The centre of Paris is set to become in effect a huge low traffic neighbourhood by the end of next year under an ambitious plan to remove through traffic from the heart of the French capital.
A consultation was launched this week on the initiative, outlined in an interview with Le Parisien by deputy mayor David Belliard, which will cover the entirety of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th arrondissements and, across the Seine on the Rive Gauche, parts of the 5th, 6th and 7th arrondisements, as shown in this graphic.
Anne Hidalgo veut interdire le trafic de transit dans le coeur historique de Paris pour encourager la marche et le vélo 🚶♂️🚲
— Adrien Lelièvre (@Lelievre_Adrien) May 12, 2021
To draw an analogy from the UK capital, the zone is similar in size to one running from Oxford Circus to St Paul's Cathedral and from the British Museum to the Houses of Parliament.
Not all motor traffic will be banned from the centre of Paris – local residents will have access, as will buses, taxis, tradesmen, professionals and delivery vehicles needing access to the city centre, although no decision has yet been made on whether tourist coaches will be exempt.
The plan is the latest move by Mayor Anne Hidalgo to transform Paris, with a focus on encouraging cycling and walking and making the city more liveable and reduce air and noise pollution, and according to Belliard, of the 180,000 motor vehicles that currently use the zone each day, 100,000 cross it without stopping.
The zone would cover around 7 per cent of the area of the city, and asked whether it might spread further in the future, Balliard said that Parisians would have an opportunity to make their views heard on that as part of the consultation.
“The creation of this peaceful zone is an important block in our policy of transforming public space to give more space to pedestrians, bicycles, buses and nature,” he said.
“It is in addition to the creation of ‘streets to schools’, to our bicycle plan and to our desire to cut surface parking spaces by half.”
The zone would be marked out by road signage and markings, while city staff would also carry out checks at the entrances to it, said Baillard, adding that steps would also be taken to protect small businesses and prevent them from being driven out by the higher rents that often accompany streets being pedestrianised.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.