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Paris, France Plans to Be the World's Biking Capital by 2020

Paris, France Plans to Be the World's Biking Capital by 2020

Following the recent particulate pollution episodes that touched Paris, City Hall has unveiled its solution: the 2015-2020 Bike Plan. Through this major 150 million Euro project, those in charge hope to not only improve air quality but the comfort and security of the capital city’s 225,000 regular bikers. The goal: “turn Paris into the biking

Group Biking in Paris, France

Following the recent particulate pollution episodes that touched Paris, City Hall has unveiled its solution: the 2015-2020 Bike Plan. Through this major 150 million Euro project, those in charge hope to not only improve air quality but the comfort and security of the capital city's 225,000 regular bikers. The goal: "turn Paris into the biking world capital." The "2015-2020 Bike Plan" is Paris' response following the recent rise in pollution.

From now until 2020, the trips made on bikes in the capital could triple. Paris could even become "the biking world capital." At least, it's what everyone hopes. In order to accomplish this, it will be necessary to improve and review many things. However, one of the priorities remaining is to increase the number of bike lanes, which should double from 700 km to 1,400 km in five years.

Understanding the Bike Path Network and Encouraging Biking

The bicycle is the solution to reducing pollution. The elected officials understand this. While this solution seems to be the most obvious, encouraging people to get on a bike is an entirely different challenge. In Paris, however, according to Christophe Najdovski (Deputy Mayor in charge of transportation, trips and public space), many people would be ready to take the step of exchanging their car for a bike. Unfortunately, faced with the persistent feeling of being unsafe, these same people would give up on bicycle transportation.

City Hall Has Decided to Act

In order to get to know the expectations of the users and respond to their needs, a consultation period occurred from December  2014 to January 2015. Addressing 7,000 people, the inquiries were able to expose priorities as well as geographic areas to improve upon, especially on the level of already existing and future planning efforts.

"The safety aspect is often mentioned," clarifies Christophe Najdovski. The project took this factor (as well as others) into account in order to implement the most appropriate and efficient solutions. For example, it was decided that the "Express Network" would cross Paris east to west, north to south, all along the Seine and through protected circulation axes.

Paris Bike Plan 2015-2020, Paris, France
A Solution Against Pollution

According to the Deputy Mayor, by encouraging biking and offering bikers all the favorable and necessary conditions for their trips, this project, which is part of the fight against greenhouse gas emissions and pollutants, could lead to an effective reduction of pollution derived from the use of cars and other motorized vehicles.

However, before any action can take place, it will be necessary for the project to be adopted and then examined by the Council of Paris so the city can take advantage of the 150 million Euros intended for the plan's implementation.

In order to reach the goals set:

  • 63 million Euros will be dedicated to the planning of bike lanes;
  • 40 million Euros will be reserved for other biking plans in the framework of mass transit projects and the restructuring of the great axes;
  • 30 million Euros will be allocated to implementing two-way bike paths on all roads where the speed limit is 30 km/hr;
  • 10 million Euros will be given toward the acquisition of bikes and electric motorcycles;
  • And 7 million Euros will be reserved for the creation of parking (more than 10,000 spots).

These objectives could seem difficult to reach but, according to Christophe Najdovski, Paris has potential. Despite the French capital's obvious delay, as compared to Amsterdam or Copenhagen, we remain positive. As the Deputy Mayor emphasizes: "We have a lot of work to do ... but we have high hopes."

How does the Paris bike plan resonate with similar efforts in your community? How is your city working to develop its biking infrastructure? Is biking safe in your community? Share your thoughts and stories in the comments area below.

Original article, originally published in French, here.

Credits: Data and images linked to sources.

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Bora Mici has a background in design and online writing. Most recently, she has worked as an online contributor for DC Mud, Patch.com, GoodSpeaks.org and WatchingAmerica.com, covering urban planning and visual and performing arts in the Washington, D...

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