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Promotion of Walking & Cycling

Making people bike and walk more

The most sustainable mode of transport is not using engines at all. And cycling and walking have a multilayered positive effect on a city. What do cities do to promote the use of bikes and legs? Do the figures over the last five years document success? Are the plans for the future promising if existing at all? Some cities are already doing a lot to promote cycling. Others have just found out about its potentials. We welcomed when there was an improvement of the existing infrastructure, a clear commitment of the municipality with clear and ambitious targets. We evaluated both hard (infrastructure) and soft (communication) measures. We assessed whether those measures were ambitious enough and whether their success was documented. We considered future plans when they were concrete with solid political and financial support.


Capital of Sweden

Stockholm has ambitious and well-funded plans to increase the share of cycling, with dedicated targets up to 2030. Information collected by the European Cyclists Federation showed that the number of cyclists increased by 76 % between 2003 and 2013. In 2013, the modal share of cycling was 9%. Stockholm wants to increase this share to 12% by 2018 and at least 18% by 2030. In terms of investments, the city has earmarked 115 million euros for new infrastructure up to 2018. In 2013 the city had around 760 km of cycling paths, including bicycle lanes that are often separated from other types of traffic lanes. Also, the city has operated a bike sharing system since 2006 that was expanded in recent years and serves around 900,000 withdrawals annually. The city provides for safety measures, 24 h service-depots, pump-stations, a journey planner for cyclists, paper maps and has led several promotion campaigns.

European cyclists federation 2013:

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Capital of France

The city supports comprehensive measures for encouraging cycling and walking. So far, the cycling network in the framework of Plan Vélo was extended by about 300 km from 2009 to 730 km in 2013. A big further step for the promotion of soft modes of transport is the doubling of cycling lanes by 2020 envisaged by the new mayor through large investments. There will also be a cycling lane along the Champs Élysées. An introduction of extensive 30 km/h zones, 20 km/h zones de rencontre and pedestrian areas is planned.

The extensive bike sharing programme Vélib comprises 1,800 bike stations located every 300 meters with 20,000 bikes and more than 25 million journeys per year.

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Capital of the Netherlands

Amsterdam is one of Europe’s cycling capitals and in the inner city and adjacent areas 50% of all trips are made by bicycle. To cope with an increase in cycling a “Meerjarenplan Fiets 2012-2016” (several year bicycle plan) has been adopted, funded with €57 million, in order to remove urgent deficits, for example in the number of parking racks, or the safety and capacity of the existing infrastructure. 38,000 parking spaces will be created and the most important 15 kilometres of the cycling routes will be improved, rather than creating more bike lanes. In the long run, before 2020 another 38,000 bicycle racks are planned. In comparison, estimates show that another 80,000 are probably needed. There is no bicycle sharing programme (75% of all inhabitants have a bicycle), but there is a service called Public Transport Bicycle for visitors (with about 500 bicycles, not provided by the municipality). With regard to walking, the city has a pedestrian network in the inner city as well as a guideline (CVC Leidraad).

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Capital of Denmark

Copenhagen is one of Europe’s most prolific cycling cities. It has a very high share of cycling and the continuous promotion of cycling is part of the long-term mobility management programme. Current measures are outlined in the “good, better, best – Bicycle Strategy 2011-2025”. They include the creation of PLUSnet, a network of ‘Bicycle Superhighways” on very congested routes.

Many measures have already been accomplished, such as intersections granting priority to cyclists in many cases. Bicycles can also be brought onto all trains and in the metro with only a few restrictions during rush hours. Furthermore, the city also has had a bike-sharing system since 1995 and is currently reforming it.

Copenhagen’s Bicycle Strategy 2011-2025 (Engl.):

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Between 2004 and 2009, bike lanes increased by 33% and until 2014 by another 60%. There are plans for another 75% increase between 2014 and 2020. The cycling network in the streets of Lyon was expanded to 320 km in 2008 and 520 km in 2014. The 2020 target is 920 km (vélo ciblée).

The number of safe bicycle racks was raised from 4,000 in 2008 to 10,000 in 2014. An increase to 16,000 is planned by 2020.Bicycles are only allowed on funiculars and on one metro line. In 2005, the city launched the very innovative bike sharing programme Vélo’v with 4,000 bikes, 343 stations, 60,000 members and between 15,000 and 25,000 rentals per day. There are also plans for long-term bike rental. There are awareness-creating actions including poster campaigns, bike-route maps, websites, newsletters and an annual bicycle festival.

With regard to pedestrians, the city promotes Pédibus, an initiative to walk children to school, which exists in 37 communities, 73 schools and 142 daily routes and involves more than 2,000 children daily. Furthermore, 210 km of 30km/h zones have been installed, 8 km of 20km/h zones de rencontre (encounter zone) and 15 km of pedestrian zones.

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The share of cycling lanes is low and there has been no significant improvement over the last 10 years. The network of cycling lanes is neither appropriate nor far-reaching. The modal share of cycling in Dusseldorf is 8%. An increase to 11% is targeted for 2020 with a further increase to 13 or 16% being debated. The city plans a comprehensive set of measures to reach this target, such as the expansion of the cycling network or the controlling and punishing parking vehicles blocking cycling lanes. Offering 400 bikes for rent (next bike) and reaching 40.000 users is part of this programme.

The modal share of walking is 27%. There is no strategy to enlarge the share of pedestrians in the mobility development plan.

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Capital of Austria

The city is promoting cycling among other measures by expanding cycling lanes and the overall infrastructure. In 2010, a cycling lane in the canalised riverbed of the Wien-Fluss was built to better connect suburban areas with the city centre. The development target for cycling is a quite ambitious increase from 6% (2012) to 12% in 2020. A city-wide bike sharing programme with 1,700 bicycles and about 120 stations (in 2014) has been built up since 2003, and has doubled its numbers of bikes and stations since 2010. The share of people walking (28%) is expected to stay the same.

Worth mentioning, a very interesting example of activities in Vienna is the important shopping street Maria-Hilfer-Straße being converted into a pedestrian area in 2013 .

Urban Development Plan 2025 (eng.):

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Capital of Finland

Helsinki has an extensive cycling network with 1,200 km of routes, 730 km of them paved. The entire metropolitan area is covered by 2,600 km of cycling routes. A public bicycle centre opened in 2012 and offers a range of services like emergency repairs, facilities for personal service checks and guarded parking spaces.

Having a cycling share of 11% among all modes of transport in 2014, the City of Helsinki aims to increase this share to 15% by 2020. To reach this aim, funding, currently at €6m, is proposed to be raised to €20m annually, which would ensure that the expansion of the cycling route network in the inner-city will be finished by 2018 and other new cycling corridors by 2025. A comprehensive bike sharing scheme was discontinued due to funding and vandalism issues.

In 2014, a research and development plan was launched by the city looking into ways to encourage walking. Another paper is planned that will look at expanding the pedestrian network in the city centre, especially focusing on extreme weather conditions.

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Capital of United Kingdom

Cycling and walking have been relatively static for years, stuck at a modal share of 2% or 24%, respectively. However, actions as well as investments in infrastructure are being undertaken to promote cycling and walking. For instance, 135 km of proper cycle network, including cycle superhighways, already exist. Since 2010, a large bicycle hire scheme with over 11,000 bikes on over 100 km² was put in place, and is one of the largest such schemes in Europe, though expensive to establish and operate. In the context of the Better Streets programme from 2009 the city invested over £450 million between 2010 and 2013 in roads, cycle track and footpath infrastructure as well as public spaces to make streets both more beautiful and better regarding functionality. Further, signage for major walking and cycling routes was installed.

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Graz has a comprehensive strategy for promoting soft mobility modes through investments in cycling infrastructure and information campaigns. The city’s cycling network is composed of 123 km of cycle lanes, in addition to 800 km of bike-friendly 30 km/h zones. There are several permanent counting metres all over the city that monitor the use of bicycles. Furthermore, there is a monthly cycling event called Grazer CityRadeln (“Graz Residents’ City Bike Ride”).

Graz has the worldwide largest contiguous pedestrian area (6% of the inner city) and privileges pedestrians at traffic lights.

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In the context of the Masterplan Velo scheme there are measures to promote and increase cycling. Besides big measures like extending and securing a consistent, contiguous cycling network, there are also smaller measures like (electronic) bicycle route planners, a bicycle delivery service, and the promotion of bicycles at municipal events. Furthermore, there are subsidies for bike-to-work programmes.

The city wants to continuously introduce shared spaces, with 20km/h speed limit zones and pedestrian priority. There is a small bike rental system with 2 permanent and 4 temporary locations and free bike rental. However, a general bike sharing programme is not likely to be implemented because of the cost and lack of effectiveness.

The Velovignette, a mandatory third-party insurance for bicycles in Switzerland, was discontinued through a parliament decision in 2010 and a legislation amendment in 2012. It cannot be resumed, which changes the usage of bicycles in Zurich.

Regarding the promotion of walking, the city started a programme called “Züri z’Fuess” (colloquial for Zurich by foot), which provides walking paths and an interactive route planning mobile application for walking and cycling.

Website for walking routes (Ger.):

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Capital of Czech Republic

The city of Prague has only a share of 1% for cycling in its current modal split. The city cycling development plan for 2020 envisages a share of 5-7% for cycling during summer and 2-3% during winter. The city plans to create infrastructure to reinforce this ambition. Plans foresee an increase in the total length of cycling lanes from 350 km in 2009 to 1,000 km in 2020. As investments in cycling increased in the past from CZK 12.5m (€0.46m) in 2004 to CZK 73m (€2.6m) in 2009, the city has proved its raised commitment to cycling.

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Capital of Ireland

The cycling network in 2013 consisted of about 170 km in the city centre. In the framework of the Cycle Network Plan, which was published in 2013, the city plans to extend this network to 460 km by 2020 in order to promote cycling. For all of the Greater Dublin Area, the programme plans to extend the existing cycling network from 500 km in 2013 to about 2,800 km. Further objectives are the provision of cycle parking facilities, also at public transport interchange stations, and the expansion of the bike sharing scheme dublinbikes. The scheme started in 2009 with 40 stations and 450 bicycles and the services was extended to 44 stations and 550 bicycles in 2013. A further expansion programme increased the programme to 1,500 bicycles and 100 stations. A long-term plan envisages providing 5,000 bicycles with stations reaching out to suburban regions. For the promotion of walking, the Transport Strategy 2011-2030 and Integrated Implementation Plan 2013-2018 intends to install or improve signage and to reduce traffic speeds in the town centre, residential and school areas.

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United Kingdom

There are several measures and efforts to increase and encourage bicycle use, particularly introduced in preparation for the Olympics and the Commonwealth Games. The cycling network in Glasgow covers 200 km. The city is expanding its bicycle lanes and the number of bike racks, and it is creating new routes with permanent investments. The bike sharing scheme NEXTBIKE was launched in 2014 through city investments of £1.3m. It started with 150 bikes at 15 stations and now provides about 400 bikes at 30 stations. Another ten stations are currently being installed.

For walking, a series of promotion measures was included in the current transport plan such as better signs and extended pedestrian zones.

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Capital of Italy

The city increased its bike lane network from 225 km in 2011 to 280 km in 2013 including lanes in parks. A further 920 km is planned and also partially financed. 24 million euros will be spent between 2014 and 2016. Furthermore, the pedestrianisation of the inner city centre is envisaged, comprising an extensive 30 km/h zone with access only for emergency vehicles.

Further promotion of routine cycling is planned with a re-launch of a bike sharing system. In August 2014, a tendering process for a contract of about 120 bicycles with pedal assistance was published.

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Capital of Belgium

The share of bicycles in Brussels has been very low (2.5%), but the city has ambitious plans to raise it to 20% by 2020. The municipality plans to expand the number of bicycles and cycle lanes. The bicycle plan targets 100% of bikeable roads, creating cycling connections with neighbouring regions, developing 70km of cycling corridors along the train lines, better road signs and a higher possibility for intermodality between bicycle and public transport. For example, bicycles can be carried on public transport for free except during rush hours. Since May 2009, the Villo bike rental system has been offered at 360 stations with 4,000 bikes at the end 2013 (almost doubled since 2010).

Awareness building measures such as “Friday Bike Day”, “Bike to Work”, “Bike Experience”, guided bike tours, bike rentals in parks, etc. promote the modal shift to cycling. Walking is being promoted by expanding pedestrian zones to 10 km in 2016, to 20 km in 2020 and to 40 km in 2040. Brussels aims to increase the share of pupils living less than 1km from their schools who walk to school to 70% in 2016 and 80% in 2020.

Brussels Mobiel, Iris (Fr.):

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The city wants to increase the share of cycling in the coming years and continuously improves the infrastructure, including an increase in the number of bicycle lanes and bicycle parking spaces. Bike lanes were extended by 10 km to more than 100 km between 2010 and 2013. Still, cycling is the hobby of few in Barcelona, with a modal split share of a mere 1.7% in 2013 about a third of which journeys were done by ”Bicing”, Barcelona’s bike-sharing scheme. The system has 6,000 bikes and a growing network of stations.

With regard to walking, pedestrian zones are also constantly expanded. In 2013, 0.76 km² of the city was covered by pedestrian zones. Yet, there were no signs of a walking strategy.

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The city is doing a lot to change the use of cycling. Primarily, the city continuously extends its cycling network, for example increasing the total length from 120 km in 2010 to 160 km in 2013 with further cycle lanes to be added in 2015. Cyclists are allowed to use dedicated bus/tram lanes in some cases. Cycling the wrong way down a one-way street is forbidden, but cyclists have priority at some intersections and traffic lights. However, the bike lane policy is rather unsuccessful so far, simply because there is not yet a large enough system for safe cycling. As a result, cycling in Milan is still rather unsafe.

In the framework of the Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan (PUMS), authorities envisage almost doubling the number of 30 km/h zones and extending pedestrian zones. However, the extensions are at a relatively low level: 30 km/h zones cover only an area of 0.36 km² and pedestrian zones cover 0.43 km² of the city.

The local transport company ATM operates a very good bike-sharing scheme called bikeMi, which experiences increasing numbers of subscribers for its 3,300 bicycles (more than double the number available in 2009). For the EXPO 2015, 80 new station and 1,000 fully electric bicycles will be added, and afterwards relocated and integrated into the current bike-sharing system. BikeMi has only limited opening hours, and only operates until 2am from April to October. Not much information could be retrieved on the promotion of walking, except for the Pedibus project, a project where pupils walk to school together.

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The city wants to raise the share of cyclists to 20% in 2020. However, there is no comprehensive strategy visible and measures to reach this objective are not specified. Cycling has been ”discovered“ very late as a means to promote clean air. Thus cycling lanes on main streets are only now being discussed. Additional investments of €715,000 per year in cycling lanes are scheduled, starting in 2014. Green Waves of traffic lights for pedestrians are planned in some places (e.g. Schillerstraße) and improvements in signposting for walking and cycling are scheduled.

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Capital of Spain

The city has a very low share of cycling and planned to achieve an increase to 3% by 2016, however the plans were also hampered by a lack of funding that endangered that objective. The city planned to create a bike lane system of 575 km. In 2013, there were 316 km, an increase of almost 100 km since 2009. However, most part of the bike lanes are in the surrounding city and are used mainly for sport or spare time, not for day-to-day use. The most significant cycling promotion measure has been the bike sharing system My bici (1560 electric bikes and 123 stations). It was implemented in June 2014, after a delay of several years from the first announcement. At the moment it covers a small part of the inner city (smaller than it was scheduled), but there are plans to expand it (30% annually) to cover the whole inner city. Currently ,it has around 30,000 registered users and 4,000 daily uses.

The Air Quality Plan included a dedicated walking strategy, including an extension of pedestrian areas and information campaigns on walking in the city, but it was turned down due to lack of fundings. In addition, the council rejected a citizen proposal to spread 30km/h speed limit in all the residential neighbourhoods of Madrid.

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Capital of Germany

In that past decade, Berlin has experienced a long trend towards more cycling and walking. The city has improved the infrastructure for bikes in many aspects. Cycling doubled to 12% modal share by 2008 and reached 13% in 2013. The expansion of the cycling network through opening one-way streets for cyclist, and through creating new cycling routes on secondary roads, labelled by signs, was too small compared to the increasing demand. The budget increase decided in March 2015 (€4 million for new lanes and €2 million for maintenance) was too late to be included in the ranking.

No comprehensive strategy has been set to increase walking before 2011. A decision in 2011 to focus on walking has only little practical effects: running pilot projects to draft a strategy, trials for public space zones or pilot projects for pedestrian-friendly traffic and public awareness campaigns are not enough when unfriendly traffic lights for pedestrians are still the rule. Furthermore, pedestrian zones in Berlin are rare and very small.

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Capital of Portugal

The city has a very low cycling share at 1%, which might be due to the fact that Lisbon is hilly, a natural limit to widespread acceptance of cycling. However, there are plans to promote biking in the city by 2017. Through investments of €2m, the city planned to increase the total length of bike lanes by 30 km to almost 80 km, and introduce a public bike-sharing system. In fact, these plans were partially implemented. The installation of the network of bike lanes has been in process over the last couple of years, connecting in particular the northern part of the city to the city centre. However, more investment is needed to install bike parking in Park & Ride stations. The city currently has no public bike sharing system, but there is a plan to put a scheme in place by 2016: 300 bicycles will be put in operation in a first phase, with an extension to a maximum of 2,000 in a second phase. Bike stations will be located near the Tagus riverside.

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Capital of Luxembourg

In the framework of its Air Quality Plan 2011, the national Mobility Strategy MODU from 2012 and the Environmental Action Plan 2014, Luxembourg actively promotes soft mobility and intends to increase its share. Individual measures undertaken to reach this target are: to expand the cycling network from 140 km in 2010 to 160 km in 2015, to increase the area of the 20 km/h zones de rencontre and implement projects like living without car. A very small residential area of a few houses, located in the quarter „Limpertsberg” is planned to be completely car free. As it is perfectly connected to public transport and only few parking spaces exist, it is not really politically courageous, but kind of obvious.

The city’s bike sharing scheme “vel’oh!” is constantly being extended. Since its introduction in 2008, the number of bikes and stations increased from 250 bikes and 25 stations, to about 770 bikes and 70 stations in 2015.

The new government of Luxembourg engaged for the first time an officer for soft mobility.

Note: Initially, due an editorial mistake this text included the information that the quarter „Limpertsberg“ was completely car free. In reality is was only a small part of that quarter. We thank for informing us about it.

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