Brussels, 12 May 2009
The European Commission is promoting cycling as a healthy and safe way to travel in cities at the 15th Velo-City conference, organised by the Brussels Region and which opened today in the presence of Vice-President Antonio Tajani, responsible for transport. The world's largest conference related to cycling takes place in Brussels, at Tour & Taxis until Friday 15 May and brings together one thousand participants from across the world to discuss the future of cycling in cities. Vice-President Kallas, Commissioner for administrative affairs, will attend the closing ceremony on Friday for the signing of the Brussels Charter by various European cities committing themselves to promote the use of bicycles through concrete objectives.
"We have to promote (cycling which provides a zero emission answer to travelling in our cities. It can be an effective, healthy and fun way to get from one place to another, but it is crucial that we make sure that it is also safe," said Vice-President Tajani, who is responsible for transport at the Commission. "Around half of all journeys by car are less than 5km long, confirming that there is great potential for the use of bicycles", continued Vice-President Tajani.
"18% of Commission's staff either bike or walk to work on a daily basis", added Vice-President Siim Kallas, Commissioner for administrative affairs; service bicycles can be used to move between Commission buildings and constitute a real success for our mobility policy for staff, together with the many facilities for daily cyclists – like bike racks and showers".
Speaking at the Velo-City conference today, Vice-President Tajani confirmed his commitment to presenting an action plan in the field of urban mobility this year, in which concrete actions relating to urban mobility - including cycling - will be presented. The Commission will also be present at the conference with an information stand from 12 May to 17 May.
The Commission's Green Paper "Towards a new culture for urban mobility" helped to raise political awareness regarding urban mobility and initiated a dialogue at European level. The paper also suggested that cycling should become an integral part of urban mobility policies.
To promote safe cycling, the EU helps to fund the development of cycle infrastructure, for example through the EU' Structural and Cohesion Funds. For the period 2007-2013, an estimated budget of more than €600 million will be used to invest in cycle infrastructure in eligible regions across the EU.
The STEER Programme, which promotes more sustainable energy use in transport, has provided €10 million to ten European pilot projects related to cycling.
EU funds also continue to support the development and evaluation of new approaches to safe cycling in cities though CIVITAS, an EU initiative that helps cities to achieve a more sustainable, clean and energy efficient urban transport system. The EU has co-financed the implementation and evaluation of 35 cycling-related measures across the 58 cities that participate in CIVITAS.
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