France is tackling the travel challenges of the pandemic lockdown directly by offering its citizens €50 to spend getting their bicycles repaired.
Members of the public can spend up to €50 at registered mechanics as part of a €20 million scheme. That cash total will also be used for cycle training and temporary parking spaces.
Cycle advocates are currently pushing for funding and clear direction on temporary cycle infrastructure to enable more key workers and members of the public to get on their bikes both during the pandemic lockdown and beyond.
According to the BBC, France’s Minister for Ecological Transition, Elisabeth Borne, said in normal times, 60% of journeys made in France are less than five km, so bicycles are “a real transport solution”, aiming for the move to reduce numbers using cars for commutes and keep air pollution low when restrictions are lifted.
At the start of the lockdown period, the UK government classed bike shops as essential retailers, allowing them to operate and fix/maintain bikes for key workers and other members of the public exercising (though they have stopped short of offering the public cash to spend in bike shops on fixing their bikes). Other nations in Europe – including Germany and Austria – were slower to act on allowing bike shops to stay open, but got there in mid-April.