The Minister of Transport and Sustainable Mobility, Óscar Puente, has reiterated Spain’s commitment to the European Union (EU) objective of turning the bicycle into a daily means of transport in cities, especially among the new generations, and position Europe as a pioneer in the promotion of active mobility.

This was expressed by the minister during his speech at the high-level Conference on cycling, held in Hasselt (Belgium), within the framework of the Belgian presidency of the Council of the European Union.

The meeting, structured in three high-level panels and an inter-institutional session in which the minister participated, sought to develop and strengthen bicycle use policies throughout Europe and debate how to implement the European Bicycle Declaration, which was presented in Seville by the European Commission on October 4, within the framework of the Urban Mobility Days, an event co-organised between the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the EU and the Commission.

In the session that he shared with his European counterparts, Óscar Puente pointed out that it is essential for many Member States to have a European policy that promotes active mobility, since there are still considerable differences between different countries in the use of bicycles and on the availability of funds to develop safe cycling infrastructure.

“I would like to draw your attention to something that is happening in Spain after the last local elections as some of the infrastructure built in recent years with European funds is being destroyed. We need help from the European Union. We need a policy that promotes active mobility. I am convinced that the bicycle must become another symbol of the European Union and to achieve this, we must be proactive and reach many European citizens,” said the minister.

Hence the relevance of the European Bicycle Declaration and the boost to cycling policy that will continue to be given in the next European legislature.

Thus, the head of the Department has emphasised that one of the priorities is to raise awareness about the use of bicycles through health, education and road safety programs, especially for young people, as is being done in Spain. And he has called for this to be done in coordination with local and regional authorities, to help them establish safe cycling lanes, parking specifically designed for bicycles and bicycle sharing services.

Great effort from Spain

Óscar Puente has highlighted the great effort that Spain is making in the development of this policy. Thus, to achieve the objective of placing it next to the countries that are leaders in this field, Spain has had a State Strategy for the bicycle since 2021, which contemplates developing governance and investor criteria, and which has been included in the Strategy of Safe, Sustainable and Connected Mobility 2030. In addition, in the future a new boost will be given to its deployment with the approval of the new Sustainable Mobility Law.

Along these lines, the country is making important use of various national and European funds to promote active and decarbonized mobility, financing, for example, the construction of new cycling infrastructure and investing more than ever in this mode of transport. Although, as he has emphasised, this policy must be accompanied by new funds.

The minister has mentioned some of the measures that the Government of Spain has adopted to promote the use of bicycles, including the preparation of a guide with recommendations for the deployment of cycling infrastructure; a computer tool to improve the safety of sports and road cyclists; and others to improve intermodal connections, such as between bicycles and rail, whether it be bicycle parking at train stations or making it easier for people to travel with a bicycle on board. In that sense, he has stated that the EU can play an important role in promoting this type of measures.

In the inter-institutional session, the head of Transport stressed that the application of all these measures must be accompanied by monitoring, including studies on bicycle use in global transport reports, or creating a network of focal points on the use of bicycles. cycling in all Member States.

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