The French government has announced plans to invest €2 billion in improving the country's cycling infrastructure and encouraging people to purchase bikes.
The goal of this significant investment is increasing cycling and decreasing the use of cars. The government aims to double the current cycle lane network by allocating 250 million euros per year towards the construction of new bike lanes between 2023 and 2027. The remaining budget will be used for other initiatives promoting cycling.
France's Transport Minister Clement Beaune has described the government's new cycling initiative as "unprecedented and massive." The objective is to make cycling an attractive alternative to driving and an accessible means of transport for people of all ages. Beaune has stated that the government aims to expand the current bike lane network from 50,000 km to 80,000 km by 2027 and 100,000 km by 2030, though the current investment does not go beyond 2027. Smaller cities and rural areas will be prioritized, as larger cities have already received substantial state funding for cycling infrastructure. The government has allocated around 500 million euros for subsidies to purchase bicycles, including second-hand bikes. Additionally, some of the budget will be spent on bike parking facilities in cities and railway stations, funding for anti-theft bike marking, and bike training for primary schoolchildren.
Nearby Belgium has recently enacted a measure that also aims to increase bicycle usage. Belgium has extended access to an allowance for commuting journeys by bicycle for all private sector employees from 1 May 2023. This should cover up just over half a million more employees, who from now on can receive €0.27 per km traveled, up to 40 km per day.
It is encouraging to see countries such as France and Belgium investing in sustainable transportation initiatives like cycling. While the investment in cycling infrastructure is a positive step towards promoting sustainable transportation, it remains what impact this will have on reducing car use. Despite the government's plan many people may still prefer the convenience and speed of cars. Additionally, the plan prioritizes smaller cities and rural areas, which may not have the same level of demand for cycling infrastructure as larger cities. Of course, monitoring and adjusting will be essential if this investment is going to have the most significant impact possible. The impact, reducing dependence and use of vehicles in favor of bicycles would be a broad social good. Let’s hope the investment pays off!
Written by Adeleh Mohammadi,
RISE Mobility & Systems