Interview with Mr Marc BAIETTO, Vice-President of the Grenoble Alps Metropolis

Could you describe the network of cycle paths in the Grenoble-Alps Metropolis to us?

Grenoble Alps Metropolis (400,000 inhabitants, 26 municipalities [Communes]) possesses a network of 280 km of public roads adapted for cycle use (a 2-way system in almost all cases). The plan to create 450 km of adapted public road networks was part of the new bicycle development master plan, adopted in October, 2006. The investment in improving cycle ways will amount to 6 million € in 2007, of which 1 million € will be reserved for the construction of a new pedestrian/cycle footbridge. It should also be noted that the cost of upkeeping these new cycle ways will be borne by the local council (Communes) or by the Isère General Council, who are in charge of managing the public road network.

Since implementing the network of cycle paths, have you been able to evaluate its impact on the behaviour of the public?

Measuring the evolution of bike use is a complex subject. Therefore, the last survey of people and their behavior, carried out during the winter of 2002, showed a decline in the volume of bike traffic between 1992 and 2002. On the other hand, a counting campaign during 2005 (in the spring, on a normal working day, during the two periods of rush hour) showed a 50% increase in the number of cyclists. Bike use during specially planned events aimed at promoting cycling is also on the increase (the number of participants during the "fête du vélo" (bike festival) increased threefold between 2002 and 2006). Lastly, Métrovélo, a company offering bike hiring, data tagging and secure parking, generated 60,000 days-worth of bike rentals in 2006. These results, which may appear contradictory, give rise to numerous questions around the subjects of biking practices and habits. Notable questions include: What impact do the different seasons have? How is bike use evolving in town centers? How is the use of bikes for recreational pursuits progressing?

In what context will permanent automatic counters be implemented?

Given the efforts being made by local governments withthe development of alternative means of transportation, the officials in charge of transport policy want to have a exact idea of the evolution of bike use. This is done to be able to gauge the impact of said policies and thus make possible adjustments.

In any case, if the 2002 survey of people and their movements showed a decline in the number of everyday bike users, it also showed evidence of new practices, with a strong increase in the number of occasional cyclists. The latter are more opportunistic in their riding habits, and are particularly affected by the seasons and the weather. It is essential that we characterise this practice with close observation.

What are the objectives of a permanent and automatic follow-up?

Putting automatic counters in place within the city is carried out with three objectives in mind:

To have a better knowledge of the influence of the seasons and the weather on bike use within the city of Grenoble. Eventually, the accumulation of data should allow us to adjust for the effects caused by different seasons and the weather when assessing data received from regular (punctual) counts.

Increasing the reliability of the follow-up, moving from regular (punctual) observation (counting during a whole day) to an annual volume, which will limit the uncertainties.

Gauging the impact of the city's cycling policies (as a supplement to regular counting campaigns) by initiating a follow-up which verifies usage during slack periods, the practice of leisure activities during the weekend etc.