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2020: cycling as a countermeasure to fight COVID

Blog 2020: cycling as a countermeasure to fight COVID
​More than any technology or political decision of the last few decades, COVID-19 has disrupted business as usual. It surprised all of us and imposed itself on our full agendas, on our stubbornness to refuse home working, on our (business) trips, on our conferences and events. But also on our drinks with friends, shopping and squash games. During the lockdowns, cars have almost disappeared from the streets of Europe, noise and air pollution levels have fallen to historic lows and bicycles have emerged as the safest means of transport to do essential trips, to deliver food and medicines, and to get some outdoor exercise.
Here at the European Cyclists’ Federation, we have recognised this as a societal life-changing moment and acted upon it to reinforce the positive impact of COVID on mobility.


Without any doubt, COVID has been a catalyst for cycling. The lockdowns gave the bicycle the opportunity to prove it is the safest, most efficient urban mode of transport.

The very first reaction to the threat it poses has been observation. Everyone – policymakers, politicians, journalists, doctors, people – stood just watching and trying to understand. Many articles popped-up everywhere talking about bicycles as the best tool to respond to the crisis: we gathered some of these articles on our Cycling Beyond the Crisis page.

The second step was to turn this information into actionable points. Inspired by the actions of the cycling and cargo bike community praised with the #CyclingtheExtraMile hashtag, we issued a set of recommendations for European, national, and local authorities to promote cycling.


Cycling cities are resilient cities. In front of a global pandemic, mayors across the globe reckoned it and turned to bicycles for a quick fix of the urban space. European, national, and local authorities have started to put in place several permanent (and temporary) cycling measures in their cities and regions.

To track all these new cycling measures, we have analysed official and unofficial news, plans, announcements, reports from our members on the ground and summarised them in an interactive dashboard. Our data tell us that Europe has planned over 2,300km of new measures to promote cycling and walking; over €1 billion has been allocated for bicycle promotion throughout the continent, mobilising an unprecedented amount of funds for active mobility. And showing the European institutions how hungry cities are for more cycling.


We could not afford to leave these opportunities untapped. We repeatedly pressured Members of the European Parliament, European Commissioners and national Ministers to answer to the requests of so many European citizens and mayors. And these calls did not go unnoticed: read more about our 2020 advocacy work here.

The decade of the bicycle

This is just the beginning. The structural changes our society is going through will support a transformational role for cycling in the way we live, play and move in our cities. The changes Europe started to implement in 2020 will sustain an ever higher demand for cycling in the years to come, and more ambitious plans will have to follow, if we really want to cut the emissions of the transport sector by 90% by 2050.

By Niccolo Panozzo
January 6th, 2021