President of the French bicycle users federation, Olivier Schneider played a key role in the bicycle plan launched by the French government.
Like all good swashbuckling heroes, Olivier Schneider has a secret weapon. It’s a fold-up bicycle that he takes everywhere, from French government offices and Parliament to conferences and symposiums. “I see it as my business card. If you want to make an impression, you have to stand out. It’s part of my personality,” he laughs, the picture of a knight on a bike. With a youthful face partially hidden under three-day stubble and a twinkle in his bright blue eyes, 36-year-old Olivier Schneider is a sustainable mobility advisor for the United Nations and has been president of theFrench bicycle users federation (FUB) for three and a half years. Founded in 1980, it heads up a network of 292 local non-profits that promote cycling as an accessible, cheap and under-used means of day-to-day transport. The federation’s active campaigning played a significant role in the introduction of France’s bicycle plan on 14 September, with the French government actually taking up all its proposals.
A €350 million bicycle plan
With the creation of a €350 million fund over seven years (€50 million per year) for infrastructure, the interdepartmental plan is “a turning point because it’s the first time a budget has ever been set aside. Previous plans were just lists of intentions.” In particular, the plan provides for the creation of a fixed-rate bicycle allowance of up to €400 paid by employers, measures to prevent theft and resale, and the development of a cycling culture, with regular lessons for primary school children.