Cyclists could get up to €700 off the price of an electric bike as the government has launched a two-year push to get people out of their cars and cycling more.
It is giving a grant of 20% (up to €200) of the cost to e-bike buyers which can be added to the aid already offered by several dozen towns and cities across France. In some cases this amounts to €500.
The move is part of a bid to cut pollution and the bonus is for electric bikes bought between February 16, 2016 and January 31, 2018.
It will help cut the cost of e-bikes that can cost from €600 to €5,000 but does not mean buyers will get a €600 e-bike for free. Local council aid is based on a percentage of the buying price – the Plaine de l’Ain communes in Rhône-Alpes offer €500 up to a maximum of 30% of the price.
However, with local budgets under pressure, the government’s move may mean that councils will decide that there is less need for them to offer extra cash.
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Electric bikes have been increasingly common in towns and cities across the country as they help take the puff out of pedalling – jumping from 3,900 bikes sold in 2005 to 100,000 in 2015 (when nearly three million bikes sold in total).
Cycling-friendly policies have also helped with many towns installing cycle lanes and setting up 30kph town-centre zones. This has helped Grenoble to reach 59% of road available to cyclists and the town of Sceaux in Hauts-de-Seine is in top spot, with 94% of its roads cycle-friendly.
A new government website (in French) has been set up by the Agence de Services et de Paiement to process applications for reimbursement for e-bikes bought over the past year.
Although cycle helmets are not compulsory for adults in France, they are now compulsory for under-12s and adults accompanying a helmetless child will face a €135 fine, reduced to €90 if paid in 15 days.