The growing e-bike industry is estimated to be valued at $120 billion by 2030 and more and more e-bikes built specifically to satisfy the needs of urban-dwellers have hit the scene. While e-bikes are also enjoying an uptick in the US and other parts of the world, it’s clear to see that Europe is taking them the most seriously, as the EU has been cooking up some pretty big things surrounding the cycling industry in the region.

In February of this year, the European Parliament’s Transport Committee adopted the European Declaration on Cycling, which makes some big promises when it comes to cycling—infrastructure dedicated to making all types of cycling safer, as well as industry stimulation.

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That's Great, But What Does It Actually Do?

A huge part of the European Declaration on Cycling focuses on inclusivity. It's generally agreed that taking up cycling requires a certain degree of physical fitness. But the EU wants cycling to be something that anyone, regardless of physical capabilities, can embrace. As stated in chapter two of the declaration, "Everyone, including people with disabilities or those with reduced mobility and irrespective of age and gender should have access to mobility, and cycling can make a major contribution to enable this."

This is all pretty exciting stuff, especially considering that the selection of bikes even at present is dominated by a male audience. It'll surely be interesting to see new innovations in the cycling industry designed for kids, women, and differently-abled individuals. Riding a bike is, in my opinion, one of the most enjoyable things out there, and it should be shared with everyone, regardless of their age or physical ability.

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There Are Serious Hurdles To Consider, Though

Of course, infrastructure is key when it comes to making this dream a reality. Helpfully, the Declaration puts strong emphasis on developing bike paths that are separated from motorized traffic.

As someone living in the Philippines, a country that sits among the top of the 2023 TomTom Traffic Index List, infra developments like this are a dream for riders like me as I regularly commute via bicycle mere inches away from zooming cars, trucks, mopeds, and scooters. Meanwhile, in the US, some cycling infrastructure is indeed present, especially in developed cities like San Francisco and New York. But it's still far from perfect, especially in rural and suburban areas.

Continent-hopping for a minute, it seems that the EU recognizes that in order for more people there to get into cycling, a safe and enjoyable environment must first be established. As stated in the EU Declaration, one of its main goals is to provide "sufficient space to cyclists and other vulnerable road users to increase safety levels, in particular through the physical separation of cycle paths from motorized traffic wherever feasible."

 

Bringing Cycling Home For More Riders

All these promises are very ambitious, and are the stuff that make bike enthusiasts in the rest of the world drool. However, to succeed, a healthy and thriving cycling industry must rest at the very core of it all.

As part of the Declaration, the EU promises to provide funding to the cycling industry, in the hopes of providing more cycling-related jobs in the region. This involves the reshoring of European bike brands that have set up shop in other markets due to cheaper labor costs. The supporting bicycle component industry will also be tackled in full force here, all while ensuring a circular economy to both maximize resources and minimize waste.

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At the end of the day, the European Union aims to recognize the European cycling industry as a major player in the mainstream mobility of the region. Much, much more than just as vehicles for recreation and sports, the EU wants to integrate cycling into the very fabric of how people get from A to B.

As of this moment, the declaration is pending approval by the European Parliament and joint signature by all EU institutions. It’s hoped that this will be achieved during the Connecting Europe Days in Brussels, scheduled from April 2 to 5, 2024.

What does this mean for bike and e-bike riders like you and me?

Any legislation in support of making cycling more accessible to a wider audience is always a good thing. For the past 200 years or so, bikes have been a staple of society, both for recreation and everyday mobility. Europe has often been a trailblazer when it comes to all things cycling, and the EU Declaration on Cycling clearly brings this to the next level.

Should it become a reality, and the EU make good on all its promises, we can surely expect more and more people in the region to look at cycling as more than just an alternative mobility option, but as a mainstream mobility solution. Hopefully, in the near future, other parts of the world will use the EU's Declaration as a benchmark for cycling-focused infrastructure projects in their respective locales.

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