According to research bureau CE it is much more effective to reduce CO2 by improving bicycle infrastructure than by investing in a better flow of motor vehicles. It is however unknown how much CO2 benefit bicycle measures would provide. Therefore effects should be better monitored.
The CE-study 'Minder emissies door investeren in infrastructuur' has investigated several options to reduce CO2 emissions. These are measures to improve traffic circulation, change the modal shift and reduce energy use of vehicles. According to CE improving bicycle infrastructure provides the highest return of all 'mobility measures' studied.
Investments in (car) infrastructure primarily aimed at improving traffic flow prove to be ineffective in fighting climate change. Improved traffic flow does cause lower emissions per vehicle kilometre but in the long term also an increase in overall traffic, states CE.
A better bicycle infrastructure may contribute to a substantial CO2 reduction according to CE. CE works out that if, for example, bicycle policy in a town results in 2,500 people driving 5 kilometres less a day that would save 1 kilotonne of CO2. The maximum potential for the Netherlands might possibly be in the range of 100 to 250 kilotonnes a year. Improving bicycle infrastructure has many positive side effects on air quality, noise pollution and public health, besides climate effects. Various measures are feasible to improve bicycle friendliness by adapting infrastructure, like:
- construction and/or improvement of bicycle parking facilities;
- construction of bike paths or e.g. bicycle routes through residential neighbourhoods or town centres, preferably separate from car traffic;
- construction of bicycle tunnels;
- adjusting traffic lights and adapting priority arrangements at intersections and roundabouts. It is however hard to quantify the potential of these measures as there are insufficient evaluations which quantify the effects of improved bicycle facilities on the decrease in car use, CE states. Better monitoring of the effects on investments in bicycle infrastructure is therefore recommended.
A wealth of information about Dutch cycling initiatives and research available here, the website of Dutch cycling consultancy company Fietsberaad.