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LIFE IN PARIS

A strike effect? Parisians stay on their bikes as transport goes back to normal

Crippling transport strikes in December caused many Paris commuters to take to their bikes. With services back to normal it seems that many have enjoyed cycling and are sticking to two-wheeled transport.

A strike effect? Parisians stay on their bikes as transport goes back to normal
Photo: AFP

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.

 

“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.

READ ALSO: Why cyclists in Paris are more numerous than ever 

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.

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TRAVEL

Striking workers block Paris airport terminal, flights delayed

Striking airport workers have blocked part Paris’s Charles de Gaulle airport, with some flights already delayed by at least one hour.

Striking workers block Paris airport terminal, flights delayed
Striking airport workers outside Charles-de-Gaulle airport in Paris. Photo: Geoffroy van der Hasselt | AFP

Last month, trade unions representing workers at the Aéroports de Paris (ADP) – the city’s Charles-de-Gaulle-Roissy and Orly airports – called for a strike between July 1st and July 5th in an ongoing dispute between French airport workers and bosses over contract renegotiations.

A second wave of protests are expected next week, after a strike notice was filed for July 9th.

Tensions mounted on Friday morning as some 400 protesters staged a raucous demonstration at CDG’s terminal 2E, which mostly deals with flights outside the Schengen zone, as police officers looked on.

At Orly airport, meanwhile, some 250 people demonstrated “outside”, while a small group was inside.

The dispute is over a long-term plan by ADP to bring in new work contracts for employees at the airports, which unions say will lower pay, job losses and a reduction in rights and bonuses for employees.

The strike is being jointly called by the CGT, CFE-CGE, Unsa, CFDT and FO unions, who said in a joint press release that the proposals will “definitively remove more than a month’s salary from all employees and force them to accept geographical mobility that will generate additional commuting time”.

Unions say that staff face dismissal if they do not sign the new contracts.

ADP said on Wednesday that it expected ‘slight delays for some flights but no cancellations’ to services – but it urged travellers to follow its social media operations for real-time updates.

On Thursday, the first day of action, 30 percent of flights were delayed between 15 minutes and half-an-hour.

ADP’s CEO Augustin de Romanet had said on Tuesday that ‘everything would be done to ensure no flight is cancelled’. 

ADP reported a loss of €1.17 billion in 2020. 

Stressing that discussions are continuing over the proposed new contracts, the CEO called for “an effort of solidarity, with a red line: no forced layoffs.”

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