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Cycling in France - statistics & facts

France, a signatory of the 2015 Paris Agreement, has committed to move towards carbon neutrality within a few decades. To achieve this, the French government aims to promote environmentally friendly travel. Transport is the source of more than 20 percent of carbon dioxide emissions. France wants to develop its transportation offers such as a tramway in Nantes, metro in Rennes and an overall transportation structure in the capital, supported by the Grand Paris project. However, it is the bicycle that is gaining increasing popularity, with its CO2 emissions close to zero.

COVID-19, a springboard for cycling?

The COVID-19 epidemic has led to the implementation of social distancing measures in France and the bicycle is a means of transport that responds to these new constraints. Naturally, it is in urban areas where cycling is making the most progress, with a 31 percent increase in 2020 (excluding the confinement period). Also in Paris, residents have flocked to Vélib', a bike-sharing service, with use exploding following the deconfinement of May 2020. The electric-assisted bicycle has also reconciled many French people with the practice of cycling. Even if it is more expensive than a conventional bike, e-bike sales have still skyrocketed in recent years.

Cities, the main promoter of cycling

The French government has allocated each citizen around 5 euros in 2020 to get his or her bicycle back in working order. However, investments and operating costs related to cycling are mainly supported by cities. As they are responsible for the roads on their territory, the development of bicycle paths therefore depends on the policy of municipalities in France. Among the large French cities, Strasbourg had the highest ratio of bicycle path per inhabitant, seven times higher than in Nice.

Bike safety

The popularity of cycling is leading to an increasingly intense cohabitation with other modes of transport and thus to more and more frequent risks of traffic accidents, with the number of fatalities rising steadily between 2015 and 2019. Bicycle-car cohabitation can be dangerous, especially for cyclists. In 2020, in 64 percent of all cyclist fatalities, the accident was due to a collision with a car. But although bicycle-car cohabitation mostly occurs in urban areas, nearly half of the fatal accidents were rural. To reduce the risk, the French government planned to allocate an annual budget for the development and construction of bicycle lanes dedicated solely to cycling.
Between 300,000 and 330,000 bicycles were stolen per year during 2014 to 2018. Overall, the French are rather dissatisfied with the theft situation in France. Nearly 60 percent of cyclists said in 2019 that bicycle theft was common in their city.


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