Walking And Cycling More Will Decarbonize Transport Faster, And Improve Health

Road vehicles account for nearly three-quarters of global transport CO2 emissions, and the problem is rapidly increasing. But active travel remains a low priority and is under-funded, despite its potential to improve air quality and people’s well-being, according to a new coalition.

More than 400 organizations from 73 countries have joined forces and called on leaders around the world to make a solid commitment to support walking and cycling as a key solution to address climate and public health challenges.

“Enabling more people to walk and cycle safely is essential to reducing transport’s 27% share of carbon emissions and achieving the Paris Agreement on Climate Change,” Sheila Watson, deputy director of the FIA Foundationsaid in a statement, “yet walking and cycling continue to lack priority in the transport and mobility mix and the wider climate agenda.”

The coalition, the Partnership for Active Travel and Health (PATH)launched in late October in advance of the COP27 Climate Conference in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, was formed by organizations working for sustainable mobility, road safety, clean air, public health, public transport, and walking and cycling advocacy groups. It is coordinated by a core group consisting of the FIA Foundation, which provides funding for coordination work, along with Walk21, the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF) and the UN Environment Program (UNEP).

Earlier this month the group released a report, “Make way for walking and cycling,” and a letter to national and city governments to request their commitment to prioritize and invest more in walking and cycling. Suggested actions included the development of funding and strategies for infrastructure, campaigns, land use planning, and integration with public transport.

“Enabling a bigger share of urban trips to be walked and cycled is a quick, affordable and reliable way to significantly reduce transport emissions, traffic congestion and road casualties, and will also deliver improved public health, stronger economies and fairer societies,” Jim Walker, founder of Walk21, said in a statement.

Some highlights from the report:

  • urban trips are expected to more than double between 2020 and 2050, 60% of them are shorter than 5 km and a quarter are less than 1 km, yet walking and cycling currently make up just a third of these urban journeys and more than half of them are currently traveled by motorized vehicles;
  • if electric cycling is considered (extending distance covered to 10km), the potential for active travel exceeds 75% of all urban trips in the world;
  • walking or cycling 30 minutes a day is enough to meet WHO minimum health requirements and reduces the risk of premature death by 20-30%, and
  • enabling more people to walk and cycle safely is cost-effective and essential to achieving the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and will improve the lives of people all over the world.

The transport sector is the one with the highest growth in emissions, according to the report, and “a truly sustainable mobility paradigm” must include more investment in walking and cycling.

“As highlighted in the report, 60% of urban trips across the globe are shorter than five kilometers, with more than half of them currently traveled by motorized vehicle,” Jill Warren, chief executive of the European Cyclists’ Federation, said in a statement. “Walking and cycling could replace a significant proportion of these short trips. Electric bicycles expand this potential even further.”

For more information about the coalition, click here and here. To read the full report, click here.

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