length of time at least). The research also suggests that improvement in cycling behaviour gets worse over time and this indicates that training must be reinforced and continual if it is to remain effective. Education highlighting the advantages and disadvantages of different modes of transport could improve children's awareness of the implications of their travel choices and habits. In particular, education should seek to improve childrens' awareness of the environmental and health benefits of cycling. Educating other road users Education on cycling should not merely by targeted at cyclists. Safety is also affected by the behaviour of other road users. Hence, information campaigns must be targeted at these groups so as to increase non-cyclists awareness of cyclists' rights on the road, needs and behaviour, therefore encouraging maximum safety. Many cyclists are victims of inappropriate motorist behaviour. It is important to educate motorists as soon as they learn to drive. For other motorists, action is needed to improve the behaviour of existing cyclists. Road safety officers can play a role in ensuring that motorists drive in ways that will not endanger cyclists, for example through publicity campaigns aimed at making motorists more aware of cyclists and targeted driving courses or training. Encouraging awareness of the traffic-perspective of other traffic modes In turn, all road users must be made aware of the traffic-perspective of all other road users. For example, understanding how children perceive traffic and danger. Cyclists must also be made aware of the perspectives of other road-users, in particular the difficulties motorists might face when in situations with cyclists for example, cyclists need to know how difficult it might be to see a cyclist in a dark, rainy situation. All road-users must be made aware of both their own safety and the safety of others. Through road safety plans and travel and publicity campaigns, road-users should be made aware of the importance of behaving and travelling in ways that will not endanger themselves or others. Individuals must be informed of the role they can play in contributing to their own safety and the safety of others. Such ideas can be incorporated into road safety plans and publicity campaigns. Alongside this, law enforcement to minimise bad behaviour of all road-users is paramount. User compliance with road safety rules must be encouraged. To encourage cycling, both a safer environment must be provided and road users encouraged to behave in the appropriate manner.
Bicycling is an important part of the solution to many urban transportation issues. The growing increase in motor vehicle use is burdening cities with increasing problems and costs related to congestion, accidents, loss of amenity and space, noise and pollution, having adverse effects on both the natural and built environment. It is increasingly recognised that as we suffer the increasing costs accompanying ever-rising motor vehicle traffic growth, it is no longer viable to solve these problems simply by increasing car transport supply and providing for transport needs in a demand-led, 'predict and provide' fashion. Instead, we must consider how to prevent the underlying increase in car traffic demand, for example altering our lifestyles and patterns of consumption. Embedded in this is the need to shift the balance between travel by car and travel by alternative environmentally-friendly modes in urban areas. Bicycle transport must be an integral part of the transportation solution for the cities of the future. 'Green' transport is often an important consideration in the amelioration of urban transport problems. However, vehicles with zero emissions, zero fuel consumption and virtually zero impact on pedestrians, cyclists and urban population densities might be 'green' but then we might as well have rediscovered the bicycle or feet. People are often unwilling to cycle due to air pollution and safety concerns. As a result, they use cars instead. This in turn contributes further to pollution and safety problems and further discourages cycling, creating a negative spiral effect. There is therefore a need to focus on efforts to curb car use. Several countries are recognising the potential of cycling to grow as a mode of transport and act as an alternative to car use, hence achieving more sustainable urban futures. The development of national cycling policies in recent years indicates the increasing prominence of planning for cycling on political agendas and the recognition of the need for control in the growth of car use. Increases in motor vehicle traffic and private motoring have resulted in the steady decline of travel by public transport, bicycle, motorcycle and walking. The car currently represents about 75 % of all kilometres travelled in EU conurbations. Growth rates of over 600 % in distances travelled by car per year are estimated in eastern Europe by the year 2010. Not only have travel modes altered considerably, but so too have journey patterns and in particular the length of journeys. Increasing spatial distribution between home and work has promoted a car-reliant society. It is important to view cycling and public transport not as potential adversaries but instead as complementary 'environmentally friendly' transport modes. Cyclists represent a potentially significant new group of transit customers, with the potential to increase transit rider-ship through provision of improved access and bicycle parking at transit stations and on transit vehicles. Intermodality can offer useful combined packages which offer a viable alternative to car use, providing convenience and door-to-door travel. On long journeys particularly, a combination of cycling and public transport is a viable alternative. In the Netherlands for example, almost 30 % of rail passengers cycle to a train station and 12 % continue their journey by bicycle upon alighting from the train. Providing bicycle racks on buses has been successful in the U.S., with many transit agencies reporting positive returns on investment and increased ridership. There is major potential for cycling in the current urban social, economic and policy framework. There is particular potential for an increase in cycling as an alternative for short and, the most environmentally damaging, car journeys. European experience indicates that policies have already led to an increase in cycle use and hence could be developed elsewhere with similar success. A reduction in car use is both feasible as well as desirable. Initiatives aimed at increasing levels of cycling can be seen to be at the heart of 'joined-up' policy making. Cycling is as much about public health, the environment, land use and freedom as it is about transport. Many areas of public policy are now converging to make cycling a more convenient, realistic and safe option for regular travel. These include transport policies to cut congestion and public health policies to promote well being through regular exercise. Cycling should be encouraged not just to avoid road congestion and reduce air pollution, but also to reestablish higher levels of physical activity and opportunities for social interaction.
Considerable potential exists to attract people to cycle, and promotion projects on varying scales (e.g. national level and city-wide) can have real impact in increasing cycling levels. A strong marketing campaign combined with the necessary facilities can help promote cycling as an everyday, convenient vehicle for short urban trips. There are 2 elements involved in promoting cycling: - through 'hard' measures, e.g. the provision of physical infrastructure, special facilities for cyclists and land-use planning; - through 'soft' measures, e.g. information provision, public relations and promotional campaigns. The first of these is dealt with in the planning briefing. There has been an increasing realisation that successful cycling promotion must include a wide range of approaches, simultaneously encompassing both 'soft' and 'hard', physical, measures. 'Soft' measures can boost the effectiveness of 'hard' measures. A series of ad-hoc measures, either 'soft' or 'hard', is unlikely to be successful. Planning the campaign - The type of promotional strategy adopted depends upon the specific aim for example, whether it is to increase cyclist trips or increase cyclists' numbers. Marketing and promotion will fail if the product is not good and does not appeal to the audience. - Promotion of cycling thus far has tended to assume that by simply promoting and advertising the personal and environmental benefits of cycling, people will cycle more, assuming over-simplistically that knowledge affects attitudes and then behaviour. Recent developments have indicated that behaviour change is a staged process, and that attempting to provoke behaviour change is most effective if based upon an awareness of the profile of existing and potential cyclists, their need and perceptions and the factors that would motivate behaviour change. Campaigns thus need to appeal to the feelings and interests of the target groups. There is a need therefore to understand how, why and when car users might be willing to alter their travel habits and to be then able to respond to this. - Changes in attitudes towards cycling will not occur overnight. Promotional activity must be planned over the medium- and long-term period, with linked events. Short-term, one-off activities with no sustained follow-up are ineffective. - Whilst the overall aim must be to "promote bicycle use while simultaneously increasing bicycle safety and appeal", specific target-setting is vital in identifying and achieving reachable, precise, well-directed goals. The Dutch bicycle master plan outlined several key targets and areas for special attention as follows: - to shift users from the car to bicycle, - to shift users from the car to public transport and bicycle, - to improve cyclist safety, - to improve bicycle parking facilities and theft prevention. Implementing the promotional campaign Promotional campaigns can involve the collaboration of multiple different organisations, perhaps, for example, developing partnerships with user groups or involving employers. In doing so, they can benefit from the diversity that the involvement of different groups can bring. However, flexible and regular communication is required between all parties if promotion of exercise is to be successful. International cycling networks or alliances could be set up to ensure consistency across nations and enable the widespread dissemination of cycling principles. Advertising the presence and benefits of cycling facilities is necessary, as in many cases people are simply unaware of what is available. Communication (e.g. information, campaigns, advertising) is a key part of any promotional campaign. A variety of media (newspapers/internet) will be needed to reach target audiences. The internet can be a useful promotion tool in publicising comprehensive information on and services for cycling. One approach is to incorporate cycle networks into a multi-modal planner that provides door-to-door solutions www.travelbristol.org/ for example, provides both direct and advisory (safer, but longer) route searching for cyclists in Bristol. The internet is also proving an effective means for promoting cycling with young people, as the Young Transnet project has shown (http://www.youngtransnet.org.uk). National, local and workplace-specific events, such as 'bike week' or 'green transport week' for example, can help raise the profile of cycling.
This briefing focuses on the economic costs and benefits of transport and the role cycling can play in reducing those costs. An efficient transport system is a key element of a successful economy. It is suggested that quality of transport should be measured considering factors of time, convenience and cost to the traveller, the transporter and society as a whole. When comparing these factors between transport modes, cycling often seems to 'come out top'. Motorised transport imposes high costs on societies, both directly (e.g. road construction and maintenance) and indirectly (e.g. casualties, pollution and congestion). In particular, it incurs high external costs or 'negative externalities' with regards to its detrimental social and environmental impacts. In comparison to motorised transport, cycling is a low-cost transport mode, both for the individual and society as a whole and also in terms of direct and indirect costs incurred. Incurring the external costs of transport Rather than being borne by the individual transport user who caused them, external costs are placed on society as a whole. Whilst uncertain, the external costs of transport are estimated to amount to approximately 8 % of EU (plus Norway and Switzerland) GDP. The main components of total external costs are accidents, air pollution and climate change. Congestion is less considerable overall, but is the most significant in urban areas. The reduction of transport's external costs is a key objective of EU environment and transport policies. There are two key methods by which to achieve this: - 'command and control' measures which directly reduce external impact (e.g. traffic bans), - internalising external costs through pricing instruments (taxes, subsidies, charges) which encourage users to use 'cleaner' transport. Increased urban efficiency and quality Cities lacking sustainable transport systems are unlikely to be able to compete economically. Cycling can improve a city's quality of life and environmental quality and hence attract individuals/business, benefiting local economic performance. Despite common beliefs, it has been shown that shop turnover is not dependent on accessibility of the shop by car. A study of consumers in Utrecht showed that cyclists spend more in the city centre than motorists. Cyclists shop more frequently and may be more prone to 'impulse purchases'. Furthermore, bicycle passenger transport is more space-efficient than car traffic. Space savings increase the attractiveness of town centres and furthermore, regained space can be used for productive means. As an alternative to the car, cycling can increase road capacity which in turn affords time and space savings and improved accessibility, all of which contribute to the urban economy. Saving time and money on the road Motorised transport often suffers congestion. Average congestion costs in Europe are estimated at approximately 2 % of GDP - 120 billion Euros. Replacing car transport with cycling could reduce congestion, improve traffic fluidity and reduce costs of congestion and the number of working hours lost due to traffic jams. Increased cycling will reduce household budgets devoted to car use. Reduced environmental costs Motorised transport is the source of air and noise pollution which damage health, urban quality of life and hence the urban economy. Motorised transport emits CO2, causing the greenhouse effect and with huge cost to the environment. Costs are potentially extremely high given the uncertainty surrounding the possibility of climate change and impacts upon biodiversity. A study of Amsterdam indicated that replacing 30 million car kilometres per year could result in savings of 1.3 million guilder as a result of less pollution. Reduced health costs at both individual and public level Cycling improves societal quality of life and individual psychological well-being, self-esteem and fitness. This could lead to reduced spending on medical treatment, reduced working hours lost due to sickness and reduced spending on workplace absenteeism and increased workplace productivity. A study of Amsterdam indicated that a 9 % increase in kilometres cycling would create savings from absenteeism and medical treatment of 7 million guilders/year (approximately 31.7 million Euros). Worldwide road casualties cost, on average, 2 % of GDP. Replacing car kilometers with cycle kilometres generally leads to reduced traffic casualties. The economic case for cycling is strong. For individual users, the bicycle can increase mobility and reduce travel costs. Compared to walking, cycling is more efficient for transporting people and compared to public transport, is cheaper. Furthermore, external costs are highest per car kilometre during short journeys in urban areas. It is exactly these journeys which cycling has the greatest potential to replace. A study by the Interface for Cycling Expertise showed that in Amsterdam, over a twenty year depreciation period, investments in the city's core bicycle network and bicycle parking facilities would result in higher benefits than costs, with a cost to benefit ratio of 1:1.5 respectively. Increasing bicycle use in Amsterdam is expensive and difficult, since it is already 'bicycle-friendly' and it is likely that better ratios could be achieved in cities starting at a less advanced level. Cycling provision can reduce the cost burden of motorised transport and deliver other benefits such as improvements in health and environmental benefits. A reduction in, or restrictions on, car use and a switch to alternative transport modes do not necessarily mean there must be a reduction in economic growth mission.
Current situation Over 75 % of the European Union's population lives in an urban area. Urban transport systems therefore, are vital in ensuring mobility and accessibility for this population. However, such systems have brought negative side-effects. Cities are experiencing problems related to urban sprawl, congestion, air and noise pollution, poor health and safety and road accidents, with an overall loss of quality of life and efficiency. Instead of 'serving them', traffic is 'consuming' cities. This is only likely to worsen. Between 1995 and 2030, total kilometres travelled in EU urban areas are expected to increase by 40 %. Current levels and such projected growth of car use, are unsustainable and undesirable. Without change, they will have dire consequences. A good transport system is a key element of an efficient and successful economy. Therefore, a poor, inefficient system hinders urban success. The current transport system is even counter-productive 'too much traffic kills traffic'. Whilst cycling offers accessibility like motorised transport, cycling also protects quality of life due to the lack of the many of the negative side-effects of motorised transport, for example by being space-efficient. Urban transport systems are characterised by competition for space. The car is the least space-efficient mode of transport yet is currently given preferential treatment. Neighbourhoods that are purported to foster high levels of cyclist and pedestrian activity are characterised by high population density, a good mixture of land use, high connectivity, and adequate design for walking and cycling. Proximity and connectivity are considered the main factors that influence the choice to use motorised or nonmotorised transport. Low density neighbourhoods are more likely to contribute to motorised transport and social isolation, consequently excessive traffic can sever communities and make sustainable modes of transport, such as walking and cycling, more difficult to use. There is a need to: - consider new ways to plan urban transport, which will allow cities to develop in a more environmentally and economically sustainable manner, whilst retaining mobility and accessibility. - recognise that attempts to reduce car traffic will require changes in patterns of consumption, expectations and lifestyles and a shift in the balance between travel by car and travel by environmentally-friendly, sustainable modes. - recognise that problems cannot be solved by simply increasing transport supply, but instead must focus on demand management, focusing on the need to reduce car use and providing viable alternatives such as cycling and walking. - recognise that transport issues are inextricably linked to the urban form of cities and land-use policies. The dispersed nature of cities has tended to create an urban structure that is reliant on the car and that discourages alternative transport modes. The car currently dominates, representing about 75 % of all kilometres travelled in EU conurbations. - focus on the creation of an urban form that is biased towards more sustainable modes such as walking and cycling. This could involve developing transport and land use policies together in a way that promotes land use favouring shorter trips. - restrain transport growth and foster increased market share of non-motorised modes of transport. This can be achieved through policy tools such as fair and efficient pricing mechanisms, more targeted investments and spatial planning. Cities are suffering from the major social and environmental consequences of car use. Trips undertaken through the use of sustainable modes of transport such as walking or cycling could replace many of those trips currently made by car, however such 'green' modes are the ones most affected by the increase in motorised traffic. The successful use and promotion of sustainable modes are hindered by increases in danger and trip length, poor facilities, pollution and noise. To prevent against the further destruction of cities the 'sustainability of urban life' must be fostered with an increase and acceptance of non-polluting modes of transport. Cycling can: - improve urban traffic fluidity, - reduce traffic jams and congestion and hence increase mobility and accessibility, - reduce use of space, allowing use of the space for more productive means, - improve quality of life and attractiveness of urban areas. There is also a need to create a better quality of life in cities through the adoption of a lasting and sustainable environment. In order to do this, urban strategy needs to be designed to reduce cars and as a result provide appropriate land use and traffic safety. Cycling can play a key role in this; with evidence suggesting that European cities with higher levels of cycling (as well as walking and public transport use) emerge clearly as attractive, efficient, prosperous centres with a higher quality of life. European cities with high levels of cycling, that are rich and well-functioning, show that cycling can play an important role without detriment to functionality and efficiency. The city centre is the core of life for many cities, generating the most money and reflecting their whole image and thus impacting upon the economic significance of the city in question. The rise in car use, in many European cities, has culminated in polluted, unattractive and congested city centres which are difficult to access and unpleasant to be in. This situation can cause damage to the city's economy as it often leads to crime and degeneration. Many cities have tried to react against this phenomenon through the reclamation of space (in the form of pedestrian areas, bicycle facilities and public transport) from the car. Public space has to be transformed into real public domain. This will enhance social integration and social safety. The ultimate goal to work towards is that of a 'sustainable society', whereby all areas of society, from residential areas to the city centre, can function without the private car. This can be achieved through urban design (reinforced by an urban strategy including transport, environment and parking policies etc.) placing limitations upon the mobility of the car and thus improving quality of life, road safety, air pollution and noise.
This briefing identifies significant potential for increased levels of cycling amongst young people and emphasises the many benefits of encouraging this. In particular, it focuses on the importance of cycling to school and outlines possible methods through which cycling to school can be promoted, providing case-studies of successful European school-focused schemes. Young people are increasingly leading sedentary lives, with physical activity playing little or no role in their everyday routine. Childhood obesity is of significant concern in many areas, and increasing in others. Approximately 17.6 million children under five worldwide are estimated to be overweight. 'Parental concerns over safety mean that many youngsters are restricted from exploring their surroundings on foot or by bike, and instead spend increasing amounts of their leisure time watching TV or playing on the computer'. Young people's mobility is becoming more car-based, with fewer cycling and walking, especially to school. UK data shows that in 1998/2000, 36 % of 5-10 year olds were driven to school, in comparison to 22 % in 1985/1986. In 1998, just 1 % of journeys to school were made by bike. On the other hand, in the Netherlands this figure is 52 %; in Denmark, 50 %. In many European countries, car use on the school journey has been increasing for the following reasons: - increased car ownership, including more cars per household, - an increase in the number of families in which both parents work, and in the number of working single mothers, means that children are brought to school by a parent on the way to his or her work, - greater distances to schools, - the ease and comfort offered by the car transporting both children and goods, - the low status of the bike, compared to that of the car, - ever-increasing car traffic meaning less safe roads to school. As children are increasingly transported by car, traffic danger increases, conditions for cycling or walking (e.g. to school) are made increasingly unpleasant and fewer children walk or cycle to school. This serves again to discourage cycling and leads to greater car use which provokes parents into further thinking that roads are too dangerous. Hence a vicious circle is created. There are, however, many benefits in encouraging cycling by young people: - encouraging cycling to school can reduce traffic on the roads and provide opportunities to improve quality of life, - parents do not have to spend time escorting their children to school, - research has shown that independent mobility and being able to be outdoors without supervision is essential for children's personal and social development; - a Swiss study has shown that independent mobility helps makes children more active and self-confident, and helps them learn vital road sense; - regular cycling increases activity levels of children. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends young people to be active for over an hour per day. 40 % of young males and 60 % of young females (14-18 years) are not active for the recommended hour a day). Children who do not exercise regularly risk becoming overweight or even obese. Cycling is a good way of encouraging children to do regular exercise. Evidence has shown that taking part in physical activities is a habit formed mainly at school. Hence the importance of encouraging cycling to school, in this context, cannot be underestimated. Furthermore, research suggests that when children are encouraged to cycle from a young age, they often continue to cycle as adults. Encouraging cycling in youngsters provides an opportunity to modify travel behaviour and alter the travel habits of the next generation. 50 % of schoolchildren state that their favourite way of getting to school would be by bicycle. Similarly, the UK Internet-based project 'Young TransNet' has quantified a significant latent demand for cycling by school children, showing that although only 3 % currently cycle to school, a third of all children surveyed would prefer to travel by bicycle. Furthermore, distances between homes and schools are generally less than 3 km, making cycling a feasible option. For cycling to become an accepted activity among young people there is a need to allay the fears of parents through the provision of safe routes to schools and other facilities. Cycling must also become the customary way for young people to travel, i.e. accepted by youngsters and their peers, and negative attitudes on all sides must be tackled. Cycle training and education schemes can help improve the safety of children, as they gain knowledge and experience of how to deal with road conditions. Relevant issues to cycling can be raised through the school curriculum. Police talks on theft prevention can also encourage awareness. 'Safe Routes to School' projects across Europe have incorporated a number of varying measures such as: - drop-off areas for children in dedicated zones, 'walking buses' and 'cycle trains', - bicycle pooling, in which children cycle to school in small groups under adult guidance, - mobility diaries and 'collecting' kilometre schemes, - slow-speed areas, road narrowings, traffic islands and combined foot and cycle paths.