A Comparative Analysis of the Climate Value of Cycling in Dutch Cities

A Comparative Analysis of the Climate Value of Cycling in Dutch Cities


M van Maarseveen, R Massink, M Zuidgeest, M Brussel, Y Chen, University of Twente, NL


The Climate Value of Cycling model provides a methodology for the assessment of cycling mobility in terms of avoided CO2 emissions. The paper analyses the spatial and transport determinants of the climate value of cycling for Dutch cities.


Human induced emission of CO2 is one of the most important challenges cities have to deal with in the 21st century. The transport sector is responsible for approximately 23% of global CO2 emissions, a number that is growing, particularly in view of the increasing vehicle ownership and use in developing and emerging economies. While clean vehicle technology and cleaner fuels have been adopted as appropriate strategies to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the last few years, the discussion in the 2009 United Nations climate change Conference of the Parties (COP) 15 in Copenhagen concluded that a complete restructuring of the way city mobility is organized is the only feasible climate mitigation strategy.

Sustainable transport projects could induce reductions in CO2 emissions of the transport sector by: (1) Avoiding: the need for mobility; (2) Shifting: mobility to sustainable modes of transport, such as cycling; or (3) Improving: sustainability of current mobility. Particularly in developing countries, economic resources often limit opportunities for implementing high-cost vehicle improvement technologies, indicating that investments in programs avoiding CO2 emissions, such as Non-Motorized Transport (NMT) projects, may be more suitable and feasible. NMT, particularly cycling, has great potential because: (a) it is a cheap mode of transportation; (b) the investment costs for infrastructure are much lower than for private motorized traffic infrastructure; (c) in dense and congested urban areas the bicycle is as time-effective as motorized traffic; (d) it is a zero-emission transport mode, and may also have substantial co-benefits such as public health and traffic safety benefits. NMT development is therefore becoming a core urban development strategy, which is environmentally sustainable, while providing opportunities for economic development and contributing to social inclusion.

The Climate Value of Cycling methodology developed by the Cycling Academic Network provides a sound methodology for the assessment of present cycling mobility in terms of avoided CO2 emissions, i.e. the climate value of cycling. The methodology appreciates cycling mobility by calculating the potential CO2 emissions resulting from a shift from cycling mobility to their most likely (motorized and non-motorized) alternatives. Based on traffic monitoring data of a city it provides a quantitative and monetary argument for maintaining current cycling mobility levels and puts a case for expansion to higher cycling levels. A first successful application of the climate value of cycling model was performed for the city of Bogota, Colombia; followed by a global comparison of cities in developing and developed world. These applications result in climate values of cycling in these cities that can be monetarized to indicate the intrinsic financial value of cycling mobility (if traded on carbon markets).

The conference paper will present the results of a comparative analysis of the Climate Value of Cycling in cities. The analysis is aimed to get a better understanding of spatial and transport determinants of the Climate Value of Cycling of a city. Factors that will be considered are urban size and structure, road network characteristics including quality indicators for the bicycle network, overall mobility and public transport services. Cities in The Netherlands, even though all having high bicycle shares, show remarkable differences in modal split figures for cycling ranging from 10 up to 35% of urban trips. Together with the availability of a high quality dataset it makes Dutch cities very suitable to perform an analysis of the determinants of the Climate Value of Cycling. This contribution to the European Transport Conference presents the Climate Value of Cycling model and presents and discusses this city comparison. Lessons for other European cities can be drawn.


Association for European Transport