France wants people to switch to a bike or a scooter … and it’s willing to pay

France wants people to switch to a bike or a scooter … and it’s willing to pay
Photo by Leandro Boogalu on

A little while back, we wrote a story about how high gas prices were causing some interesting consumer behaviors, like people switching to bikes and electric vehicles. And we got this legendary response:

Well, if that’s you, we have good news – France is willing to subsidize that scooter!

More accurately, it’s investing a bunch of money into getting people to transition from gas-guzzling vehicles to electric scooters and bikes, and it’s willing to give up to around €4,000 (about US$3,974) to anyone willing to make the switch. The idea is modeled after a similar program that was really successful in Lithuania, and it’s meant to bring France to the same level of sustainable transportation development as other countries in the region, like Germany and the Netherlands. The French government hopes 9% of the country will swap to bikes by 2024.

France isn’t the only country offering this kind of subsidy to move away from gas vehicles – in addition to Lithuania, several states in India have also joined in, along with over 100 cities around the world.

But there are some problems with bikes, too, one of them being that bike lanes don’t go nearly everywhere that car lanes do. In Paris, mayor Anne Hidalgo promised to add 130 kilometers (over 80 miles) of bikeable lanes to the city, and President Emmanuel Macron said the government would invest a quarter billion euros to make the whole city bikeable.

Adding bikes and e-scooters to the streets can cause problems, too, considering there’s virtually no training required to use them, whereas driving a car or motorcycle often requires courses and licenses. This means that too many bikes on the streets can be, well, chaos, and locals get pretty irritated over it.

That said, the green initiative is there, and other countries like the Netherlands (which has nearly a quarter of its population riding bikes to commute) prove that bikes could be a viable solution to reduce a nation’s carbon footprint.