The authorities in the northern French city of Lille have announced a cycling ban that covers large parts of the pedestrianised city centre and old town, following a rise in pedestrian safety concerns. The policy, entitled “Cyclists, (your) feet on the ground”, applies to cyclists, skateboarders and scooters within the permanent pedestrian area of the old town centre between 11am and 10pm. On Saturdays, the ban extends to an even wider area of the old town between 11am and 7pm. Fines, ranging from €35 and €135, are to be handed out by police after a brief transitional period.
The decision was taken following a rise in the volume of cycling along the pedestrianised streets in the old town, with the government reporting that dangerous cycling was putting pedestrians’ safety at risk. This follows an increase in the use of bicycles in France by a third since 2019.
However, the introduction of a cycling ban in the pedestrianised areas of Lille city centre has been met with a backlash and criticism from opposition councillors and active travel organisations. Michel Anceau of Droit au Vélo (Right to Bike) highlighted that “the measure is too constrictive and is putting the brakes on using bikes in town”, during a time when cities across Europe are seeking to promote cleaner and more sustainable forms of transport as part of wider decarbonisation strategies. The city’s Green councillors also criticised the ban, which they said “acts against what is, after all, a virtuous mode of transport, under the cover of regulating abusive practices.”
The successful implementation of measures to ensure the safe coexistence of pedestrians and cyclists has been seen elsewhere in France, e.g. in the French capital Paris. There, led by the Mayor Anne Hidalgo, “Plan Velo” aims to make 100% of the city cyclable by 2026, with the creation of 180 km of new segregated cycling lanes, 120,000 new secure bicycle parking spots, and an educational programme called “Know how to ride a bike” teaching cycling safety and basic maintenance skills to school children. Improved cycling infrastructure and educational campaigns will improve the safety of cyclists and pedestrians in Paris, whilst promoting active travel as a sustainable and rewarding alternative to other forms of urban transport. Sustainable travel advocates hope that Lille, which currently has 150 km of cycling paths, reverses its decision to ban cyclists in its city centre and instead introduces measures to safely accommodate all forms of active travel in the city centre.
Original article published by themayor.eu on 26 October 2023.
Photo Credit: © Kevin George - no permission to re-use image(s) without separate licence from Shutterstock.