In the first major interview since her re-election as Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo told Le Parisien that her manifesto promise to crack down on motoring in the French capital would be kept.
“We must forget the crossing of Paris from east to west by car,” she told the daily newspaper.
‘The city needs to evolve,” she added.
Comfortably re-elected in June for a second term, she said she intends to create permanent curb-protected cycleways and expand the number of lockdown cycleways, known in French as “coronapistes.” At an urban planning conference later this month she also plans to reveal plans on restricting petrol-powered motoring on the usually car-clogged highways on the upper quays of the Seine.
Paris created 45 kilometers of coronapistes during lockdown, and now a further 10 kilometres of wand-separated cycleways will be added.
“I have just given the green light to the creation of seven new [temporary] cycleways of this type,” she said, with works soon to begin on Rue Marx-Dormoy, Boulevard de l’Hôpital, Rue Linois, Avenue d’Ivry, Rue Claude-Bernard, and Rue de la Grange-aux-Belles.
At the same time a permanent curb-protected cycleway will be constructed on Rue Lafayette, adding to the partial closure to private motor vehicles of Rue de Rivoli, a major thoroughfare through the heart of the city’s museum district.
“We are working on doubling the length of lane reserved for buses, taxis and all authorized vehicles, particularly electric ones, beside the [Louvre museum and Place de la Concorde],” she said.
“We will also be doubling the length of the cycleway [on Rue de Rivoli].”
The three-kilometer-long Rue de Rivoli houses iconic shops such as the belle époque Angelina patisserie, the five-star Le Meurice hotel, and the world-renowned Louvre museum.
Not everybody is happy with Hidalgo’s plans. In the run-up to the mayoral election, Pierre Chasseray, leader of 40 Millions d’Automobilistes, a group with a claimed 320,000 members and which lobbies against speed cameras and other “anti-motoring” initiatives, said:
“[The Mayor] is wrong to take advantage of the health crisis to accentuate its anti-car policy.”
On the contrary, the “epidemic requires giving space to the car,” he added, more in hope than expectation because space for motorists in Paris has been much reduced over recent years.
As part of her reelection campaign, Hidalgo said she wanted to carry out an “ecological transformation of the city,” aiming to clean the city’s air and improve the “daily life of Parisians” by instigating a “city of fifteen minutes.”
Based on the “segmented city” ideas suggested by Carlos Moreno, a “smart city” professor at the University of Paris 1 Pantheon-Sorbonne, creating the 15-minute city will include making many more key thoroughfares in Paris inaccessible to motor vehicles; turning currently traffic-choked intersections into pedestrian plazas, and creating “children streets” next to schools.
Rather than building out-of-town shopping malls, the 15-minute city would feature “hyper proximity,” with accessibility to “essential living needs” always close at hand, and certainly within short walking or cycling distances.
The plan, it seems, is for motorists to become an endangered species in many parts of the Paris of the near future. Mayors in other major cities around the world are watching with great interest.