It’s been a year since she switched gears. Nelly Bouillet has decided to no longer systematically take her car to travel the 10 km that separates her home from her workplace. A journey that she now takes by bicycle, one to three times a week. “I was offered an electric bike in my forties and since then I have used it whenever I can”, testifies this resident of La Saunière, manager of a game and toy shop in the center of Guéret.
It doesn’t matter if it takes 25 minutes to reach her business by bike compared to 15 minutes by car. “It’s super nice, pedaling clears my head, especially in the evening when I get home from work. And it freaks out! “, she continues. In addition to his desire to be physically active, Nelly Bouillet cites his desire to “be aware of the planet” as the main motivation for his conversion to the little queen. Even though the increase in the price of fuel, by his own admission, has caused him to hold even tighter on the handlebars.
Nelly Bouillet comes to work in Guéret by bicycle.
And it’s obviously not the only one in Creuse! If most of the daily trips are made with the help of the internal combustion engine, in this rural and hilly department, it seems that the biclou is gaining more and more followers. As observed by Cédric Trolong, co-responsible for the bicycle workshop at the Recyclabulle resource center in Guéret and co-president of the association for the promotion of bicycles, Guéret en selle.
“Since the end of the first lockdown, more and more people who live in the surrounding municipalities come to see us because they want to do without the car,” he says. With the prices displayed at the pump, it becomes complicated for some to go to work or do their shopping. »
He continues: “‘For half a tank you buy a bike’ is an argument you often hear. Cédric Trolong also notes that the current success of the electric bicycle (or the electrification of conventional bicycles) is undoubtedly not independent of this return to the saddle:
“With an electric bike you can ride 10 to 15 km without any problems. »
What Vincent can testify to. This resident of the town of Saint-Laurent goes to his workplace in Gueret almost every day on an electric bike. A journey of around ten kilometres, which he covers in less than half an hour. And that despite a drop of around 140 meters one way. An obstacle that the young man of 29 years faces without fear thanks to the small engine that relieves his muscles. “I can do the classic bike ride, but that would require me to take two showers a day: one when I get to work in the morning and one when I get home. »
… and financially
Those who primarily borrow their car or the Grand Guéret on-demand transport service when it’s too cold have adapted to the vagaries of the climate. “I have a poncho in case of rain. And it’s enough to cover well when it’s cold in winter. But above – 10° it’s fine. I love watching the sun rise over the frost-covered landscape. It’s wonderful ! We see deer in the fields. It’s much nicer to pedal in Creuse than in the city”, says this former resident of Lyon.
Vincent cites his desire to emit less greenhouse gases to justify his regular use of the bicycle. But for him too, the economic argument is not insignificant:
I’ve calculated that owning a car like mine costs about 25 cents per mile, including gas. I bought my bike for 1,500 euros and it needs almost no maintenance. I drove 8,500 kilometers with it without ever getting a puncture.
The cost of living: this was what mainly made Andréa go without a car. The 24-year-old returned to Creuse, where her family lives, after having to put her studies in Spain on hold due to the Covid-19 epidemic. She works as a postwoman in Aubusson while she waits to resume her studies. “It bothers me to buy a car just to go to work. The local mission Guéret lends me a bicycle for free. It is fantastic. And if I’m going to Limoges, I take the regional bus for just two euros,” she explains.
Develop cycle paths along the Creuse roads
Nevertheless, it is not always easy to get to the mail sorting center, which is located outside the city, 2.5 km from the coast, without electrical assistance and in all kinds of weather. “It takes me almost half an hour to get there. And this by taking a main road limited to 90 km/h. The development of cycle paths on these major axes would be welcome,” continues Andréa. Security is also one of Nicolas Hamoneau’s biggest concerns.
This resident of the town of Maisonnisses, of which he is the first deputy mayor, very regularly takes his children, aged 4 and 6, to school in Sardent in a cart pulled by a bicycle that he electrified himself. It is approximately fifteen kilometers round trip. “I switched to cycling for ecological reasons. But also because I like the feeling of freedom that two-wheeled cars give,” says the 39-year-old. Then add:
Creating bike lanes along major roads, such as the Guéret-Pontarion axis, would allow riding at a good pace and would be more reassuring. Especially when driving with two children in the back
Because speed is obviously a risk factor. “Some cyclists tell us that it is a pity that the department’s roads have gone back to 90 km/h, reports Cédric Trolong, from Guéret in the saddle, for his part. We know that people tend to drive 10 km/h faster than the limit. And if accidents with bicycles are less frequent in the countryside than in the city, they are also often more serious”.
Cédric Trolong co-director of the bicycle workshop Recyclabulle.
A sustainable return to cycling?
The danger of certain Creuse roads, Jérôme Lefebvre-Morin experiences it sometimes, as close as possible to the bitumen. This resident of Ahun is used to going shopping, and especially to taking his 5-year-old son to school in Saint-Georges-la-Pouge, 14 km from his home, in a trailer pulled by an electric recumbent bicycle. “Lying down allows you to get more power to pedal and be more aerodynamic,” assures the 30-year-old.
In addition to the actual absence of cycle paths in the department, this manager of a service for the sale, rental and repair of electric bicycles in the center of Ahun points to the behavior of certain drivers “who double up in the many turns” that puncture Limousin roads.
But for this supporter of “degrowth”, the bicycle will eventually force itself into daily journeys, even in the countryside: “The price of fuel is not going to fall. And from my point of view, electric cars are not an alternative because these vehicles are much heavier than bicycles, and the price of electricity will also increase. »Are you ready to work out your calves?
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