As one of the darkest and coldest months of the year, January’s weather conditions does not usually make it a particularly pleasant month to cycle to work.
However the number of Parisians commuting by bicycle in January increased by 131 percent compared to the same time last year, according to new numbers published in the capital’s main newspaper Le Parisien.
A total of 88 bicycles passed per hour on average on the lanes analysed in January. Last year, the number was 38 per hour.
Les chiffres sur le nombre de cyclistes dans Paris en janvier 2020 sont sidérants ?
— Adrien Lelièvre (@Lelievre_Adrien) February 4, 2020
“It's a sign that the surge in cyclists is a real phenomenon,” Jean-Sébastien Catier from the organisation Paris en selle (Paris in the saddle) told Le Parisien.
The number of cyclists in the capital had already increased in December, when strikes to protest against the government's pension reform plan reduced the city’s public transport system to a minimum.
Many thousands of commuters either travelled on foot or purchased a bicycle or a pass to the public city bike Vélib’.
“The strike showed that [the bicycle] is a dependable and credible means of transport,” Catier said.
A reluctant cyclist tried to bring his bicycle on the Paris Metro during the strike. Bikes are banned on the city's Metro system, but allowed on the RER outside of rush hour Photo: AFP
The City of Paris has long been pushing for the capital to become city of cyclists, by laying out financial incentives to purchasers of electric bicycles and rebuilding the city’s bicycle infrastructure.
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, who is running for reelection for the Socialist Party, has promised to make the capital “100 percent” bicycle friendly by 2024 if she gets to keep her job after the municipal elections in March.
However the capital's many Vélib’ users complained about a deteriorating service during the strikes, with chronically empty stations and broken bicycles.
Read more about what happened to the Vélib’ system during the strikes here.