Close this search box.

Bicycle lanes: what studies to plan them strategically?

Your cycling master plan with M@Air

Let's plan your community's bikeways together

The transition to green mobility is at the center of political concerns. The efforts efforts under the first bicycle plan (2018 - 2021) have already resulted in a 30% increase in the use of bicycle lanes between 2019 and 2021. Nevertheless, the modal share of cycling remains very low, at only 3.5% in 2022. At the local government level, strategic planning of bike lanes is needed to standardize and secure bike use. In this article, we explain why a bicycle master plan based on a scientific study of the territory's reality is necessary. We also expose the solutions that M@Air proposes and implements with communities.

Bicycle paths: the yellow jersey of the ecological transition at the local level

Investing in bike lanes: minimum effort, maximum gain

In terms of investment, bicycle paths are one of the most affordable solutions dedicated to reducing GHGs. They are different from electric cars, whose "fuel" is not taxed and for which the State invests 400€ per ton of CO² avoided. Bicycle lanes, on the other hand, require only an initial investment dedicated to their construction, while their maintenance cost remains minimal.

On the other hand, the benefits of bike lanes for the community are undeniable:

tableaux comparant les retombées économiques des pistes cyclables pour chaque type de collectivité

This table from a 2019 study by the Ministry of Transport on the socio-economic impact of cycling illustrates this. At each level, the turnover is at least twice the capital expenditure of the territory (mainly constituted by the development of bike paths), five times for the departments. For the community, therefore, the efforts related to the development of bike paths pay off in the first year. The resulting benefits include the number of jobs generated and improved health for users. Businesses that provide bicycle parking in front of their premises also see an increase in traffic and revenue.

Targeted ADEME support for bike path planning

As part of the AVELO 2 program, which aims to increase the modal share of bicycles from 3 to 9% by 2024, ADEME has made provision for aid of up to €20,000 for studies prior to the implementation of a cycling master plan within a local authority. All municipalities, regardless of their size, are eligible for this assistance. Several neighboring municipalities can also submit a collective application.

For more information, please visit ADEME's website.

The need for a scientific and methodical approach

As you can see, bicycle lanes represent an investment that is both inexpensive and a source of economic spin-offs, and is facilitated by state aid. Nevertheless, it is not enough to install several kilometers of them within your community to reap the benefits. Indeed, if they are not developed according to a strategy thought out beforehand, which takes into account the reality of the territory, this risks slowing down the transition of users to cycling. If we add to this the problems caused by arbitrary planning - traffic congestion due to lane splitting - their impact could, in the long run, prove to be more negative than positive.

It is therefore necessary to contact a service provider capable of establishing a cycling master plan using a scientific method. At M@Air, we make such plans by crossing geographical, demographic and socio-economic data. We estimated that such a method would double the number of new cyclists compared to an unscientific planning. The positive impacts in terms of economics, public health, and travel speed would be correspondingly greater.

Why choose M@Air to conduct your study?

M@Air's main asset is the fact that our studies are based on a proven scientific method for planning bicycle routes (bike paths, greenways and bikeways). This method takes into account both the real situation of the communities and the positive impacts targeted by the implementation of a cycling master plan.

First, we analyze the demographics, employment areas, location of schools, colleges and high schools, and the existing network of bicycle routes. We then establish an optimized plan for the implementation of safe bicycle lanes within the agglomeration.

In parallel, we evaluate the impact of this plan in terms of potential transfers from car to bicycle. We also estimate the economic gain that it can represent for the municipality and its inhabitants. Of course, the gain in terms of carbon is not to be outdone: we are estimating precisely the decrease in CO² emissions that can be expected following the implementation of our plan.

Because of the very favorable effect on health of regular use of muscle bikes or electrically assisted bicycles, these investments, if well positioned and coordinated between municipalities, will quickly generate positive economic spin-offs.

Our references: the regional cities of Lille and Pau

To date, M@Air has had the opportunity to successfully test its method, by realizing two proposals for bicycle master plans, both in partnership with the Decathlon group. We realized the first one for the European Metropolis of Lille and the second one for the Agglomeration Community of Pau Béarn Pyrénées. This gave us the opportunity to test our analysis model in urban areas with several hundred thousand inhabitants. We were thus able to adapt our method to each of these particular cases. We are therefore able to carry out studies that take into account the specific reality of the main urban areas in France. The carbon emission reduction opportunities resulting from these two studies amount to 26,200 tons/year. 

If you represent a local authority (community of communes, EPCI, metropolis...) and you wish to benefit from a M@Air study on bicycle routes, contact us to tell us where to find your current call for tender. We will come back to you as soon as possible to offer a study adapted to your situation and your needs.

Your cycling master plan with M@Air

Let's plan your community's bikeways together