This article is 1 year old
Reaction to the study that calculates how much emissions would be reduced if people cycled like in the Netherlands

A study published in the journal Communications Earth & Environment (from Nature Research) estimates that a reduction of 686 million tonnes of carbon emissions could be achieved each year if the world followed a cycling pattern similar to that of the Netherlands (2.6 kilometres per day). This is about 20 % of the carbon emissions produced by the global passenger car fleet in 2015.

18/08/2022 - 17:00 CEST
Expert reactions

Esther Anaya-Boig - bicis Países Bajos EN

Esther Anaya-Boig

PhD and researcher at Imperial College London and CambiaMO collaborator

Science Media Centre Spain

For years we have had solid scientific evidence of the health, environmental and social benefits of cycling mobility. However, this is not enough for us to see an increase in cycling mobility, as there are other arguments (economic and political) that we need to take into account. Using the available data, this study helps us to understand the global potential for the adoption of cycling mobility at levels similar to those currently shown in certain cities and countries where the right conditions have been created. 

In a context of multiple crises and emergencies that endanger life on our planet, let us act with the conviction that it is possible to change the current scenario and let us put all the means to achieve it, always pursuing an objective of equity and justice: to make cycling mobility accessible to everyone. Among the many data provided in this article, it is striking that it is estimated that there are twice as many bicycles as cars in the world, and that between 1962 and 2015 the number of cycles increased sixfold, while the number of cars increased less, by five. Although this does not correlate with the use of bicycles for transport, it does indicate that a good part of the population has access to a cycling vehicle and could use it for transport at any time, if the other conditions hindering their immediate use were met. 

These conditions include infrastructure, as this article points out, but there must also be other conditions that facilitate equitable access to cycling mobility, such as education, communication, regulation, planning, governance, and cultural and social context. This holistic view of cycling mobility encourages us to further investigate what elements we need to co-produce in our cycling policies in order to provide universal access to cycling mobility that will lead us (pedalling, if possible) to a fairer and healthier future for our communities and our planet. 

The author has not responded to our request to declare conflicts of interest
Historical patterns and sustainability implications of worldwide bicycle ownership and use
  • Research article
  • Peer reviewed
Communications Earth & Environment
Publication date

Wu Chen et al.

Study types:
  • Research article
  • Peer reviewed
The 5Ws +1
Publish it