Anti-pollution measures and parking restrictions also helped accelerate existing trend in first five months of 2018

Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo says that cycle lanes have helped slash the number of motor vehicles driven on the streets of the French capital since the start of the year.

The first five months of 2018 have seen the number of vehicles fall 6.5 per cent against the comparable period last year, according to figures released by the city’s government.


February saw the sharpest drop, with 705 vehicles recorded per kilometre per hour, down 11.4 per cent on the same month in 2017.

There was a notable drop in the morning rush hour, with traffic down 8.7 per cent, against a fall of 6.7 per cent in the evening peak.

There were also big drops on some of the city’s main arteries throughout the day.

From 7am to 9am, the number of vehicles recorded on the Boulevard St Germain fell 9.2 per cent, while across the Seine, Rue de Rivoli, which runs from the Marais just east of the Hotel de Ville to Place de la Concorde, saw a drop of 17.9 per cent.

Graphic of cycle route on Rue de Rivoli

Graphic of planned cycle lane on Rue de Rivoli

The figures are being hailed as continuing proof of city hall’s efforts to fight air pollution, including a reform of paid parking, and reflect an acceleration of an existing trend that saw traffic fall by 3 per cent from 2003 to 2014 and by 4 per cent in the subsequent two years.

The administration says that between 2003 and 2013, air pollution fell by 30 per cent.

Hidalgo declared 2017 the ‘Year of the Bicycle’ in Paris, outlining plans to double the city’s network of cycle lanes and halve motor traffic by 2020 while also pedestrianizing a large area of the heart of the capital.

> Paris mayor: 2017 will be the year of the bicycle

Not everything is rosy when it comes to cycling in Paris, however.

Last month, we reported on problems with the city’s pioneering Vélib’  cycle hire scheme following a change of operator as well as competition from dockless hire scheme’s such as Ofo.

> Paris bike-share scheme subsiding as new operator struggles with revamp

According to Hidalgo, Parisians “consider that the system they loved has been ruined” since its operation was taken over by Franco-Spanish consortium Smovengo from advertising giant JCDecaux.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.