168 French mayors demand Paris river bank reopen for cars

Some 168 mayors from across the Greater Paris region have joined forces to demand mayor Anne Hidalgo reopen the Right Bank of the River Seine to cars, claiming their streets have been clogged with traffic since it was closed.

168 French mayors demand Paris river bank reopen for cars
Will the right bank of the River Seine look like this in the future? Image: Luxigon
As many as 168 mayors from the Paris region have signed a letter addressed to the Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, calling for her to leave the Right Bank of the River Seine open to motorists. 
The mayors claim the closure of the river bank to cars has had a terrible knock-on effect with streets in their towns now clogged with traffic as a result.
The letter comes after regional president Valérie Pécresse asked for the issue to be addressed by the administrative court, Le Figaro newspaper reported on Tuesday. 
They argue that there must be other ways to improve pedestrianisation in Paris without cutting out a major artery in the city's traffic flow. 
“The increased congestion makes everyday life worse for tens of thousands of Parisians who aren't asking for more than to be able to get to work, an effort that sometimes takes more than an hour,” they wrote. 

(Traffic on the Right Bank, Photo: AFP)
They said Hidalgo's plan showed “an indifference to the people of Paris”, who had been left “tired and angry”. 
Their voices back up those of French drivers' organization 40 Million d'Automobilistes, which launched a petition against the plan. 

Hidalgo has, in the past, swept away any concerns of traffic delays, noting that while the decision “may seem radical, it's a public health issue”.
The mayor has long been an active supporter of cutting back on traffic as she continues to look for ways to leave her green footprint on the City of Light. 
The rive droite is currently going through a six-month car-free trial, kicked off when the the Prefecture of Police signed up for the experiment in September this year. 

The police chief, Michel Cadot, said that authorities would be “particularly vigilant” to ensure a pedestrianization will not hinder emergency workers. 

“I will be very careful during this period to make sure that the plan is implemented effectively and that we get a clear vision on how it impacts the daily lives of Parisians and their safety,” he said at the time. 
The plan is for the 3.3-kilometre stretch of the road that runs from the Quai des Tuileries in first arrondissement to the Port de L'Arsenal in the fourth to be “closed permanently” to traffic at the end of the summer.  
Opening up a river bank to walkers has already proved successful in Paris, after Hidalgo's predecessor Bertrand Delanoë closed the highway along the left bank, which has since been deemed a success, even if it angered motorist groups.
The concept has also proved successful in Lyon and Bordeaux. 
(Image: Luxigon)

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