Bordeaux unveils emergency cycling plan to combat COVID-19

Author: Florent Coignac

Florent Coignac, Head of Active Modes, Bordeaux Métropole, explains the cycling measures introduced by the city due to COVID-19. The French city is one of ten “Future Cycling Capitals” within Handshake.

In Bordeaux Métropole (France), our local policymakers and administration have developed an emergency cycling plan that responds to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and social distancing requirements. The measures it outlines should help ensure that our cycling infrastructure can accommodate any potential wave of new cyclists. NGOs working to promote cycling and cycling service operators helped develop it.

We want to entice people who would not normally cycle to do so, particularly those who regularly use public transport. The plan focuses on 100 priority “zones” within the metropolitan area that have a high potential for cycling but currently lack the appropriate infrastructure. In total, we are building 78km of temporary bike lanes. In the city of Bordeaux itself, there are 40 zones and 23km of cycle lanes.

See the network map for the Bordeaux metropolitan area here and the city of Bordeaux here.

COVID-19 cycle network - Bordeaux Metropolitan Area

Image by: Bordeaux Métropole

COVID-19 cycle network - city of Bordeaux

Image by: Bordeaux Métropole

To create this new network, lanes previously meant for other modes are being reassigned as bike lanes or shared with bikes, for instance bus lanes. At the same time, existing bike lanes are being widened and new ones created. To boost safety, we are introducing low-speed zones and changing some two-way streets into one-way streets. By September 2020, 1,000 new bike parking spaces will have been introduced in the city.

Temporary bike parking facilities

Image by: © Vélo-Cité

The support provided goes beyond infrastructure. A dedicated fleet of 1,000 bikes will be available for students to rent from October, whilst Bordeaux Métropole is adding 200 bikes to its own fleet of e-bikes for hire.

For people wanting to buy their own e-bike, Bordeaux has decided to match the €50 incentive offered by the French government to do so. In addition, free-floating bike-sharing schemes run by private companies can now operate within a larger geographical area.

All activities mentioned above are in progress, with the ultimate aim to complete them all by September. Their impact will be measured by conducting surveys and assessing the figures collected from cycle counters in the city. Depending on the results, many so-called temporary actions could become permanent.

Although COVID-19 has left Bordeaux and much of the world in a horrific situation, there may be a couple of small, unexpected benefits: the accelerated development of cycling infrastructure and more people biking in our city.

Image by: Bordeaux Métropole

This project has received funding from the European Union‘s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme under grant agreement no 769177.

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