France’s new law on compulsory bike parking spaces comes into effect in 2023

Many shared apartment complexes across France will have to come up with ways to offer secure bicycle parking in 2023 once a new law comes into force.

France's new law on compulsory bike parking spaces comes into effect in 2023
Two men with bikes chatting in front of the Eiffel Tower in 2015 (Photo by LUDOVIC MARIN / AFP)

As France pushes to become a more bike-friendly society, new rules are set to come into force at the end of the month that might make life a bit easier for cyclists living in shared apartment buildings – although be warned, there are a lot of exemptions.

Thanks to France’s 2019 “Mobility Orientation Law,” buildings with car parking options for inhabitants will soon be required to address the question of secure bicycle parking too.

For cyclists across France living in these types of housing complexes, this could spell an end to having to leave their bicycles on the street, where they could be stolen or damaged.  

France’s parliament has sought to address this issue, as many shared apartment buildings (coproprietés, or shared housing complexes containing at least two dwellings) have strict rules regarding where bicycles can be parked – for instance not in common areas like halls or corridors and in many cases not even on private balconies, leaving many cyclists with no other option besides parking their bikes outside. 

The new regulations, which will come into force at the end of December 2022, will require home-owners associations (syndics) in these types of buildings to meet and discuss how they will offer secure parking for bicycles (if they do not already do so). During the meeting, the syndic will also need to compile estimations for how much these adjustments would cost, and then begin work to provide the space, unless they meet one of the exemption criteria (see below).

In the background of these new bicycle parking rules, cycling has been on the rise across France – during the first nine months of 2022, cycling increased by 11 percent when compared to the same period in 2021 and by 33 percent when compared to the same period in 2019.

The French government has been seeking to encourage more environmentally friendly modes of transportation, namely cycling. The country recently announced it would spend an additional €250 million on their ‘plan vélo,’ a multi-year project intended to encourage and build up cycling infrastructure across the country. 

READ MORE: How France will splash another €250 million on national ‘bike plan’

The specifics of the rules

As for the parking spaces themselves, a decree added to the law in June 2022 specified that the parking devices offered by the apartment complex will need to stabilise bikes – meaning the bicycles should be secured by both the frame and at least one wheel.

Additionally, the area dedicated for cyclists will need to be secure, meaning it must have a “door equipped with a secure locking system” if it is within the building. If located outside the building, the facilities will need to be covered, lit and enclosed.

Regarding the number of parking spaces, this will depend on the building itself. If the building is “new” and equipped with its own parking garage, then there must be at least one bike space per apartment with “two principal rooms” (typically a one bedroom) and two bike spaces for dwellings with “three principal room” (typically a two bedroom apartment). 

If the bicycle parking area will be on the same property as the apartment building, then preference should be made to place the bicycle parking area either on the ground floor or on the first floor of the buildings parking lot.

If the building is an “immuble ancien” (older building) and it offers an annexed parking lot, then the car park will need to allocate one bike space per dwelling.

The bike parking spaces should be at least 1.5 metres squared in size, excluding the clearing space.

The exemptions

As often with French rules, there are exemptions.

The major one is that this only applies to buildings that offer parking spaces – buildings with no parking attached, which is common in most of the big French cities, will not have to provide bike storage spaces.

There is also an exemption where the space that could be used to house bicycles is not accessible to cyclists and cannot be adapted to be accessible. This might happen if the only parking area is subterranean and the only way to access it would be the same ramp drivers use, meaning it could be dangerous for cyclists.

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How France will splash another €250 million on national ‘bike plan’

Cyclists across France can rejoice (perhaps) with news that the government plans to spend another €250 million on the 'plan vélo,' a multi-year project intended to encourage and build up cycling infrastructure across the country.

How France will splash another €250 million on national 'bike plan'

French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne announced a boost to the existing ‘Plan Vélo’ (Bicycle Plan) on Tuesday morning at Matignon, the Prime Minister’s HQ.

Borne specified during her Tuesday address that an additional €250 million will be spent on the project for 2023, marking its fourth anniversary.

The Plan Vélo is a national programme set to encourage bicycling in France building up bike-friendly infrastructure and encouraging people to get on their bikes via education campaigns.

The additional funding will offer municipalities with additional funds to build bike paths and secure parking locations.

Setting aside more money in a single for biking than ever before, the ambitious scheme is a segment of the multi-year Bicycle Plan, falling under the “active mobility fund”, which allows the financing of infrastructure.

The project will be operated in communication with local communities, “to ensure that investments are targeted and effective,” a spokesperson from the Prime Minister’s office told AFP. “[The plan] will be endowed with €250 million euros for 2023; €200 million will be dedicated to infrastructure and €50 million for secured bicycle parking.”

READ MORE: MAP: France to splash out €43 million to build new cycle lanes around the country

On top of the increased budget for the bike plan, the prime minister said that government would also institute an additional “inter-ministerial committee on cycling” to be launched in the autumn, which will meet every six months.

Why now?

While the prime minister’s statement came on the bike plan’s fourth anniversary, for Transport Minister Clément Beaune, the additional funds are particularly important for prioritising bicycles after the government provided assistance for drivers (such as the fuel subsidy) amid rising cost of living.

“At a time when we have supported fuel and the car a lot, it is important to show that we also support other modes of transport,” Clément Beaune, the Minister of Transport told Le Parisien. “We want to make the bike a real means of transport and not just a leisure tool.”

The new funding for the bicycle plan was met with support.

The president of the Federation of Bicycle Users (FUB), Olivier Schneider, told Le Parisien that Tuesday’s announcement was “good news” because “it will allow suburban and rural towns to finally get on board, as they do not have as many resources as large urban areas to finance significant bike lane projects.”

Nevertheless – he hopes that the State will “maintain its budgetary efforts after 2023.”

What does the full plan entail?

Holistically, the multi-year bicycle plan includes several components, not least of which is infrastructure. It allows funds to be set aside for communities across France to implement cycle paths and create safe cycle routes. However, it is also an education campaign.

The plan promotes the “made-in-France” bicycle industry, as well as a the “savoir rouler à vélo” (SRAV) programme that teaches children in primary school how to ride a bike (pedaling, breaking, signs, and good road behaviour). Additionally, it seeks to encourage bicycling from a health standpoint and promotes the construction of bicycle parking during the 2024 Paris Olympic Games. 

Originally launched in 2018, at the behest of current Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, who was the then-Minister of Transport, the national ‘bicycle plan’ established a 350 million fund to span seven years (2018-2025).

READ MORE: How Paris will spend €250 million on making city ‘100 % bike friendly’

Intended to promote the ‘ecological transition,’ as well as health and well-being, the plan was extended and awarded more funds. It is now expected to run through 2027, and by 2025, it will have been budgeted at least 500 million.

The budgets for future years could also be increased, similar to 2023. A spokesperson for the Prime Minister’s office said “The multi-year envelope has yet to be defined, as it will be part of the overall reflection on transport infrastructures, which will be based on what the infrastructure policy council presents this fall.”