As the EU revises its directives regarding the energy performance of buildings, Belgian cycling advocacy group GRACQ is calling for policymakers not to forget the environmental benefits of the bicycle.
The Groupe de Recherche et d’Action des Cyclistes Quotidiens (GRACQ), which represents cyclists in French-speaking Belgium, points out that while there has been much talk regarding charging stations for electric vehicles, there’s been little conversation about bicycle parking, which they call “the most energy-efficient mobility solution.”
“This directive, which came into being in 2010, completely ignored mobility issues at the time,” wrote GRACQ’s Geoffrey Usé and Luc Goffinet in a statement.
“This was partially corrected in 2018, with an obligation to provide charging points for electric cars (only in buildings with more than 10 car parking spaces). The 2018 revision also suggested that member states should develop ‘recommendations’ for bicycle parking in buildings, aimed at their local authorities, often in charge of urban planning.”
The soft pressure didn’t result in substantial changes being implemented by European property developers, GRACQ says.
“Only a few member states have imposed measures for bicycle parking under this directive, which is also the only one in Europe that can regulate parking in buildings. In contrast, 15 states impose a minimum number of car parking spaces,” said Usé and Goffinet.
Rules regarding a minimum number of parking spaces for bicycles were imposed in France and in the Brussels Capital Region, and GRACQ is hoping the latest revision of the directive will be an opportunity to push more regions and states to follow suit.
They’d like at least one space per housing unit, with the ability for member states to choose to set the bar even higher, for example at one space per room in the case of residential buildings.
They point out that while charging stations are useful for electric bicycles, having safe storage is also critical. New electric bicycles, which are increasing in popularity in Belgium and beyond, can run upwards of €4,000, and as such, secure parking is important for their owners.
“This new revision of the EPB directive is a great opportunity to push everyone to be more ambitious,” Usé and Goffinet said in their statement.
“Unfortunately, the European Union is once again focusing mainly on electric vehicles.”
GRACQ is planning a response to the European public enquiry, which closes on 22 June. The earliest that a finalised text with the European Parliament and Council can be adopted is in 2022 at the earliest, for transposition by the Member States in 2024/25.
“In the meantime, pressure on the Member States remains as necessary as ever in order to tackle the issue of bicycle parking in our buildings,” said GRACQ.