Vacationers stopped in front of the St Gotthard tunnel

The little queen monopolized the Grand Council of Vaud on Tuesday. After lengthy discussions, the deputies agreed in the first debate to validate the bicycle strategy developed by the Council of State.

Presented last November, this strategy aims for cycling to account for 10% of trips in the canton of Vaud by 2035, up from 2.2% in 2015 (latest data available). This will involve, among other things, the development of facilities reserved for cyclists, from 180 km today to 500 km in fifteen years.

To launch this vast program, the Council of State presented two opening credits to Parliament. The first, of 28.6 million francs, should be used to finance studies, promote cycling and create a cycling competence center in the state, with ten places. The second loan, of 13.25 million, constitutes a subsidy to develop the cantonal network of cycle paths.

Vaud delay

“This 2035 strategy is the missing link our canton needs,” said socialist Jean Tschopp. He recalled the delay in Vaud with two wheels, taking as an example the canton of Bern, where the threshold of 10% of bicycle trips has already been reached. “Good for the planet and good for health,” cycling has “enormous” room for improvement in Vaud, he said.

Green Alice Genoud also highlighted the need to give cycling “a boost”. This must take the form of financial and human amounts “in relation to the stakes”. She highlighted the importance of implementing a “global strategy” for the whole canton, and not just by “achievements by leaps and bounds”, in order to ensure the continuity of the cycling network.

“Land grab”

The enthusiasm of the left was not shared by many elected representatives of the right, especially in the ranks of the SVP. These deputies criticized the amount foreseen for the studies, the ten collaborators that the State wants to hire for the Cycling Center and, above all, the replacement of crop rotation areas (the most productive agricultural land) with cycle paths.

“Too much is too much,” said UDC Jean-François Thuillard, deeming the project “disproportionate.” Rapporteur for the majority of the committee, he indicated that 100 hectares of crop rotation (SDA) would be “devoured” and that the financial compensation would not be satisfactory for farmers. “It’s authorized theft,” he said.

Other opponents also deplored “a land grab” or even “the excessive cost” of the planned studies. Others denounced an “injustice”, knowing that cyclists would not have to pay for the facilities offered to them. Many of them also pointed out that it was useless to develop a bicycle network in the countryside, where, according to them, there are few users.

Some voices on the right, despite some reservations, followed the Council of State. This was particularly the case with PLR Aurélien Clerc, who defended the desire to “create more space” to allow cyclists to circulate in complete safety. According to the former professional runner, it is urgent that Vaud dedicate “large sums over time” to catch up in terms of smooth mobility.

Bicycle fee?

Speaking at the end of the debate, the State Councilor responsible for the dossier, Nuria Gorrite, responded to the various criticisms. In particular, she noted that leverage on SDAs was necessary to ensure the safety of cyclists, without reducing space for cars or trucks. Furthermore, its use remains admissible taking into account other uses, for example for roads or constructions.

To reassure the deputies, the socialist minister also confided that the issue of the “bicycle tax” will be analyzed so that cyclists can contribute to the financing of infrastructure.

Mrs. Gorrite again insisted on the responsibility of the authorities to let the Waldensians choose their mode of travel. A choice that is not possible today, due to the lack of infrastructure that is safe enough for cycling, according to her.

Denied in commission, the two claims presented by the Council of State passed through the ramp in front of the plenary thanks to the votes of the left, added to those of certain PLR and the Green Liberals. A second debate, which will take place before the autumn break, has not yet taken place.

This article was automatically published. source: ats

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