It happened on May 21, 2015 at a meeting of the National Assembly in Paris, France. While examining the laws on the ongoing energy transition, the deputies began a debate on a surprising amendment introduced by the Ecology Minister Ségolène Royal. This amendment sought to terminate the kilometric allowance accorded by employers to workers who choose to commute by bike. The cited reason: budgetary measures that are to be discussed in the budget proposal at the end of the year.
The idea of this allowance, of 25 cents per kilometer traveled, had been adopted by all parliamentary groups. The intervention by the Ecology Minister, which broke this consensus, was surprising. But most surprising, was no doubt the debate that followed.
All the groups who spoke, the Europe Écologie les Verts (EELV), the Parti Socialiste (PS), and the Union pour un Mouvement Populaire (UMP), defended the idea of the bike allowance without hesitation. Phillipe Vitel (UMP) evoked public health. Jean-Yves Caullet (PS) asked the assembly to “consider the bike like any other vehicle.” Cécile Duflot (EELV) praised “the lower usage of infrastructure” by cyclists while Julien Aubert (UMP) recalled that the previous government had spoken in favor of the measure. Jacques Krabal (PS) mentioned the positive impact of cycling on the city’s densest districts, explaining that the bike could “unclutter downtown areas.” Denis Baupin (EELV) insisted on “the long-term advantages for public finances.” Yves Jégo (Union des Démocrates et Indépendants) praised the consensus on the issue and the protractor of the law Phillipe Plisson (PS) evoked the sustainability argument claiming the bike as “the least polluting vehicle in the world.”
In twenty minutes, all of the arguments in favor of the bike were cited at the assembly, by intervenors of all parties and, of course, the National Assembly is not complete without some skirmishes. There was also the impression, from time to time, that the deputies did not know whether they were speaking of a kilometric allowance or of a bike purchase subsidy. There was laughter (at and with) François Brottes (PS) Rotund President of Economic Affairs, who explained that he “knew nothing of the subject, which was obvious.”
At the end, it seems that this transpartisan revolt had its effects. Madame Royal’s amendment was rejected 33 to 4.
How does biking benefit your community? Does your community have something similar to the kilometric allowance, and if not, do you believe it should? Share your thoughts and your city's stories in the comments area below.
Original article, originally published in French here.
Credits: Data and images linked to sources.