Does Anne Hidalgo’s cycling plan cost 23,000 euros per cyclist, as the 40 Million Automobile Association says?

Does Anne Hidalgo's cycling plan cost 23,000 euros per cyclist, as the 40 Million Automobile Association says?

A cyclist at Place Vendôme in the 4th arrondissement of Paris.

A cyclist at Place Vendôme in the 4th arrondissement of Paris.

The association says it brings the cost of the bicycle plan down to the number of cyclists traveling each day in the streets of Paris. But their estimate is below reality.

Question asked on Twitter on 06/10/2020


You questioned us following a tweet from the president of the 40 Millions d’Automobilistes association, Pierre Chasseray, who protested against the cost of the bicycle plan put in place by the Paris city hall. According to him, this cycling plan, compared to the number of Parisian cyclists, would cost 23,000 euros per cyclist.

A calculation immediately denounced by cyclists, accusing the president of the federation of motorists of being, at a minimum, in bad faith.

As a reminder, the bicycle plan to which Pierre Chasseray refers is a project of the mayor of Paris implemented during the first term of office of Anne Hidalgo. From 2015 to 2020, he planned to triple bike trips in the capital against an investment of 150 million euros. Contacted by CheckNews, the town hall confirms having spent 150 million euros. “They were broken down into the various objectives that the city had set for itself: bicycle parking, creation of cycle paths and equipment and support for bicycle associations (especially those which develop repair workshops), purchasing aid (bicycle to electric assistance, cargo bike) and co-ownership assistance. ”

From the point of view of infrastructure, the Paris en selle association, which has set up a “cycling plan observatory” points to a rather satisfactory record. If, at the beginning of 2020, barely more than 50% of the planned infrastructures had been put in place, the president of the association, Jean-Sébastien Catier, sees “The glass half full” and defends a balance sheet “Very interesting in terms of impact”. “We have seen a real break with what had been done so far”, continues the association. Since deconfinement, “coronapistes” have been added to these infrastructures. Designed to relieve congestion on public transport, these new infrastructures are sometimes the implementation of projects already provided for in the bicycle plan, other times completely innovative projects. For example, the Amsterdam street track (VIIIe arrondissement) near the Saint-Lazare station, until then refused by the prefecture, has been put in place to relieve line 13, says the president of the association.

A bicycle plan 2 will have to be launched for this second term but, before that, the town hall “Wishes to perpetuate the 50 kilometers of temporary tracks created for deconfinement”, let the municipality know.

Why does Pierre Chasseray mention a cost of 23,000 euros per cyclist? Through a simple division, relating the overall amount of this plan to the number of cyclists in the streets of Paris. Problem, not only to reduce the cost of the plan to the simple number of cyclists per day does not make much sense, but in addition this figure of 6,500 cyclists per day is very largely wrong according to its detractors.

Thus, the former deputy for transport of the mayor of Paris, today in the green spaces, Christophe Najdovski, answered him on Wednesday:

Contacted by CheckNews, Pierre Chasseray admits that his figure of 6,500 cyclists was only an estimate. “If I had said three peeled and one shorn, no one would blame me”, he laments. “We are told that there are 300,000 journeys, I went to land in Sebastopol, I did not see that. And the day without a car, they talk about success, there was nobody ”.

A hundred sensors

Justifying having taken a figure with a ladle, the defender of motorists accuses the town hall of falsifying its data, from the meters placed in the city. “If we consider that the truth is that of Christophe Najdovski, in this case I’m wrong ”, he risks himself.

In fact, official data from the Paris city hall contradict Pierre Chasseray. Since 2012, the municipality has installed nearly a hundred sensors spread over 51 counting sites, making it possible to count the number of bicycles passing in front of terminals. An induction loop is generally placed under the asphalt, making it possible to detect the metal of the bicycle passing over it. Motorized two-wheelers (too heavy) and pedestrians cannot therefore be confused and counted among bicycles.

As navigation on the Open Data site of the Paris City Hall, taking data from meters in real time, is not smooth, this data is presented in a much clearer way on a specific site in Paris in the saddle. We can see that, on Wednesday, October 7, the counter located on Boulevard Sébastopol is the one that saw the most cyclists: 13,661. On average, last week (quite rainy), a little more than 11,000 bicycles took this route. every day. On this axis alone, we are therefore beyond the estimate of 40 million motorists.

65,000 people take a Vélib every day

To count the number of cyclists in the streets of Paris, it is impossible to add the number of passages to each counter, since on the same route, a cyclist can pass in front of several sensors. What we do know is that the Vélib self-service bicycle service claims more than 150,000 trips per day. In September, the average was 184,000 daily trips (only trips over three minutes are counted in this average). By way of comparison, the average was 90,000 trips per day in September 2019. We can therefore see an increase of 104% in one year.

In addition, according to the data sent by Smovengo (in charge of the Vélib service) to CheckNews, nearly 65,000 people took a Vélib every day last month. Ten times more, therefore, than the estimate of Pierre Chasseray, counting only the Vélib. Over the four weeks of September, Vélib has 274,000 unique users.

Still, estimating the precise number of cyclists in a city is very complicated. A single cyclist can make several trips in a single day, or another can take his bike very occasionally. The number of 300,000 trips cited by Christophe Najdovski is also an estimate. The deputy mayor of Paris explains it in a tweet. Considering that Vélib trips represent a third of all bicycle trips in Paris, it reaches at least 300,000. “When we do manual counts in Paris, we note a Vélib share of between 20% and 40% of bicycle traffic. In our July study on several temporary cycle paths where more than 1,400 people were questioned, we had 29% in Vélib. Christophe Najdovski therefore extrapolates the number of bicycle trips from the number of Vélib trips in Paris and its percentage ”, specifies the town hall.

“The measurements are necessarily imperfect, note Paris in the saddle. Thanks to the counting points, we can see the evolution of the number of cyclists. And this shows that the equipment is used more and more and that the more we create secure cycle paths, the more cyclists we create. ”

4% of active cyclists in 2015

Beyond the counters set up by the town hall and its operators, other (older) studies give an idea of ​​the number of cyclists in the streets of Paris. According to a note from the Observatory of Mobility in Ile-de-France (Omnil), which depends on the region, in 2010, there were already 240,000 daily bicycle trips in Paris. This then represented 16% of total trips to Paris (compared to 540,000 internal trips in Paris by car). Across the region, daily bicycle trips were 650,000.

To believe the first elements of the investigation for the mobilities carried out from January 2018 to June 2019, this figure has increased significantly. Across the region, there are now 840,000 trips per day by bicycle. An increase of 30% compared to 2010. A quarter of these trips would only take place in Paris, or a little over 210,000 according to this study. To this must be added 90,000 trips by bicycle in addition to another mode of transport. Note that these figures relate to a period when the Vélib service experienced serious malfunctions and should therefore logically increase since the end of 2019 and the re-establishment of the self-service service.

Finally, according to the latest INSEE travel survey, 4% of working people in Paris went to work by bicycle in 2015 (compared to 6% in other cities with more than 200,000 inhabitants). However, the capital in 2017 had a little over a million active having a job. This still makes 40,000 people claiming to cycle to work, although, as we have seen, use has greatly increased since 2015.



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