April 30, 2020 / 1:57 PM / a month ago

French commuters urged to get on their bikes when lockdown ends

PARIS, April 30 (Reuters) - France wants people to ditch their cars and use their bicycles for commuting when the coronavirus lockdown ends, according to plans announced by the government on Thursday.

The initiative by the energy and transport ministry includes developing temporary bike lanes and a 20 million euro ($22 million) subsidy towards the cost of repairs.

The plan also includes an increase in bicycle parking spaces and training to get people back in the saddle.

France will gradually ease its lockdown on May 11 after nearly two months of measures to curb the pandemic.

“While 60% of trips made in France are less than 5 km, the coming weeks represent an opportunity for many French people, already cyclists or not, to choose biking,” minister Elisabeth Borne said.

The “bicycle repair boost” programme will provide up to 50 euros for repairs by sponsored mechanics. The plan will also support a programme which allows employers to cover up to 400 euros of travel costs of staff who commute by bike.

Paris currently has about 370 km of bike paths and the temporary lanes are expected to increase that to 650 km. (Reporting by Forrest Crellin Editing by Bate Felix and Giles Elgood)

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