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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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STRIKES

French Prime Minister Macron doubles down on pension age as strikes loom

France's prime minister on Sunday ruled out backtracking on a plan to raise the retirement age as unions prepared for another day of mass protests against the contested reform.

French Prime Minister Macron doubles down on pension age as strikes loom

An increase in the minimum retirement age to 64 from the current 62 is part of a flagship reform package pushed by President Emmanuel Macron to ensure the future financing of France’s pensions system.

After union protests against the change brought out over a million people into the streets on January 19, the government signalled there was wiggle room on some measures, including the number of contributing years needed to qualify for a full pension, special deals for people who started working very young, and provisions for mothers who interrupted their careers to look after their children.

But the headline age limit of 64 was not up for discussion, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said Sunday.

“This is now non-negotiable,” she told the FranceInfo broadcaster.

While unions have welcomed the government’s readiness for negotiation on parts of the plan, they say the proposed 64-year rule has to go.

Calling the reform “unfair” France’s eight major unions, in a rare show of unity, said they hoped to “mobilise even more massively” on Tuesday, their next scheduled protest day, than at the showing earlier this month.

“Even more people”

“It’s looking like there will be even more people”, said Celine Verzeletti, member of the hardleft union CGT’s confederation leadership.

Pointing to opinion polls, Laurent Berger, head of the moderate CFDT union, said that “the people disagree strongly with the project, and that view is gaining ground”.

It would be “a mistake” for the government to ignore the mobilisation, he warned.

Unions and the government both see Tuesday’s protests as a major test.

Some 200 protests are being organised countrywide, with a big march planned for Paris, culminating in a demonstration outside the National Assembly where parliamentary commissions are to start examining the draft law on Monday.

The leftwing opposition has submitted more than 7,000 amendments to the draft in a bid to slow its path through parliament.

Macron’s allies are short of an absolute majority in parliament and will need votes from conservatives to approve the pensions plan.

The government has the option of forcing the bill through without a vote under special constitutional powers, but at the risk of triggering a vote of no confidence, and possibly new parliamentary elections.

In addition to protest marches, unions have called for widespread strike action for Tuesday, with railway services and public transport expected to be heavily affected.

Stoppages are also expected in schools and administrations, with some local authorities having already announced closures of public spaces such as sports stadiums.

Some unions have called for further strike action in February, including at commercial ports, refineries and power stations.

Some observers said the unions are playing for high stakes, and any slackening of support Tuesday could be fatal for their momentum.

“They have placed the bar high,” said Dominique Andolfatto, a professor for political science. “They can’t afford any missteps.”

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