Skip to main content

Countries adopt first pan-European Master Plan for Cycling Promotion

Master Plan THE PEP

As one of the most sustainable, inclusive, safe, and healthy forms of mobility, cycling received a major boost today with the adoption of the first-ever Pan-European Master Plan for Cycling Promotion at the Fifth High-Level Meeting on Transport, Health and Environment (THE PEP). The Master Plan is designed to help national and local stakeholders streamline efforts to promote cycling. It contains seven key objectives to be implemented by 2030: significantly increase cycling in the region; provide appropriate space in favour of active mobility; extend and improve cycling infrastructure; develop and implement national cycling policies, plans, strategies and programmes; significantly increase cyclists’ safety and reduce the number of fatalities and series injuries; integrate cycling into health policies; and integrate cycling and cycling infrastructure into land use, urban, regional and transport infrastructure planning.

“Adopting the first pan-European Master Plan for Cycling Promotion is a historic milestone for Europe on the way to a climate neutral mobility system. Cycling brings a triple benefit to our societies: boosting local economy with more green jobs, increasing people´s health and protecting actively our climate.” said Leonore Gewessler, Federal Minister for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology of Austria.

During the pandemic, cycling emerged as both an effective way to support physical distancing and provide daily physical activity, and an effective mode of transport for essential trips. Many countries have witnessed important increases in bicycle usage during the pandemic, and have supported with initiatives such as pop-up cycle lanes, opening up possibilities for lasting policy shifts.

“The Master Plan for Cycling Promotion is a prime example for inter-sectoral as well as international cooperation to address the global challenges we are facing today. Cycling is associated with a lower risk of cardio-vascular diseases and by promoting this healthy mode of transport, we aim at curbing air pollution and traffic noise. The adoption of this pan-European Master Plan marks a milestone in building a healthier and more sustainable future in Europe,” said Dr Wolfgang Mückstein, Federal Minister for Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection of Austria.

Implementing the Master Plan can unlock major benefits:

• Promoting policies conducive to healthy and safe modes of transport. Doubling the current level of cycling would prevent 30,000 premature deaths (primarily from increased physical activity) with indirect economic benefits amounting to €78 billion per year;

• Contributing to sustainable economic development and stimulating job creation. The cycling industry and cycling tourism have high economic potential. In the pan-European region, an estimated 750,000 jobs are connected to cycling. Doubling the modal share of cycling in the European Union would create an additional 400,000 jobs and an additional €3.5 billion turnover in retail bicycle sales. Over 76 600 people would be employed in green and healthy transport every year if major European cities reached the cycling modal share of Copenhagen. 

• Promoting a more efficient transport system. Today, some 131 billion passenger-kilometres, replacing 42 billion passenger-car-kilometres, are cycled annually in the region. Doubling cycling would double the number of kilometres shifted;

• Reducing emissions of transport-related greenhouse gases (GHG). Doubling the current level of cycling would reduce GHG emissions by 8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) with indirect economic benefits of €1.1 billion per year in the region;

• Integrating transport, urban and spatial planning policies. Cyclists’ needs can be met by providing seamless infrastructure and enabling connectivity, accessibility and multimodality when integrating transport, health and environmental objectives into urban and spatial planning policies. Doubling cycling in the region would increase the share of public space available to people by reducing congestion, with indirect economic benefits of €4.9 billion. A parked car needs more than eight times, and a moving car 28 times, the space required by a moving bicycle.

“The shift towards sustainable mobility opens up many opportunities - for instance, greening the transport sector could create up to 15 million jobs worldwide, including 3.4 million in our region“, said Olga Algayerova, Executive Secretary of UNECE. “The Cycling Master Plan provides us with the blueprint to capitalise on the growing momentum for active mobility observed during the COVID-19 pandemic and to go much further. Let’s seize this potential in all countries of the region.”

Increasing cycling can accelerate progress towards several Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda. For example, cycling supports healthy and non-polluting lifestyles (Goal 3 Good health and well-being); creates jobs and fosters tourism (Goal 8 decent work and economic growth); and contributes to decarbonizing mobility (Goal 13 (Climate action).

To help all countries in the region to unlock the potential of cycling, the Master Plan includes 33 recommendations, grouped under 11 areas:

  1. Develop and implement a national cycling policy, supported by a national cycling plan
  2. Improve the regulatory framework for cycling promotion
  3. Create a user-friendly cycling infrastructure
  4. Provide sustainable investment and efficient funding mechanisms
  5. Include cycling in the planning processes and facilitate multimodality
  6. Promote cycling through incentives and mobility management
  7. Improve health and safety
  8. Improve cycling statistics for use in efficient monitoring and benchmarking
  9. Promote cycling tourism
  10. Make use of new technology and innovation
  11. Promote cycling for a more resilient transport system

The continuing cooperation between member States of THE PEP by sharing statistical data, good practices, and providing adequate infrastructure and funding will accelerate the achievement of the Master Plan’s objectives. To further support its implementation, a Pan-European Competence Centre for Active Mobility will be designed and established within the framework of THE PEP. This will aim to build upon the experiences and practices of THE PEP member States, supporting capacity building for cycling, walking and ‘rolling’.

With the support of THE PEP, it is hoped that member States will utilize the Master Plan to its full potential in order to realise the environmental, social and economic benefits that cycling brings.

The pan-European Master Plan for Cycling Promotion was elaborated under THE PEP Partnership on Cycling, jointly launched by the Federal Ministry of Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology of Austria and the Ministry for an Ecological Transition of France. It was supported by the UNECE Sustainable Transport, the Environment Division and the World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe as well as the EU Commission's Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport (DG MOVE). It brings together the experience and expertise of cycling experts from 28 countries all over the pan-European region. Further support was provided by the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF) and the Confederation of the European Bicycle Industry (CONEBI).

THE PEP is jointly serviced by UNECE and the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Europe.   

If you wish to subscribe to the UNECE Weekly newsletter, please send an email to:  [email protected]

United Nations Economic Commission for Europe

Information Unit

Tel.: +41 (0) 22 917 12 34

Email: [email protected]

Reproduction is permitted provided that the source is acknowledged.