Spaced out!

Private cars are forced to make way for bicycles in Paris

Published: Monday 15 October 2001

Paris has recently introduced an ecofriendly plan to promote the use of buses and bicycles and discourage the use of private cars. For this purpose the city's mayor, Bertrand Delanoe, has reduced the road space for private vehicles.

Under the plan, the right lane has been officially reserved for buses, taxis and bicycles throughout the city centre. Even before this system was introduced, most roads in Paris had a right lane reserved for buses and taxis, but it was a matter of self-discipline for car drivers to avoid this lane, although trucks would generally park on the bus lane while delivering goods to a shop. But now the mayor has erected barriers between the lanes and made it mandatory for cars to only ply on lanes reserved for them. The mayor has also banned all four-wheeled vehicles from using the two-lane motorway on the riverbanks throughout summer. Moreover, motorcycles have been prohibited from using the right lane and trucks now stop in the car lane to deliver the goods. But there is opposition. Recently, some 100 persons protested near the townhall against the plan and promised to come back every weekend to do the same. "The plan will cause traffic congestion," warns Thery. Daniel Thery, an economist with the International Research Centre on Environment and Development.

However, Delanoe is not disappointed by such criticism. He said the plan is justified as it would help curb air pollution, which "affects all the residents of Paris and especially the most vulnerable -- children and elderly people." "The plan reflects the wishes of the majority of Parisians," he said. The local authorities responsible for implementation of this scheme have also said that slowing down of private traffic was done deliberately so that more people would switch over to public transport.

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