France is offering 2,500 euros (about $2,993 USD) to individuals interested in purchasing electrically driven bicycles. But it’s pursuing the Cash for Clunkers mentality that often leaves us questioning whether the people instituting these environmental plans are familiar with the concept of conservation. Because the current proposal requires participants to throw away their automobiles before they’re granted access to the funds.
Originally reported by Reuters, and presented to us by a reader sharing a Jalopnik article, the matter curiously requires e-bike riders to scrap a vehicle that’s almost guaranteed to be worth more than the voucher they’ll be exchanging it for.
Last week, lawmakers in the National Assembly (the lower house of the French Parliament) approved the measure in a preliminary vote as part of an amendment to a draft climate bill. The initiative is targeting a reduction of greenhouse emissions by 40 percent in 2030 against levels taken in 1990.
If adopted, France will become the first country in the world to offer people the chance to trade in an ageing vehicle for an electric or folding bicycle, the French Federation of Bicycle Users (FUB) said.
“For the first time it is recognised [sic] that the solution is not to make cars greener, but simply to reduce their number,” said Olivier Schneider of the FUB.
While we’re not sure if scrappage programs are ever as environmentally sound as they claim to be, it’s difficult to argue that e-bikes will have a bigger carbon footprint than whatever they’ll be replacing. But they’ll also be ill-suited to the kind of long-distance traveling we people use automobiles for and imagine most individuals interested in the program will eventually end up buying another car when they could have ran their old beater for a few more years.
The measure has yet to pass and seems a bit daft but we’re not ruling anything out. France has launched numerous pro-bike initiatives in the past and has been handing cash to people willing to buy electrified two-wheelers for a few years. For example, the country was offering local grants of between €100 and €600 for residents interested in purchasing an e-bike in 2019.
FUB seems incredibly interested in advancing the new proposal and was expressing its dismay with France’s rejection of several ideas it had launched to tie the financial support of bicycle purchases to the nation’s Climate and Resilience laws. In March, the group cited 18 examples of pro-bicycle proposals that were rejected — citing that they were ideal solutions to reducing transportation-related emissions and should have been supported, especially considering France’s support for cycling as a hobby/sport.
“This systematic refusal of the debate on active mobility in the Climate Act is incomprehensible,” the FUB stated over social media.