In Paris and in the suburbs, the transport strike gives pride of place to bikes. The major disruptions on the SNCF and RATP networks since December 5 have prompted residents of Ile-de-France to equip themselves and pedal.

"Almost as many bikes as cars circulate in Paris," remarked on Twitter the Paris City Hall, Tuesday, December 17, in the middle of the afternoon, taking the example of Boulevard Voltaire, in the 11th arrondissement of the capital.

Currently, almost as many bikes as cars circulate in Paris. Example bd Voltaire:
- 9/12: 9,594 bikes, 11,673 cars
- 10/12: 12077 bikes, 12788 cars
- 11/12: 11,658 bikes, 12,186 cars
- 12/12: 10,750 bikes, 10,906 cars
- 13/12: 11,612 bikes, 12,886 cars

- Paris (@Paris) December 17, 2019

From one week to another, the census of cyclists is final: the use of bikes has exploded since the start of the strike. On the 36 sites evaluated by the city of Paris, the number of bicycles increased by 104%: 89,095 cyclists on Wednesday December 4, the day before the strike, against 182,098 on December 11.

These new modes of travel, bikes and scooters, however did not wait for the strike to prevail. "We had already seen, before the strike, an increase in the number of cycle facilities (of the order of + 54% between September 2018 and September 2019)", explains Christophe Najdovski, deputy at the Paris City Hall, in charge of transport. The latter mentions in particular the improvement of the infrastructures dedicated to cyclists. Improvements which, according to him, "confirm the adage: 'make cycle paths you will have cyclists, make roads and you will have motorists'".

"People will remain cyclists"

Above this cyclist "boom", the strike gave rise to an "exceptional situation", enthuses Alexis Frémeaux, president of the association Better Travel on Bicycles (MDB). "The use of bicycles is multiplied by two or even 2.5 on certain axes compared to the frequentation usually recorded". This is for example the case on the boulevard Ménilmontant, the quai d'Orsay, or the quai de Grenelle which saw the passage of bikes increase by more than 200% a week after the start of the strike, according to figures from Paris city hall.

🚀Thursday, the #Paris bike paths had the highest attendance ever recorded.
✅4 cycle paths have exceeded 10,000 passages
✅On average, ➕ 175%
✅Top 3 increases on #REVe:
Quai d'Orsay: ➕514%
Quai de Grenelle: ➕ 332%
VGP 16th: ➕ 275%

- Christophe Najdovski (@C_Najdovski) December 12, 2019

But what will happen when the strike ends? Alexis Frémeaux says he is "certain" that the increasing use of the bicycle will last. "People who started cycling, forced and forced by the lack of public transport, will remain cyclists because they will experience a means of transport that is fast, reliable and pleasant", put he, recalling the memory of the 1995 strike, during which the bicycle made its first comeback with fanfare.

At the end of this strike, although some people remained faithful to their bicycles, most of them had nevertheless resumed their old habits, demotivated by urban infrastructures insufficiently adapted to cycling mobility. Today, the infrastructures have evolved, which allows those in favor of cycling trips to envisage an extension in time of this "cycling revolution".

"In Paris, great progress has been made, especially in the past two years with the inauguration of numerous protected cycle paths," remarks Alexis Frémeaux, who however deplores a more difficult situation in the suburbs. "At association level, we are advocating for a 'RER V' (like a bicycle)," he adds. A claim aimed at developing more protected, secure and continuous cycling facilities, making it possible to circulate from the suburbs to Paris (and vice versa), but also to facilitate journeys from suburbs to suburbs.

The security challenge

The development of these modes of mobility also requires giving more protected spaces to people who are on bikes and scooters so that they can move around safely. Since the start of the strike, accidents involving two-wheelers (scooters, scooters and bicycles) have increased by 40% in Paris since the start of the strike, according to the Paris fire brigade (BSPP).

"This is obviously linked to strikes," said his spokesman, Lieutenant-Colonel Gabriel Plus. "There is a lot more traffic and inexperienced and ill-equipped people move around by bicycle or by other means."

On this point, Alexis Frémeaux tempers. "Traffic has doubled, and accidents have increased by 'only' 40%: in absolute terms, there are more accidents because there are more people traveling," he explains, "but proportionally, that means fewer accidents. "

To minimize the risk of accidents, it will necessarily be necessary to adapt the road to ensure the safety of all users. The president of MDB considers it essential to set up tracks wide enough to accommodate all these new users, bikes but also scooters. "In this period of strike, there are still no traffic jams on the tracks, but we find ourselves in situations where the bike paths are reaching the limits of their capacity," he argues. A capacity sometimes even exceeded, cyclists having indeed found themselves on saturated cycle paths.

The city of Paris has, in recent years, invested considerably in the development of infrastructure for cyclists. Decisions that regularly arouse the anger of motorists. In 2019, more than 70 million euros were committed for the creation of new bicycle paths and additional bicycle parking spaces. Anne Hidalgo also displays the desire to make Paris the "world capital of cycling".

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