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ENVIRONMENT

Urban forests, bikes and Airbnb: Paris mayor Hidalgo sets out six-year plan

After comfortably winning reelection in June, Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo says she wants the post-covid recovery to be a green one.

Urban forests, bikes and Airbnb: Paris mayor Hidalgo sets out six-year plan
Anne Hidalgo has set out her six-year plan. Photo: AFP

Following her victory in a pandemic-disrupted mayoral race partly thanks to a partnership with the Green party, Hidalgo said Parisians had chosen to make their city more “ecological, social and humanist”. 

Now, in her first sit-down interview with the French media since the vote, the Spanish-born Socialist set out the agenda for her next six years at the Hôtel de Ville. 

Hidalgo says extra cycle lanes are here to stay. Photo: AFP

Bikes good, cars bad

During her first term in office, Hidalgo famously banished cars from large stretches of the banks of the Seine, and her campaign to clean up Paris' air shows no signs of abating. 

“Parisians have chosen clearly. They have chosen ecology, to pursue a project to make us breathe better, to move around differently,” she told Le Parisien.

50km of cycle lanes installed during lockdown in order to encourage people away from crowded public transport are to be made permanent. 

The busy thoroughfare Rue de Rivoli will be left predominantly to cyclists with increased space for buses and taxis.

The speed limit on the Paris ring road will be limited to 50km/h and by 2024 certain lanes will be reserved for buses, 'clean' cars and carpooling. 

“As of now we are going to start adding many more trees and plants on the embankments,” she added.

Hidalgo also confirmed that another lockdown measure – the expanded street terraces allowed to restaurants and cafés to ensure better social distancing – could potentially be made permanent at the expense of cars.

At present the expanded terraces can stay in place until September, and Hidalgo said their long term future would be debated at Conseil de Paris (the city council).

READ ALSO Should Paris allow cafés and restaurants to permanently expand their terraces?

 

Urban forests

One of Hidalgo's more eye-catching environmental policies is the introduction of urban forests, as part of a large-scale 'greening'  programme across the capital. 

While 'forest' might be a slight stretch, thickets of trees at major landmarks will radically change the city's aesthetic, and help Paris reach its ambitious goal of 50 percent vegetation coverage by 2030.

“Assessment work will start very quickly for the urban forests on the square outside the Hôtel de Ville, near to the Opéra Garnier or near to the Gare de Lyon,” she confirmed.

Hidalgo also said work would begin “very quickly” on a project to reinvent the deprived Porte de la Chapelle area in the north of the city as a “great, exceptional site similar to Invalides or the Champ-de-Mars”. 

Plans include construction of a huge, green square and the transformation of ring-road access ramps into hanging gardens. 

Planting will also take place on Champs-Elysées, towards Place de la Concorde. 

Referendum on Airbnb

Hidalgo confirmed she would moved ahead with plans for a referendum on Airbnb-type rentals in order to free up more residential accommodation in the city. 

It's the latest chapter in a long-running war between City Hall and the home-letting giant who, in Hidalgo's view, are  causing normal Parisians to be priced out of the rental market. 

“There are about 30,000 Airbnb-type rentals in Paris, the task is to get them back,” she said.

“We will therefore ask Parisians via a referendum whether or not they would like to see the annual rental period of these apartments limited. This will encourage homeowners not to put them on the rental market.” 

The vote is likely to take place in autumn.

It is likely that many of the world's other major cities will be looking on with interest as Hidalgo seeks to realise her vision for Paris ahead of the 2024 Olympics. 

Anne Hidalgo has Airbnb in her sights. Photo: AFP

Member comments

  1. Next, Madame Mayor, ban smoking is all public places, outdoors too. I’d like to have a meal or un verre on a terrace for once.

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ENVIRONMENT

Massive hornet-trapping campaign begins in south west France

Across south west France trapping campaigns have begun in an attempt to control the numbers of dangerous Asian hornets.

Massive hornet-trapping campaign begins in south west France

Trapping campaigns are organised annually at this time of year, as the weather begins to get warmer and queens begin to emerge from hibernation.

And the Charente-Maritime town of Royan Atlantique, on France’s west coast, is leading the way, as the below video shows.

Experts say that now is the time to begin using the traps, as catching queen hornets in the process of building their nests will lead to far fewer insects later in the year. 

Some 2,000 traps are installed in and around Royan this year, including 300 that were distributed to householders in the week of Valentine’s Day. 

Once installed, the traps can capture several dozen insects at a time.

In order to capture a maximum of hornet queens, traps should be installed between mid-February and mid-May. Especially since during this period, these predators end up coming out of their hibernation.

It is believed Asian hornets arrived in France around 2004. They have now spread nationwide.

Although their venom is not more powerful than that of normal bees or wasps, they are known to be more aggressive towards humans, and their stings can cause anaphylactic shock in allergic people.

The hornets also damage beehives and kill bees, damaging honey stocks and destroying the native ecosystem.

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