Europe champions cycling as green alternative

Statistics announced at meeting on Transport, Health and Environment in Paris show cycling benefits

Over 10,000 lives would be saved every year if major European cities copied the cycling model of Copenhagen, a report published by UNECE and the WHO regional office for Europe suggests.

In addition, almost 77,000 people would be employed in ‘green and healthy transport’ every year if it followed the Danish capital’s example, which the report concludes makes the proposal economically profitable.

Cycling accounts for 26% of journeys in Copenhagen, Denmark

Cycling accounts for 26% of journeys in Copenhagen, Denmark

The report estimates that this could be achieved via local employment in bicycle retail and maintenance, provision of clothing and accessories for cyclists, urban development and new mobility schemes.

Copenhagen, is one of the leaders for cycling in Europe; it is only rivalled by Amsterdam in the Netherlands. Of all city trips, 26% are undertaken by bicycle. This level is much higher than in most other cities in the region.

In comparison, only 1% of journeys are undertaken on bicycle in Sofia, Prague, Budapest, Vilnius, Madrid, Stockholm, Bucharest, Belgrade, and Lisbon. The modal share of bicycle journeys in Rome is 0%.


The findings were announced at the High-level Meeting on Transport, Health and Environment — two days of talks between European ministries which are currently underway in Paris.

At the meeting, Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO regional director for Europe argued alternative modes of transport would benefit environment and health.

He said: “An efficient transport system is vital for the functioning of modern economies. However, transport can greatly damage environment and health. That is why we call for a bold Paris Declaration, urging government investments in green and healthy transport.

“The pay-offs from these investments are enormous and include new jobs and healthier people from more physical activity, fewer road traffic injuries, less noise and better air quality.”

Eva Molnar, director of the UNECE transport division, added: “Transport, health and environment form a dynamic nexus of vitality and mobility in our cities, presenting a formidable challenge for sustainability, but also great opportunities for a better quality of life.

“The Fourth High-level Meeting calls on Member States, civil society and local and regional authorities to support the future vision of THE PEP [Transport, Health and Environment Pan-European Programme]: ‘Green and healthy mobility and transport for sustainable livelihoods for all’.”


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