We have spoken many times over the years about Paris’ investments in cycling infrastructure and about its plans to become a 100% cycling city. And my twitter feed (see above/here) seems to suggest that it’s working really well.
Between 2015 and 2020, the city saw a doubling of its bike lanes. And from September 2018 to September 2019 alone, the city saw a 54% increase in cycling usage, with its street meters recording about 840,000 daily bike trips in the center of the city.
Of course, if you’re a cycling skeptic, you’re probably thinking at least two things right now. One, Paris is Paris. Not all cities have the benefit of such a compact urban form. And two, Paris doesn’t get real winters. So sure, it’s easy to cycle there. Where’s the snow?
While it is true that density is a key ingredient for walkability and active transport, the real catalyst for Paris was its cycling network. A lot more people are cycling in Paris today because it is now safer and more convenient to do so.
It is also true that Paris generally doesn’t get as cold as, say, Toronto.
However, Helsinki does. It has the same humid continental climate (and a lower average annual temperature). And if you look at the Copenhagenize (Cycling) Index, you’ll see that, in 2019, Paris had a bicycle modal share of under 5%, whereas Helsinki had a modal share of 11% (plus a near equal gender split).
Maybe it’s the over 1,300 km of bicycle infrastructure.
You’ve probably seen this video but it’s a good example that biking in winter is totally feasible. Not Just Bikes shows a Finnish city that has the best bike lanes, signs and infrastructure.
I suspect most people choose to drive because of all the roads. 😉