Manifesto for the 2024 European elections by

Shift Gears
for Europe

A manifesto for the 2024 European elections to unlock the benefits of cycling for all EU citizens

Cycling is one of our most democratic, affordable and accessible means of transport.  

Citizens across Europe want to take advantage of the enormous benefits the bicycle creates for their lives. Cycling is a reliable means of transport for people at all income levels, especially citizens who struggle with economic uncertainty and rising energy costs. Cycling gives citizens an opportunity to stay healthy, which in turn saves society billions in healthcare costs. More citizens cycling means a stronger European bicycle industry that can generate millions of new jobs. More people cycling means cleaner air, less congested streets, and safer neighbourhoods. 

There are enormous opportunities for MEPs in the next political term to ensure that EU citizens experience the benefits of cycling. First and foremost, MEPs can ensure that the European Cycling Declaration, adopted in early 2024, is being implemented. It’s a first-of-its-kind political strategic roadmap laying out how the EU institutions, together with national and local governments, can boost cycling to enrich the lives of EU citizens. MEPs will have the chance to oversee that each of its commitments are being done.  

In addition, MEPs can ensure that Member States use the new EU Social Climate Fund include projects that increase citizens’ access to cycling. The newly adopted Energy Performance of Buildings Directive will require bike parking in residential and non-residential buildings; MEPs can ensure that this is being done.  

How cycling benefits EU citizens

1. Better social equity for European citizens

Cycling provides citizens of all income levels with an affordable and efficient means of transport. The availability of safe and well-designed cycling infrastructure networks, along with easy to access bike sharing services and financial incentives to purchase and lease bikes, enables citizens to meet their transport needs without having to purchase an expensive motor vehicle and paying for all its requisite costs.

2. More tourism income for local businesses

Cycling tourism accounts for a yearly economic value of €44 billion. It is linked to 682,000 jobs in the EU and creates as much, if not significantly more, economic value as cruise tourism. A strong tourism sector is just the lifeline many EU regions and localities need to stay economically successful. Cycling and leisure tourism is a huge part of that.

3. More jobs and a stronger economy

Cycling already provides approximately 1.35 million jobs in the EU. A cycling industry that is better supported by the EU can sustain well over two million jobs. Many of these jobs sustain valuable tourism income in rural areas and are often clustered in towns and cities in the EU that are economically struggling. New cycling industry jobs can increase bicycle manufacturing in Europe and provide stable incomes to millions of people.

4. Climate and environment

The EU cannot achieve its climate and air quality goals without more cycling. Riding a bicycle is one of the cleanest ways to move and is a proven way to contribute to wider emissions reductions goals. More cycling means cleaner local air for citizens and the prevention of hundreds of thousands of premature deaths from air pollution.

Six actions MEPs can take to unlock cycling’s potential for EU citizens by 2030

Implementing the European Cycling Declaration, an ambitious strategic roadmap for cycling that the EU will adopt in April 2024, is the best opportunity for MEPs to ensure the benefits of cycling are enjoyed by as many EU citizens as possible. The Parliament had a significant role in shaping the declaration. MEPs can use their power to ensure that all EU actors are making verifiable progress on the declaration’s commitments. MEPs should also frequently meet with pro-cycling civil society organisations and cycling industry to monitor progress.

The number of kilometres cycled by people in Europe each year should be doubled to 312 billion km by 2030, to unlock all the economic, health and lifestyle advantages cycling brings for people and society. More people cycling is good for public health, for business and industry, and for our entire society. MEPs should especially promote cycling in towns and cities that suffer from few affordable transport options. MEPs can ensure that Member States are using the EU Social Climate Fund, a new €87 billion fund to help vulnerable EU citizens, to make cycling directly accessible to as many people as possible.  

EU financial investments in cycling infrastructure should reach €20 billion by 2030. Overall, there needs to be at least 100,000 km of new cycling infrastructure to make cycling accessible for people living in urban node cities in the Trans-European Transportation (TEN-T) network by 2030. MEPs should ensure that the Commission and Member States are using EU Structural Funds to build cycling infrastructure, particularly in countries, regions and cities with low levels of cycling that could use the support. 

MEPs can request the Commission to develop and implement a consistent methodology for collecting cycling data. Public authorities at all levels need more data to make the best decisions on how to boost cycling in Europe. If more is known about the people who cycle and the reasons why they cycle, municipalities can take decisions on providing financial incentives to get more people on bicycles, and how to fairly reallocate public road space to ensure people can cycle safety to where they want to go.  

MEPs can support EuroVelo by ensuring its development is included in EU financing of road transport construction projects, particularly those that fall within TEN-T. EuroVelo, the European cycle route network, is a widely used cycle route network that crosses through all 27 EU member states as well as several non-EU European countries. EuroVelo connects with roads, railways and waterways on the TEN-T network at hundreds of points in the EU. Cycle traffic on EuroVelo is a significant source of income for numerous local businesses and provides citizens with safe cycling connections between urban and rural areas. 

There are still too many cyclists killed on EU roads. They are the only road user group to not see a significant drop in fatalities in the last decade. Most of these deaths are caused by car collisions. MEPs can oversee legislation and new policy that enables citizens to cycle safely on the public roads and to achieve the EU goal of zero road fatalities by 2050. This includes ensuring that EU money is spent on high-quality cycle infrastructure, one of the best ways to keep cyclists safe. Another way to keep cyclists safe is to support 30 km/h motor vehicle speed limits urban areas, and to support the creation of new laws that require motor vehicles to have technologies that protect other road users, such as functions that regulate speed. MEPs can also support legislation that improves the quality of public space and makes Europe’s neighbourhoods more liveable