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Covid-19: Parisians turn to cycling as end of lockdown nears

As France prepares to gradually end its Covid-19 lockdown on May 11, workers are busy installing dozens of kilometres of temporary bike lanes across Paris and surrounding suburbs, part of plans to prepare for – and encourage – an expected boom in cycling in the capital.

The city is planning on installing 50km of cycle lanes, with hundreds more in nearby suburbs.

Some of Pariss busiest roads, such as the Rue de Rivoli, will also be closed to cars.

The city is hoping to avoid a return to the severe congestion that was part of daily life before the lockdown, as well as reducing large crowds on public transport as people begin returning to work.

And many Parisians seem keen on taking up two-wheeled transport as the end of lockdown nears, with a number of bike shops saying sales have exploded in recent days.

”Weve been selling on average two bikes a day for the past decade or so. Leading up to the end of lockdown, weve been selling around 10 a day,” Cedric Laurent, manager of Cycles Laurent, told AFP.

“Im terrified of taking public transport. Ill have to cross the whole of Paris when I go back to work, so Im looking for an electric bike. Plus, its getting sunny now, so I think its the best solution,” added customer Diane Shenouda.

It remains to be seen if cycling will become a way of life for more Parisians in the long term, but Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo made making the city more bike friendly a key part of her re-election campaign before the elections were interrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

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