TEPR - cycling for jobs in Europe


The International Cycling Conference took place from 19th to 21st September in Mannheim in Germany. Ian Skinner of TEPR was one of the speakers and delivered his presentation entitled, ‘Cycling as a job creation mechanism’ on the middle day of the conference.

1817 – Baron Karl von Drais Develops The Draisienne

It was a fitting venue for this event as 200 years ago on 12 June 1817, a crowd had congregated in Mannheim to see Baron Karl von Drais’s latest invention. It was a machine called the ‘draisienne’, a two-wheeled horseless vehicle propelled by its rider. On that day, Drais climbed aboard and completed an 8-9 mile round trip in less than an hour, which was a quarter of the usual time. People could see the huge potential in this new mode of transport and that day in Mannheim turned out to be a significant milestone and the start of the journey of the development of the bicycle that we know today.

In 200 years, transport has moved on. Motorised transport now dominates, which has come at a huge cost to the environment and so today, we are again looking at the bicycle as a greener and cleaner mode of getting us from A to B. We are now trying to increase the modal share of cycling which would result in multiple advantages including health benefits and with more bicycles replacing cars in our towns and cities, there would be better air quality, less noise and lower CO2 emissions.

Developing a more cycling-friendly culture

Transport is certainly vital for modern economies to function but the huge downside of motorised transport is its adverse impacts on the environment and health. It is important that the economic, as well as the environmental and health, benefits of cycling are recognised by policy-makers.

Investing in cycling also creates a virtuous circle. Investing in cycling helps to encourage and facilitate cycling and contribute to the development of a more cycling-friendly transport culture. * With more cyclists, there would be the corresponding need for more cycles and accessories and of course the bicycles would need to be maintained and serviced at specialist workshops, and thus more jobs.

How many jobs would be created?

In Mannheim, Ian Skinner presented the results of a report that he co-authored in the context of UNECE and WHO’s THE PEP. An earlier report, “Jobs in green and healthy transport” estimated that 76,000 jobs could be created in the pan-European region if 56 of the major cities had the same cycling modal share as Copenhagen, with this figure likely to be an underestimate. In Copenhagen, the overall cycling modal share is around 26%, while 50% of all citizens commute by bike every day and there are more bikes than inhabitants. **

The new report, “Riding towards the green economy: Cycling and jobs”, puts the numbers of jobs that would be created much higher at 435,000, as a result of having collated data directly from cities, although again this is likely to be an underestimate.

The types of jobs that could be created are varied, require different skill sets and are mainly local:

  • Bicycle retail, maintenance and repair
  • Bicycle design and manufacture
  • Cycle messengers, taxis and cargo bicycles for transporting freight
  • Building and maintaining cycle infrastructure
  • Provision of clothing and accessories for cyclists
  • Bicycle rentals
  • Bicycle parking
  • Tourism

There is certainly a lot more research required as collecting all the information is certainly challenging and for some jobs, such as those in tourism and infrastructure, it is a challenge to identify cycling jobs.

The report can be found on TEPR’s website. Ian Skinner has 25 years of experience of managing and contributing to research and consultancy projects, which primarily focus on sustainable transport options for a range of stakeholders. If you would like to speak to Ian about transport policies to build a low carbon future, call +44 (0)7521 063324.

* Cycling and green jobs