Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne pleads for a "bicycle nation"


In the courtyard of the Matignon hotel, in Paris, on September 20, 2022.

In the courtyard of the Hôtel Matignon, around twenty children, dressed in orange vests and yellow helmets, pedal around the colored studs laid out on the pavement, indifferent to the golds of the Republic and the serious discussions of the great people. Among them, no less than six ministers, including the first of them, bend down to their height and ask them rather easy questions: “Do you know how to ride a bike? », “When did you learn? »

A few minutes later, Clément Beaune (transport), Christophe Béchu (ecological transition), Sarah El Haïry (youth), Roland Lescure (industry), Amélie Oudéa-Castéra (sports), and the head of government Elisabeth Borne give the students Jouy-le-Moutier (Val-d'Oise), Pradet and Collobrières (Var), their diploma from "Know how to ride a bike". They have learned to pedal, manage in traffic and know the rules.

At Matignon, Tuesday September 20, Elisabeth Borne wanted to personally announce a new "bike plan"four years later the one launched in September 2018 by his predecessor Edouard Philippe. She was then "only" Minister of Transport and had supervised the development of this program. "We wanted to be a 'bike nation'"she recalls today in the court of Matignon.

Read also: How the bicycle becomes the winning asset of medium-sized cities

This commitment is old. At the end of 2017, when it concluded the "Assises de la Mobilité", a consultation intended to encourage the "everyday mobility"Elisabeth Borne had surprised the actors of public transport by proclaiming: “We have to stop looking at the bike with condescension, considering that it is a minor subject. »

In addition to the development of "Knowing how to ride a bike", which has already benefited 180,000 children and which should concern 800,000 each year, the "bike plan" has a budget of 250 million euros for 2023. This sum is added to the 900 million invested since 2018, according to Matignon, in the form of funds paid to communities, support for local investment and energy saving certificates financed by polluting companies.

A lack of human resources

However, this amount of 250 million euros would not be as exceptional as it seems, according to Sébastien Marrec, researcher in planning and urban planning. “In 2022, by integrating the funds from the recovery plan, the total investments have undoubtedly already reached this order of magnitude. In Italy, the budget is equivalent and the United Kingdom, under Boris Johnson, has invested 2 billion pounds [2,3 milliards d’euros] in 2020 »observes the specialist.

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