During the last Council meeting of the Saint-Merri neighborhood, in Paris, France, Julien Landel, the Assistant to the Mayor who oversees neighborhood councils announced the following regarding Rue Saint-Merri, at the location of the school by the same name:
"Parallel to the option we retained in June (the overhang of the roadway underpass, widening of the sidewalk in front of the school, inversion of circulation patterns on Rue Saint-Merri, putting a red light at the Renard intersection), the Mayor's office has also asked City services to study the feasibility of completely putting an end to automobile circulation on Rue Saint-Merri, an option that will be proposed to the neighborhood council at the next meeting on Sept. 22, 2014."*
In June, the very same Julien Landel had affirmed that this monster of pedestrianization would never see the light of day since the undertaking was way too expensive.
Where does this sudden turnaround on the part of the Mayor's office come from?
Yes, in a utopian city, pedestrian streets would be ideal. We know that in the city and real life, they are more often an inferno for those living there, dealing a fatal blow to tranquility, security and public sanitation. Sound pollution becomes the residents' daily experience because passersby do nothing other than pass by. They stop, get together, discuss, yell, sing at all times of day and night because restaurants and bars acquire outdoor rights, such as for terraces, which extend beyond the authorized perimeters in the absence of automobile traffic. We can add the street musicians to all of this. While it may be pleasing to hear them for a few minutes "in passing," it becomes insufferable to hear them for hours. Experience shows that more than anywhere else, the ground on pedestrian streets is strewn with trash.
The acquisition of a night-time license for "le Who's" restaurant does not improve the situation. Rue Pierre au Lard, which ends in Rue Saint-Merri is also soiled with excrement, which creates a problem for Cafe de la Gare - which has only one exit on that side - and that the establishment of a nighttime disco would exacerbate. Pedestrianizing Rue Saint-Merri would only end up emphasizing the phenomenon and turning this district into a real cesspool.
The only efficient way to guard against such scourges is to have a roadway there that is in the service of vehicular circulation.
Rue Saint-Merri, in its first section, between Rue Temple and Rue Renard, was up until now nearly scot-free from these annoyances, the three restaurants not having any terraces, and the road being one of these new "meeting zones" where cars, two-wheelers and pedestrians share the roadway, and moreover with authorized motorized vehicles being restricted to those belonging to the residents, taxi drivers and delivery men.
For whom should the city centers be reserved, residents or tourists and visitors? How can we strike a balance between the two populations and their needs? Do you have pedestrian only corridors in your city? Share your examples below.
Original article, originally published in French, here.
Credits: Data and images linked to sources.
*Update: A public meeting was held on Oct. 1 in the presence of the mayor of the 4th arrondisement. The sidewalks will be widened, discussions will continue on changing the direction of traffic, but it will not become a pedestrian street.