Yes we can!

Report by Jérémie Almosni, head of ADEME’s transport and mobility department, Mathieu chassignet, expert in sustainable mobility, Véronique Michaud, general secretary of the Club des Villes et Territoires and Olivier Schneider, president of the French Federation of Bicycle Users ( FUB).

The following is a lightly edited machine translation of this paper which appears under the title  ‘’Multiplier l’usage du vélo par 4 en 2024, c’est possible !‘’ and is freely available to all here.

France wants to significantly increase the share of cycling in daily travel. It is committed to hosting the Olympic Games in 2024 and in support of  the Long-term National Strategy for the Development of Clean Mobility by 2030.

Setting an ambitious course is not new, and our delay relative  to  our high performing European neighbors is indisputable. However at a time when the threat of heavy European sanctions on our country for non-compliance with the commitment to reduce air pollution, we must go from saying to doing. Is this realistic in the short time available? The answer is yes – yes if we start in 2019 with three concrete and effective measures whose combined effects make it possible to keep these promises at a reasonable cost for the State. A big, sincere and properly financed national bike plan is therefore more necessary than ever.

Multiplying by 4 means increasing the modal share of cycling from 2.5% to 10%, a gain of 7.5 points. The simultaneous implementation, in 2019, of three large-scale actions called for by the French Federation of Bicycle Users, the Club of Cycling Cities and Regions, and many cycling stakeholders, makes it possible to achieve this goal!

The aim is to create a National Cycling Fund to accelerate the implementation of cycling infrastructures previously financed by local authorities and to improve two systems in place to enable them to fully realize their potential: the generalization of the kilometric allowance bike (IKV) to all public and private employers and the reinstatement of aid for the purchase of attractive e-bikes.


Funded  with 200 million euros per year, it would make it possible to finance cycling infrastructure alongside local communities by giving priority to sparsely populated areas, implementing new sections intended to resolve geographical or modal discontinuities and to deploying massive bike parking at rail stations. The impact of this measure can be estimated at between 12% and 18% growth per year, in view of the changes observed in the agglomerations that have improved their cycling network. The budget they devote to this policy represents 10 euros per year per capita, the amount recommended by the Club of Cities and Cycling Areas. A national bike fund with 200 million euros per year represents 3 euros per French citizen per year. Given that the average amount allocated to cycling policy by French authorities in 2016 was € 7.7 per inhabitant per year, the Cycling Fund will make it possible to reach the threshold of € 10, or even significantly exceed it, taking into account the a possible leverage effect of the aid, the Fund financing only part of the projects.

Starting from the low assumption of + 12% growth and considering that the effect of the Cycling Fund will be similar in national average to what we observe in these agglomerations, we obtain a doubling of the practice in 2024.


( IKV: Bonus paid by enterprises to employees commuting by bike)

The idea  is to make the IKV mandatory for all employers as proposed in the report submitted to the Minister Elisabeth Borne on December 20, 2017, “For a generalization of the Compensation Kilometric Bike”, written by a group of experts and representatives of associations organized by the Parliamentary Deputy Matthieu Orphelin. This initiative would make it possible, all other things being equal, to double the number of employees traveling to work by bicycle. This estimate is based on the results of the two experiments conducted by ADEME in 2014 and 2015, together with a panel of volunteer companies.

In the event that the ceiling of the IKV would be increased to 35 euros per month (vs. 200 euros per year for the current IKV), the cost for the State of this generalization amounts to 190 million euros. In addition, the increase in the level of physical activity resulting from this measure represents a saving in health expenditure of 115 million euros per year. The net cost would therefore be of the order of 75 million euros.


The ‘VAE’ ( “aide à l’achat de vélos à assistance électrique)” — financial support to reduce purchase prices of electrically assisted bikes), implemented between February 2017 and January 2018, made it possible to reach a total of 255,000 sales in 2017, an increase of 90% compared to 2016. The reintroduction, from 2019, a truly attractive purchase aid would reach 821,000 units in 2023. In comparison, VAE sales reached 720,000 units in Germany last year (+ 20% compared with 2016) and they will certainly exceed one million before 2023. In Belgium, the number of pedelecs sold compared to the population is even more important, with twice the sales in Germany.

In total, we would reach 3.2 million VAE circulating late 2023. These would allow their owners to achieve 1.4 billion trips in 2024 or 2.2% of trips made by the French each year. The cost to the State of the VAE bonus would be 115 million euros per year on average.


The cost of this public policy driving the three flagship measures is 500 million euros per year, or 2.5 billion euros over 5 years. It is estimated that on the order of  335 million euros are  needed to gain each point of modal share bike. For example, this sum corresponds to the financing of 50 km of motorway or 20 km of high-speed line. Moreover, we are far, far away, the costs of public policies to gain a share of modal share in public transport or the use of the electric car. And when it comes to cycling that puts people back in motion, the indirect savings associated with avoided health expenditures should be subtracted. In the case of IKV, these savings reach 60% of the direct cost for the State.

The French are ready to pedal more. 113,000 responded to the national “Let’s Talk Bikes” national consultation organized by the FUB in 2017. 80% of respondents (and 85% of respondents) placed high expectations of quality separate development and therefore more investment. It is also to a complete and coherent bike system that they aspire.

France is not a good pupil in Europe if judged by non-compliance with air quality standards; it ranks 20th out of 28 countries in terms of daily use of the bicycle by its inhabitants. The lack of a national bike strategy explains this poor result … and does nothing tohelp to improve the air quality.

To catch up with the best, our country can operate these three cycling measures simultaneously, which would be a first in Europe, and this as early as 2019. The draft law of orientation of mobilities and the great bicycle plan announced must be given the means. Without delay !

# # #

About the authors:

Jérémie ALMOSNI, head of ADEME’s transport and mobility department, Mathieu CHASSIGNET, expert in sustainable mobility, Véronique MICHAUD, general secretary of the Club des Villes et Territoires cycle and Olivier SCHNEIDER, president of the French Federation of Bicycle Users ( FUB).

Program contact:

Perrine BURNER, Chargée de communication FUB   Tél : 03 88 76 70 86

# # #

About the editor:

Eric Britton
13, rue Pasteur. Courbevoie 92400 France

Bio: Founding editor of World Streets (1988), Eric Britton is an American political scientist, teacher, occasional consultant, and sustainability activist who has observed, learned, taught and worked on missions and advisory assignments on all continents. In the autumn of 2019, he committed his remaining life work to the challenges of aggressively countering climate change and specifically greenhouse gas emissions emanating from the mobility sector. He is not worried about running out of work. Further background and updates: @ericbritton | | #fekbritton | | and | Contact: | +336 508 80787 (Also WhatApp) | Skype: newmobility.)

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