Programme and government resolution to promote walking and cycling
The Government adopted a resolution on promoting walking and cycling on Thursday, 22 March. In support of the resolution, the Ministry of Transport and Communications has published a more detailed programme on promoting walking and cycling. It is the first government resolution on promoting walking and cycling to which several public operators and organisations have committed.
"Measures under the resolution and the programme would have significant impacts on the climate and public health. An increase in walking and cycling by 20% would generate health benefits worth around EUR 4 billion. The measures under the programme would reduce emissions from transport by 0.3 million tonnes," says Minister of Transport and Communications Anne Berner.
The resolution and the programme include ten sets of measures aiming to increase levels of walking and cycling by 2030. An entirely new measure is a joint investment programme by the state and municipalities to improve the conditions for walking and cycling in the urban street network. To launch the programme a total of EUR 5 million will be allocated for 2018-2019.
Important measures under the programme include development of infrastructure and land use planning and influencing people's attitudes and mobility preferences. Further important means are transport system plans of municipalities and urban areas, land use planning and mobility management.
Developing legislation, such as the overall reform of the Road Traffic Act, increasing cooperation between different actors, and defining the parties in local and central government responsible for promoting walking and cycling are also significant.
The programme is a result of extensive cooperation between government operators and organisations in the sector. To support the preparations, for example discussion events were organised, and at the turn of the year, the programme was circulated for comments to a wide range of stakeholders. All commentators considered the programme necessary and topical.
The programme was prepared by the Ministries of the Environment, Social Affairs and Health, and Education and Culture, and by the National Sports Council, Transport Agency, Cyclists' Federation, and Network of Finnish Cycling Municipalities.
Aiming to decrease emissions and improve public health
The aim of the programme is that a growth in the number of journeys on foot or by bicycle would partly replace short journeys by car and so decrease the greenhouse gas emissions from transport. For example the Finnish Climate Panel has estimated that through promotion of walking and cycling, emission reductions of around EUR 0.3 million tonnes could be achieved by 2030. In Finland, the overall target of emission reductions from transport is 3.1 million tonnes.
In terms of public health, it has been estimated that an increase of walking and cycling in Finland by 20 per cent would generate health benefits worth around EUR 4 billion. The National Energy and Climate Strategy set a goal of reaching a 30% growth in the number of journeys on foot or by bicycle by 2030.
Promoting walking and cycling is also the theme of the Ministry of Transport and Communications in the Society's Commitment to Sustainable Development. Together with the actors in the sector the Ministry will also launch a two-year campaign to promote walking and cycling.
The implementation of the programme measures will be started together with the stakeholders. The Transport Agency will invite applications for projects of the investment programme on walking and cycling in autumn 2018. The consultation round on the acquisition support for electric bicycles, which was launched before the programme on walking and cycling was published, will end by 3 April 2018.
Sabina Lindström, Director', +358 40 527 6103