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French MPs back more cycling aid including for electric bikes

Extra help to be available to anyone looking to buy an eco-friendly electric bicycle after politicians vote unanimously for additions to major environment bill

MPs have voted unanimously in favour of a series of measures to encourage people to buy eco-friendly bicycles for daily use as part of the new Climate Bill - after they had been notably absent from the initial draft of the bill.

The amendments include incentives for anyone who, perhaps, wants to swap a more polluting vehicle for an electric bike, similar to the bonus for swapping an older car for an electric or hybrid vehicle.

The Covid pandemic has prompted millions to reconsider their lifestyles. The bicycle market jumped in 2020 by 25% in just one year, propelled by the Covid crisis and government measures, according to Union Sport & Cycle, which represents the sector. 

While the number of traditional bikes sold has remained stable at 2.6million, turnover has exceeded €3billion, boosted by sales of electric bikes, which cost, on average, €2,079 each.

Thousands more dug out their old cycles and used them to get around, rather than use public transport, prompting authorities to create new cycle lanes in towns and cities across the country - while a multimillion-euro bike repair scheme has proved a huge success.


Read more: France lockdown: Can I cycle to the shops 10km away?

During the first reading examination of the climate bill , Minister for the Ecological Transition Barbara Pompili defended a "package of aid" for cycling, which is "booming" after the first lockdown period last March.

In addition to extending the conversion bonus "to people wishing to replace an old polluting vehicle with an electrically-assisted bicycle", a government amendment provides for a "bicycle bonus" in particular for "the purchase of more expensive cargo bikes - which allow much more varied uses," the Minister said. 

Amendments to include measures related to bicycles were hurriedly added after MPs from all parties put their names to an open letter in Liberation in March criticising their absence.

One in every five bicycles now sold in France is electrically assisted, according to Union Sport & Cycle. More than 500,000 new electric bikes hit the streets in 2020 - a year-on-year rise in sales of 29%.

Read more: 7 facts you didn't know about cycling in France

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