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[World Streets] European Bicycle Officer

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  • The Editor
    [http://ec.europa.eu/transport/urban/urban_mobility/urban_mobility_en.htm] The European Commission announced on this date in a statement during the closing
    Message 1 of 1 , May 16, 2009
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      [http://ec.europa.eu/transport/urban/urban_mobility/urban_mobility_en.htm]
      The European Commission announced on this date in a statement during the closing session of the 2009 Velo-city congress in Gent, Netherlands, that they intend to appoint a "European Bicycle Officer". This decision was taken as a result of a process of careful consultation over the last several years engaging a wide spectrum of groups representing a range of interests, ranging from cycling federations, groups and manufacturers, along with a wide array of cities, environment, sustainable transport and new mobility groups from across Europe.

      One of the institutional background challenges that had to be addressed for this decision to be taken had to the more general question concerning what the European Union is able to do in helping tackle urban transport problems, without compromising the famous “subsidiarity” principle. The process of consultation and discussion over the last two years eventually put that into perspective. The Commission eventually concluded that there is a need for cooperation and coordination at European level, on the grounds that local authorities cannot face all these problems on their own.

      This first announcement just in from a collation of groups representing the bicycle industry here in Europe is presented with extracts here. Further information and background on this will appear in the Comments section below in the coming days. A good source for more complete information on this is the European Cyclists’ Federation which brings together and represents 56 member organizations in 38 countries

      One of the important institutional background challenges that had to be addressed for this decision to be taken had to the more general question concerning what the European Union is able to do in helping tackle urban transport problems, without compromising the famous “subsidiarity” principle. The process of consultation and discussion over the last two years eventually put that into perspective. The Commission eventually concluded that there is a need for cooperation and coordination at European level, on the grounds that local authorities cannot face all these problems on their own.

      This first announcement just in from a collation of groups representing the bicycle industry here in Europe. Further information and background on this will appear in the Comments section below in the coming days.

      Gent, 16 May 2009 - For many years, ETRA, COLIBI and COLIPED have been asking the European Commission for the appointment of a European Bicycle Officer. It now looks as if the European Commission is finally prepared to grant that request.

      In the closing session of the Velo-city congress, Mattia Pelligrini of the cabinet of Vice-President Tajani, competent for transport, announced a "nice surprise". It appears that in the long awaited European action programme for urban transport the Commission will make the appointment of a Bicycle Officer official. He or she will be stationed in DG TREN and will be responsible for the coordination of bicycle policies in the different DGs. The appointment of a Bicycle Officer, an idea originating from COLIBI and COLIPED, was one of the three main demands which ETRA, COLIBI and COLIPED put forward when the Green Paper on Urban Transport was published in 2007. Since then, the 3 associations have lobbied for their demands relentlessly.

      The action programme is announced for this year without further details on a concrete date. A number of member states, headed by Germany, are obstructive in the discussion, accusing the European Commission of interfering with national affairs. Nevertheless, during the closing session of Velo-city, a number of mayors called on the European institutions to show more energy in the field of cycling policy. The mayor of Copenhagen Klaus Bondam said: "MEPs and Commission members are still too hesitating to acknowledge the full potential of cycling. And yet, every car kilometre costs Copenhagen 10 eurocents, whereas every cycled kilometre yields 16 eurocents."

      However, political courage will be necessary in the short term to change the trend in emissions, as became clear from MEP Michael Cramer's statement: "90% of all car journeys in urban areas are less than 6 km. The increasing emissions from transport are nullifying all efforts to reduce emissions in other sectors."

      == end of release ==

      In an earlier Position Paper, the European industry associations give a number of recommendations to the European Commission. Among these:

      1. Appoint a European Bicycle Officer. "By appointing a European Bicycle Officer, the EC would confirm to policy makers on all levels, civil society and the public at large their true believe in the potential of the bicycle as a sustainable, proper and individual means of transport and not just as a possible alternative mode."

      2. Produce and introduce reliable and comparable statistics (e.g. on bicycle use and the capacity of bicycle lanes), measurements and surveys (e.g. costs & benefits of bicycle use).

      3. Remove barriers and facilitate easier access to financial means for all transport ‘players’ and to fight the current imbalance in the allocation of financial means by introducing effective criteria that serve sustainability and by closely monitoring their application.

      4. Set clear objectives. "Taking into account the wide range of benefits resulting from (an increased) bicycle use, while also considering its potential in contributing to the realisation of European policy objectives, the European Commission should define unambiguous goals related to the modal shift towards and thus growth of sustainable modes."



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      Posted By The Editor to World Streets at 5/16/2009 11:14:00 AM
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