Paris has quite rightly won plaudits for some of the pop-up cycling infrastructure put in place over the past year or so, such as the protected bike lane on the Rue de Rivoli which is used by thousands of cyclists a day – which adds to the shock of watching this video shot this week in the French capital’s 20th Arrondisement in which a rider using a bi-directional cycle lane has to contend with vehicles including a bus coming straight towards him.
The footage was shot on Avenue Gambetta, which runs along the northern side of the Père Lachaise cemetery – the last resting place of celebrities including rock star Jim Morrison, the writer Oscar Wilde and two-time Tour de France winner Laurent Fignon – and has gone viral on social media.
The cyclist who made the video, which follows another he filmed on the same street last summer, said on Twitter: “I hope that physical separators come soon to the cycle track on Boulevard Gambetta.” In a subsequent tweet, he added: “The big problem is there is no arrow on the ground for vehicles to tell [motorists] not to drive against the flow of traffic.”
J'espère que des séparateurs physiques arrivent bientôt sur la piste de Boulevard Gambetta. Car là, ce n'est pas possible. Mention spéciale au bus auto école ! @PeS_20e au secours !
— Altis ▶ (@AlTi5) February 17, 2021
Despite Avenue Gambetta being made one-way for motor traffic this week by the town hall of the 20th Arrondisement, the video shows a succession of drivers ignoring the new rules on circulation and heading straight towards the rider.
The video going viral has resulted in the local council moving quickly to provide extra security measures, reports ActuParis, including adding new signage in the early hours of Thursday morning as well as physical barriers to increase the safety of cyclists.
The network of protected cycle paths which Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo launched in response to a public transport strike at the start of last year and developed further as the coronavirus crisis escalated have resulted in huge growth of cycling in the city, with recent research finding that around six in ten riders took to a bike after they were built – in most cases, providing greater protection than the one shown in the video here.
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.