In May 2023, the French government announced plans to spend €2 billion by 2027 to promote cycling. The funds will finance the Bicycle Mobility Plan, which was released on 5 May. Its implementation “should make cycling and walking part of the daily lives of all French people”, said Prime Minister, Élisabeth Borne when announcing the plan.
To achieve this, the plan targets three lines of action: i) make cycling accessible to everyone, from an early age; ii) make cycling and walking an alternative to private cars and public transport; and iii) make cycling an important economic sector by supporting cycling tourism in France, as well as its cycling industry.
The government wants to make bicycles an attractive alternative to cars and a means of transport accessible to everyone from the youngest age and throughout their life. The aim is to provide bike training for all primary schoolchildren, so that eventually an an entire age group will be able to ride a bicycle, i.e. 850,000 children each year. The Government also wishes to develop the bicycle as a tool to promote an active, healthy lifestyle throughout life.
In order to make cycling an easier and more accessible alternative to car for local trips, the government intends to double the cycle lane network from 50,000 km today to 80,000 km in 2027 and 100,000 km by 2030. The government is planning to invest up to €250 million a year for this until 2027. The funds are intended to co-finance projects at the regional and local levels up to 25% to 30% of the total costs. Priority will be given to provincial cities and rural areas, as large cities have already received considerable state funding for cycling infrastructure. "We will work with local authorities and hope that, alongside them, we will be able to invest €6 billion over the period”, said Élisabeth Borne.
The government will also increase spending on secure bike parking facilities in railway stations and in cities. In addition, €500 million will be allocated to subsidies to enable people to buy bicycles, including second-hand bicycles.
As part of the third pillar of the Bicycle Mobility Plan, France plans to strengthen cycling as an economic sector. A national cycle tourism strategy is to be developed that aims to make France the number one cycling tourist destination in the world by 2030. The government will also support bicycle production and the repair industry. Amongst others, a call will be launched for projects that encourage industrial players to innovate, as well as to relocate the production of components and the assembly of bikes to France. The aim is that, by 2027, 1.4 million bicycles will be assembled in France, increasing to 2 million in 2030 (up from 850,000 in 2022).
“The investment the national government will be making to promote cycling is totally unprecedented and massive”, commented Transport Minister Clement Beaune on the plan. The new Bicycle Mobility Plan supersedes the Cycling and Active Mobility plan formulated in 2018, which had a planning horizon until 2024 and a budget of €350 million. Its implementation may have sparked the enthusiasm for cycling and the current use of bicycle routes is up 52% compared to 2017. It is hoped that the measures from the new plan will further fuel enthusiasm and ensure a lasting cycling culture.
Original article published by Reuters on 5 May 2023.
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