Paris aiming to become new ‘global cycling capital’

New €150m cycling infrastructure proposals aim to transform French capital after constant pollution issues

Plans to invest €150m into cycling infrastructure in Paris could help turn the city into the “cycling capital of the world”, declared Paris City Hall on the unveiling of the plans late last week.

The investment is also hoped to provide a solution to the French capital’s ongoing pollution problem, which saw authorities permit only ‘clean’ cars, those carrying more than three people and cars with uneven number plates to enter the city to reduce the excessive smog, earlier this year in March.

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A maximum speed limit of 20kmph was also implemented while public transport was made free, as cyclists and pedestrians struggled through Paris, which briefly topped the list of the most polluted city in the world.

But now the city government are aiming to increase bicycle journeys from five per cent to 15 per cent of all journeys by 2020 as part of its new plans, with a new 80km two-way cycle ‘express way’ that stretches across the city from east to west and north to south, in a similar vain to London’s new ‘crossrail’ scheme.

The ‘express way’ will follow Paris’s main roads and avenues, including along the Champs-Élyseés, while around 700km of cycle lanes around the rest of the city will also be added as part of the ambitious strategy.

Proposed routes for the new express way cycle routes in Paris

Proposed routes for the new express way cycle routes in Paris

Authorities would also creates 10,000 bikes parking spaces, and make changes to speed limits to benefit cyclists, restricting drivers to 30kmph on road with cycles lanes and 50kmph on bigger avenues, a step that head of transport and public space, Christophe Najdovski believes everyone would be willing to make.

“We believe that people would be willing to take the step, but don’t do it because of a sense of insecurity,” he told Le Figaro.

“The battle against greenhouse gas emissions and air pollutants is also at stake with this project.

“It [the express way] will be a protected axes of traffic. We also want to address breaks in the cycle network, such as at the portes (city gates) on the outskirts of Paris.”

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While journeys by bike have increased significantly since Paris introduced its ‘Vélib’ hire scheme in 2007, yet Najdovski is confident the capital has the potential to reach the heights of cities such as Amsterdam, Berlin and Copenhagen.

“In Paris, there is a favorable cycling topography,” he said, “the city is dense and the distances to perform however, are not too long.

“Every city has its characteristics, but actually in Amsterdam you can enjoy the tranquility of a peaceful city and the absence of noise. It is a long process. The Netherlands has been working on this since the 70s, we have much work to do to get to this stage, but we are hopeful.

The Paris Council will review the 2015-2020 bike plans on April 13.