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The Gironde department wants 1,000 km of new cycle paths by 2030

The Gironde department wants 1,000 km of new cycle paths by 2030

Authorities hope the lanes will encourage more young people to cycle to school

Gironde claims to have the most cycle paths in France

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A project in the Gironde will build on a 2017 initiative to increase the number of school-age cyclists, which has resulted in 80% of students using bicycles in some institutions.

“The key has been to create safe cycle lanes, separated from roads, but also to have good cycle parking in schools so that bikes can be left safely,” a department spokeswoman said. The Connexie.

“It requires coordination between us, who are responsible for the majority of the roads, but also with the municipalities and regions responsible for financing the construction of the bicycle sheds.”

With already 750km of cycle routes, the Gironde claims to have more cycle paths than any other department, many of which, like those along the coast, are aimed at tourists.

“We want to increase the number of cycle paths that can be used by residents for daily life,” the spokeswoman said.

Safe parking

“Having secure cycle paths and increasing the availability of secure cycle parking are important parts of this – no one wants to cycle to work and then find their bike has been stolen when they want to go home.”

Trials are planned with individual ‘bicycle bins’, in which bicycles can be stored horizontally with a lockable sliding door to secure them.

The project will enter the consultation phase until June and then move into a series of seminars in September to identify priority routes.

Committees must be formed by October to secure funding so the project can be brought before a full council meeting in December for a vote on whether to proceed.

Read more: France expands bicycle support scheme and adds second-hand bicycles

Disused railway line

In a separate initiative, a group of municipalities along the line of a 46km disused railway line between Bordeaux and Lacanau are beginning to campaign for its reopening, either for trains or a tram.

The line ran between 1954 and 1974 and since then a departmental single carriageway has been the only connection.

It is often very busy during rush hour and during the holiday period.

Lacanau has grown as a tourist resort thanks to its world-class surfing and a popular golf course.

Municipalities pushing for the line’s reopening say most of the original route can still be used and the cost will be around €200 million – cheap by the standards of most transport projects.

Read more: Volunteers start clearing rural footpaths in France: can you help?

National network

It is not just the Gironde that invests in cycle paths; France has a development plan for the entire country, with the aim of creating a continuous network of long-distance cycle routes.

By 2030, the goal is 26,115 km of bicycle-friendly paths.

The network is also part of a series of European routes known as EuroVelo, which will total 90,000 km when completed. Popular routes include the Vélodyssée (the French name), which connects Norway to Portugal via France; and Roscoff (Finistère) to Hendaye (Pyrénées-Atlantiques), on the Spanish border.

Cycling tourism is booming in France, which claims to be the second most popular destination in the world after Germany. It hosts more than nine million cycling holidays every year.

However, priority is also given to local routes, with more thought given to how they interact with existing road systems.

In Cherbourg, for example, one intersection is currently being transformed into an innovative ‘Dutch’ intersection. The traffic lights will not disappear, but a cycle path will be created that allows cyclists to cycle around the intersection.

Unfortunately, not all parts of France appear to be so bicycle-friendly. Last October, Lille became the latest city, after Agen and Nice, to issue new rules requiring cyclists to walk (rather than drive) on pedestrian streets in the city center. Cyclists who do not comply with the rules risk a fine of €35-135.