EU Transport Committee agrees to include cycling in major transport fund
Last year there were suggestions that cycling be included within the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T), and therefore able to access funds for long distance cycle routes.
CTC was alerted to the threat to funding by the European Cyclists' Federation (ECF), to which CTC, and, by extension, all CTC members, are affiliated. ECF identified that the Transport Committee of the European Parliament was preparing to approve guidance on allocating TEN-T funding which didn't mention cycling.
CTC asked cyclists to get in touch with Brian Simpson MEP, who chairs the Transport Committee and represents North West England. Over 500 cyclists wrote to Mr Simpson within a week in the run up to the vote in the Committee.
Mr Simpson responded to the campaign, voicing his concern that the original ECF proposal, if adopted in full, would in effect have involved funding a leisure cycling network out of the EU’s transport budgets.
Nonetheless, he and the majority of the Committee did vote for an amendment which could incorporate cycle routes into major transport projects, thus ensuring that EU money can be used to provide cycle links (including leisure routes) where these run alongside or across EU-funded road or rail schemes.
The text of the amendment is as follows: "Synergies with other policies should be exploited, for instance with tourism aspects by including on civil engineering structures such as bridges or tunnels bicycle infrastructure for long distance cycling paths like the EuroVelo routes."
Our voice was heard. If the cycling world hadn’t mobilized, then cycling and EuroVelo would have been sidelined by other forms of transport. Even worse, large scale transport infrastructure projects would have ignored the needs of cyclists.”
ECF General Secretary
In particular, this could strengthen EuroVelo, the network of pan-European cycle routes, 3 of which run through Britain - albeit in embryonic form. More widely, commitment to cycling by the EU would help ensure that new infrastructure is built with cyclists' needs in mind.
This amendment means that EuroVelo routes will not be directly funded through TEN-T but cycle routes could be included alongside major road or rail infrastructure where these are planned.
Large infrastructure projects, such as roads or railways, often act as barriers to local transport, severing communities and undermining the potential for shifting short, local trips to sustainable, active travel. For instance, the A55 in North Wales is a vital international and national transport corridor, but also links local communities along a very narrow coastal strip, often with no other alternative until this summer, when a new cycle route opened.
According to ECF, between 2007 and 2013, cycling was only allocated 0.7% of EU funding available for transport. For the next financial period (2014-2020), ECF has identified €6 billion or 10% of EU funding that should be dedicated to cycling but unlocking these funds will require more pressure in the next few years on the European institutions from citizens that cycle.
Bernhard Ensink says: “the fight is not yet over. We’ve got even bigger battles to come next year as the EU makes important decisions on even larger transport budgets. We’re going to need your help to remind the European, national and regional institutions about the strategic importance of cycling.”
The vote will now go to the Parliament’s full plenary before the details are discussed and negotiated with EU Member States at the Council of the European Union later next year.
Gordon Seabright, CTC's Chief Executive, said, "this decision shows growing commitment to cycling from politicians and the strength of the cycling community in exerting pressure, even at an international level."