Cycle usage will increase, if international bike advocates meet more - BikeBiz

Cycle usage will increase, if international bike advocates meet more

Greater contacts between national cycle officials in different countries (er, as well as more being done for cycling at all levels of government) is necessary if there is to be an increase in cycle usage. These are among the conclusions of the Velo Mondial stage I report on national cycling policies – NATCYP - published today as part of the celebrations for one year of Velo Mondial operations. Velo Mondial was a cycle advocate conference held in Amsterdam in 2000. At the conference it was agreed that work needed doing to ensure that 25 countries have national cycling strategies by 2006.
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NATCYP has so far brought together and compared the national cycling policies of five countries: England, Finland, Scotland, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic.

This was the first time ever that the officials from the five countries had worked together as part of an information exchange. The recommendations from stage I include the improvement of data on cycling and its significance, promoting wider partnerships and participation at national level, and increased promotional work.

At the international level, the report recommends that the European Commission provides a framework for developing national cycling policies in all countries. The participating countries want to take the NATCYP program forward along with additional countries who have already indicated that they want to join the programme.

The NATCYP programme is part of Velo Mondial’s work to both support the countries that already have a national cycling strategy, and also help influence more countries to develop their own strategies. This work is central because Velo Mondial has the target to ensure that 25 countries have national cycling strategies by 2006. This target was adopted at the end of the Velo-Mondial 2000 conference in Amsterdam and the next conference event will be in in 2006, in a city about to be chosen.

In addition to this programme, Velo Mondial is developing VeloInfo, a web-based information system that will directly help cities, and others, seeking good quality up-to-date information on cycling best practice.

Britain's Oliver Hatch (he of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group secretariat, and VeloCity and other cycle advocacy schemes), and Pascal van den Noort of the Netherlands are Velo Mondial's executive directors and they will be delivering a presentation on NATCYP at the Citizen’s network Benchmarking Initiative Annual Conference, Hotel President WTC, Brussels on Monday 25th February 2002.

A full summary of NATCYP is included below.


CONTACTS:

Pascal van den Noort

Executive Director Operations Velo Mondial

Tel: 00 31 206270675

p.v.d.noort@chello.nl

Oliver Hatch

Executive Director Programs Velo Mondial

Tel: 0208 6717561

oh@velo-city.org

NATCYP SUMMARY

NATCYP is a benchmark program directed by Velo Mondial, supported by DG TREN of the European Commission, and with five participating countries; Czech Republic, England, Finland, Scotland and The Netherlands.

The program has, for the first time ever, compared and benchmarked cycle policies at a national level within Europe. The work of the first stage of this program covered in this report covers the period from early 2001 until December 2001 and the publication of the final report. It was planned that this stage would be time and participant limited, but good work has been completed, and other countries that would join a further NATCYP phase are also identified.

The participating countries became involved in this benchmarking program in order to compare their achievements so far, and to identify best practice relevant for their stage of development. Indeed, there are wide variations of cycling policies in Europe, and the situation is developing quickly. There are countries, which are at a starting stage of development, those who have some achievements, and those who have integrated cycling into the overall transport policy. At a time when the many benefits of greater cycle use are being increasingly recognised, this benchmarking program is a very important tool to: aid countries with cycle policies to do better; raise the status of the bicycle; and to encourage more countries to adopt pro-cycling policies.

The first stage of this program concentrated on three main aspects:

• • The choice of the appropriate indicators for an efficient and productive assessment and comparison. These were clustered into the four following categories; Targets and performance; Process of making policy; Tools and measures; and Barriers and support. These four were selected to give useful information on the situation in the five countries;

• • A more in-depth exchange of experiences on specific topics of interest using a site visit.

• • The compilation of conclusions and recommendations for this stage, and the identification of other countries who are interested to be involved in a further stage of this program.

Some of the detailed findings from the agreed indicators were that:

• • All the participating countries have, or are developing, national level policies for cycling. One country (The Netherlands) has executed a Masterplan for Cycling, while others have developed a dedicated cycle policy more recently. This indicates the essential ‘top-down’ political support for the mode, although the political agenda for cycling varies greatly.

• • Within these, all countries have (or are developing) concrete targets for increasing the cycling infrastructure and/or cycle use. These are very useful indeed in helping to define priorities, allocate funding, direct publicity and promotion, as well as monitor progress.

• • Actual bicycle use varies from a substantial part of all trips (the Netherlands 27% and Finland 10.7%) through moderate (the Czech Republic estimated at 4%) to marginal (England and Scotland approximately 2%).

• • In countries with high levels of cycling the use of public transport for short trips (i.e. urban public transport) is relatively low.

• Most countries have a big cycling potential with the majority of all trips made shorter than 5 km. The figures on the potential of cycling strongly suggest that the bicycle can replace short trips by car if suitably supported.

• • The risk to be killed per km cycling per country, tends to be inversely proportional to the level of bicycle use

• • All national strategies explain that a substantial part of the job has to be done by regional and local authorities. Co-ordination, funding, research, making guidelines and legislation are the main tasks for the national level in all countries.

• • Most countries have guidelines for planning and designing of bicycle infrastructure and for traffic calming. While these guidelines may have no legal power, they are influential.

At the final program meeting, the participants defined the essential aspects of cycle policy that had been most important for them in the benchmarking process. These included the successful promotion of cycling (best practices), Communication, Safety (increase of cycling and at the same time increase of safety is possible), Intermodality, and the Integration of cycling into other policy fields.

Strategic NATCYP program conclusions.

These fall into five main areas; benchmarking process, networking and contacts, data and information exchange, country policy development and wider policy implications. Within these, a number of detailed conclusions are important:

• • Benchmarking national cycling policies for the first time, in spite of the limited time for this stage, has been very productive for the countries. This positive conclusion was shared by other country officials who came to one meeting, and they want to be involved in future.

• • NATCYP helped very much to increase the amount of information on not only the current situation in the countries, but also on the process of policy making for bicycles. The gathering, sharing and comparing of this data is important for faster progress.

• • NATCYP has been an effective way to raise the status of the bicycle and to help convince politicians and professionals of the benefits of a national cycle policy.

• • NATCYP has also aided policy formulation and review. The process helped the countries to realise their strengths and weaknesses, and to amend what they are doing in the light of this. This can help to save time and money, and make the policies more effective.

• • NATCYP has also allowed the countries to very usefully see their work as part of a wider policy framework, both within the countries involved and also at an international level.

The NATCYP recommendations

These use the same five headings as above, and fall into three main headings; those related to the program itself, wider national policy points, and wider international policy points.

The recommendations on the NATCYP program itself include;

• • The participating countries are keen to continue the program, and to include the additional countries that have shown an interest. This is felt to be both desirable and useful.

• • A further stage of this benchmarking process should concentrate on specific topics that will be investigated with more countries and in greater depth. This strongly suggests a long-term program would be most effective. Several topics have already been identified

• A benchmarking process offers great opportunities to elaborate a framework for the whole national cycling policy process. Such a framework would have a wide application.

The wider national recommendations include;

• • Support capacity building (professional capabilities and development)

• • Improve data collection, particularly on the potential and significance of cycling

• • Improve monitoring and data collection regarding traffic and transport

• • Promote wider policy partnerships and increase participation by providers and users locally

• • Improve guidelines and promotional work

The wider international recommendations for the EC include that they should;

• • Develop a more pro-active role at the European level. This would involve collection and dissemination of data, more promotion of cycling, harmonisation and policy work.

• • Develop a framework for a long-term national cycling policy process, including coordination as part of a process to support policy development and more cycling.

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