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Scrappage scheme: France backs bicycles

French people who trade in their combustion engine for an electric bicycle will in future receive €2,500 from the state. This is not intended to make vehicles greener in the transport transition, but to reduce their overall number. A similar push in Germany fell on deaf ears from politicians.

The scrappage premium, as introduced in Germany in 2009, for example, was actually intended to get old cars off the road and exchange them for newer vehicles with lower emissions. In France, this premium is now being rethought. Anyone who trades in their car for an electric bike will get €2,500 from the state. This is meant to encourage people to get rid of cars and use bicycles as an alternative.

In Paris, for example, cycling has risen sharply thanks to the policies of Mayor Anne Hidalgo. Driving bans on the first Sunday of the month in large parts of the city, the increase of car-free streets and the expansion of cycle paths in the metropolis contributed to this. The bicycle premium is another step towards a green oasis in Paris and other cities in France. The French Cyclists' Federation (FUB) sees the measure as a very positive sign. It shows that politicians have understood that the mobility turnaround does not have to mean more clean cars, but generally fewer vehicles in the cities.

In other countries, too, there is already money from the state for switching to cycling. In Finland, for example, the scrapping premium is regulated even more flexibly. The bonus can be used for electric cars, e-bikes or public transport.

In Germany, a similar concept was discussed, but without success. In June last year, the German Cyclists' Federation (ADFC) argued that the scrapping premium should be used flexibly for any alternative, such as bicycles or even the train. Politicians had ignored this proposal.

Since many cars were not scrapped as intended but sold to Eastern Europe or Africa, the scrapping premium is certainly questionable if new cars are bought in exchange. In 2010, the bonus was abolished again in Germany. However, the law in France is an incentive not to put new cars on the roads, but to create an alternative that has a positive effect on the health and well-being of citizens.

In Germany, politicians continue to hold on to the key industry of the car. This way, cities in this country can hardly become greener and cleaner.