Paris: The French government was encouraging people to cycle to keep pollution levels low once the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions end, a media report said on Thursday. Also Read - Lockdown: Air India to Operate 18 Flights For Citizens of Germany, Canada, France, Ireland Stranded in India

Elisabeth Borne, Minister for Ecological Transition, said the move was aimed at reducing driving when commuting or for short journeys to keep air pollution levels down once restrictions are lifted, the BBC reported.

Normally, 60 per cent of journeys made in France are less than 5 km – making bicycles “a real transport solution”, the BBC quoted the Minister as saying. France has announced plans to slowly wind down its restrictions from May 11.

As of Thursday, the country had 166,543 coronavirus cases, the fourth highest in the world, with 24,087 deaths.

Borne announced the 20 million eurps scheme in association with the Federation of Bicycle Users (FUB) which will register a network of more than 3,000 repairmen on the FUB website who will agree to fix any bike for up to 50 pounds, such as changing tires or old chains.

The funding will also help pay for cycle training and temporary parking spaces. Amid the lockdowns across countries due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, pollution levels have dropped worldwide, and many are seeking to keep those levels low, the BBC reported.

On Thursday, the International Energy Agency (IEA) forecast a 6 per cent drop in energy demand for the year.

It said this would lead to a drop in carbon dioxide emissions of 8 per cent, six times larger than the biggest fall in 2009 which followed the financial crash.