Since the deconfinement, the bicycle has been celebrating. In France, between May 11 and May 31, 2020, its use increased by 87% compared to the period from January 1 to March 17, and by 28% compared to the same three weeks in May last year, according to figures from the Vélo et tradition association, published this Wednesday on the occasion of World Bike Day, and which we are revealing to you exclusively. This means that the French have started to pedal!

>> To see, our program Elémént Terre: "Déconfinement, tous à vélo?"

The reason is quite simple: the bicycle appears to be a good alternative to public transport, which many French people still prefer to avoid for health reasons linked to the Covid-19. An economical, safe and ecological means of transport, the bicycle has everything to please. In Paris, the phenomenon is even more marked, since the association notes a 54% increase in use between 11 and 31 May compared to the same period last year.

Financial incentives

If it has been accelerating for three weeks, this enthusiasm for cycling, has already started a few years ago, pushed by the government which, in 2018, presented a bicycle plan endowed with 350 million euros, in particular to develop the tracks bicycles. In April, the authorities added an emergency plan for the bicycle, whose budget has just been tripled to 60 million euros to push the French to get back to cycles, through training, or a boost of 50 euros to have his old bike repaired.

Local authorities are not left behind and also offer financial assistance, such as a bonus for the purchase of an electrically assisted bicycle of up to 500 euros, or even 600 euros. With the coronavirus crisis, many communities have also hastily traced new cycle paths, the "coronapists".

For their part, specialized shops rub their hands. The queues in front of repair shops keep growing. At one of them, in the east of Paris, you must now wait no less than ten weeks to get an appointment ... As for sales, they are also exploding, notes an official at Union Sport and cycle, which represents the profession.

The electric bike is on the rise

If it is too early to know the figures for the whole sector, at the Decathlon brand, there are four times more requests than last year, especially for electric bikes, the stars of the moment. At Cycle Lab, which brings together independent sellers, attendance has increased by 60% since May 11.

Already last year, the turnover of specialized stores had increased by 12%, thanks to more expensive bikes bought, in particular the electric bikes.

And this trend is confirmed throughout Europe, it is even more important in Belgium or Germany, where three times more electric bikes were sold in 2019 than in France.

Will this enthusiasm for cycling last? Professionals and users are already pushing for temporary bicycle paths to be made permanent by communities beyond this period of health crisis. The objective of going from 3% to 9% of bicycle use by 2024, set by the government, could then seem achievable.

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