Changes in cycling practices in France during the Covid-19 pandemic. An illusory reduction in inequalities

The Covid-19 health crisis and the attendant pro-bicycle policies have accelerated the development of urban cycling worldwide. Bicycle traffic flows have generally been well documented, with particular focus on utilitarian trips during lockdowns. However, little research has examined the profiles of social groups affected by changes in bicycle use. That is the purpose of this article, which examines the socio-spatial factors behind changes in utilitarian and recreational cycle use. The study is based on a nationwide questionnaire completed by 7343 cyclists in France between May and October 2021. The analyses are based on bivariate treatments, tests of independence, logistic regressions, and additional comments by some respondents (n = 1594). The results show both utility and leisure cycling were more likely to have increased than decreased over the period under study. However, while utility practice was driven by fear of Covid-19 but inhibited by teleworking, recreational practice was driven by both working-at-home and by the desire to get out for some physical exercise. Compensatory phenomena, blurring the boundary between leisure and utility, are perceptible. Reductions in both the gender gap and the income gap in bicycle use are measured. However, since these were mainly forced changes and since inequalities in access to cycling persist, the narrowing of these gaps cannot be interpreted as steps toward gender or class equality. The article recommends further research to assess the persistence of observed changes in leisure and utility cycling. At the same time, it warns against the pitfall of considering that a reduction in inequalities in cycling practices implies a reduction in social inequalities.


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  • Accession Number: 01888284
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jul 21 2023 9:18AM