We are developing and promoting cycle highways as an effective and cost-efficient low-carbon solution for commuting in urban employment belts across North West Europe. Towns and cities are struggling with high GHG-emissions as a result of a car dependent culture across the region. Cycle highways in leading bicycle nations such as the Netherlands and Belgium are already popular with commuters but they could be utilised further. Countries such as the UK and Germany lag behind and often cycling routes are seen mainly for leisure or tourism when they can be vital infrastructure for daily mobility. There are a number of Selling Points for cycle highways which fall under three headings:
Brand and promote cycle highways to enable more people to get about by bike. Many cycling routes have large hinterlands of employees who could be utilising the infrastructure in their daily lives but are simply not aware of it or don’t have the peer support i.e. the critical mass of others using the cycle highway. By raising the profile and merits of the cycle highway, it will be regarded by the local community, planners and decision-makers as an important and attractive commuting option and worthy of investment. We are selling the innovations to make cycle highways more attractive, comfortable, safer and easier to use. The CHIPS programme is testing and demonstrating these innovations on routes leading to Brussels, Belfast, Frankfurt, Arnhem and Tilburg.
In order to get people to swop their cars for bikes to use the cycle highway, the objective is to sell a healthy lifestyle to individuals and the wider community. We know from CHIPS surveys across the region that health is the number one reason to get people to start cycling. There is growing evidence of the health benefits of cycling to work. As these two elements tie together we can sell the cycle highway as a solution.
We are selling the benefit of cycle highways for the local environment and economy because with more people cycling there will be a reduction in air pollution and traffic congestion. Increased cycling will reduce C02 levels and harmful NOx emissions caused by car traffic. Reducing traffic in our urban areas also makes them more liveable places – safer for pedestrians, generally quieter without engine noise and therefore more pleasant places to spend time. We know that traffic jams are costly to the economy, so by taking single occupant cars making short journeys off the roads, this frees up space for long distance travellers or commercial vehicles transporting goods.