In order to anticipate and prevent the massive use of private cars at a time of deconfinement, the Climate Action Network is asking the Government to release an emergency fund for cycling of 500 million euros, which is essential to support communities and ensure the deployment of temporary cycle paths throughout the country. This issue has already been taken into account in 2019 by the government since its National Cycling and Active Mobility Plan, which was to release 350 million euros to co-finance infrastructures. An emergency since the health crisis because, faced with the forecast of slow public transport activity due to fears of contamination, it is essential to make the most of the benefits of the little queen...
Already in 2018, the Climate Action Network was campaigning for this economical, ecological and healthy daily mode of travel to finally be recognized as a mobility solution in its own right to reduce urban congestion, improve air quality and quality of life.
France has set itself the ambitious goal of tripling the share of cycling in mobility by 2024 and has adopted a National Plan to achieve this. In 2019, the Club of Cycling Cities and Territories and the parliamentarians mobilised within the framework of the Club of National Elected Officials for Cycling also confirmed the role that cycling must finally play in the ecological transition in order to accelerate the fight against climate change, preserve air quality and health and combat the economic crisis and inequalities.
Today, the health crisis we are experiencing calls for an acceleration of the means to encourage changes in our lifestyles.
Preventing massive recourse to private cars
At a time of deconfinement, many users are likely to prefer the private car to public transport. This deferral must be avoided for several reasons. First of all, road traffic is one of the leading sectors that emit air pollutants (especially NOx). The disastrous effects of air pollution on health are no longer in doubt and several studies seem to indicate a link between air pollution and mortality at Covid-19.
A deterioration in air quality must therefore be prevented at all costs. In addition, urban space is limited. The roads, which take up a large part of this space, will very quickly become saturated if there is a single shift to the private car. Spaces reserved for cyclists and pedestrians, however, remain largely insufficient in view of the standards of physical distance. Finally, in addition to air pollution, road transport is also the main emitter of greenhouse gases, and reducing it is essential to combat climate change.
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Putting the bike at the heart of the system
In addition to the measures needed to guarantee health safety in public transport (including optimal maintenance of teleworking and smoothing of rush hours), it is essential to invest heavily in the use of bicycles. Indeed, it enables people to move quickly while respecting the instructions for distancing themselves. Cycling is also extremely beneficial to health and will allow the resumption of physical activity after several weeks of confinement. In this context, tactical urban planning responds perfectly to this need for adaptation by making it possible to quickly create temporary and secure bicycle paths.
Supporting communities and making cycling accessible to the greatest number of people
These temporary arrangements are a first step and must be encouraged financially, but they cannot be sufficient. Other investments are necessary to develop cycling: generalisation of assistance for the purchase of VAE, introduction of a repair cheque, systematisation of the sustainable mobility package, increase in the parking offer, organisation of bicycle bursaries and support for the activities of associations, etc. With a view to a gradual and long-term deconfinement, all these levers will have to be activated to guarantee a safe and accessible bicycle mobility offer for the greatest number of people.
But for the implementation of a National Cycling Plan, we should perhaps start with the most obvious one: the generalisation of bicycle learning, which calls for the implementation of resources commensurate with the challenge and the involvement of the national education system. The "savoir-rouler" (riding skills) provides that every child should know how to get around on a bicycle and know the basic rules of the highway code by the time they enter secondary school by 2022. Accelerated learning of mobility by bicycle at school is also one of the demands of the Climate Action network.
The same applies to the monitoring of the objectives assigned to the SNCF in terms of secure bicycle parking in stations by 2024. It should be remembered that the Law on Railway Reform already stipulated in 2014 that the SNCF had to draw up a plan for the deployment and financing of bicycle parking facilities in and around priority stations in consultation with local authorities... which has never been presented by the operator since, despite reminders from the Club des villes et territoires cyclables (Cycling Towns and Territories Club).
Finally, the management of the Cycling and Active Mobility Plan is still not specified. However, it is essential to its success, with the implementation of all the measures and the respect of deadlines.
- READ UP'. : Mobility: 2019, year 1 of the cycling plan?
The brakes on bicycle use in France
The main obstacle to the use of bicycles is urban planning that is not very favourable to their use. Even in a city with ecological ambitions such as Paris, cycle paths do not cover all the roads and offer neither the traffic comfort nor the necessary safety for cyclists.
By expressing political will and implementing actions in this direction, the share of cycling in transport will stop deteriorating. Would deconfinement allow the bicycle to "get out of the game", as in Bordeaux where the city has planned to double the transport lines with bicycle facilities by May 11th? Or Montpellier, which has already inaugurated new cycling sections. Or Nice, Rennes, Lille, Lyon, Grenoble, ... Other cities did not wait for the coronavirus crisis to review their transport policy. For example, the city of Strasbourg has thus seen an increase in cycling trips, which now accounts for 15% of trips. A AngersIn addition, 25 new measures have been put in place to triple the bicycle's share of daily trips by 2024.
However, the resistance of the motorization is not surprising. Indeed, faced with the price of housing in large cities, working people often live on the outskirts, several kilometres from their place of work. Cycling is convenient for journeys of less than 5 km, but it is difficult to get to work by car when the journey is 35 km long.
Another reason is the lack of dedicated bicycle storage facilities in urban and peri-urban areas. Not forgetting the fear of theft and the difficulty of reconciling cycling and the weather.
Although bicycles are beneficial for health and society, they are the only means of transport that does not incur any expenses. By encouraging employees to use this agile mode of transportation, some companies have seen a decrease in delays and sick leave.
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Only coordinated action linking supply and demand for cycling mobility will make it possible to respond to the current health and climate crises.