‘Long live fresh air’: Paris mayor opens car-free river bank

Mayor Anne Hidalgo was on hand on Sunday to inaugurate the pedestrianized right bank of the River Seine.

'Long live fresh air': Paris mayor opens car-free river bank
All photos: AFP
The weather was fantastic on Sunday, ideal conditions for the official launch of the newly pedestrianized right bank of the River Seine. 
“We've dreamed of this moment for 15 years – but now pedestrians and the children can have this magnificent walkway,” said Mayor Anne Hidalgo.
A throng of Parisians and tourists alike took to the river banks throughout the day, on foot, on bicycles, and on roller blades, with a swing band on hand for some background music. 
“We aren't anti-cars, we're anti-pollution. Long live life, long life Paris, and long live fresh air,” the mayor added. 
She said that tour operators in Tokyo have already started to inform future tourists about the park.
The 3.3 kilometres stretch of roadway has actually been closed off to traffic since October 21st, while experts carried out tests to see the effects on traffic flow. 
Motorist groups have been far from impressed with the change, arguing that there must be other ways to improve pedestrianisation in Paris without cutting out a major artery in the city's traffic flow. 
Their voices were echoed by 168 mayors from across the greater Paris region, who in November joined forces in a failed bid to get the area reopened for cars. 

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Revealed: The fastest way to get across Paris

Car, moped, public transport, or electric bicycle - which means of transport is the quickest way to get across Paris?

Revealed: The fastest way to get across Paris

One intrepid reporter for French daily Le Parisien decided to find out. 

The challenge was simple. Which mode of transport would get the journalist from the heart of Fontenay-sous-Bois in the eastern suburbs to the newspaper’s office on Boulevard de Grenelle, west Paris, fastest?

Over four separate journeys, each one in the middle of rush hour, the electric bicycle was quickest and easiest. More expensive than conventional bikes, electric bikes do come with a government subsidy.

The journey was described as ‘pleasant and touristy’ on a dry but chilly morning going via dedicated cycle lanes that meant the dogged journalist avoided having to weave in and out of traffic.

It took, in total, 47 minutes from start to finish at an average speed of 19km/h, on a trip described as “comfortable” but with a caveat for bad weather. The cost was a few centimes for charging up the bike.

In comparison, a car journey between the same points took 1 hour 27 minutes – a journey not helped by a broken-down vehicle. Even accounting for that, according to the reporter’s traffic app, the journey should – going via part of the capital’s southern ringroad – have taken about 1 hr 12.

Average speed in the car was 15km/h, and it cost about €2.85 in diesel – plus parking.

A “chaotic and stressful” moped trip took 1 hour 3 minutes, and cost €1.30 in unleaded petrol.

Public transport – the RER and Metro combined via RER A to Charles-de-Gaulle-Étoile then Metro line 6 to the station Bir-Hakeim – took 50 minutes door to door, including a 10-minute walk and cost €2.80. The journey was described as “tiring”.

READ ALSO 6 ways to get around Paris without the Metro