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COP26: A joint letter on cycling

Bicycle Network has joined the list of signatories of an open letter about cycling addressed to the governments currently meeting at the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow. The subject of this letter:

World leaders must commit to boosting cycling levels to reduce carbon emissions and reach global climate goals quickly and effectively

While Prime Minister Scott Morrison speech about Australia's commitment to net zero emissions by 2050 was heavily centered around investing in new technologies, the COP26 cycling letter focusses on a much older technology – the humble bicycle.

"Cycling represents one of humanity’s greatest hopes for a shift towards a zero-carbon future", the letter states.

"New research shows that life-cycle CO₂ emissions drop by 14% per additional cycling trip and by 62% for each avoided car trip. Switching from a car to a bicycle saves 150g of CO₂ per kilometre. E-cargo bikes cut carbon emissions by 90% compared with diesel vans. Swapping the car in cities for walking and cycling even just one day a week can reduce your carbon footprint by about half a tonne of CO₂ over a year. Building synergies with other travel modes such as public transport can critically enhance this potential."

The letter urges governments to declare commitments to significantly boost bike riding levels by:
  • Promoting cycling in all its forms, including cycling tourism, sports cycling, bike sharing, riding to work or school and for exercising

  • Recognising cycling as a climate solution, establishing a clear link between how an increase in bicycle trips and a decrease in private car trips reduce CO₂ emissions

  • Creating and financing national cycling strategies and collecting data on cycling to know where improvements in infrastructure and usage can be made

  • Focusing investments on building safe and high-quality cycling infrastructure and incentives for communities historically marginalised from cycling

  • Providing direct incentives for people and businesses to switch from automobiles to bicycles for more of their daily trips

  • Building synergies with public transport and fostering combined mobility solutions for a multimodal ecosystem capable of covering all user needs without relying on a private car.

You can read the full letter here.

Over 80 of the world's leading bike riding advocacy groups, NGOs and associations have also signed the letter, strongly appealing to all governments and leaders attending COP26 to commit to significantly increasing the number of people who cycle in their countries.

Transport day at COP26 will be on November 10. The agenda suggests discussion will focus primarily on electric cars; there’s no mention of bicycling (or walking or trains) on the official programme.

This article was made possible by the support of Bicycle Network's members who enable us to make bike riding better in Australia.