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Six in ten users of pop-up bike lanes in Paris are new to cycling, says city’s government

Majority of French capital’s residents want the temporary infrastructure, which has encouraged particularly strong growth in the number of women cycling, to be made permanent

New cyclists account for almost six in ten users of pop-up cycle lanes in Paris, installed first in response to a public transport strike last winter with the network subsequently enlarged due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to figures from the city’s government.

The temporary cycle lanes, many of them on key roads in the heart of the French capital, including Rue de Rivoli as shown in the video below, and other policies aimed at reducing car dependency and fighting climate change, became a key battleground in Mayor Anne Hidalgo’s successful campaign for re-election last year.

> Parisians keep cycling following transport strikes as mayor pledges 100 per cent bike friendly city

According to a report from the Ile de France department, the Hotel de Ville – Paris’s equivalent of London’s City Hall – undertook a study to better understand who is using the new bike lanes. It found that 42 per cent of the cyclists interviewed at 12 different locations within the city were already riding there, prior to December 2019.

Some 14 per cent began cycling during the public transport strike of December 2019 and January 2020, before the first cases of coronavirus in France.

The study also revealed that prior to the pop-up bike lanes being put in place, women made up 36 per cent of cyclists in Paris, which has now risen to 41 per cent.

The proportion of women among new cyclists will therefore, by implication, be even higher – and as studies around the world, including the UK, have consistently shown, perception of danger is one of the biggest barriers to getting more women cycling, and providing safe infrastructure is regularly near the top of the wish list of those who would like to ride bikes.

In terms of socio-professional classification, most new cyclists are employees, or members of “intermediate professions” – spanning a range of jobs from teachers to photographers and insurance brokers – and 86 per cent used public transport before lockdown.

Meanwhile, 87 per cent of cyclists said they were happy with the cycle lanes realised to date, with their most favoured aspects of them being the speed and fluidity of bike traffic that they allow, as well as the greater feeling of safety they provide.

According to a survey commissioned by Réseau Action Climat and conducted last August, 62 per cent of residents of Grand Paris – the wider metropolitan area with a population of more than 7 million people – favour temporary cycle lanes being made permanent, something Hidalgo committed to last year.

Support for keeping the pop-up lanes was greater among those living outside the city’s Boulevard périphérique ring road, at 64 per cent.

There was particularly strong support for keeping the cycle lanes from respondents aged 18-35, some 68 per cent of whom across Grand Paris as a whole want to see the pop-up lanes made permanent.

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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