The incredible potential of dramatically increasing cycling is captured for the first time in a scientific study carried out by the institute for transport and development policy (ITDP) and UC Davis. A new report, A Global High Shift Cycling Scenario, shows that cycling and e-biking can cut energy use and CO2 emissions of urban transport by up to 10% by 2050 compared to current estimations, while saving society trillions of dollars.
“This is the first report that quantifies the potential CO2 and cost savings associated with a world-wide shift toward much greater use of cycling in urban areas,” said report co-author Lew Fulton, co-director of the STEPS Program within the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Davis. “The estimated impacts surprised me because they are so large. The costs saved in lower energy use and reducing the need for car travel, new roads, and parking lots through 2050 are substantial.”
According to the study, the right mix of investments and public policies can bring bikes and e-bikes to cover up to 14% of urban kilometers by 2050 – ranging from about 25% in the Netherlands and China to about 7% in the U.S. and Canada. The potential is enormous when considering that typically more than half of all urban trips around the world are less than 10 kilometers and can be potentially be done by bike.
“This is an excellent study; worthy to be used worldwide for getting cycling in all policies across the globe at all levels, from local to international. We need to unlock the potential”, said Dr. Bernhard Ensink, Secretary-General of the European Cyclists’ Federation, one of the associations which commissioned the study.
“Cycling is a crucial means of transport for millions of people around the world,” says Brian Cookson, President of the UCI, which also co-funded the work. “This report demonstrates that, if more governments followed good examples like the Netherlands or Denmark to make their cities better for cycling, we’d see huge benefits from lower carbon emissions, hugely reduced costs in transport infrastructure and potentially safer, healthier places.”
“This study shows the profound impact that cycling can have in developing countries like India and China, where much of the infrastructure has yet to be built,” according to Jacob Mason, co-author of the study. “Building cities for cycling will not only lead to cleaner air and safer streets–it will save people and governments a substantial amount of money, which can be spent on other things. That’s smart urban policy.”
The report builds on the 2014 study A Global High Shift Scenario: Impacts and Potential for More Public Transport, Walking, and Cycling with Lower Car Use. That report provided a global assessment of the potential for increasing travel on sustainable, efficient modes while concurrently developing cities that are far less car-dependent. However, the role of cycling in the previous study could be considered relatively minor, with the global average urban mode share increasing by three percentage points in 2030 (from 3 to 6 percent of total travel). This report explores just how much is possible if we study cycling in more detail using the same approach. The result is the most comprehensive picture ever of global urban cycling activity.
Read the new report: A Global High Shift Cycling Scenario