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Bicycle Use in Toulouse, Midi-Pyrénées, France: A Precar...

Bicycle Use in Toulouse, Midi-Pyrénées, France: A Precarious Future?

Is the number of people who use the bicycle as a form of transportation becoming larger and larger in the Toulouse metropolitan area? It would appear so based on reading the figures gathered and published by two local bike advocacy groups: Apave in the city of Blagnac and 2 Pieds 2 Roues (2 Feet 2

A bicycle festival in downtown Toulouse, France

Is the number of people who use the bicycle as a form of transportation becoming larger and larger in the Toulouse metropolitan area? It would appear so based on reading the figures gathered and published by two local bike advocacy groups: Apave in the city of Blagnac and 2 Pieds 2 Roues (2 Feet 2 Wheels) in Toulouse.

A 20% Increase In One Year?

According to these statements (which the aforementioned associations point out are not scientific studies, but headcounts taken by volunteers) the amount of bicycle users increased by 20% (22% in Pont de Blagnac and 19.5% in Pont-Neuf in Toulouse). For Sébastien Bosvieux from the group 2 Pieds 2 Roues, no real studies exist in Toulouse. “The Toulouse Metropole does one-off counts, but the results are not conveyed to us. They therefore copied a counting procedure implemented in Lille. Everyone says that there are more and more bikes in the city: now we are going to be able to show how great the increase in numbers has been from one year to the next.” We are still waiting for the publication of the official inquiry of households/transportation, which is carried out every ten years, and is set to appear in spring.

Mostly Men... Without Helmets

On Pont-Neuf in Toulouse, 809 cyclists were counted during a one-hour counting session in the late afternoon of June 19. That is 19.5% more than in June 2013, when the same procedure was done done in the same place. According to 2 Pieds 2 Roues, 59% of the cyclists were men, and only 16% wore helmets. Lastly, the association only counted 3% of electric bicycles, which are are becoming more numerous, but still have increased prices.

On the Vieux Pont de Blagnac bridge, the counters recorded 312 trips this June 17 over the course of an hour, amounting to a 22% increase from September 2013. The overwhelming majority (around 90%) arrive in Toulouse in the morning by the Garonne dike and leave in the opposite direction in the evening. There, even more than in Pont-neuf, men are more numerous (76%). On the other hand, 40% of them wore helmets and 10% of those counted used electric bicycles.Public rental bikes in Toulouse, France

What Kind of Bike Policy for Toulouse’s New Government?

The city of Toulouse officially contains 500 kilometers of bicycle paths since June 2013. Toulouse was ranked 3rd in the classification of “bike-friendly” cities in April 2014 according to the magazine Terra-Eco, just behind Strasbourg and Bordeaux. But that is not enough for the associations. Sébastien Bosvieux also notes that Toulouse was recently criticized in the list of cities that want to reintroduce the car. “We requested a meeting with Jean-Michel Lattes, the new new deputy mayor responsible for transportation, but we still have not obtained a meeting. Whereas with the former local government we often saw Philippe Goyrand, the official in charge of bike policy,” stresses Bosvieux.

The pro-bike associations were disheartened by the first measures announced by Jean-Luc Moudenc’s local government, elected in May. These measures included ceasing subsidies for electric bicycles, and the intention of opening the bridge of the Multimodal South-East Connection (LMSE) to cars. Until then, it had been reserved for public transportation and bikes.

Jean-Michel Lattes constantly reminds us that he gets around with his company bike. But, as Bosvieux explains, the associations fear that “the bike is becoming negligible” in the city’s and metropolitan area’s transportation policies.

Does your city contain bicycle advocacy groups or associations? How can these groups call attention to issues affecting cyclists?

Original article, originally published in French, here.

Credits: Images and data linked to sources.

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Marcus Khoury is a recent graduate of the University of California Los Angeles, where he obtained a B.A. in French & Francophone Studies. Aside from his native Michigan, Marcus has lived in several states, in addition to France and Chile. Owing...

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