19 Jan 2024

The European Commission is about to publish the ‘Mobility Transition Pathway’. This is a positive development from our perspective at CIE because it means more policy support being channelled towards growing the cycling industry and services such as bike sharing, cargo-bike logistics and cycle-tourism.  

Policy discussions on growing cycling have mainly revolved around building better infrastructure, improving rider safety, and promoting intramodality. For good reason: the positive impacts of these policies for ridership and cycling businesses, as well as society, are clear to see. But there is now an additional foundation for future engagement with the EU for discussions on industry, growth and jobs, sustainability, resilience, and digitalisation.

Cycling Industries Europe has been playing an instrumental role behind the scenes to make sure that the cycling industry’s role, ambition, and potential in driving a clean mobility revolution is recognised and backed by the European Commission. Based on the draft version of the Mobility Transition Pathway that CIE has worked on, the time is right to provide a basic overview of what could be best described as a ‘policy initiative menu’ for Europe’s mobility industries to become more digital, sustainable, and resilient – where for the first time, there is no ambiguity that the cycling industry is part of the EU’s plans to move towards a decarbonised and digital economy and society.  

What is a ‘Transition Pathway’?

The European Commission set out an updated Industrial Strategy in March 2020 with the underlying idea that supporting the digitalisation of European companies and helping them become more sustainable would make Europe’s industry more competitive, autonomous, and resilient.

This implies a process to initiate and sustain transformation, with clear stages and developments: hence the term ‘transition pathway’. Various industries have been invited to outline how they envisage becoming more sustainable, digital and resilient to the European Commission, which in turn will seek to identify synergies and possible sources of support to them on their way. Possible actions are planned based on short, mid and long-term goals with specific tasks for the EU, the industry and regional and national governments.

The list of sectors lined up for transition pathways amounts to a ‘who’s who’ in the European economy: a total of 14 sectors are covered, such as energy, retail, tourism, health, chemicals, construction and of course, mobility.

Over the course of 2022, CIE made sure cycling was part of the picture – this was not the case in initial European Commission drafts on the establishment of a Transition Pathway for the mobility sector, that only planned initiatives for the automotive, rail and maritime sectors. The inclusion of cycling has in this regard enabled us to educate the European Commission about our industry and address some misguided assumptions - “aren’t all bikes made in China?” One result of this was that cycling was invited to participate in a series of roundtables with the European Commission co-chaired by our colleagues at CONEBI, this provided the content for cycling in the MTP. 

What Are the Key Topics for The Cycling Industry? 

Under seven headings – competitiveness, governance, social, skills, technology, infrastructure, and investment- the Mobility Transition Pathway document outlines roughly 120 action points: some applicable to all mobility industries, and some that apply more specifically to one of the four mobility sub-sectors.

Cycling-specific action points include supporting more European bicycle manufacturing and reshoring, accelerating the growth of shared mobility services, cargo bike logistics and cycle tourism, and ensuring that the bicycle is fully part of the connected and automated mobility landscape of the future. These action points will lead to cycling having a more prominent place in various EU funding programmes supporting research, innovation, investment, and economic development.

The European Commission has paid particular attention to identifying and reaping the benefits of potential synergies among mobility sub-sectors. The automotive industry’s shift from combustion to electric engines, for example, spells out an opportunity to bring in skilled workers, in particular mechanics, from automotive to cycling sector. As such, the Mobility Transition Pathway calls for a ‘Cycling Sector skills alliance’ to support the reconversion of workers. CIE has also pointed at possible risks, namely concerns regarding the future supply of batteries for e-bikes amidst the broader electrification of transport

Particular attention has also been awarded to developing so-called ‘Industrial Clusters’. These structures support innovation and play a crucial role in channelling EU-level funding towards industries, bridging the distance between the EU and local SMEs. The most prominent example in Europe for the cycling industry is the Portugal Bike Value Cluster, which features in the Mobility Transition Pathway as a success story to build upon. The Mobility Transition Pathway thus calls for the establishment of new industry clusters as well as opening existing clusters – there are over 100 automotive industry clusters in Europe – to other mobility industry sub-sectors like cycling.

Another key theme is the development of ‘data spaces’ for mobility and manufacturing. Harmonising and structuring the collection and use of data will support better-informed decisions at all levels of governance and among companies. The call for the creation of a data space on mobility is coupled with a specific action point on developing statistics on cycling and infrastructure at local, national and EU levels, as well as improving collaboration on cycling data collection between the EU Member States and the European Commission (Eurostat). The call for a manufacturing data space meanwhile aims to develop standardised datasets for manufacturing, with the aim of sustaining better-informed decisions and operations across the bicycle manufacturing supply chain.

Last but not least, the Mobility Transition Pathway keeps track of existing policies and regulations that have been beneficial for cycling and the industry. Fair rules for global trade, adapted technical regulations for bicycles, purchasing subsidies for consumers and businesses, and of course, building more and safer infrastructure: these building blocks must be maintained and where relevant, developed further.

What Should Cycling Companies Do to Shape and Benefit from The Mobility Transition Pathway?

While the EU Cycling Declaration put forward last October broke new policy ground by calling for a ‘world class cycling industry’, the Mobility Transition Pathway gives us a better indication of how the EU, Member States, regions and the industry can collaborate to move towards this goal. 

The Mobility Transition Pathway is only the very beginning of a longer-term process and industrial policy dialogue with the EU Institutions and the European Commission in particular. In EU jargon, we have ended a ‘co-creation’ phase and are now entering a ‘co-implementation’ phase. In other words, industry, public authorities, and the EU will need to step up collaboration to turn the above-mentioned action points into a reality.

Over the course of 2024, the European Commission will encourage, collect, and support public authorities and private companies to make commitments that align and support the action points set out in the Mobility Transition Pathway. The more ambitious and concrete the commitments made by the industry or Member State-based authorities are, the more the EU will be inclined to match announced ambition with support.

Examples of actions for cycling industry companies could include joining existing industrial clusters, developing industry task forces to set up data spaces or to consolidate supply of batteries that meet the requirements of the EU Battery Regulation. Member States and/or regional authorities could commit to building more infrastructure, co-investing in production facilities or deploying bicycle purchase support schemes.  

CIE will remain a key interlocutor for the European Commission throughout this process and has every intention of helping its member companies understand and get the most out of what is a new policy chapter for the growth of cycling in Europe. CIE’s expert groups on sustainability, market intelligence and data, innovation, logistics and intelligent transport systems will be the focal points for exchange and collaboration among cycling companies on the various topics raised by the Mobility Transition Pathway and help channel the right information, messages, and requests to the EU.

The past five years have been tremendous for the growth of cycling and have opened citizens’ and public authorities’ eyes to the benefits of cycling. The next five years will be instrumental in turning Europe into a genuine cycling continent where leading cycling infrastructure is matched by a world class industry. If you are not already with us, join CIE to play your part in this transformation!

Share on Linkedin Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Subscribe to our newsletter