How Paris Created a Cycling Boom

It’s no Amsterdam, but the City of Light is catching up.

By Erik Nelson

When Lone Andersen lived in Paris in the 1980s, she says she saw “almost no cyclists. I saw one once and I almost felt that I should take a picture.” Despite the fact that France’s most iconic athletic symbol is a bike race, its capital city has never been known as a biking mecca the way Amsterdam or Copenhagen are.

Today, through a mix of new infrastructure, bike sharing and public transit frustrations, that’s changing. In fact, the city’s deputy mayor for transportation, Christophe Najdovski, recently reported that:

PARIS SAW A 54 PERCENT INCREASE IN CYCLISTS BETWEEN SEPTEMBER 2018 AND SEPTEMBER 2019.

That’s according to counts by digital meters set up at 56 sites around Paris to monitor biking. The Copenhagenize index, a comprehensive assessment of bike-friendliness, gives the French capital high marks for adding exclusive bike lanes and pushing bike sharing. But this year’s index says that with a paltry 5 percent of its commuters biking, Paris is a long way from catching up to Copenhagen’s 62 percent.

What could account for the explosion? Paris officials told local media that vélotaf — slang for bike commuting — is a big reason for the increase, while Najdovski touts the city’s plan vélo, or bike plan. The plan has realized amenities like the new two-way cycling path along the Seine’s Left Bank, running 1.5 miles from the Quai d’Orsay in the central city to Alma Bridge. It’s among nearly 200 extra miles of bike paths and lanes in the 2015 plan, along with a $780 million bike-sharing system — one that has admittedly been beset by delays and malfunctions.

If you ask longtime Parisian cycling campaigner and municipal cycling adviser Isabelle Lesens, those new commuters aren’t switching from cars. “It’s very well known that people living in Paris are really fed up with the subway because it’s absolutely crowded,” she says. “So when they discovered it could be possible to go by bike, they tried it.” That incentive can only grow with each public transit strike, like the one this week.

And while more liberal municipal governments vow to accommodate cyclists, even more conservative politicians are jumping on the two-wheeled bandwagon, Lesens says, because of the proliferation of app-based bike sharing. They’ve made it possible to be simultaneously bike-friendly and pro-business, while “nobody dares to be opposed to cycling because of the climate problems,” Lesens explains.

TOPSHOT-FRANCE-WEATHER-SNOW

Still, Paris’ Socialist mayor, Anne Hidalgo, is taking heat in local media for failing to put the mettle to the pedal after completing less than a quarter of the 43 miles of bike pistes separated from cars by curbs that she’d promised in 2015.

Nevertheless, Hidalgo’s determination to “turn Paris into a global cycling capital” seems to be working. In 2013, Paris was ranked 19th on the Copenhagenize index’s list of best cycling cities. This year it’s ranked eighth. Hidalgo has also famously declared war on the electric scooters ubiquitous in the French capital, setting new rules to regulate the machines that riders often abandon in bike lanes.

Cycling in Paris isn’t for everyone, even those who are fit enough to stay balanced and keep pedaling. Frank Andrews, a 26-year-old journalism graduate student, grew up in London and calls the two cities’ biking environments “kind of comically different.”

Back in England, there are rules: “Most of my friends and myself have been fined for running lights,” Andrews says. Not so in Paris, where “it’s a bit survival of the fittest out on those streets.”

It’s easy to see how Andrews, a resident of the 6th Arrondissement, can hold his own on les rues moyennes, commuting with an expensive fixed-wheel bike like ones used in velodromes. Brakes are his only concession to convenience.

Andrews attributes the ridership growth to delivery services and “Uberized” cycling via sharing apps. As for the latter, Andrews sniffs, “I feel like I see them more on their sides, discarded on a bridge.”

And Andersen, now a traffic engineer in Copenhagen, says her more recent forays onto Paris streets haven’t been encouraging: “I have never felt an urge to ride a bike in Paris — simply because I think it is too dangerous.” In April, the prefecture of police released figures indicating bike accidents had increased about 12.5 percent over the previous year, with 147 cyclists hurt (though none killed) in three months.

What the city needs, she believes, is more lanes with solid curb separating bikes from motorized vehicles. “If the infrastructure isn’t there, you will not get people to [cycle] on a large scale because they don’t feel safe,” she says.

The more Paris is willing to sacrifice space occupied by its Citroëns and Peugeots, Andersen adds, the more it’ll be able to coax even the faint of heart to pedal onto the city’s grand boulevards.

Source: How Paris Created a Cycling Boom – OZY | A Modern Media Company

Paris’s Champs-Élysées will get a pedestrian-friendly green overhaul

Mayor Anne Hidalgo has approved a $304-million plan to pedestrianize the city’s famed Champs-Élysées avenue by 2030 after the Olympics

The Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, has approved a $304-million (250 million euro) plan to transform the city’s famed Champs-Élysées into a pedestrian-friendly public space by 2030.

The ambitious restoration project, proposed by the local community and first unveiled in 2019, will overhaul the 1.2-mile-long central street in of the French capital that connects the Arc de Triomphe to the Place de la Concorde into what Hidalgo refers to as an “extraordinary garden” in Le Journal du Dimanche.

Frustrated by the alienating effect that the luxury stores and expensive restaurants had on the locals, the Champs-Élysées committee has been campaigning for the redesign since 2018 and proposed the now approved project in 2019. The scheme was designed by PCA-Stream, a French architectural firm based in Paris. PCA-Stream principal and founder Philippe Chiambaretta stated that his goal was to convert the boulevard into a space that would be “ecological, desirable and inclusive.”

Lately, the “world’s most beautiful avenue,” as it’s sometimes known, has fallen on hard times and hosted several consecutive crises thanks to its prominent location in the heart of the French capital: After the gilets jaunes (yellow vest) protests, strikes, and high-end retail gentrification over the last 30 years, the scheme looks to return the street to local residents. The committee, headed by Jean-Noel Reinhardt welcomed the mayor’s good news.

PCA-Stream’s scheme seeks to close half of the street’s eight lanes to cars and insert pockets of greenery or “planted living rooms.” According to Chiabaretta, this will improve the air quality of a street that sees up to an average of 3,000 cars per hour. The revitalization will also introduce food kiosks and meeting spaces in an attempt to attract locals back into the area and return it to a space closer to its original purpose of fostering open-air comingling.

The avenue was originally conceived by André Le Nôtre, King Louis XIV’s landscape architect, in 1667 as an extension to the gardens at the Tuileries Palace to the southeast on the bank of the River Seine. In 1709, the finished boulevard took its name from the Greek Elysian Fields, an outdoor paradise for the righteous to frolic in for all eternity. The new renovation be delivered in two stages; the work at the Place de la Concorde, Paris’s largest public square, will be completed before the Olympic games in 2024 with the rest following, with a completion date set for 2030.

Source: Paris’s Champs-Élysées will get a pedestrian-friendly green overhaul

VIDEO. They move apartments by bicycle: “Cheaper, simple and eco-friendly”

 

Moving a two-room apartment in Paris by bike is possible. This is what the association Carton Plein does by employing people to reinsert

Three trailers, three bikes, two round trips. Nothing more is needed to move Nicolas’ apartment from the 11th to the 20th arrondissement of Paris. Patiently, Florin and Tony, helped by a third colleague, load into the trailers, a bed, a sofa, a washing machine and more than thirty boxes. Then they wander around the city, making their way on the cycle paths.

Tony is Nigerian, in France since 2013, he has refugee status. Florin comes from Romania, he arrived in France six years ago and multiplied odd jobs before becoming a mover. Both are employed by Carton Plein , a professional integration association specializing in urban bicycle logistics.

“It’s like a Tetris”

For Florin, moving furniture on a bicycle is a bit like “a game of Tetris”. You have to be methodical, find a place for each box, protect them, then transport a boat that can reach 300 kg. To make it a little easier, the movers are equipped with electric bikes.

In all, this day of moving by bike cost Nicolas € 600. A price roughly identical to that of a conventional move in a truck, but without carbon emissions.

A concept born in Montreal

The concept of moving by bicycle, born in Montreal in 2007, has spread in France. As in Rennes where the solidarity cooperative Tout En Vélo has offered equivalent services since 2011. Lille and Grenoble are also among the pioneer cities. In Paris, Carton Plein launched this service in 2015 and remains for the moment the only structure to offer it in the capital.

Moving without carbon emissions

Cargo bikes and trailer bikes, very common in Holland and Denmark, are gradually making their way into the cities of France. More and more deliveries are made with these non-polluting travel objects and craftsmen have abandoned their van for their benefit.

The association Les boxes à vélo , to which Carton Plein adheres, lists all the professionals in the sector with an online map to find the professional closest to your home. It’s up to you if you want to reduce your carbon footprint.

Source: Le Parisien VIDEO. They move apartments by bicycle: “Cheaper, simple and eco-friendly” – Le Parisien

There is an easy solution to the Paris bike scheme chaos – just buy your own 

Bike-sharing schemes in Paris have been left in a disastrous state thanks to bad management and vandalism, but there is an easy solution for keen cyclists, writes Ben McPartland. And it’s far better than Velib.

“…the ambition of Paris to become a cycling city like Copenhagen has taken a huge knock, despite the city vowing to construct more cycle lanes and shift the emphasis from four wheels to two”

Read more: There is an easy solution to the Paris bike scheme chaos – just buy your own – The Local