In order to address the increasing threat from climate change, the Dutch government has presented its Climate Agreement, which includes cycling as an integral element.
Temperatures in the Netherlands reached record highs this June (40.7°C – two degrees higher than the past record from 1944). Climate scientists are in agreement that such weather extremes will increase as a result of climate change and will be more severe than previously.
The Dutch government has presented its Climate Agreement, with the key aspiration to reduce CO2 emissions by 49% by 2030 (compared to 1990 emission levels). The Netherlands also supports the goal of a net-zero carbon economy by 2050 and will lobby within the EU to achieve a 55% reduction of CO2 levels by 2030.
The key decisions relevant to cycling that come from the Climate Agreement are:
- €75 million for bicycle parking – To ensure that public transport is an attractive mobility option, it is vital to invest to enable a smooth transition from the bicycle to the train. This funding is to be used for additional bicycle parking at public transport hubs.
- Cycling is to become a structural element of government policy – The bicycle is to be an essential part of spatial and mobility policy. From 2030 at the latest (when the mobility fund starts) the bicycle will no longer be reliant on incidental budgets from the national government.
- Cycling to work encouragement – Employers are to encourage employees to travel in environmentally friendly ways, i.e. by bike. Overall, 8 billion kilometres that are currently covered by car need to be covered by bicycle and public transport instead (the Dutch currently cycle approximately 15 billion km annually). Eleven bicycle ambassadors are going to work vigorously for the employees who cycle.
- Combining bicycle and largescale infrastructure projects – There will be many large infrastructure projects in the country in the near future which should be taken advantage of for facilitating cycling, for example by incorporating the development of a cycle path when refurbishing a bridge. The recent hot weather highlights that it is necessary to make bicycle paths climate-proof (in order to avoid the loss of loose-fitting tiles and rising concrete slabs). Damage to bicycle infrastructure could be addressed with more efficient and considered solutions.
- City logistics with freight bicycles – In the context of zero-emission city logistics, the agreement highlights the potential of deliveries by freight bicycle. Freight bicycles can replace the role of vans in urban areas for many types of freight, and it therefore crucial that cities develop routes where these bikes can travel rapidly without posing a risk to themselves or to others (this network has been called ‘Fietsfamilienetwork’). Freight logistics also need hubs for transferring cargo and inner city locations for loading and unloading freight.
Fietsersbond (the Dutch cycling association and ECF member) are happy with the conclusions of the Climate Agreement and the acknowledgement that cycling is to be an integral part of the mobility system in the Netherlands. According to Fietsersbond, “We have argued for promoting the bicycle as an indispensable link in our mobility system. And that happened. With the most tangible result being 75 million euro for bicycle parking at public transport hubs.”
To see the full Dutch Climate Agreement 28th June 2019 (in Dutch) visit: https://www.klimaatakkoord.nl/documenten/publicaties/2019/06/28/klimaata
Article first published by ECF on 29th July 2019
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