Coming soon? More funds for the French cycle route network – Photo (c) DRC
In a response to a parliamentary question by socialist deputy Philippe Plisson, the French transport ministry has recently confirmed that the national government plans to co-finance regional cycling plans from 2014-2020. It looks like the European campaign by ECF member DRC, started earlier this year, is now bearing fruit.
The ministry’s answer to the question states that the government would be using the system of so-called “Contrats de projets Etat-Régions” (CPER, partnership contracts between the central state and the 22 French regions) to fund regional cycle tourism infrastructure and greenways.
“This is encouraging news,” says Agathe Daudibon, officer for European projects and communication at French ECF member Départements et Régions Cyclables (DRC). “However the plans for the new CPER do not yet explicitly include cycling routes. We have sent a letter to Jean-Marc Ayrault, the Prime Minister, in order to make sure he does not overlook what the transport minister is proposing – that cycling facilities will actually be included in this funding scheme.”
European money waiting to be spent – on cycling routes
Find out more on how to get funds for cycling from the EU on the pages of the €6billion campaign.
What’s more, the transport ministry also states in its response that it plans to include cycling into its Partnership Agreement with the European Commission in order to get regional cycling routes funded through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the European Social Fund (ESF), and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD).
Once again, Agathe Daudibon says more lobbying is needed to make this a reality. “Now that the EU budget is about to be wrapped up, the negotiations about what to actually use European funding for on the national level have only just started,” she says. “But the transport ministry says it wants to use some of the European money from the regional funds to finance greenways and cycle tourism. That is very good news.”
A successful campaign
That the French transport ministry is suddenly showing so much interest in cycling seems to be a direct effect of the European campaign DRC led earlier this year. The cycling advocates sent letters to each French region, explaining the challenges and opportunities to get European funding for cycle tourism routes and greenways. They also launched an awareness campaign called “Des €uros pour le vélo” (€uros for cycling) including a conference and workshop.
The campaign was supported by Michel Barnier, European Commissioner for the Internal Market and founding president of the DRC. It is no surprise that in his question to the government, Philippe Plisson included the argument that EuroVelo would be mentioned in the TEN-T guidelines for the first time.
If the Prime Minister and Transport Minister stick to their words, DRC will have shown once more that cycling advocacy, done right, can achieve a lot.