Anna Lisa Boni, EUROCITIES secretary general, inaugurated the 14th edition of EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK at an event on 16 September at the European Parliament.
The campaign is a European Commission initiative to promote sustainable urban mobility and is taking place from 16-22 September in nearly 2,000 cities and towns in Europe and beyond.
Anna Lisa Boni recalled the courage of those mayors who first tested the EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK campaign in their cities. Back then, closing urban areas to road traffic was unheard of. But this year, more than 815 local authorities are organising a car-free day.
We have been involved in EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK from the beginning, and will lead on the campaign for the next three years. Violeta Bulc, European commissioner for transport, expressed her gratitude to EUROCITIES for our work in promoting sustainable urban mobility through the campaign. She said that, as well as making our cities greener, healthier and more sustainable, “[EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK] also has a great value for the European concept, since the campaign brings cities and people together”. The commissioner, who described her enjoyment in being able to travel to work by bike, said she was pleased to see the Luxembourg EU presidency represented at the event, remarking that this was an opportunity to work together “to put cycling on the map of transport modes”.
François Bausch, Luxembourg’s transport minister, explained the importance of mobility policies that focus on multimodality in the coming years. Multimodality, or using and combining different transport modes, is at the core of the campaign, whose 2015 slogan is ‘Choose. Change. Combine’. Bausch described the scepticism when he tried to introduce cycling schemes in Luxembourg nine years ago, but pointed out that “when decision makers improve the infrastructure and promote more sustainable modes of transport, we can be very successful in every country”.
Michael Cramer MEP (DE, Greens/EFA), called this year’s EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK a “unique situation, with the Commission, the Council, the Parliament and the local level coming together to show we can ride our bicycle”. Still 90% of cars travel distances of less than 6km, he reminded participants, adding that using other transport modes such as cycling or public transport can help tackle climate change.
The local government in Brussels is currently working on a bike plan to provide 80km of secure cycling lanes in the city. Pascal Smet, its transport minister, said: “We are stopping making Brussels a city for cars, we are moving to a city for people.”
The speakers then cycled from the European Parliament to the Commission. Following the bike tour, two workshops took place back at the European Parliament. The first focused on fiscal incentives for cycling and the second on the integration of cycling in the multimodal transport chain. Ulrike Lunacek MEP (AT, Greens/EFA) and Karima Delli MEP (FR, Greens/EFA), European Parliament rapporteur on sustainable urban mobility, attended this meeting.