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France to boost cycling with better bike lanes, tax incentives

September 15, 2018

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Paris: A woman rides a bicycle along a bike path on the Pont de Bir-Hakeim bridge on Friday.—Reuters
Paris: A woman rides a bicycle along a bike path on the Pont de Bir-Hakeim bridge on Friday.—Reuters

PARIS: France plans to boost cycling with better bike lanes, financial incentives for bicycle commuters and measures against bike theft, the government said.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, who will formally announce the plan later on Friday in the Atlantic coast city of Nantes, told local daily Le Courrier de l’Ouest the state will invest about 350 million euros ($410 million) over seven years in cycling infrastructure.

“The idea is that the state will help local authorities finance a number of infrastructures that will help reduce discontinuities between bike lanes and to facilitate dangerous crossings,” Philippe was quoted as saying.

Unlike most other transport policy issues, bike lane construction is not a national but a municipal responsibility, which means that most French bike lanes only run for a short stretch and rarely connect to other cities’ bike facilities.

Cycling organisations have long asked for more continuity in bike lanes because interruptions make people afraid to cycle to work.

Olivier Schneider, head of French Bike Users Federation FUB, said the 350 million euro cycling fund falls well short of French President Emmanuel Macron’s election promise of 200 million euros per year, but he said he hoped it would spur municipalities into planning new bike facilities. “Fifty million euros per year will not turn France into the Netherlands, but it is a start,” Schneider said.

Published in Dawn, September 15th, 2018