Cycling networks explode across Europe

Cycling networks explode across Europe

By Lucy Jones  March 18th, 2021

Bikes have become people's preferred mode of transport during the pandemic and governments across Europe are responding with bigger, better cycling networks.


The humble bicycle is taking over Europe's streets. The pandemic has seen more people than ever before hitting the pedals for a safe, socially-distanced transport option and to get their nature and exercise fix. Cities across Europe are looking at how they can support increased cycling rates and reduce congestion and emissions.

A new report by the Guardian outlines plans being rolled out across the continent as part of government commitments to "build back better" after COVID.

“I think to a large degree the pandemic only accelerated some processes," Aleksander Buczyński from the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF) told the Guardian. "The cities that made good provisional cycle paths were generally positively accepted by the inhabitants, if not uniformly.”

According to the ECF, European cities spent €1 billion on cycling networks during the pandemic, building around 600 miles, or 1,000 kilometres, of cycle lanes.

Via The Guardian, here's a breakdown of the Europe's cycling boom.


  • During the pandemic cycle use rose by 10 per cent, public transport use dropped by 50 per cent and car use decreased by 10 per cent.

  • The city has fast-tracked plans to build 100 miles of new or improved cycle routes by 2024. This is part of a larger scheme to redesign Barcelona's public spaces around people (instead of cars) which aims to decrease car use by 24 per cent by 2024.


  • Milan's busiest cycleway has seen a 122 per cent increase in use over the pandemic.

  • The city announced plans to expand its cycle network by 22 streets last year. Now, that target has been pushed up to 62 streets by the end of 2021.


  • The rate of people cycling in Paris has increased by 70 per cent since spring 2020.

  • 31 miles of temporary cycle lanes introduced at the start of the pandemic will be made permanent. 200 miles of new cycle routes are also planned for the city as part of a scheme to encourage cycling across France.


  • Cycling grew by 25 per cent last year.

  • The city plans to double its cycling network from 64 to 124 miles and build dedicated lanes for cyclists.


  • In 2020, just under half of all journeys in London were made on foot or by bike, a 29 per cent increase from pre-pandemic levels. In the outer suburbs, cycling increased by 22 per cent.

  • The city is in the process of building 62 new cycleways.


  • Cycling increased by 87 per cent in 2020 when Brussels trialed pop-up cycle routes.

  • Authorities plan to link up town and city cycling networks with the Flemish government committing €22 million per year to cycling infrastructure.


  • Cycling rates increased by 50 per cent on new cycle paths during the pandemic.

  • The city plans to expand the network over the next five years.

Australia has also experienced its own cycling boom. In May last year, bicycle retailers around the country reported a surge in sales as a result of the pandemic. Australia’s peak representative body for cyclists, Bicycle Network, has called on governments to extend cycle networks to cope with increased demand.

Positive Environment News has been compiled using publicly available information. Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes. 


Positive Actions

Lucy Jones

Lucy started her career working as a writer and editor in print and digital publishing. She went on to create content for Australia's leading sustainable fashion platform while completing her Master of Cultural Studies. Lucy spends her downtime at the beach, crocheting and hanging out with her cat Larry. She believes words can change the world and is stoked to help Planet Ark spread the message of positive environmental change.

Related Stories

Stay up to date

Whether you're looking for positive inspiration at home, at work or in the community you’ll find something in our suite of e-newsletters.