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Cyclists banned from riding bikes in centre of French city Lille over complaints about "influx of bicycles"

Move slammed by cycling campaigners and green councillors

Cycling campaigners and green councillors have slammed a decision by Lille city council to ban bicycles, as well as scooters and skateboards, from pedestrianised streets in the historic centre of the city in northern France.

The ban, which came into force earlier this month in what is France’s fifth-largest city, requires cyclists to dismount on a number of shopping streets, as well as the city’s Grand’Place, between 11am and 10pm on weekdays.

The zone is extended to a number of streets in Vieux-Lille, the city’s old town, between 11am and 7pm on Saturdays, reports BFM TV.

Police and postal workers’ bikes are exempt from the ban, as are children under the age of eight years.

Pierre Posmyk, the city councillor in charge of active mobility, claimed that the ban only affected “very few streets,” and said that “we have had too much of an influx of bicycles.”

“We’ve been getting complaints for months and months,” said Jacques Richir, Lille’s deputy mayor whose responsibilities include overseeing public space.

“Some people say, ‘I’m scared’, others say ‘I was hit by a bike’.

One local cyclist told BFM TV that he would change his route to avoid streets subject to the ban, but another hit out at the council, saying that telling cyclists to dismount “is easier than saying, we’re going to make a cycle track for them’.”

Green councillors have also criticised the ban, insisting that it “acts against what is after all a virtuous mode of transport, under the cover of regulating abusive practices.”

They added that “the times of operation and the much extended zone on a Saturday” constitute “a real obstacle to cycling mobility” for local people.

They also noted that a number of docking stations for the city’s V’Lille cycle hire scheme are located within the area where cycling is now banned.

“Renting a bike to walk alongside it is a new feature of the service,” they quipped.

Michel Anceau of the cycling campaign group Droit au Vélo (Right to Bike) said: “There are no alternative routes. The measure is too restrictive and is putting the brakes on using bikes in town.”

People ignoring the ban will reportedly face a fine of between €35 and €135, although police will focus initially on educating people about the ban rather than enforcing it through fines.

In the UK, a number of local authorities have banned cycling in town centres through the use of Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs), which are typically used to curb anti-social behaviour such as street drinking.

In July, we reported that a woman in Grimsby had been fined £660, and was also ordered to pay a victim services surcharge of £264 and costs of £226 for riding her bike in the town centre.

> Cyclist ordered to pay over £1,000 for riding bike in town centre – after council accused of targeting “old and slow”

The charity Cycling UK has criticised the use of PSPOs to ban cycling, with its head of campaigns Duncan Dollimore insisting that they effectively criminalise riding a bike and discouraging people from cycling.

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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8 comments

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TheBillder | 5 months ago
1 like

Quote:

Some people say, ‘I’m scared’, others say ‘I was hit by a bike’.

I say "I'm scared" and some say "I was hit by a car". What happens then?

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MattieKempy | 5 months ago
5 likes

I cycled through Lille last summer on a bike-packing trip. The Grand'Place square has a real-proper-car-road so didn't ought to be a problem for bikes; the infrastructure is great, and often segregated, as is the case in many European cities. However in two summers cycling in France, Belgium and Italy, the prevalence of unrestricted e-bikes ridden by food delivery riders is problematic, so it could well be that causing the problem.

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ceebee247 | 5 months ago
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I have just come back from Lille. The square is quite busy with people/peds/tourists (who like me are just gawping at the buildings and wandering in and out of shops without being fully aware). Also the numerous back streets where cycling is banned are small and narrow with insufficient pavements for the sheer volume of pedestrians. 
But you do have to bear in mind that the provision for cycling is many times greater in Lille compared to anything in the UK, so comparing it to anything done by one of our UK councils is very unfair I think.  It is prepaps more of an issue for a tourist hot spot such as Lille than it is for somewhere like Grimsby.....

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chrisonabike replied to ceebee247 | 5 months ago
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ceebee247 wrote:

But you do have to bear in mind that the provision for cycling is many times greater in Lille compared to anything in the UK, so comparing it to anything done by one of our UK councils is very unfair I think.  It is prepaps more of an issue for a tourist hot spot such as Lille than it is for somewhere like Grimsby.....

Well I know nothing of the place and the idea of it as a tourist hotspot was also new to me.  Comparing cycle facilities with Grimsby is also like comparing the neighbourhood amenities of a UK place to e.g. Bakhmut now.

However - I though I'd do a quick Streetview tour as I'd certainly never heard of it as a cycling city.

It ... looks more like the US level of cycling provision than maybe even UK!

There are certainly a lot of signs of cycling - there is a lot of ... paint.  There are some actual signs (including some counterflow cycle lanes).  There is the occasional cycle hanger, or a couple of bikes locked outside a shop...

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chrisonabike replied to ceebee247 | 5 months ago
1 like

Overall though the dominant street mode appears to be:

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chrisonabike replied to ceebee247 | 5 months ago
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Again - I'd like to find I'm demonstrating my complete ignorance and the folly of a Streetview tour.

However on a quick virtual ramble "the provision for cycling is many times greater in Lille compared to anything in the UK" is not true, I'd say.

That's not to say they've not taken notice of cycling there - again, lots of paint and signs.  Nor that in most of the UK there is even a fraction of this level (of paint and signs).

The actual quality and convenience of the provision in Lille appears to be lower than some places in the UK, which have the beginnings of actual networks of cycling-friendly infra.  And actual separated infra also.  Yes - in the UK most of that is "shared use paths" which are a help in some places but ultimately not good enough. But there are some actual "looks a bit like NL or the better bits of Copenhagen" separate cycle paths.  See (a few) parts of London, Edinburgh [1], [2] (other posters can update on e.g. the state of Cambridge, York, Bristol, Cardiff, Manchester ...)

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Boopop replied to chrisonabike | 5 months ago
2 likes

I cycled through Lille in May this year on my way to Rome. The one thing I remember above all else was the prevelance of blasted cobbles! I know some have a romantic love for them but I don't! Happy to watch Paris-Roubaix however, let the pros suffer

As for their cycle infrastructure, when I cycled to a town or city, especially abroad, I'll happily gravitate towards a cycle lane I see, particularly the good ones. I don't recall a single such cycle lane in Lille. Still, the drivers in France in general are much more polite than in the UK.

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wycombewheeler replied to ceebee247 | 5 months ago
2 likes

ceebee247 wrote:

It is prepaps more of an issue for a tourist hot spot such as Lille than it is for somewhere like Grimsby.....

And why on earth would tourists not want to visit Grimsby?

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