France stimulates bicycle use as a resource against smog

To ride a bicycle is entertaining, it is good for health and for the quality of the air we breath. For all these reasons, French government decided to stimulate bicycle use through an ambitious plan: reaching with the two-wheeled vehicles a quarter of all transports within 2020.

In these last few days we have had news of the announcement made by Ministry of Ecology Ségolène Royal: Parisians who go to work by bicycle will get a payoff to the amount of 25 cents per kilometre. Minister specified that the payoff will be not carried out by the government directly, but will be paid out by the employers, subject to an agreement with the government; they are also going to be responsible for verifying the actual bicycle use by their own employee. The amount, the Minister assures, will be exempted from any tax, regarding both employees and employers.

The idea of paying those who go to work by bicycle has been tested before. In fact since June 2014, for six months in France a test proposed to eight thousand people gave very good results: during the trial period the home-work route by bicycle increased by almost 50%, with a distance average which exceeds five kilometres. Specialists estimate the new reform will make Parisians daily using bicycles for five kilometres earn an extra amount of 50 euro monthly. But according to specialists, the profit will increase, since there also will be savings regarding fuel expenses and car services.

From beyond the Alps another bike friendly initiative comes: be allowed to

run the red light if riding a bicycle. In fact, after Germany and Holland, France is also testing the opportunity of running a red light at a crossing with bicycles. Obviously some safety norms would be needed to be respected. Practically at the crossings it will be necessary just respect the special triangular signs with a yellow bike and the arrow showing what to do. It is not allowed to cyclers to run a red light if there are not signs and even when they are in place, extreme caution and attention are required. This road precaution has been tested in some French city with excellent results. In fact, everywhere it came into force, it did not become a problem for drivers and it did not entail an increase of road accidents.