How cycling is going in Paris

Paris is being transformed before our eyes.

 · 3 min read
 · Andy McKay

As an activist it's often tough to continually face negativity, push back and even injury and death. So for the next few posts I'm going to focus on the positive, starting with the amazing transformation in one of my favourite places in the world, Paris.


There are many excellent articles on Paris and what has happened there, this one from Slate is really good.

Over the last few years Paris has increased the amount of bicycle pathways, reducing parking and cars and is turning into a much nicer city. Anne Hidalgo gets a lot of credit here and whats important is that she started this process during her first term and then was re-elected in 2020 to continue this process.

Rue de Rivoli:

Notable changes:

  • "a citywide speed limit of 30 kph" 1
  • "car ownership in the region peaked in 1990 and has been declining since, even as the metro area population has grown by 10 percent" 1
  • parking "is extremely expensive: Parking on the street in the central 10 arrondissements costs 6 euros for the first hour, and 50 to 75 euros after six hours" 1
  • "Paris agrees to turn Champs-Élysées into 'extraordinary garden" 2
  • "intends to remove over half of the parking spaces in Paris by the end of her four-year term in office" (70,000 out of 140,000 total) 3

Notable quotes:

  • "It is out of the question that we let ourselves get invaded by cars and pollution." 1
  • "The redistribution of public space is a policy of social redistribution. Fifty percent of public space is occupied by private cars, which are used mostly by the richest, and mostly by men, because it’s mostly men who drive, and so in total, the richest men are using half the public space. So if we give the space to walking, biking, and public transit, you give back public space to the categories of people who today are deprived."
  • "Children today, we tell them either to be at school, or at home, or at the park, and they’ve disappeared from the street. We want to bring kids back to the street."

And let's check some of those greatest hits of why we can't do this:

  • Emergency vehicles "In a pinch, the bike path is wide enough to serve as a traffic-free route for emergency vehicles; an analysis recently showed that this has helped the city lower fire response times to under seven minutes for the first time in more than a decade." 1
  • Delivery of goods "one of Paris’ heavyweight bicycle delivery companies, told me that bike trips shave five minutes off the average delivery time" 1
  • Bike paths hurt businesses "All the figures show the opposite. Every time we do experiments, we see that first, a big majority of their clients don't use a car to come to their place, and then, people who use bikes and on foot consume more than people in cars" 4

Just like Amsterdam this is a choice that Paris has made and I can't wait to visit the new Paris.