Paris’ tremendous transformation towards more cycling and less driving

Inner city mobility and transportation are a key element to our global energy transition. Cars, and SUVs even more, are extremely inefficient in terms of energy use and space requirements.

A tweet from Brent Toderian, a city planner and urbanist, perfectly encapsulates this insanity :

Thus, switching from a car-centric urban planning to a more diverse model with much less cars but much more bikes and public transportation would bring massive cuts in energy consumption, air pollution and greenhouse gases emissions. More space could be used for parks, not parkings. Restaurants and cafes would be able to provide outdoor sitting to their patrons.

So, what if all cities around Europe and the world started to treat cycling not just as some sport practice but as a mean to go around town, whether to go to work, shop for groceries and so on ? Some cities are leading in this switch.

Paris, under the leadership of Socialist Mayor Anne Hidalgo, has seen some rapid and important change in the past few years. Please read this article from Momentum Mag for more coverage of how Paris is becoming a Top 10 bike friendly cities in the world.

Two videos – one in English, the other in French – were published last year on Youtube to show how the French capital has embraced cycling as a daily way to go to work, to school, shopping, and so on…

The first video is by Jason from Not Just Bikes shows how rapidly change has taken place for the better, and that much stil remains to be done to have great infrastructure all around the city.

The follow up video in French is by Altis Play (with some subtitles in English). It provides information on the value of tactical urbanism as many bike paths were started during the COVID-19 lockdowns :

What if by the end of the decade, dozens, hundreds more cities allowed their millions of citizens to ditch their cars for their day-to-day activities ? Last year, a study from Denmark found out that If everybody cycled as much as the Dutch – just 2.6 km or 1.6 mile per day- global carbon emissions would drop by nearly 700 million tonnes per year, ie. more than the national carbon footprint of countries such as the UK, Canada, Saudi Arabia or Australia.

Additionally, local air pollution would drop, as would obesity levels. People would live healthier and happier lives as daily commuting would be less of a chore and more of a joy. All that it takes is dedicated politicians ready to experiment bike paths…

Image credits : Bastien Nvs on Unsplash.

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