GENT, Belgium ¨C After intensive cycling advocacy by the European organizations ETRA, COLIBI and COLIPED, the European Commission has now decided to appoint a European Bicycle Officer. In the closing session of the last weeks Velo-city congress, Mattia Pelligrini of the cabinet of EU Vice-President Tajani made the official announcement.
The appointment of a Bicycle Officer will be part of the long awaited European action programme for urban transport. The Bike Officer will be stationed in Directorate-General for Energy and Transport and will be responsible for the coordination of bicycle policies throughout the European Union.
The action programme is announced for this year without further details on a concrete date. A number of member states, headed by Germany, are obstructive in the discussion, accusing the European Commission of interfering with national affairs. Nevertheless, during the closing session of Velo-city, a number of mayors called on the European institutions to show more energy in the field of cycling policy.
The mayor of Copenhagen Klaus Bondam said: "MEPs and Commission members are still too hesitating to acknowledge the full potential of cycling. And yet, every car kilometre costs Copenhagen 10 eurocents, whereas every cycled kilometre yields 16 eurocents"
Political courage will be necessary to change the trend in emissions, as became clear from MEP Michael Cramer¡¯s statement: "90% of all car journeys in urban areas are less than 6 km. The increasing emissions from transport are nullifying all efforts to reduce emissions in other sectors."