Bigger than Denmark: Economic benefits of cycling in the EU-27

Bigger than Denmark: Economic benefits of cycling in the EU-27


German Chancellor Angela Merkel opened Europe’s biggest bike trade fair Eurobike last Wednesday, signaling a huge step forward for the cycling advocacy movement. At the same time ECF released its analysis of the “Economic benefits of cycling in the EU-27” making it clear that such high level interest in cycling is set to continue. Senior politicians are beginning to realize that daily cycling not only changes the face of our cities for the better, it also makes much sense in economic terms.

Calculating all internal and external benefits of cycling together and adding the turnover of related industries, ECF estimates the number to be well above € 200 bn annually, or more than € 400 for every person that lives in the EU. By far the biggest single chunk is on the health side, with over € 110 bn annually. ECF calculated this figure by using the Health Economic Assessment Tool (HEAT) for Cycling, developed by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Despite the excellent work done by the WHO, there is still a long way to go within the health sector in promoting active mobility. ECF therefore has the following 3 key messages to the political world in general and to the health sector in particular:


  • Cycling policy needs continuous political leadership and coordination from the very top down. Cycling has links to many different policy departments[i]. This fragmentation needs to be overcome. ECF therefore encourages government at all levels[ii] to develop and implement cross-departmental cycling action plans.
  • As the main socioeconomic benefit of cycling is on the health side, the ECF calls in particular upon the health sector to live up to its responsibility. Health departments should actively reach out to other departments for fully inclusive cycling policies. This also relates to the concept of ‘health in all policies’. Health departments and health insurance programmes are also invited to financially support cycling projects, e.g. cycling infrastructure investments and promotion campaigns. Another tool is to offer regular active commuters health insurance discounts.
  •  The “polluter pays” principle is finding more and more political support. The European Commission stated in its White Paper on Transport (2011[iii]) the ambitismallinfoon to “Proceed to the full and mandatory internalization of external costs (including noise, local pollution and congestion)”. ECF welcomes the progress being made here but thinks that the external health benefits of cycling should be included in this policy framework.


For reading ECF’s political messages in further detail please see ECF_Economic benefits of cycling_political messages. The detailed calculations befind the numbers can be found in the full report: ECF_Economic benefits of cycling in EU-27:

ECF would like to point out that these calculations can be replicated to a large extent at every local, regional and national level and we encourage cycling advocates to do so when speaking to their politicians. The WHO currently organizes a number of training webinars in English and German language on how to use the HEAT tool.


Notes to the editor:

The figures:

  • Annual economic benefits in the EU-27[iv]  are estimated at about € 205.2 – 217.3 bn (in 2010), based on internal and external benefits[v] of cycling as well as turnover in relevant industries;
  • Cycling in the EU therefore has an annual economic benefit of about € 410 – 434 per capita;
  • With about 80 %, the health benefits of cycling are by far the largest single category among the direct internal and external benefits: using WHO’s HEAT for cycling, ECF calculated € 114 – 121 bn at current levels of cycling. At this moment, HEAT only takes reduced mortality into account, and not reduced morbidity. The numbers presented here are therefore of a conservative nature;
  • By comparison, investments in bicycle infrastructure and promotion are much lower: In the Netherlands, the leading European cycling country with a 27 % cycling mode share, about € 25 are invested annually per capita; in the UK, the figure estimated by ECF member CTC, the UK’s national cycling charity, is as low as about £ 2 per capita (€ 2.35), while it is about 3 € Euro in Hungary; On European average, ECF estimates that€ 5-6 per capita are invested annually in cycling infrastructure and promotion.

Type of benefit

In € for 2010 in EU-27

1 Health benefits: reduced mortality

€ 114 – 121 bn

2 Congestion-easing

€ 24.2 bn

3 Fuel savings at US$ 100/ barrel

€ 2.7 – 5.8 bn

4 Reduced CO2 emission

€ 1.4 – 3.0 bn

5 Reduced air pollution

€ 0.9 bn

6 Reduced noise pollution

€ 0.3 bn

7 Tourism industry

€ 44 bn

8 Bicycle industry

€ 18 bn


€ 205 – 217.3 bn

About the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF)

With over 70 members across nearly 40 countries, the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF) unites cyclist’ associations from across the globe, giving them a voice on the international level. Our aim is to get more people cycling more often by influencing policy in favour of cycling.

ECF’s members are complemented by networks Scientists for Cycling, Cities for Cycling and the ECF Cycling Industry Club.

Media Contacts


[i] Transport, environment and energy, public health, urban affairs/ city planning, education, tourism, finances, etc.

[ii] Local, regional, national, European.

[iii] European Commission, White Paper Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area – Towards a competitive and resource efficient transport system, COM(2011) 144 final

[iv] Croatia who joined the EU as 28th member state on July 1, 2013 could not be included in this study.

[v] Direct internal and external benefits are estimated at € 143.2 – 155.3 bn (Health benefits of cycling; Congestion-easing due to cycle use; Fuel savings due to cycle use; Reduced CO2 emissions due to cycle use; Reduced air pollution due to cycle use; Reduced noise pollution due to cycle use); industry turnover estimated at € 62 bn, thereof the tourism industry (€ 44 bn) and the bicycle industry (€ 18 bn).

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Velo-city Global 2014 Adelaide

Velo-city Global 2014 Adelaide

ACC-Velo-City-2014-Logo-FINAL-1g-Colour-RGB-JPG-High-Res-smallThe ECF established the Velo-city Global conference series in 2010 to answer the growing global demand for expertise in cycling. Today, Velo-city Global 2014 Adelaide is the ultimate platform for policy-makers, experts and cycling advocates working for a world where more people cycle more often.

The world’s top experts in active mobility, sustainable transport, city planning, industry and cycling advocacy come together and exchange knowledge, experiences and visions. It is quite simple: With over 800 international delegates from Australasia, Europe, Asia, North America and South America, Velo-city Global 2014 Adelaide is where the future of cycling takes shape and form.

Velo-city Global 2014 Adelaide encompasses some of the hottest topics in cycling today such as the evolution of cycling infrastructure and parking, drawing experiences from the biggest cycling cities of the world. An impressive variety of cities spanning from Copenhagen to Rio de Janeiro and from Singapore to San Francisco build an unmatched opportunity for networking and keeping up to date with the latest global trends in cycling policy and research.

Find out about the preliminary programme of Velo-city Global 2014 Adelaide.

The dialogue is enriched by experiences of world cycling leading countries, such as the Netherlands. Overall, more than forty countries will be represented in this massive celebration of cycling. Parallel side-events aim to bring together dedicated networks such as academics and city officials.

Some of the main keynote speakers include world-renowned city planner Janette Sadik-Khan, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation, Niels Hoe from the Danish Consulting HOE360, Mikael Colville-Anderson, CEO of Copenhagenize and Timothy Papandreou from SFMTA Municipal Transportation Agency.

Learn more about the speakers!

You can win your conference accommodation at one of the conference hotels or win one of the two international return economy airfare tickets (including tax) flying Emirates to Adelaide.

To enter the draw, register and pay in full before the earlybird registration deadline!

More information on Velo-city? Go here or contact Velo-city Series Assistant, Zita Gácsér.

Key dates

Now Registration open
15 October 2013 Abstract submission closed
17 February 2014 Earlybird registration deadline
21 April 2014 Standard registration deadline
21 April 2014 Accommodation bookings close
22 April 2014 Late registration begins
27-30 May 2014 Adelaide Velo-city Global 2014




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€ 1 million grant awarded to Move Week 2013

€ 1 million grant awarded to Move Week 2013

ECF is delighted to announce that an important partnership between ECF and the International Sport and Culture Association (ISCA) has been awarded €1 million grant from the European Union budget.

The grant is to be used for the 2013 edition of MOVE Week (7 to 13 October), an annual Europe-wide event and integral part of the NowWeMove (2012-2020) Campaign. The objective of MOVE Week is to promote the benefits of being active and participating regularly in sport and physical activity. A wide range of promoters of physical activity will be supporting MOVE Week 2013 including individuals, non-governmental organisations, schools, companies and municipalities from all European countries.

The NowWeMove Campaign is in 2013 coordinated by International Sport and Culture Association (ISCA) in collaboration with ECF.

Kevin Mayne, Development Director for ECF: “We want to congratulate ISCA for this exciting success and inviting ECF to be a partner in the MOVE Week 2013 and the broader NowWeMove campaign. We completely agree with the vision of increased cross-sector collaboration to promote physical activity and we are happy to contribute to the success of the MOVE Week 2013.”

ECF will encourage cycling groups, cities and cycling businesses to use the NowWeMove Campaign all year round to show the importance of daily and recreational cycling to physical activity and public health.

Mogens Kirkeby, ISCA President said: ”With the MOVE Week 2013 we will connect and include citizens from South, North, East and West in this European event. Together with MOVE Agents across Europe we want to illustrate the variety of local initiatives celebrating active lifestyle, sport and physical activity. We invite cities, organisations, companies, and individuals to join as MOVE Agents and contribute by moving people.”

MEP Morten Løkkegaard, budget reporter for the Culture and Education Committee of the European Parliament, who has been instrumental in securing support for MOVE Week 2013: “MOVE Week is an important European initiative to promote the benefits of being physically active, and it is a primary concern of the European Union to encourage European citizens to lead healthy lifestyles. I am proud that the European Parliament via the EU budget for 2013 will support this initiative and look forward to MOVE Week 2013!”

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