Clean Air Now! – Biking against air pollution in European cities
Opening the series of events CLEAN AIR NOW: On 25 February 2014 biking experts, representatives of municipalities, environmental associations and scientists discussed possibilities to promote bicycle traffic and thereby improve air quality. Bicycles are the emission-free alternative of transport – increasing bicycle use means better air quality. Realizing that, many cities have integrated bicycle traffic into their air quality plans. However, these measures often lack the appropriate financial means and therefore aren’t implemented sufficiently. An effective bicycle traffic planning can only be successful if potentials are taken seriously and all actors of local, federal and EU-politics co-operate.
The adherence of the European emission reduction commitments is a political task of rising importance. Yet, many cities struggle to observe the existing limits. As a consequence they could face infringement proceedings by the EU commission and strong financial penalties. Besides basic measures like the low emission zone, the shift of traffic onto different means of transportation must be focused within the traffic planning. Municipalities have to create an infrastructure which facilitates bicycle use for all citizens to strengthen the cycle traffic and thereby manage future problems of the increasing air contamination.
Bicycle traffic is an important interface of solutions for different issues such as urban air pollution or traffic noise and additionally has a great impact on human health. A reduction of car traffic in favor of other means of transport would reduce the existence of toxic substances like soot and nitrogen dioxide, which can cause allergies, asthma disease and cancer. Further positive aspects on individuals are the beneficial effects through physical activity.
“European Biking Cities” – as a partial action of the Clean Air project – networks cycle-friendly cities so that Best Practice examples can be transferred onto different towns. The next discussion in the series of events “CLEAN AIR NOW” is taking place 20 May 2014 on the issue of low emission zones.