On Friday, the government organised a consultation meeting with all stakeholders involved in soft transport modes. Objective: to define regulations applicable in January 2020.
Red electric bicycles are everywhere in the streets of the Principality. The price of success is security. The official figures do not yet take into account the launch of MonaBike.
During the first half of 2019, the latest available data, three accidents involving cyclists were recorded, resulting in three minor injuries. Of these three accidents, the cyclist was liable on two occasions. By comparison, in 2018, of the 143 traffic accidents recorded, 7 were bicycle-related.
These statistics do not reveal any worrying phenomena. Except that since then, the number of red bicycles in circulation has exploded and, inevitably, so has road safety. It is enough to observe the behaviour of certain users, driving the mobile phone by ear or trying to beat speed records on the descent from Ostend, for example, where, moreover, a fairly serious accident has recently been reported.
“There are more bicycles, so there are necessarily more accidents,” concedes Patrice Cellario, Advisor-Minister of the Interior, who also notes the change in behaviour, mainly due to the rejuvenation of the self-service bicycle market from the age of 16, and its easy access, which is a delight for tourists.
The government’s responses? They are of 6 types.
1. AWARENESS RAISING
“We observe that young people aged 20 to 30 and tourists sometimes behave in ways that do not respect the Highway Code,” notes Patrice Cellario. “They sometimes break free from red lights and prohibited directions or travel on bus lanes. These behaviours are most obvious in the summer. The prevention, awareness-raising and educational activities that we are already carrying out in colleges will have to be developed among the general public.”
The MonaBike operator, in this case, the Compagnie des autobus de Monaco (CAM), is responsible for raising awareness among users and for ensuring that the rules of the Highway Code are respected.
2. THE CONTROLS
The police already organise targeted controls on cyclists. They will continue. “Many cyclists are arrested for educational purposes,” continues the minister. “A bicycle that zigzags along its lane is not strictly an offence. If he crosses a white line or a red light, drives on sidewalks or in the opposite direction, then the offence is characterized and the ticket is issued.”
The mandatory use of helmets is one of the areas for consideration.
3. THE AGE
MonaBike is a service that is now prohibited for people under 16 years of age. One of the questions raised on the consultation table is whether the age of use of MonaBike should be lowered.
4. THE HELMET
No question is left out of the consultation, not even that of the possible compulsory wearing of protective helmets on electrically assisted bicycles.
“It is not the self-service bicycle that causes certain uncivil behaviour but electric propulsion,” says Patrice Cellario. The issue of speed limits for red bicycles is also under discussion.
6. BICYCLE PATHS
Prince Albert II, in the interview given to Monaco-Matin, paved the way: “I would like to see bicycle path locations identified. Consideration is being given to increasing the number and length of bicycle paths.”
Today, there is 1.4 km of bicycle lanes on Princess Grace Avenue – 1.1 km on the mountainside and 300 m on the seaside. How can we do more? “We should take up space elsewhere, on the bus or car lanes,” says Marie-Pierre Gramaglia, Advisor-Minister of Public Works. We are thinking in particular of Larvotto. But it won’t be possible everywhere.”
“Take Grimaldi Avenue,” Patrice Cellario continues. A bicycle path cannot be integrated in addition to the bus lane, the traffic lane and parking spaces. The space is too small.” The only solution is to eliminate surface parking. “It’s part of the thinking,” the two councillors answered in chorus.
Indeed, the government is not ruling out any leads. Even the most unpopular.
RED BICYCLES AND DAMAGE
In Nice, when the City launched the Blue Bicycle Self-Service System, the issue of degradation arose quite quickly. What about Monaco with their little red and electrically assisted brothers? “Degradations are very limited,” says the Monaco Bus Company (CAM).
In detail, the CAM notes premature wear of the rear tires, “some people have fun locking the wheels” by braking hard.
The only real vandalism is the tearing off of stickers indicating that the use of MonaBike bicycles is prohibited for children under 16, as well as information labels near the handles. A sign, probably, that people under 16 would like to be able to use these bicycles. The issue is part of the consultation.
“Any other damage is very limited and occasional,” says the MBF. The most important thing is that no bike has been missing since the launch on July 13.
MONABIKE’S SUCCESS IN NUMBERS
MonaBike is 32 stations, 450 attachments, 290 bicycles and 2,000 subscribers
Since the launch of MonaBike, more than 170,000 trips have been made, compared to 82,350 in 2018. In August and September 2019, attendance increased sixfold.
MonaBike now has 2,100 subscribers, compared to a thousand previously.
With the 32 current stations, plus the three installed at the Beausoleil pilot site, ridership could reach 500,000 trips per year, compared to 200,000 initially expected.
In the summer of 2020, the second phase of development should be carried out, with the opening of 12 new stations in Monaco and 9 in the neighbouring municipalities. MonaBike, tomorrow, it would then be 900 ties, 500 bicycles and 1 million trips per year.