THE GLOBAL CYCLING CRAZE
Without a doubt, cycling is the cheapest and most effective way to reduce traffic and improve urban environments. Governments all around the world are investing in infrastructure and incentives to encourage citizens to use bicycles instead of vehicles that emit exhaust gas.
But how successful has it been?
Well – the answer is not so simple… Some markets have succeeded in increasing the use of bikes on the road instead of cars, but some are still struggling – not only due to hesitation on the part of consumers but also because there are numerous bike-sharing schemes clogging up city infrastructure and causing logistical challenges.
What has been accomplished?
INDIA. With India’s Cycles4Change Challenge included in many Smart Cities missions, the central government has mandated local governments to create cycle-friendly streets, including segregated lanes, shared streets and intersections. All to be co-financed with the central government.
USA. Cities like Seattle and San Francisco have been building for a while protected bike lanes. Authorities in Fort Collins focused on building low-stress networks for cyclists. It includes pathways that move cyclists through town quickly and efficiently, as well as, under-or overpasses helping cyclists avoid any interface with cars.
CANADA. The government has been forced to create temporary bicycling lanes due to the quickly increasing number of cyclists during the Covid-19 pandemic. Ontario and Toronto are expanding their cycling lanes permanently – Toronto with Ten Year Cycle Network Plan and Bike Share Toronto System, and Ontario with #CycleOn. Vancouver has been showing the community how interesting cycling is since 2016 with Bike to Shop.
UK. London authorities are working together with Street-space during this Covid-19 pandemic. Adding cycle networks, new walking paths, cycling and bus-only corridors by creating new and upgraded lanes and routes using temporary lane separators. Besides, the purchase of e-cargo bikes has also been subsidised by the government.
GERMANY. The first stretch of an exclusive bike highway opened for business between Mülheim and Essen. It links 10 cities and four universities with more than 100km of bike highway. This idea will be applied in other regions. Police regularly come to visit schools in order to educate the kids about how to cycle and how to be a responsible traffic participant. Moreover, incentives are given to companies switching from motorised vehicles to e-cargo bikes. In Munich, you are entitled to additional incentives and if the e-cargo bikes are used to replace fossil-fuel-powered vehicles, you receive an extra incentive on top.
FRANCE. Since May 2020 cars have been banned from the busiest street in Paris, Rue de Rivoli. The car lanes are now being used strictly for cyclists. Incentives are given for e-cargo bikes for companies and individuals. Furthermore, employees also benefit from incentives when using bicycles for commuting.
ITALY. In May 2020, Rome’s city council has approved the construction of 150km of transitory cycle routes on the city’s main streets and along other key routes. In Milan, 35km of new bike lanes were made available from April 2020. The Strade Aperte (Open Streets) plans replaced some of the motorized vehicles for pedestrians and cyclists. In addition, e-cargo box bike is subsidised in Friuli Venezia Giulia and Bologna and employees are entitled to benefits when using bicycles to commute.
SPAIN. Authorities in Valencia used EU funding to build bicycle infrastructure in the city centre. Furthermore, Zaragoza came up with Bicycle Master Plan for the city and surroundings. Creating an infrastructure network, preventing bicycle theft, and educating people about their rights on the road have contributed to a safer environment for cyclists. Additionally, people in Barcelona receive grants to buy e-cargo bikes.
NETHERLANDS. Each year pupils aged 8-12 years are tested practically and theoretically on their knowledge of how to cycle in real traffic. This test is organized by the Dutch Safe Traffic organization (VVN). Local authorities in Utrecht offer a subsidy for pedelec or e-cargo bike purchases with one condition – the bikes should make at least 3,000km each year. On the other hand, employees traveling with their bicycles get the same travel allowance as those traveling with cars.
BELGIUM. Authorities are building Fietssnelwegen (bicycle highways) with 110 routes covering a network of 2,400km. 61 of the routes are up and running. In addition, Brussels transformed motorized vehicle lanes into bicycle lanes on busy streets (Rue de la Loi, Wetstraat, Louizalaan, and Keizer Karellaan). In Wallonia, Brussels, and Ghent, e-cargo bikes are subsidized, and purchasing Uccle e-cargo bikes is rewarded with higher incentives. Belgium has the longest and most established incentive system for people commuting with their bicycle – since 1999.
POLAND. Almost 1,000km of well-marked cycling routes are being built along Polish railways, passing the most fascinating nature spots and tourist attractions in Małopolska Region. Two of the routes are included in the EuroVelo routes. Until now, 550km of the routes are already in use, the other half is still under construction.
IRELAND. In Dublin, many bike parking slots and lockers, as well as cycling paths along the tram routes, are being built to encourage Dublin’s tram passengers to go cycling.
SOUTH KOREA. The government is investing in pedestrian and bicycle friendly urban areas as part of the Seoul Traffic Vision 2030 plan, by expanding the bike path network and associated infrastructure. The investment made in four major rivers incentivise cycling during leisure time and cycle tourism.
CHINA. No need for encouragement in the Chinese market… Chinese authorities believe they have a strong and very dominant cycling culture existing already for decades. Oddly enough, bicycles have been more of a problem than a solution to city commuting. The booming popularity of bike-sharing is a major cause – being very cheap and accessible with dock-less parking possibilities causing logistical chaos in many cities with shared bicycles scattered all over the place.
INDIA. Though there is a boom in bicycle use and sales, there is also a worry that things will end once the Covid-19 pandemic ends. In order to realise Smart Cities Mission, local governments must work together but in reality – many of them are less supportive of cycling infrastructure plans. Furthermore, roads in India are already overcrowded and it would be a challenge to demand space for separate bike lanes.
USA. Reimbursement for bicycle and e-bike commuters existed before but was suspended through 2025 by President Trump as part of his Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Hope is that the new president Biden will return to invest in cycling infrastructure.
CANADA. Even though the Canadian Automobile Association supports proper cycling infrastructure, they believe that current cycling lanes in Canada are working just fine since during the Covid-19 pandemic fewer people have been driving. Longer and separate bicycle lanes will be required once people start going back to their normal traffic routine. Hence – investment at this moment is not large enough. Also – as bicycle insurance is included in home insurance, accident coverage will not be the same as with other vehicle insurances.
JAPAN. Tokyo has managed to pave few cycling lanes in preparation for the Olympics, however – for many – cycling can be confusing and overwhelming in the streets of Japan. Due to the lack of bicycle lanes and the danger of riding on motorways, people tend to cycle on the sidewalk, which is dangerous and illegal. A campaign to warn people not to cycle on the sidewalk is not working since no alternatives are provided.
Why is this interesting?
New mobility solutions are one of the hottest topics ever. And clients are interested in better understanding both consumers, retailers and other traders’ approach and interest in new mobility solutions such as e-Bikes, bike-sharing programmes, and bike and electric vehicles lease plans.
Who is already using them? Who might be tempted to switch? What is the user experience? How has the purchase journey of various mobility solutions changed?
At ADK Insights, we continue to monitor emerging mobility trends and translate their impact on consumer behaviours, providing insights to help businesses future-proof their innovation.