Published by Lyn on 30 April 2020
The French government has announced a €20 million cash injection to boost cycling as the country comes out of its COVID-19 lockdown.
The French government is boosting funding for cycling in an effort to encourage more people to cycle in post-lockdown France.
The €20 million fund is designed to help keep a cap on pollution levels and ease both public transport congestion and coronavirus infection risk as the country comes out of its COVID-19 lockdown – or confinement – from May 11.
The money will include a €50 allocation that any cyclist can use to have a bicycle repaired or checked for road-worthiness. Under the plan, cyclists will be able to take their bike to any accredited mechanic who is participating for €50 worth of free repairs. The mechanics will be reimbursed directly by the government, though the cyclist will need to foot the bill for any repairs over €50.
The cabinet minister responsible for moving France to a greener society, Minister for Ecological Transition Elisabeth Borne, said the €20 million would also be spent on more bike parking spaces, as well as bicycle training and public bike hire facilities. Private sector businesses will also be encouraged to develop cycling initiatives for employees.
"We want to use this period to see a step forward for cycling culture – in a way, the bicycle is the little queen of deconfinement," she told French media.
In addition and as part of COVID-19 social distancing measures, cities across the country will fast-track the development of cycle and pedestrian paths, in part funded by a separate local investment and support fund.
Recreational bicycle use beyond a 1km radius from home was banned during the COVID-19 lockdown, though utility cycling was permitted for shopping and commuting, and children were able to use their bicycles if accompanied by an adult who was walking (and within the 1km radius of home). The sale and repair of bicycles was deemed an 'essential serivice' throughout confinement.
The French government estimates that 60 per cent of all journeys in France in 'normal' times cover a distance of less than 5km. It wants to see more of these trips taken by bicycle.
The post-coronavirus initiative comes on top of a national cycling strategy announced by French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe in 2018 aimed at getting more French people on their bikes. You can read more about that strategy here.