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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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CRIME

French ex-minister convicted in fake jobs scam

A French court on Thursday found former justice minister Michel Mercier guilty of embezzlement in a fake jobs scheme he ran for the benefit of family members.

French ex-minister convicted in fake jobs scam

Mercier, 75, who served under former president Nicolas Sarkozy between 2010 and 2012, claimed tens of thousands of euros for his wife and daughter for parliamentary jobs  they never carried out.

The court handed him a suspended prison sentence of three years.

Mercier gave “personal gain precedence over the public good”, the court said in its verdict, calling Mercier’s actions “serious”.

As senator, Mercier claimed 50,000 euros ($54,000 at today’s rate) in salary for his wife Joelle between 2005 and 2009, and  €37,000 for his daughter Delphine between 2012 and 2014.

During that time, Delphine Mercier was living in London and did not set foot in the French Senate, but her father claimed she was acting as his “cultural advisor”.

Neither Mercier nor his daughter were able to provide any proof of actual work done.

Joelle Mercier, meanwhile, claimed during the trial that she had served as her husband’s representative at village fairs and funerals.

She was found guilty of conspiracy to embezzle public funds and of receiving stolen money and sentenced to a suspended prison term of 18 months and a €40,000 fine.

The court handed the daughter a 12-month suspended sentence and a fine of €10,000.

Prosecutors had asked for the ex-minister to serve one year behind bars, accusing him of “creating smoke screens” in his defence and seeking to mislead the court.

Mercier had based part of his defence on his rural roots, pitting his “common sense” against the “Parisians” of the national financial crimes unit PNF.

Several French politicians have been convicted for similar offences committed before France in 2017 banned National Assembly deputies and senators from employing family members.

The move came in reaction to a public outcry over a high-profile case involving former right-wing prime minister Francois Fillon, who was found guilty of providing a fake parliamentary assistant job to his wife that saw her paid hundreds of thousands of euros in public funds.

The “Penelopegate” scandal, revealed in a media report while he was the front-runner in the 2017 presidential race, torpedoed  his political career and cleared a path for then-relatively unknown Emmanuel Macron.

Last year, a court trimmed Fillon’s sentence to four years in prison with three suspended — down from five years with three suspended when he was first found guilty in 2020.

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