Replicating Danish cycling rates would cut EU emissions by 25%

Tue, Dec 13, 2011, 00:00

EUROPE COULD cut its total greenhouse gas emissions by more than 25 per cent if every population cycled as regularly as the Danes, according to a pioneering study which tracks the environmental impact of cycling.

If the general EU cycling rate were the same as it is in Denmark, where the average person cycles almost 1,000km each year, then the bloc would attain anything from 12 per cent to 26 per cent of its targeted emissions reduction, depending on what forms of transport the cycling replaced, according to the report by the European Cycling Federation.

This figure is likely to be a significant underestimate as it deliberately excludes the environmental impact of building road infrastructure and parking, or maintaining and disposing of cars.

The federation is urging politicians to focus less on technologically complex solutions to emissions, such as electric cars, and instead think about the potential for increased cycling, especially given that around a third of motorised journeys within the EU are 2km or less.

“Things like e-cars will need a massive investment in new infrastructure,” said Julian Ferguson of the European Cycling Federation.

“But that’s almost part of the problem. Politicians like having those massive, awe-inspiring projects, something to change the face of transport.”

Boosting cycling to Danish levels would be quite an enterprise. The current EU average is just under 200km per person per year. In the UK it is a mere 74km.