EU transport ministers promote cycling to prevent 100 000 premature deaths per year Deflorenne

Informal meeting of ministers for transport: Cycling activity with Ministers, 7 October 2015. From left (front): François Bausch, Minister of Sustainable Development and Infrastructure (Luxembourg); Michael Cramer, Chair of the Committee on Transport and Tourism (European Parliament) ; Violeta Bulc, Commissioner for Transport (European Commission).

A landmark declaration on cycling as a climate friendly transport mode was unanimously adopted by European Union (EU) transport ministers and secretaries of state gathering at the Informal Transport Council in Luxembourg on 7 October 2015. It includes specific recommendations for promoting cycling in Europe.

The declaration took stock from recent evidence on the benefits of cycling for environment and health. Walking and cycling offer an opportunity to increase levels of physical activity in an increasingly less active European population. Using the Health economic assessment tool (HEAT) for walking and cycling, WHO highlighted at the meeting that if all EU citizens aged 20–74 cycled or walked an additional 15 minutes per day, 100 000 premature deaths could be prevented each year.

Promoting safe walking and cycling as a mode of transport is one of the priority areas for policy interventions in the new physical activity strategy for the WHO European Region.

While health ministries are aware of the importance of physical activity in daily life, a stronger collaboration with the transport sector is critical to create and improve the conditions for people to be able to walk and cycle. This is the core of WHO's work with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe under the Transport, Health and Environment Pan-European Programme (THE PEP), which was debated at the Informal Transport Council.