Walking and cycling is an efficient way of using expensive and scarce space in urban areas. It is a healthy, clean and cheap way to move around, particularly for short to moderate distances. Considering that almost half of all car trips in cities are less than five kilometres, walking and cycling could become an easy alternative for car use.

Not surprisingly, cities across the EU are trying to promote walking and cycling and their integration into urban mobility management schemes by investing in infrastructure and other measures. Valuable lessons can be learned from these experiences.

Comparable information and statistics on walking and cycling help to benchmark performance and develop well-informed strategies. Without such information, it is impossible to identify and compare performance at the EU level, which severely hampers identifying and transferring best-practice examples and developing a well-informed strategy to promote walking and cycling. However, such information is not readily and widely available. 

To address this gap the EC has recently published a study on data collection and analysis of active modes use and infrastructure in Europe. The study describes the active modes data collection in the EU28, Switzerland and Norway, and their capitals. It provides an overview on walking and cycling use and infrastructure at urban, regional and national level, along with background information to help interpret the data. The report outlines difficulties in comparing current data and suggests ways forward to further improve this information. Suggestions concern alignment of data collection efforts with ongoing and future initiatives and application of post-processing methods to improve comparability. In addition, the report recommends new indicators to capture walking friendliness of urban environments and use of crowdsourcing for data collection.

Findings of the report are relevant for cities and regions planning for walking and cycling. Several cities and regions implement or consider measures to promote walking and cycling for sustainable mobility as part of Interreg Europe projects. These projects work on establishment of comparable information and knowledge on walking and cycling in the EU. An Interreg Europe project focussing entirely on walking and cycling is CYCLEWALK MODE

CYCLEWALK MODE partners share best practices and experience on data collection and processing, and on involvement of users in these efforts. The project provides an opportunity for local and regional administrations to compare and share approaches and ensure more informed decision making process on walking and cycling infrastructure. The good practice examples from CYCLEWALK MODE will be shared through the Interreg Europe Policy Learning Platform (PLP) on Low Carbon Economy. Dissemination of the CYCLEWALK MODE results through the PLP should help create the first EU-wide set of standardized approaches to ensuring and monitoring the quality of walking and cycling.

Image credit: Photo by Liam Gant from Pexels