Cycle highways : the networks of anger

sep article

DECRYPTION – “Uproar” in terms of communication, the “cycle highways” have unleashed passions in Grenoble. As for the highways, the plan is to put an “express cycle network” in place, which isn’t an easy task. Feedback on a project that certainly leaves no-one indifferent.




Christophe Ferrari, president of the Grenoble metropolitan area (PS). © Paul Turenne -

Christophe Ferrari, pre­sident of the Grenoble metro­po­li­tan area (PS). © Paul Turenne –

« We should no lon­ger speak of “cycle high­ways!”  » Christophe Ferrari, pre­sident of the Grenoble metro­po­li­tan area (PS), was keen to make the point, him­self. « This “word-ram” is sub­ject to confu­sion, as well as incor­rect atti­tudes … [see box below, editor’s note] We should now speak of express cycle net­works ! » Networks that have ulti­ma­tely nothing in com­mon with high­ways…


So, what is it all about ? « To offer long-dis­tance cycle routes, beyond the city centre, into the neigh­bou­ring areas […]



« These struc­tu­red axes will be in secure dedi­ca­ted areas, on which a stream of bikes will be able to ride at a speed of 20 km/h, with condi­tions com­pa­rable to those of public trans­port », the pre­sident explai­ned to jour­na­lists, on 5th November.


To per­ma­nently end the expres­sion “high­ways”, Christophe Ferrari drives the point : « The idea is to enable both cyclists and moto­rists to tra­vel safely […] Bikes will not mono­po­lise the roads ! […] Nowadays, we are into area spe­cia­li­za­tion. » That being said, many ques­tions remain…




“A 4‑metre-wide network”



Between April and June, 2015, a cycle consul­ta­tion com­mit­tee*, set up by Metropolitan Grenoble, met three times. It pre­sen­ted its conclu­sions to the metro­po­lis mobi­lity com­mis­sion on 9th October.


Provisional draft of Grenoble's Express Cycle Network. (click on the map to enlarge) © La Métro

Provisional draft of Grenoble’s Express Cycle Network. (click on the map to enlarge) © La Métro

What is the fruit of this reflec­tion ? The pro­po­sed express cycle net­work, consis­ting of four axes :

• A 16 km route lin­king Vizille to Grenoble

• A 14 km route lin­king Saint-Égrève to Saint-Martin‑d’Hères

• A 12 km east-west axis lin­king Fontaine with Inovallée

• A 5 km north-south axis lin­king Eybens with Grenoble.


The com­mit­tee also issued pro­po­sals for the size of the cycle lanes : they will be bidi­rec­tio­nal, a maxi­mum of 4m wide, and secure. « There must be enough room for a cyclist to over­take two bikes riding side-by-side », com­ments Philippe Zanolla, host of the cycle/pedestrian com­mit­tee at the ADTC, who par­ti­ci­pa­ted in the cycle consul­ta­tion com­mit­tee.


Will the express cycle areas be exclu­si­vely for bikes (exclu­si­vely dedi­ca­ted to cycling)? « If we want to achieve the objec­tive of moving at an ave­rage speed of 20 km/h, this seems obvious », conti­nues the host of the ADTC.
We ima­gine that in some places the coexis­tence of pedes­trians, buses, trams, cars and the express cycle net­work will be com­plex to imple­ment.


The future cycle lanes of the Express Cycle Network in Grenoble resemble this section of the cycle lane, in front of the Grenoble town hall. © Séverine Cattiaux -

The future cycle lanes of the Express Cycle Network in Grenoble resemble this sec­tion of the cycle lane, in front of the Grenoble town hall. © Séverine Cattiaux –


It is cer­tain that the traf­fic will lose some road space to cyclists, but « in a way that aims to include, rather than exclude », insists the pre­sident of the metro­po­lis.


Philippe Zanolla, host of the cycle/pedestrian committee at the ADTC. © Séverine Cattiaux -

Philippe Zanolla, host of the cycle/pedestrian com­mit­tee at the ADTC. © Séverine Cattiaux –

A concrete example that will concern eve­ryone : « One conse­quence of the express cycle net­work on bou­le­vard Agutte Sembat, will be the clo­sure of one of the two car lanes », indi­cates Philippe Zanolla, which is bet­ter than no traf­fic cir­cu­la­tion at all, as some thought…


At the end of the day, the ADTC intends to ensure that the future metro­po­li­tan Express Cycle Network is built fol­lo­wing the stric­test regu­la­tions : « At all inter­sec­tions, it would also be desi­rable that the express lanes are equip­ped with detec­tors, so that bicycles take pre­ce­dence over moto­rists, like they do in nor­thern coun­tries ! »




Is the discord really over ?



The concept of cycle high­ways has been clea­red by the pre­sident of the metro­po­lis, the pro­ject conti­nues… Some, par­ti­cu­larly tra­ders, are eager to have their say. But, it’s not for now ; they will need to be patient.


Yann Mongaburu, the environmentalist president of the SMTC, being interviewed on the terrace of Café de la table ronde in Grenoble. © Paul Turenne -

Yann Mongaburu © P.Turenne


This is what Christophe Ferrari sug­gests : « There is still some fine tuning to be done. The ope­ra­tio­nal imple­men­ta­tion will depend on the situa­tion and be car­ried out in consul­ta­tion with local resi­dents and tra­ders… »


It’s the same story from Yann Mongaburu, vice pre­sident for tra­vel in the metro­pole (EELV), invi­ted on Cape Info, TéléGrenoble, on Monday 2nd November :


« Once the fea­si­bi­lity stu­dies have been com­ple­ted, we will enter into a consul­ta­tion phase with local resi­dents and tra­ders, to work out the fine details of the pro­ject, which must be consistent with a pro­ject for urban com­mer­cial revi­ta­li­za­tion and qua­lity of life… The work is only just begin­ning.




Another point of view : that of Jérôme Safar, muni­ci­pal coun­cil­lor of the oppo­si­tion (PS). According to him, the city must take up the issue imme­dia­tely : « The metro­po­lis works at its own pace. If there were misun­ders­tan­dings, Grenoble is 100% res­pon­sible ! It is up to the elec­ted offi­cials from both the city centre, and the other com­mu­ni­ties, to ensure proxi­mity and infor­ma­tion concer­ning the cycle high­ways, and in gene­ral, any other type of file sup­por­ted by the metro­po­lis ! »



Séverine Cattiaux



* Composition of the cycle consul­ta­tion com­mit­tee : Metro ser­vices, 7 ran­domly picked Métrovélo sub­scri­bers, 6 metro­po­li­tan offi­cials, inclu­ding Yann Mongaburu, Lucile Lheureux and Richard Cazenave, 9 cycling asso­cia­tion mem­bers and sta­ke­hol­ders and 7 mem­bers of the resi­dents” asso­cia­tions.






Why create an express cycle net­work ? Is there an indis­cri­mi­nate love of cycling in Grenoble ? Or is it just the wacky idea of the “Grenoble labo­ra­tory”, as the local FN lea­der tends to believe ?


Vélorution in Grenoble. © Joël Kermabon -

Vélorution in Grenoble. © Joël Kermabon –

It is clear that cycling is beco­ming more com­mon in all major cities in Europe and in France. Travelling by bicycle is the aspi­ra­tion of the people, as well as a sus­tai­nable deve­lop­ment in move­ment around the city. Paris is wor­king on its express cycle net­work (REVe), as are Bordeaux, Toulouse et and Strasbourg (Vélostras). It’s not sur­pri­sing that Grenoble is joi­ning the cycling evo­lu­tion… « Between 2002 and 2010, the modal share of cycling has increa­sed by 40% in the Grenoble area », says the pre­sident of the metro­po­lis.


In addi­tion to main­tai­ning good health, cycling is a free form of trans­port – an impor­tant argu­ment in times of cri­sis. Finally, the third chal­lenge for cities inclu­ding Grenoble : the fight against air pol­lu­tion. By 2020, Grenoble aims to triple the num­ber of jour­neys by bicycle, that’s 220,000 trips by bike per day.




Traduction from Speak English Center

Phone : +33 4 76 50 39 79

1 ave­nue du Vercors, 38600 Fontaine FRANCE



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