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Mobility and Transport

Active mobility: walking and cycling

Active mobility modes such as walking and cycling are low-cost and zero-emission forms of mobility which can also bring about health co-benefits associated with more active lifestyles. In order to develop their full potential, they should be properly addressed in urban mobility policies at all levels of governance and funding, transport planning, awareness-raising, allocation of space, safety regulations and adequate infrastructure, including a special focus on people with reduced mobility.

Cycling and walking feature prominently in the EU Urban Mobility Framework and in the proposal for a revised trans-European transport (TEN-T) network Regulation published in December 2021.

The EU Urban Mobility Framework promotes active mobility at the EU level by:

  • highlighting the numerous benefits of cycling (and walking) in decarbonising transport and reducing air and noise pollution, alleviating congestion, improving health; pointing also to the many advantages of e-bikes, the fastest-growing e-mobility segment in Europe;
  • setting clear priorities to favour active modes in the updated sustainable urban mobility planning (SUMP) concept published in March 2023 as part of the Commission Recommendation on national SUMP support programmes;
  • introducing the concept of mobility management plans in which employers can organise awareness-raising campaigns and workplace incentive schemes to encourage active mobility by their staff and visitors;
  • announcing the adoption of guidance on quality infrastructure requirements for vulnerable road users in the initial audit of the design phase under Directive 2008/96/EC on road infrastructure safety management;
  • declaring that EU funding for urban mobility projects and for urban infrastructure projects should be increasingly linked with having a SUMP in place, and with following the ‘safe system’ approach, to protect in particular active (vulnerable) road users.

The proposal for a revision of the trans-European transport network (TEN T) Regulation promotes active mobility by proposing:

  • an obligation for the largest 430 EU cities on the TEN-T network to adopt a SUMP by 2025 and to collect relevant data, including on modal share.
  • requirements on multimodal passenger hubs in urban nodes to better integrate active transport modes and requirements to maintain the continuity and accessibility of cycling paths.

The EU road safety policy focuses on vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists in all aspects of the ‘Safe System’ approach, including the revised General Vehicle Safety Regulation which has introduced mandatory safety features that will benefit those outside the vehicle such as technologies for buses and trucks to better recognise possible blind spots and warnings to prevent collisions.

While primarily an issue of local rule-making and enforcement, the Commission supports local, regional and national authorities with guidance on safe urban cycling, walking and use of micromobility devices.

The EU also supports leading-edge research into safe active mobility. This brochure gives an overview of some EU Horizon-funded road safety projects, many of which target active mobility. Safe active mobility is being supported even further under the current EU research funding programme, Horizon Europe.

The proposed Energy Performance of Buildings Directive foresees that public buildings should include sufficient parking spaces for bicycles and e-bikes.

The EU Save Energy Communication, adopted as part of the REPowerEU package, highlights the importance of active mobility in reducing Europe’s dependence on fossil fuels.