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How Paris will spend €250 million on making city ‘100 % bike friendly’

The city of Paris on Thursday promised to develop its network of secure cycling lanes as part of a five-year plan to make the French capital "100-percent bikeable" with €250 million of extra spending.

Cycle lanes in Paris
Cycle lanes in Paris. Photo: AFP

Socialist mayor Anne Hidalgo, who runs Paris with support from the Green  party, placed a push for more bike-friendly policies at the centre of her platform that got her re-elected by a wide margin in June of last year.

She is now also the Socialist party’s candidate in next year’s presidential election, hoping to unseat President Emmanuel Macron, but her campaign has got off to a woeful start with single-digit ratings.

Her policies have found wide support among the capital’s urban elites with short commutes, but they are seen as a much harder sell in the rest of the country.

“Our target is to make our city 100 percent bikeable,” David Belliard, deputy mayor in charge of urban transformation and Green party member, told AFP.

Some €180 million of new spending is earmarked for infrastructure, including plans for major bike routes across the city and into surrounding suburbs, and additional measures to make crossings and key entry points into inner Paris safer for cyclists, Belliard said.

Some flashpoints will get dedicated paths for cyclists and pedestrians completely separate from any car traffic, he added.

The city already spent €150 million on an initial biking plan, calling this the start of a “revolution” for the capital.

An added sense of urgency came with the Covid-19 pandemic that sparked a rapid extension of the city’s cycling path network, dubbed “corona-pistes”, as commuters shunned public transport for fear of infection.

As part of the new plan, those lanes, often hastily built to meet sudden demand, are to be made permanent and secure.

By 2026 the Parisian network of safe cycling paths is to total 180 kilometres. Cyclists will be allowed to use one-way streets against oncoming car traffic on another 390 kilometres of streets.

The mayor’s bike-friendly policies have sparked anger from motorists, with decisions such as turning stretches of urban motorways along the river Seine over to bikes and pedestrians.

Paris now often makes it into the top leagues of the world’s most bike-friendly cities, ahead of any other mega-city, although still well behind European cycling models Copenhagen and Amsterdam.

The city also plans to help prevent bike theft, which Belliard said was “one of the obstacles to bicycle use”.

By 2026, he said, Paris would have 100,000 new dedicated parking spots for bikes, of which 40,000, notably near train and metro stations, would be guarded.

Paris will also curb inner-car traffic further, aiming to end cross-city car transit completely, and cutting car traffic by half in a designated city centre zone.

Schools in the capital are to boost bike training to ensure that “all young Parisians know how to ride a bike when they leave primary school”, Belliard said.

Hidalgo, who will also face Green candidate Yannick Jadot in the election, is now looking to kickstart her flagging presidential campaign with a rally in the city of Lille on Sunday.

Member comments

  1. One can only hope she doesn’t win the election for France’s sake. She’s already doing her best to turn Paris into a living museum.😆

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POLITICS

Prosecutors: No new rape inquiry for France’s disabilities minister

France's disabilities minister will not face a new inquiry "as things stand" over a rape allegation that surfaced just after his nomination by President Emmanuel Macron last week, prosecutors have said, citing the anonymity of the alleged victim.

Prosecutors: No new rape inquiry for France's disabilities minister

Damien Abad has faced growing pressure to resign after the news website Mediapart reported the assault claims by two women dating from over a decade ago, which he has denied.

One of the women, identified only by her first name, Margaux, filed a rape complaint in 2017 that was later dismissed by prosecutors.

The other woman, known only as Chloe, told Mediapart that in 2010 she had blacked out after accepting a glass of champagne from Abad at a bar in Paris, and woke up in her underwear in pain with him in a hotel room. She believes she may have been drugged.

She did not file an official complaint, but the Paris prosecutors’ office said it was looking into the case after being informed by the Observatory of Sexist and Sexual Violence in Politics, a group formed by members of France’s MeToo movement.

“As things stand, the Paris prosecutors’ office is not following up on the letter” from the observatory, it said, citing “the inability to identify the victim of the alleged acts and therefore the impossibility of proceeding to a hearing.”

In cases of sexual assault against adults, Paris prosecutors can open an inquiry only if an official complaint is made, meaning the victim must give their identity.

Abad has rejected the calls to resign in order to ensure the new government’s “exemplarity,” saying that he is innocent and that his own condition of arthrogryposis, which limits the movement of his joints, means sexual relations can occur only with the help of a partner.

The appointment of Abad as minister for solidarities and people with disabilities in a reshuffle last Friday was seen as a major coup for Macron, as the 42-year-old had defected from the right-wing opposition.

The new prime minister, Elisabeth Borne, said she was unaware of the allegations before Abad’s nomination, but insisted that “If there is new information, if a new complaint is filed, we will draw all the consequences.”

The claims could loom large over parliamentary elections next month, when Macron is hoping to secure a solid majority for his reformist agenda. Abad will be standing for re-election in the Ain department north of Lyon.

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