Paris is undergoing a transportation revolution that champions the movement of people over the movement of vehicles and the most recent change was put to the people of the city. Citizens of Paris have voted to triple parking fees for heavy, road destroying, SUVs that take up more space than comparable vehicles. The increase in fees makes sense due to the harm caused by the large machines in urban settings. Hopefully other cities will copy Paris and make road users pay for the share of the road they consume.
City hall has further pointed to safety concerns about taller, heavier SUVs, which it says are “twice as deadly for pedestrians as a standard car” in an accident. The vehicles are also singled out for taking up more public space – whether on the road or while parked – than others. Paris officials say the average car has put on 250 kilograms (550 pounds) since 1990. Hidalgo, whose city will host the 2024 Olympics this summer, rarely misses a chance to boast of the environmental credentials of the town hall and its drive to drastically reduce car use in the center.
Paris once had a reputation for horrible traffic, long queues of cars and taxing journeys via cars. When you have a problem stemming from one element sometimes it’s best to just get rid of it. That’s exactly what Paris is doing. By getting rid of the car traffic jams are going away and travel times for everyone are decreasing. By adding more mobility options people are able to navigate the city faster, easier, and are reliant on only one mode of transport. They have the freedom to choose how to get around.
OK, quickly: At the start of the 20th century, in the ’20s, ’30s, the car asserts itself as a travel mode in urban centers, which are transformed. Paris is clearly an old city with many centuries of history with an urban fabric. Even though it was transformed by Haussmann in the 19th century, it has an extremely dense urban fabric with a lot of small streets and a configuration a priori not adapted to the auto. When the car arrives, we transform what we can call public space, and this public space becomes automobile space, with the logical system of the car imposing itself in Paris. And public space is completely devoured, eaten away, and in a certain way privatized to one single, unique use.
Very quickly we see the limits of “total car” in Paris, even in the ’60s and ’70s. We try to say, “How can we preserve this city?” Well, by putting cars underground. So we construct parking, even whole highways, under Paris. But there’s opposition to the highway on the Seine. There were protests. When we did the parking under Notre-Dame, there was a lot of opposition, because they were going to graze the crypt underneath.
When I visited Paris long ago it was a traffic clogged mess, with lovely architecture. Parisians have had enough of bad traffic and decided to solve their mobility challenges by adding more ways to get around the city. Thy’ve already returned urban space to pedestrians and started to build more infrastructure for bicycles.
The excellent YouTube channel Not Just Bikes took a good look at what’s happening in Paris, and things are looking good.
The French capital is investing €250 million into significant upgrades to cycling infrastructure and maintenance within the next four years. Thousands of new bicycle stands and an increased number of protected cycleways will be introduced as part of ‘Plan Velo: Act 2’.
As of this year, Paris already has more than 1,000km of safe cycle paths including around 52km of “coronapistes” that were temporarily introduced during the pandemic. It now plans to make these permanent and add another 130km of safe paths to encourage people to cycle in the city.
Cities around the world finally shunned cars from streets and returned the precious urban space to people in order to provide safe socially distanced places for people. These urban improvement efforts started during the COVID-19 pandemic have shown to people that we’ve given too much of our urban landscape to massive metal slabs. Cities which have given people street space get cleaner air, more room, and a more vibrant culture.
Paris has found their additional cafe space keeping the reclaimed space for cafes and social space. Plus, the program is so popular they are providing more space to people.
Under the new regulations, businesses will be allowed to take over up to three parking spots in front of their premises for â€œsummer terraces,â€ which will open from the beginning of April to the end of October. As the pandemic lifts, florists, book and record stores will also be invited to apply for summer terraces, moving much of their trade outdoors. In addition, businesses can also apply for an â€œannual terraceâ€ that is open all year round, provided it occupies no more than one parking spot
Paris is showing the world the future (their present) of good urban design, and it’s all about 15 minutes. We’ve looked at this concept before, and every year Paris pushes us further. The city has already reduced their reliance on automobiles and increased mobility for the entire populace. They’ve added green space and now since the pandemic hit they’ve accelerated their plans to make the entire city a good place to live. The core concept for all of this is that everything a person needs should be a 15 minute walk from their house.
â€œWe know sometimes large cities can be tiring and can create a sense of anonymity,â€ says Rolland. â€œBut proximity means that we will, through our social links, rediscover our way of living in cities. We want open spaces, but ones for doing nothing in particular, where people can meet each other or encounters can happen as much as possible. We live better when we live together, and this will rework our social fabric.â€
The transformation of neighbourhoods has been well underway since Hidalgo took office in 2014, with the Paris mayorÂ banningÂ high-polluting vehicles,Â restrictingÂ the quays of the Seine to pedestrians and cyclists, and creating mini green spaces across the city â€“ since 2018, more than 40 Parisian school grounds have beenÂ transformedÂ into green â€œoasis yardsâ€. More than 50km of bike routes known as â€œcoronapistesâ€ have also been added since the pandemic struck and last month renovation of the Place de la Bastille wasÂ completedÂ as part of a â‚¬30m redesign of seven major squares. Hidalgo hasÂ pledgedÂ a further â‚¬1bn euros ($1.2bn, Â£916m) per year for the maintenance and beautification of streets, squares and gardens.