This coming Tuesday, the European Parliament will decide if billions will be made available for cycling infrastructure. Strategic EU documents have so far failed to mention cycling and it is at risk of being sidelined by more powerful lobby interests, warns the European Cyclists' Federation.
In Italy, lobbying pressure has succeeded in MEPs promising to raise the concerns of cycling organisations in the transport committee vote. In the UK, CTC has prepared a template for form letters to be emailed to the chair of the transport committee: an English MEP.
Ed Lancaster, ECF Policy Officer for Regional Policy & Cycling Tourism said:
"There are 35 million daily cyclists in Europe. There are more than 100 million Europeans that cycle regularly. The European Institutions, however, are failing to take cycling seriously as a mode of transport."
On December 18th, the European Transport Committee will vote on legislation which will have a big impact on cycling as it concerns the funding rules for major infrastructure projects in the strategic European networks (Trans-European Transport Network, or Ten-T for short). Although this appears to be major road, rail and transport corridors, the exclusion of cycling would mean that cycling provision such as road crossings, major junctions and ECF’s strategic EuroVelo network would be excluded.
"It’s time for us to remind the European Parliament, a democratically elected body, that cyclists’ have a voice and a place in European policy," said Lancaster.
Last year, the Parliament’s official opinion was to include Eurovelo in this network. Being included in this network would open up the path for billions of euros of investments in cycling infrastructure across Europe.
Since then the European Commission and the Transport Committee in the European Parliament have been preparing these guidelines, but have excluded cycling and EuroVelo, despite the earlier recommendation.
Lancaster warned: "Once again, they have excluded cycling from transport policy and billions in potential funding. We need to make sure that cycling gets the funding it deserves."
Chris Peck of CTC said:
"Funding could strengthen EuroVelo, the network of pan-European cycle routes, three of which run through Britain - albeit in embryonic form. More widely, commitment to cycling by the EU would help ensure that new infrastructure is build with cyclists' needs in mind.
CTC wants cyclists to contact Brian Simpson MEP, who chairs the Transport Committee and represents North West England.
"This is a unique opportunity to ensure that funding doesn't just go to major road and rail projects," said Peck.
CTC has prepared an online form that is auto emailed to Simpson's office. Cyclists just need to add their contact details.
The letter says:
"There are 35 million citizens cycling every day. There are more than 100 million Europeans that cycle regularly. Yet cycling is in danger of being left out of important European transport funding and policy.
"In December 2011, the European Parliament showed that it saw potential for significant growth in cycling and that it was a priority case for European investment by recommending that the European Cycle Route Network, EuroVelo and associated cycling facilities should be included in the Trans-European Transportation Network (Ten-T) strategic transport network.
"CTC, the UK's national cycling charity and ECF feel that, despite last year's supportive recommendations, the European institutions are now ignoring, forgetting and failing the millions of European citizen cycling in Europe. As a democratically elected body, European Parliament must listen to its citizens.
"I call on you, as a UK representative and Chair of the Transport Committee to respect 100 million European citizens and the actions of the parliament by restoring cycling to its appropriate place in the Ten-T guidelines.
"If you do not, you are disrespecting the needs of 100 million citizens and the huge potential for economic growth, carbon reduction and reduced congestion that investing in cycling can bring.
"In the vote on the 18th of December, please vote the amendments with the following content:
- Integrate EuroVelo, the European cycle route network, into the Trans European Transportation Network (TEN-T)
- Improve, develop the road infrastructure / conditions of cycle routes that run along the TEN-T Corridors
- Implement safe (grade separate) intersections when TEN-T infrastructure corridors cross local, regional, national cycle routes."