Mayor Anne Hidalgo, a Socialist who is weighing a run for the presidency next year, has pledged to reduce the amount of public space dedicated to cars in one of Europe’s densest cities.
From Monday, only the périphérique – the main ring road surrounding Paris – and major boulevards and arteries including the Champs-Elysées allow speeds above 30km/h (18mph).
Around 60 per cent of the capital’s streets are already subject to the speed limit, and since Hidalgo took office in 2016 many others have been reduced to single lanes or turned over entirely to pedestrians. Many of the capital’s suburbs have followed suit, imposing their own 30 km/h limit on residential streets.
Hidalgo had previously pledged to reduce the speed limit on the périphérique ring road to 50 km/h, but for now it will remain 70 km/h.
According to the local transport statistics agency, the average speed when driving in central Paris between 7am and 9pm is 11.6 km/h, and 30.9 km/h on the ring road.
“The point is to reduce the space taken by cars, which involves lowering their speeds,” deputy mayor David Belliard said, making streets safer cyclists and pedestrians.
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Announced in July, the measure comes as Hidalgo pushes ahead with plans to remove 60,000 of the city’s roughly 140,000 street-level parking spaces.
Motorcycles and scooters, which have been allowed to park free, will also have to start paying next year, when hourly parking rates for automobiles will also rise.
And also next year, most vehicles will be banned outright from the Paris Centre district – the first four arrondissements of the capital including the two islands on the Seine river and the narrow streets of the Marais.
Massacre #saccageparis des mômes a qui on aurait donné des palettes, du béton et des cônes jaunes. Et la tronçonneuse est de série @Anne_Hidalgo @EELV @EcoloParis19 @EELV_20 @EELVParis12 @EPierreMarie @ArielWeilT #alicecoffin et le budget est « full inclusive ». @hidalgodegage 🤮 https://t.co/8gAbocPPD3 pic.twitter.com/Fsij2iWWU7
— Charles Martel (@Charles53152581) July 8, 2021
Hidalgo’s critics accuse her of anti-car policies that have generated massive traffic headaches for residents as well as for millions of people who live in the suburbs but need cars for working in the capital, although she was re-elected with a comfortable margin in June 2020 on a platform of continuing and expanding her green policies.
The mayor is also confronting a wave of criticism that the city has become dingier on her watch, via a social media campaign with the hashtag #saccageparis (Trashed Paris).
In July officials laid out eight measures to spruce up one of the world’s most visited cities and Hidalgo has promised to double annual spending on cleaning during her second term to one billion euros.