Bicycle forgotten in the transport plan for the 2024 Olympics? In any case, this is a clear statement from the forty cycling associations that form the IDF cycling collective. Less than two years before the Olympic and Paralympic events taking place in Greater Paris in July and August 2024, “90% of the venues are not yet accessible to cyclists,” the team warns.
Before coming to this conclusion, the volunteers made an accurate diagnosis of each site. Continuity of cycle paths, capacity of parking rings, and availability of bike rentals (Velib et al.): Of the twelve sites analyzed, none currently meet the conditions for mass cycling.
Stade de France and Villepinte Exhibition Center not available
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“The lack of cycling infrastructure and the many reductions in the cycling network make access to facilities difficult and sometimes impossible,” the team notes. Half of the sites are difficult to reach by bike due to the lack of continuous and safe bike routes. While Parisian landmarks stand out due to the presence of several quality bike paths, iconic sites such as the Stade de France remain hard to reach despite their proximity to the capital. The Paris Nord Villepinte Exhibition Center, which will feature boxing, fencing, modern pentathlon and seated volleyball, is simply not accessible by bike.”
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Even more surprising: The national velodrome Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, where cycling and BMX competitions will take place, currently offers only… 40 parking spaces for bicycles. The same tiny number as the Stade de France and its 80,000 seats.
Velib and floating operators in the fog
Around 10 million additional trips are planned in the Paris region during the Olympic fortnight. For foreign guests, access to bike rental is currently very limited. For example: around the Arena Bercy (Paris, 12th arrondissement) there are only 168 exercise bikes available, which can accommodate 15,000 spectators. “Without the deployment of new bike rental solutions, spectators will not have the option of cycling as an alternative to public transport, which could be an important lever to reduce congestion,” the association emphasizes.
Recently, the head of Smovengo, the operator of Veliba, sounded the alarm in our columns. Without a mass order for 10,000 bikes approved by elected officials by Dec. 15, the metropolitan service is in danger of not keeping up with demand at the event. The elected representatives of the 60 member municipalities of the Syndicat Vélib’ Autolib’ Métropole have not yet defined their ambitions for the Olympic Games.
Team members offer several solutions for urgent study. It is necessary to “reduce the main reductions in the bike network, provide mass bike parking (as PSG does during matches at the Parc des Princes) and develop bike sharing services other than Velib,” she recommends. .
Electric scooters and bicycles from self-service vehicles (Lime, Tier and Dott) can enrich the available offer… Unless the city of Paris decides to stop their activities without extending the contract, which expires in February 2023.
Events in Seine-Saint-Denis
For its part, the Organizing Committee of the Games recalls that several large bicycle parks are under construction, in particular, in Seine-Saint-Denis. In this department, the banks of the Canal Saint-Denis are being built to ensure the continuity of cycling up to the foot of the Stade de France. Several footbridges come out of the ground to make it easier to get to this place. These works, estimated at several million euros, are co-financed by the Olympic works delivery company (Solideo).
Two bicycle bridges are expected to be built on both sides of the Stade de France. They will connect the enclosure, on the one hand, with the future Olympic aquatic center, and on the other, with the Franck-Moisin area. A footbridge over the A1 motorway will link Le Bourget, Duni and La Courneuve. Not to mention the bridge that will connect the two parts of the Olympic Village, between Saint-Denis and L’Isle-Saint-Denis, on which only pedestrians, bicycles, scooters and RATP buses can travel.
“Things aren’t perfect, but without the Olympics we wouldn’t have been able to build these massive structures,” says Christophe Piercy, elected (PS) delegate for the cycling city of Saint-Denis. On the other hand, he says, “there is no bill” in terms of bike parking. “About 500 parking spaces are planned near the stadium, under the A86 and near the Porte de Paris. But this is not enough. Hundreds of parking spaces under the stadium are free, they can easily be used for cycling,” said judge Christoph Piercy.
An example of a Dutch Formula One Grand Prix
Faced with skeptics who doubt that a bicycle can be an appropriate mode of transport during major events, the associations once again cite the example of the Netherlands. In September, at least 50,000 people were able to cycle through the Formula 1 Grand Prix in Zandvoort. Huge guarded parking lots were arranged, bicycle paths separated from pedestrian paths.
The Paris Olympics, which put respect for the environment at the heart of its candidacy, could draw inspiration from this. “The goal of these 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Paris is to leave a strong legacy for the people of the Île-de-France region. Enabling cycling means enabling the people of Île-de-France to cycle safely the day after the Games. We need to act urgently,” the team insists.