The bicycle, an essential object on the political scene

The symbol is far from trivial, the Ministry of Economy and Finance welcomed 200 economic and institutional actors working for the development ofeconomy of the cycle. And no less than five ministers came to support – and claim – this national ambition on the bike.

To try to fully understand the politics and the bike, it is necessary to go back a few years. We know that the governments of the Emmanuel Macron era have chained successive bicycle plans. The first was presented in September 2018 by Edouard Philippe, then Prime Minister. Angers was the scene of these announcements. The allocated budget was 350 million euros, spread over 7 years, with the objective of tripling the modal share of cycling by 2024. Of course, the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Paris served as the focal point.

In the meantime, the Covid has been there, somewhat slowing down the progress of the plan, but accelerating awareness of the relevance of the bicycle as a mode of transport. It should be remembered that in May 2020, when wearing a mask was compulsory even in the street, riding a bicycle exempted it. In other words, the bicycle was then considered as a barrier gesture. The scorching summer and the energy crisis of the last few months have convinced our politicians: the bicycle does indeed have a set of virtues that must be seized.

A fully-fledged economy

The overall cycling economy in France generated 30 billion euros in economic benefits in 2019, including 7 billion euros in health benefits. In 2021, while 2.8 million bicycles were sold, the estimated turnover for the industry and trade sector amounted to 3.4 billion in 2021, to which must be added the 4.2 billion direct benefits related to cycle tourism.

To promote further growth linked to the relocation of the cycle industry as well as to the progression of cycling “safe for all uses”, and therefore to definitively establish the bicycle in the political landscape, these first states general largely take up the 63 proposals of a report then commissioned by Jean Castex from the deputy Guillaume Gouffier-Cha. This “Inventory of the economic sector of cycling in France” had been made public in February 2022.

Ministries and ambitions

The five ministers therefore took turns speaking on this subject. Roland Lescure, Minister Delegate for Industry; Clément Beaune Minister Delegate for Transport; Christophe Béchu Minister for Ecological Transition and Territorial Cohesion; Amélie Oudéa-Castera Minister of Sports and the Olympic and Paralympic Games; and Sarah El Hairy Secretary of State for Youth.

Roland Lescure dreams of a bike 100% made in France, eco-designed, which would remain ” popular “ (read: financially affordable). Clément Beaune is delighted that the bicycle is no longer anecdotal in government discussions. It wishes for better multimodality and supports the creation of the professional cyclology sector.

Sports Minister Amélie Oudéa-Castera reminds us of all the international sporting events coming to France – starting with the UCI Track Champions League, which will be held at the Vélodrome National de Saint-Quentin en Yvelines from this Friday 25 November 2022. She hopes that these events will be sources of inspiration for our fellow citizens. “Fun to ride! Dreams of Victories ». For her part, Sarah El Hairy proposes to facilitate the implementation of the Savoir Rouler à Vélo program, and shows the ambition that all children know how to pedal in an open environment, before they reach college.

As for Christophe Béchu, he recalled, not without malice, that in September 2018, wearing his scarf as mayor of Angers, he welcomed Edouard Philippe who came to present the first Cycling Plan. The Minister for the Ecological Transition also underlined the fact that in four years, the envelope of the first bicycle plan has been spent on various projects (even if the objective of 12% of bicycle modal share is postponed to 2030). He also mentioned the announcement made on September 20 by Elisabeth Borne of a new envelope of 250 million euros to boost the use of bicycles. The Prime Minister will also chair an inter-ministerial committee dedicated specifically to this subject on December 2. The bike seems to be definitely on track.

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