European Cycling Economy Has Created 650,000 Jobs

A study of cycling’s economic impact finds the industry contributes $254 billion annually to the European economy.

Photo by Ryan Daddi

Photo by Ryan Daddi


With the economy and job creation at the forefront of political debate since 2008’s global financial crisis, the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF) began looking seriously at the cycling industry’s contribution to the European economy. The aim was to convince policymakers of the importance of cycling planning. While it has long been acknowledged that cycling is advantageous from an environmental and health perspective, its economic impact is far too often overlooked.

The ECF commissioned Transport & Mobility Leuven to undertake the first comprehensive study into cycling’s contribution to the European economy. The study found that, as of 2013, the cycling industry contributes $254 billion USD ($295 billion CAN) annually to the European economy and has led to the creation of 650,000 jobs. If cycling’s modal share of 3 percent across Europe were to double, it would create an additional 400,000 jobs. The study also found that the cycling industry has a higher employment intensity than other transportation sectors and offers more geographically stable jobs.

While global policymakers struggle with the conflicting demands of economic growth and environmental sustainability, the cycling industry is testament to the fact that one does not have to stand in opposition to the other. Increased investment in cycling infrastructure and planning will not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions, health care burden, and urban congestion, but will spur sustainable economic growth. It is with this in mind that the ECF rolls into 2015, aiming to prove to the world that the future can arrive by bicycle.

For over 30 years, the Velo-city conference has been bringing together bike advocacy associations, organizations, and industry leaders to strategize and share ideas on the promotion of cycling for transportation. First created by the ECF to advocate for everyday cycling in Europe, the conference has since expanded its focus to include the international community as well. Velo-city 2015 gets set to take on not only the world, but the future with its game-changing theme, “Cycling: Future Maker.”

“Leading cities are pushing to the future with cycle highways and integrating e-bikes,” said Dr. Bernhard Ensink, ECF Secretary-General & Velo-city Series Director. “Future maker refers to new technology, new thinking.”

The conference will draw on research from economists, elected officials, academics, industrial executives, and more to present a vision of a future where cycling is recognized as a viable, sustainable mode of transportation that contributes to the overall health of the international community.

This year’s conference will be hosted in Nantes, France, named 2013’s European Green Capital and the world’s fifth most bike-friendly city. Taking place from June 2 to 5, 2015, the conference will feature over 30 workshops and plenary sessions derived from 745 international abstracts on urban cycling. The topics covered will run the gamut from the role of investment banks in everyday cycling planning to the bicycle as a tool of freedom for women. The full schedule will be available online in February 2015 and registration for the conference is open now.

Ensink said the conference is “essential as a platform for sharing best practices and letting climber and starter cities to learn from forerunners and each other.” With the launch of the World Cycling Alliance at Velo-city 2013 and high-profile support from policy-makers in Bogotá and Brussels alike, Ensink is confident that cycling’s role in global transportation will only continue to grow. Cycling is the future maker, and as Ensink said, “The future is already now!”

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