France pays to repair one million bicycles to beat coronavirus

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FILE PHOTO: People cycle near Notre Dame Cathedral on a hot and sunny day in Paris as heat wave hits France, June 25, 2020. REUTERS / Gonzalo Fuentes / File Photo

PARIS (Reuters) – More than a million French cyclists have used a 50 euro ($ 60) grant to have their old bikes repaired as part of measures to fight the coronavirus and now the government wants more people to start to lead them.

Following France’s first lockdown in the spring, the government offered grants to repair old bikes. This program will now be extended until the end of March following the easing of a second lockout last weekend.

“After this second lockout, the government wants to encourage the French to use the bicycle to get around,” Environment Minister Barbara Pompili said on Monday during a visit to a training center for bicycle mechanics in Paris. , Monday.

She said about half of the people who had their bikes repaired through the program had rarely cycled before.

“It put 500,000 people back in the saddle,” she said. But only 3% of French people use their bikes every day and the government wants to triple that number.

Pompili also announced a new three-year program of 30 million euros to encourage employers to improve cycling facilities, with the funding of 20,000 secure parking spaces.

The head of the French cycling federation, Olivier Schneider, said there are 25 to 40 million bikes in France, but around 15 million of them are in poor condition.

“There is a huge demand for new bikes around the world and new bikes can be hard to come by, so the Repair Grant program is a great way to get old bikes back on the road,” Schneider said.

Report by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Giles Elgood

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