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Observation of professional journeys using the bicycle in Brittany shows that the combination of pedaling with public transport opens up a lot of possibilities.
"I would like to take my bike, but it's too complicated." This is a sentence that often sums up the state of affairs on business travel: the car always seems more practical in many places, especially in Brittany. But concretely, faced with traffic jams and the cost of fuel, what are the real brakes on going from four to two wheels? Why would some areas be more suitable than others?
In the field of professional travel, the scale of the municipality is quickly erased: we do not work so often where we sleep. To take a step back, we can look at the proportion of people who cycle to work in the same employment area. We then find Rennes and Nantes, but also Lorient. Conversely, the Brest and Quimper territories do not seem to be at a peak, if one takes into account the large population areas that reside there.
The mere presence of Groix does not explain the dynamic in Lorient: cyclist commuters are more than 4% in Lanester and Locmiquélic, and more than 2% – above average, therefore – in Ploemeur and Riantec. Conversely, a metropolitan area like Brest does not have a large concentration of bicycle commuters. These strong disparities show that neither the distance nor the population pool is sufficient to explain the differences in the use of the bicycle to go to work.
The entrance to the cities, a puzzle
"If we take the example of Brest, we can easily avoid the departmental roads around the city and cycle by bike, even at rush hour," notes Olivier Schneider, originally from the Finistère metropolis. “Once in the center, the reduced speed of the vehicles also allows it. But to get in there, when it comes to going through the "doors", it is much more difficult and, beyond being dangerous, it is unpleasant ".
The detailed census reports illustrate this phenomenon. Around Brest, there is a relatively large flow of cyclist-workers rallying Guipavas to Bohars or Plabennec. However, there is relatively little flow between the city and its surroundings.
Geographical conditions … that we can compensate
Another element that comes to mind when you imagine yourself pedaling to work: the drop and the rain. These two cycling challenges are unevenly distributed over the territory. Could they explain that Finistère is opting less for bicycle trips? In fact, the tendency to cycle to work seems to follow in part the weather maps and that of the altitude in France. However, rain is not uncommon in Nantes or Strasbourg, which are at the forefront of professional bicycle mobility.
"Geographical aspects often overlap with planning issues," says Olivier Schneider. “The surroundings of Copenhagen are not at all flat. However, the average distance covered by bicycle is 11 km ”. The magic recipe? Different equipment on the part of cyclists – light or even electric bicycles – but also adapted cycle paths that allow better approach to the effort.
Time, an essential ingredient
In the end, one of the most important things often seems to be forgotten: changing habits. "Beyond a set of things, it is also time that creates the dynamic. Grenoble, Nantes, Strasbourg or Bordeaux started a cycling policy twenty years ago ”, summarizes Olivier Schneider.
The cyclist underlines in particular that "the modes of transport, they are habits". So you need a reason and a motivation to change them. A move, family life or a change of job are all potential examples. But these clicks alone do not work without a minimum of conditions suitable for cycling. And among them, there remains one last: mimicry. In Nantes and Rennes, getting around by bike is not just a statistical reality: it shows and creates a ripple effect. A phenomenon that takes time.