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EU Urban Mobility Observatory
News article12 April 20246 min read

Mobility experts endorse the European Declaration on Cycling as a key milestone for cycling advocacy and climate action

The European Declaration on Cycling has been hailed as the Commission’s most ambitious initiative on cycling to date. The principles within the Declaration recognise cycling as a sustainable, accessible, inclusive and affordable means of transport, with strong added value for the EU economy.

The Declaration was adopted on 3 April 2024, during the European mobility flagship event, Connecting Europe Days. Following the announcement, the EU Urban Mobility Observatory team reached out to key stakeholders in the cycling industry to hear their views on the Declaration and the impacts the newly adopted principles will have on cycling uptake across EU Member States. The insights collected from the stakeholders are to be presented in the form of a two-part series of articles on the EU Urban Mobility Observatory.

This article collates the responses, featuring insights from Philip Amaral, Policy and Development Director at the European Cycling Federation (ECF), Lauha Fried, Policy Director at Cycling Industries Europe (CIE), Andréia Lopes Azevedo, Active Travel & Health Cluster Lead at POLIS, and Thomas Mourey, European Mobility Week Coordinator at Eurocities,. This first instalment of the series focuses on the role of the Declaration in creating a unified and cohesive policy landscape for cycling across Europe, and the importance of cycling in achieving the EU’s climate and environmental targets.


All of the contributors welcomed the European Declaration on Cycling as a vital strategic compass, providing valuable guidance for policymakers.

By recognising cycling as a standalone mode of transportation and by addressing crucial aspects and measures needed for the uptake of cycling in the EU, the Cycling Declaration becomes not only a document but a lever for change,” noted Mourey.

Lopes added that, with the adoption of the Declaration, “we can expect that cycling will now be considered as a fully-fledged mode of transport, which deserves dedicated measures and policies at local, national and EU levels.

“We expect the [declaration] to provide a strong basis for additional public investment in infrastructure, rider safety and purchasing schemes, as well as support for research, collaborative industry projects and the development of innovation structures like clusters,” stated Fried.

A city where a lot of people cycle is a city that thrives from a social, health, economic and environmental perspective… This Declaration should provide an impetus to decision-makers to act boldly and decisively,” Amaral commented.


Stakeholders discussed how the Commission’s newly adopted commitments can be harnessed for cross-sector and cross-border action, facilitating coherent policy support for cycling and greater consistency across Member States. It was identified that there was a clear need for such consistency in the move toward more sustainable mobility policy agendas.

An EU approach to cycling should mean consistent standards and regulations for cycling infrastructure, coordination of funds, and cooperation to promote the needed changes and exchange of knowledge and experiences,” noted Mourey. “This will support a homogeneous development of cycling across different European regions, minimising the differences between the ‘early adopters’ and ‘late bloomer’ cities.”

The adoption of the European Cycling Declaration can be an opportunity for initiating a stronger and better cooperation between all stakeholders, at all levels and including local authorities, NGOs and businesses,” echoed Lopes.

Amaral agreed, highlighting the benefits of cross-city knowledge sharing regarding planning implementation of successful cycling policies and initiatives. “Cycling has always been seen as a very local issue [however] there are many commonalities across Europe at play and ways in which cities and countries can learn from each other,” stated Amaral.

Fried added that the Declaration means that “cycling policies enacted at all levels, whether European, national, regional or local, have an EU-level ‘anchor’… [rendering] it more complex to backtrack on cycling policies”.


While stakeholders pointed to potential new synergies and knowledge sharing opportunities as a result of the Declaration, they also identified a number of challenges that policymakers will need to address. It was highlighted that challenges may arise when attempting to balance the level of ambition of pro-cycling initiatives with the feasibility of policy alignment. Stakeholders also recognised decision-making challenges regarding the choice to introduce policies that are homogenous and uniform cross-border or tailored, local-specific.

Member States and cities that are leaders in cycling should be willing to share their experiences, both with success and challenges and open a discussion with other Member States that still face bigger challenges in the uptake of cycling,” commented Lopes. “The current challenges and shortcomings should work as a balance point to understand how an EU approach can support and not hinder local efforts, with relevant attention to cultural, political and geographical differences.

Cooperation across the EU could happen on certain aspects, with concrete objectives. For instance, the collection of comparable data across Member States or the harmonisation of infrastructure standards could contribute to more consistency in Europe,” asserted Mourey. “The challenge is to find the right balance between the level of ambition and the feasibility of the harmonisation.”


With the 2030 carbon neutrality targets fast approaching, the need for action and progress on transport decarbonisation is increasingly more urgent. The commitments in the Declaration are expected to help deliver on these targets, including the Zero Pollution Action Plan, the Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy, and the New EU Urban Mobility Framework. Both Eurocities and POLIS commented on the potential of cycling to decarbonise transport especially in European cities and towns. They highlighted the niche that cycling can occupy, not only in replacing vehicles on the roads but in facilitating urban multimodality.

The role of cycling in reducing all these negative externalities of transport lies primarily in urban areas, where distances are typically adapted to the range of bicycles (2-5 km) and the conditions (e.g. infrastructure, regulations, speed limits, etc.) are favourable to cycling,” Mourey noted. “Cycling has a huge potential in replacing the trips currently made by cars and which are below 5 km.”

“Cycling, together with walking, is central to achieving the decarbonisation of urban mobility, not only as fully-fledged transport modes but as an intrinsic part of multimodal trips, which can respond to a greater variety of mobility needs and patterns,” highlighted Lopes. “Understanding and unravelling the link between active travel and other aspects of mobility and the urban environment, such as land use, urban planning, densification, diversification, health and the economy, is an essential part of the process of achieving the EU’s climate targets.”

Similarly, Amaral commented on the benefits that can be realised through modal shift and multimodality. “The key for cycling to really contribute to decarbonising transport is to have it replace more and more trips taken by motor vehicle,” echoed Amaral. “We believe it can encourage decision-makers to be bold and implement plans that encourage people not only to cycle more, but also to walk more and take public transport more frequently”.

Cycling is a fast and existing solution for decarbonising our cities,” stated Fried. They also identified specific applications of cycling, highlighting the “immediate opportunities for the decarbonisation of the tourism and logistics sectors”.


Moving forward, continued collaboration and dialogue among stakeholders at all levels was deemed essential to achieving the full potential of cycling across Europe and realising the ambitions of the Declaration on Cycling.

In the next article of the series, we will present experts’ views on how Member States and policymakers can implement successful and inclusive cycling policies in practice. It will address important issues such as infrastructure provision, the role of data collection in promoting cycling, and the relationship between cycling and the Just Transition.

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Publication date
12 April 2024
  • Walking and cycling
  • Europe-wide