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It's Official: Promoting Cycling Creates Jobs and Saves Lives

Bicycle Urbanism - A column by Florian Lorenz

Over 76,600 people would be employed in green and healthy transport every year and 10,000 lives would be saved if major European cities reached the current cycling modal share of Copenhagen. On 14th of April these numbers were released in Paris, France at the Fourth High-level Meeting on Transport, Health and Environment convened by UNECE (the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe) and the World Health Organisation's Regional Office for Europe.  

The study, Unlocking new opportunities: Jobs in green and healthy transport, estimates that investing in "green and healthy transport" not only has positive health and environmental effects but is also economically profitable. The study estimated the potential job creation and health benefits for major European cities if the current cycling mode share of Copenhagen (26% in the metropolitan area) was applied to them. As the authors explain:

"People would be locally employed in bicycle retail and maintenance, provision of clothing and accessories for cyclists, urban development and new mobility schemes; they would help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and health risks and would support the local economy."

Fig. 3. Estimated breakdown of cycling jobs in France

The breakdown of estimated 33,000 jobs currently related to cycling in France. (source: "Unlocking new opportunities: Jobs in green and healthy transport")


The findings of the study are indeed impressive. Imagine Europe with 80,000 new jobs and -  each year - 10,000 less deaths, numbers which may well have also impressed the European Ministers present at the Fourth High-level Meeting on Transport, Health and Environment who adopted the Paris Declaration: City in Motion - People First! on 15 April 2014.


The Declaration sets priorities and calls for action to ensure green and healthy mobility and transport in order to secure sustainable livelihoods for all, linking the promotion of health and sustainability to socio-economic justice.

This should be reached by "developing capacities and frameworks for integrated urban and spatial planning to reduce the impact of transport on health, the environment and land use, increase energy efficiency and support green and healthy mobility and transport as well as sustainable livelihoods."

The aim is to "strengthen the adaptation of urban environments as well as mobility and transport systems to demographic and environmental change".

An Academy is ppoposed, that would "strengthen knowledge and skills development for integrated transport, health, environment and spatial planning"; plus "the development of a pan-European Master Plan for Cycling Promotion, supported by guidelines and tools to assist in the development of cycling promotion policies at the national level".

They call on member states "to provide national support to subnational and local action as well as to the development of new and stronger partnerships with city networks, civil society organizations and the research community" and to "promote public participation in transport, urban and spatial planning policies".

It also calls for a mobilization of young people and their organizations "in national and international activities supporting THE PEP".

The fact that Europe is putting cycling and walking in the heart of their policy for sustainable urban transport will create tailwind for developing urban environments along the lines of bicycle urbanism.