Bikes (3) Night biking in urban France


And now, for a special study, by a Psychosociologist (Mrs Catherine Espinasse), on night biking at Lyon, Paris and Poitiers. It is worth noticing that bike use in France is way smaller than in the Netherlands or Denmark. The interest of this text is to grasp the motivations to use a bicycle under special conditions that initially seem less adequate. It results from 60 open interviews with urban bikers (30 in Paris, 20 at Lyon and 10 at Poitiers).

The author identifies several biker categories:

  • Unconditional users, using their bicycle everywhere and as an almost exclusive transportation mode.
  • Hedonists, using their bike only when climate is good, but prone to use it by night for leisure
  • Prudent bikers (mainly women) that feel vulnerable and do not use it at night.
  • Sport pretentious bikers (mainly men)
  • Rationalists, which have become unconditional users.

For bikers in Lyon and Paris the bicycle seems a way to solve the lack of night mass transit, and also to rediscover city lights. At Poitiers, night biking seems associated to young users going to clubs and parties. Overall, biking seems not so much a “soft mode” but an “active mode”, as well physically as on citizen involvement terms.

Do you think night biking is possible where you live?