The beneficial impact of walking and cycling on public health and the environment are well known. There are therefore several reasons why a public administration body should facilitate its use as a means to move within the city and thus contribute to the improvement of the quality of life of the population.
Across European cities, there are huge differences in the modal share for walking and cycling, and although topographic and climatic factors are often used to explain high or low levels of walking and cycling, little evidence can be found that these factors are very significant. Walking and cycling are conditioned by the availability of urban planning structures that encourage or discourage non-motorised modes. It is vital that non-motorised modes are recognised as important elements of the transport system with appropriate policies, quality infrastructure, funding and measuring.
Generally speaking, the modal share of walking and cycling is particularly high in dense cities where they are the fastest and most viable options for most trips, but although these non-motorised modes have many similarities, it is important to remember that they demand separate attention and have different infrastructure requirements.
Fostering cycling and walking requires a focus on four thematic areas:
- Policy and strategy
Walking and cycling need to be recognised as separate and important modes of transport in policy and planning documents and strategic plans of the city, and high-level political support must be provided to ensure the success of strategies aimed at increasing walking and cycling.
Appropriate high-quality infrastructure should make these modes of travel safe, fast and attractive. If pedestrians and cyclists enjoy their trip, it is easier to increase the use of these means of transport.
- Applied methodological tools
In many European cities, data on walking and cycling is not being collected. The systematic collection of data on walking and cycling recognises the importance of these modes of transport, makes it possible to follow their development and to evaluate the effectiveness of the chosen measures, reveals key information to improve safety, and can be used as a justification to receive funding for walking and cycling projects.
Communication is vital to change behavioural factors and to gain wider acceptance of walking and cycling as it can create a positive image of walking and cycling and change the image of the city to one that is more bike and pedestrian friendly.