April 12th, 2015 by Stephen Hanley
A Paris plan to promote bicycling aims to make it the World Capitol Of Cycling. The plan includes 50 miles of new bicycle commuting routes that will crisscross the city from east to west and north to south. These two way bike highways will be completely separated from vehicular traffic to avoid collisions between them. Two of the new bike lanes will follow the banks of the Seine as closely as possible, offering tourists a unique opportunity to tour the City of Lights at a leisurely pace aboard rental bicycles.
Paris will devote more than $165,000,000 to the program over the next 5 years. In addition to building the new bike lanes, it will reconfigure 7000 intersections to allow bicyclists to turn right at any time. Where such changes are not possible, new traffic laws will award bike riders priority at intersections.
Another chunk of that money will be used to subsidize the purchase of electric bicycles up to a maximum of about $450. In addition, 10,000 new parking spaces for bicycles will be added throughout the city. To help reduce conflicts between two and four wheel vehicles, the speed limit within the city will be lowered to 30 kph (18 mph), rising to 50 kph (30 mph) only on major arteries outside the central city.
Paris recently declared a state of emergency when crippling smog invaded the city, making the Eiffel Tower invisible. The city is hosting the next global climate summit in December and it doesn’t want to greet its international guests with a pall of toxic air hanging over it. One response to the influx of dirty air was to ban half of all cars from driving in the city.
Paris has a long way to go to become the bicycle capitol of the world. In Amsterdam, almost half of all commuters bike to work. Right now in Paris, that number is around 5%. The new plan hopes to get that up to 15% by 2020.
Paris transit and public space secretary Christophe Najdovski acknowledges Paris still has a long climb ahead of it. “It’s a long haul job,” he says. “The Netherlands has been working on it since the ‘70s. We’ve got a lot of work to do to reach their stage, but we’re optimistic.”
Source and photo: City Lab
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