A person enjoying soft mobility, riding a bike on a bustling city street.

Soft mobility

  • Commuting

Walking or cycling is the most sustainable commuting alternative. In addition to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, air pollution, urban noise and congestion, it is a way to exercise and stay physically and mentally healthy.

Light vehicles, including passenger cars, account for about a third of global oil demand and produce about half of all transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions. Soft mobility can significantly cut passenger car-related emissions. (1)

Key facts

0g CO2e

Emissions from walking or cycling, compared to:

  • 5.4g CO2e from riding a train
  • 37.5 CO2e from riding a public transport bus
  • 146.6g CO2e from riding a passenger car (2)
3 km

Around a third of car journeys in Europe are less than 3 km. (3)

Key actions

  • #1 Bicycle parking

    Install covered and secured bicycle parking.

  • #2 Provide facilities

    Provide changing rooms and showers.

  • #3 Offer bike maintenance

    Provide basic bike maintenance kit at the office (pump, patches).

  • #4 Provide financial incentives

    Offer financial incentives (cover part of the cost of (e) bikes, provide mileage allowances).

  • #5 Organise green events

    Join or organise events such as a Bike to Work or a Bike Repair Day.

  • #6 Facilitate bicycle access

    Provide bikes for local business travels.

  • #7 Involve municipalities

    Encourage the municipality to install bike-friendly infrastructure (paths, parking, bike-friendly trains).

  • #8 Join forces

    Mutualise and join forces with other organisations following a similar approach.

To consider

  • Potential co-benefits

    • Prevention of physical diseases (diabetes and cardiovascular disease)
    • Improvement of sleep
    • Mental health benefits
    • Reduction of transportation costs
    • Reduction of congestion
  • Success conditions

    • Communication on organisational incentives
    • Raising awareness among staff
  • Prerequisites & specificities

    • Living relatively close to the workplace
    • Pedestrian and cycle paths
    • Know how to ride a bike
    • Access to bicycles
    • Access to covered and secured bicycle parking
  • Potential risks

    • Safety risks in certain areas (accidents)
    • Bicycle theft
    • Social (people’s eyes)
    • Delays in case of modal shift due to weather constraints
A group of people engaging in soft mobility, walking on a cobblestone street.
© Etienne Girardet/Unsplash.

Success stories

Bike parking at SIG

Services Industriels de Geneve installed a covered and secured bicycle parking area equipped with ​charging stations powered by photovoltaic panels, provides electric bicycles for business travels in Geneva, and ​subsidies the purchase of a public transport pass in return for giving up the car. (4)

CERN facilitate green transit for its employees

2025 goal: keep individual motorised vehicle commuting constant. They offer shuttle services (5) and a fleet of bicycles (6) available free of charge to members of the personnel. In 2021, CERN launched a pilot scheme for free rental of e-bikes and e-scooters (7) on its two main sites, and has also increased its cycling routes. (8)

A green bonus at Infomaniak

Infomaniak put in place an annual bonus for employees:

  • 100% by bike or on foot: bonus CHF 1500/year. For meteorological or organisational reasons, it is possible to travel by public transport 10x/year.
  • 50% by public transport or 50% by bike or on foot: bonus CHF 1000/year.

The mobility plan also supports the purchase of an electric bike to the tune of CHF 4’500 (advance on 3-years at 1,500.). The employee undertakes to cycle to work for 3 years. (9)

Bicycle Days and
activities in Ivory Coast, Senegal & Kenya

Several days can be the subject of a special activity encouraging the use of bicycles, such as the World Bicycle Day on June 3rd  (10) or those organised in the Ivory Coast by the NGO My Dream for Africa (11): the Bike to Work day in Cocody in 2019 (12), the HeartBike day in Bingerville in 2021 (13), or the Environment and Green Transport Day in Abidjan 2016. (14)  Monthly cycling trips are organised by Sama Velo in Dakar. (15) (16). Bike trains are organised in UN Habitat in Nairobi. (17)

Tools and good practices

To go further

  • Pan-European Master Plan for Cycling Promotion

    Riding Towards Green Economy: Cycling and Green Jobs – A Joint Report by UN Environment-WHO-UNECE

    Read here


(1)  The ICCT – Light vehicles. Read here

(2) Stay grounded- What is the impact of aviation? Read here

(3) IEA – Playing my part, 2022. Read here

(4) Mobility plans: a guide for companies and institutions. Read here

(5) CERN (SCE) – Person transport demand. Read here

(6) CERN (SCE) – Bike rental. Read here

(7) CERN (SCE) – Bike sharing pilot. Read here

(8) CERN – Creation of cycle lanes on the Meyrin and Prévessin sites, 2020. Read here

(9) Infomaniak – Ecology. Read here

(10) UN General Assembly – Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on 12 April 2018. Read here

(11) Club Abidjan Ville Durable. Read here

(12) Le media citoyen – Reportage Abidjan: ces écolo préfèrent le vélo, 2019. Read here

(13) Twitter – #pédalonspourlecoeur, 2021. Read here

(14) RTI officiel (Youtube) – Environnement: Plus de 100 Eco-citoyens à vélo à l’université Félix Houphouët Boigny, 2016. Watch here

(15) Le petit journal – Sama Vélo, pour la promotion du vélo au Sénégal. Read here

(16) Twitter – Sama Vélo, 2019.  Read here

(17) UN Habitat – Making commuting easier, 2019. Read here


Cover photo © Joshua Rawson Harris/Unsplash.