New road safety campaign for cyclists announced in France

As more people use bikes as a mode of transport in France, the numbers of cycling accidents are also going up - but a new campaign is aiming to change this.

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The campaign, called Vivre Ensemble (Live Together), was launched today (Friday September 25) by government road safety body Sécurité routière. It aims to improve cycling safety practices among drivers and cyclists.

National cycling organisation Vélo et Territoires has found that From May 11 (the start of deconfinement in France), to September 13, there was a 30% increase in bike use compared to the previous year. However, figures show that accidents and deaths from cycling are also going up.

Camille Thomé, director of Vélo et Territoires said: “Many new cyclists feel safe on planned cycle routes, but have not absorbed the highway code, and don’t necessarily have driving licences.”

The campaign advises that bike riders:

  • Check their brakes, lights and bell are in good working order
  • Plan a route in advance that makes use of cycling lanes
  • Wear a helmet, light coloured clothing and a high-visibility jacket
  • Refrain from using headphones while cycling
  • Refrain from cycling after drinking more than the legal alcohol limit
  • Indicate with an arm before changing direction
  • Cycle in single file, rather than side by side
  • Avoid stopping in blind spots
  • Stay as far right as possible when going around bends

Recommended safety rules for cyclists in France (Image: Vivre Emsemble / Sécutité routière)

The tagline for the new campaign is: Attention à velo, attention aux vélos (look out on your bike, look out for bikes). As part of the campaign, large messages reminding road-users of cycle-safety rules will be placed on buses and bus shelters throughout France.

Bike use, and bike accidents, increasing

In the past 12 months, transport strikes and the health crisis have spurred a large increase in cycling in France.

Figures from Vélo et Territoires - which collected the data using counting terminals installed throughout France - show that from May 11 (the start of deconfinement) to September 13, there was a 30% increase in bike use compared with the same period in 2019, and a 20% increase on bike use from 2013-2018.

These figures represent all areas of France. Bike use is up 34% in urban areas, 20% in suburbs and 19% in rural areas. There has been a particularly rise in large cities - notably in Paris, where use is up 72%.

As numbers of cyclists have increased, cycling-related accidents have too.

Since the beginning of 2020, 123 cyclists have been killed on France, with 29 deaths happening in July. Figures from Sécurité routière show this is 29 fewer deaths overall than the same period in 2019. However, for two months of 2020, people in France were confined to their homes.

In July and August this year, over 1,566 cycling injuries were recorded in France, around 15% more than in the same period last year.

In the wider context, since 2010 mortality rates for cyclists have risen 27%, while rates for road users overall have fallen 19%.

Marie Gautier-Melleray, interministerial delegate for Sécurité routière concluded: “The figures from 2020, since coming out of confinement, are a little worrying.”

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