A new report released by the Partnership for Active Travel and Health (PATH) has revealed that only 22% of its 64 member countries have a cycling strategy in place.
Titled “National Policies for Walking and Cycling in ITF Countries,” the report shows that though progress has been made, some governments and cities have yet to make a genuine commitment to walking and cycling as key solutions to climate and health challenges.
The coalition is coordinated by the FIA Foundation, Walk21, the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF) and the UN Environment Programme. It aims to promote walking and cycling through increased government prioritisation, investment and other policy instruments.
Fabian Küster, Director of Advocacy and EU Affairs at the European Cyclists’ Federation, who contributed to the report, told Zag Daily: “This demonstrates that the recognition by national policymakers of cycling to be a fully-fledged mode of transport is growing but also that there is still a long way to go.”
PATH’s report considers that a national cycling (and/or walking) strategy is a multi-year plan that establishes a global vision aimed at coordinating policies, objectives and actions.
“A cycling strategy is more narrowly defined as a stand-alone document focusing only on cycling,” says Küster.
“Ideally, it consolidates all policies at the national level in support of cycling and underscores that cycling matters and should be supported systematically by public authorities, businesses, academia and civil society organisations.”
When it comes to isolated policies, the study showed that the proportion of dedicated initiatives to promoting cycling rises to 45%. From this total, however, 9% are considered outdated and 14% are still under development.
Road safety is the most common objective cited in 70% of walking policies and 83% of cycling policies. Moreover, climate change mitigation is cited in 52% of walking policies and 76% of cycling policies.
Five key PATH calls to action
PATH calls for governments to create integrated and coherent strategies, including plans, funding and concrete actions to promote walking and cycling.
The study found that infrastructure improvements are crucial to ensure safe, accessible and convenient walking and cycling options.
Additionally, promoting campaigns that support a shift in people’s mobility habits can further encourage the adoption of active travel.
National strategies should include effective land use planning to ensure proximity to everyday services and integration with public transport networks.
PATH also highlighted that governments need to build capacity to measure the impact of such policies.
“Which is more effective – strategy or policy – is hard to say and was not part of this exercise to judge,” said Küster. “We think that every country must work out what works best for itself. A cycling policy such as a national transport plan where cycling is fully integrated into it (such as in Norway, Luxembourg or Ireland) may be just as effective, or in some cases even more effective, then a dedicated cycling strategy.”