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France embraces #RestartCycleTourism with record cycling usage this summer

Thursday, September 10, 2020
The country witnessed record number of cyclists after the tough ‘confinement’ period. Now, the latest data confirms that EuroVelo and cycling tourism have been a big part of summer and recreational activities.

Since launching our #RestartCycleTourism campaign back in June, we have tracked more than a dozen initiatives to boost cycling tourism on the national level throughout Europe. In addition, we have received tremendous support on social media with cyclists sharing their experience using the #RestartCycleTourism hashtag. And now, the latest bulletins from France only reaffirm that people have heeded our call to go cycling around Europe this summer.

Following the lifting of the lockdown, French cycling associations reunited under #JeVoyageAVelo to promote their national cycling network. Since then, our French National Coordination Centre, Vélo & Territoires, has been closely monitoring cycling usage by collecting sample data from nationally distributed counters and publishing the results in bi-monthly bulletins. This includes data gathered on the ten EuroVelo routes that cross the country. Here are the main takeaways so far.

Weekly evolution of the number of bicycle passages in France (since 1 January 2020)

+29% bicycle passages post-lockdown (7% yearly increase)

It is impressive how many of the French population started pedaling after the lockdown. The latest estimates show that there was a 29% increase nationwide in bicycle passages between 11 May and 30 August compared to the same period in 2019. This is a massive recovery from the 72% decrease during the lockdown period. The biggest contributor to the post-lockdown success has been the increase in urban bicycle usage. This is not entirely unexpected as reported in this previous study: the bicycle has made big strides with French urban commuters in the last decade. Big cities like Paris and Lyon have also rapidly implemented temporary and/or permanent cycling lanes during the pandemic. Overall, this record cycling usage has turned a negative national average into a positive one in comparison to the previous year.

Breakdown of the number of bicycle passages per territory in France (since 1 January 2020)

+31% bicycle trips on EuroVelo routes post-lockdown (9% yearly increase)

Almost 10% of the total length of the EuroVelo network is located in France. And the country has already developed about 92% of these itineraries. The findings in the post-lockdown bulletins show that the number of bicycle trips solely on EuroVelo routes is actually above the national average. Interestingly, the increase in bicycle usage is higher in proportion during the weekends and the summer break. These observations confirm that EuroVelo and cycling tourism have been a big part of summer and recreational activities. While increased usage in urban settings has been attributed to raising the national average, cycling tourism was identified as dispersing tourism flows and increasing the average in suburban and rural areas. Vélo & Territoires will continue publishing new bulletins on this page. We highly encourage you to read these for further updates.

Weekly evolution of the number of bicycle trips on EuroVelo routes in France (since 1 January 2020)

As shown by these findings, the transition between the pre- and post-lockdown world has resulted in positive effects for cycling in France. This summer’s #RestartCycleTourism coverage has proven this statement to be true even at the wider European level. In a sense, it is comforting to know that you can rely on cycling as a healthy and protective transport measure in these uncertain times. And if you still need further convincing, we might have ten reasons for you to sign up.

Cover photo: Demarrage LTMA

Author(s): Omer Malak