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Meet the pro-ecology company where (most) workers arrive by bike

Promoting the environment is in the ‘company’s DNA’ say employees as Europe celebrates European Mobility Week

A young businesswoman cycles to work across a bridge

The employees of a small French consultancy firm cycle to work year round, not just for European mobility week Pic: Alex Yuzhakov / Shutterstock

Most of the employees of a small company in eastern France cycle to work, and for those who do not, there are charging points for electric cars and access to a car-sharing system.

Engineering consultancy firm Opale, based in Gennes, Doubs, specialises in renewable energy projects, which means that environmentally friendly transport is a key part of its identity.

Jean-Pierre Laurent, Opale’s chief executive, has used an electric bike to commute to work for the past three years. He told France 3 “it’s a bit of exercise, I will be active all day but this is a moment that is just for me and I want to spend it outside”.

Laurent Weber, an engineer at the company, said “there are quite a few of us who cycle to work several times a week. I personally cycle to work three times a week and it’s important for us. It’s one of the company’s key values, something that we would like to see others do as well”.

However, Mr Laurent said that although ‘soft mobility’ is “written into the company’s DNA,” he does not want to be seen as preaching eco-responsibility.

Read also: French cycling: France's historical passion for the bicycle

European mobility week

The story of Opale and its employees’ commute comes midway through European mobility week, which in 2023 runs from September 16-23. 

The weeklong initiative on the theme of saving energy, supported by the European Commission, has taken place every year from 2002 and aims to promote sustainable urban mobility. 

According to the initiative’s website, 2,822 cities are taking part this year across 43 countries.

The initiative’s website says 68 cities across France are taking part with various activities organised to encourage sustainable transport. In Nice, Alpes Maritimes, for example, Thursday (September 21) is bicycle day, and on Friday (September 22) “sustainable transport flat rates” will be in place. 

In Strasbourg, Sunday (September 24) has been declared a ‘car-free’ day, with the Avenue du Rhin closed to traffic. 

Read also

Cycling in France: Bike festivals and where to cycle this summer

Tour de France will end in Nice in 2024

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