Paris Declares a Challenge

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Paris Plan Vélo 2015-2020
Paris Aims To Be World's Top Cycling City

Look out Amsterdam and Copenhagen, Christophe Najdovskia, the “maire-adjoint” (deputy mayor, with responsibility for transport) of Paris, has unveiled a €150 million “Plan Vélo 2015-2020” to triple the daily bike trips from 225,000 and become the world capital of cycling. Paris is already ranked in 14th equal place of the world’s bicycle friendly cities, so they are already well placed compared with anywhere in the UK, but it would be a significant leap to overtake the top 5 of Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Utrecht, Seville and Bordeaux.

But their significant leap comes with a high budget plan, which would see the extensive cycle route network expanded from 700 to 1400 km in and around Paris, which it is hoped will have a major impact on the pollution problems that Paris in particular has experienced in recent years, as well as improving the safety and ease of cycling in the city.

Monsieur Najdovski explained that a major consultation during December and January brought in 7000 responses. “We established a hierarchy of priorities of what needs to be done” he said. Not surprisingly, cycling safety was a regular response from those surveyed. The intention is to provide cross-Paris routes, both North-South and East-West, as well as along the Seine, on cycle paths separated from vehicle traffic. A particular focus will be on the “coupures urbaines” – those urban blockage points, which act as a barrier to cyclists; these include the “portes” (or gates) on the périphérique, which are difficult to cross on a bike.

The plan will be discussed at the council meeting on the 13th April. The €150 million are made up of €63 million for cycle routes; €40 million for other cycling infrastructure; €30 million to turn some roads into 30km/hr zones for cars where two-way cycling routes are added; €10 million to add more bikes and some electric bikes to France’s Vélib scheme (their “Boris bike” programme); and €7 million to create nearly 10,000 bike parking spaces.

Approximately one third of the daily 225,000 bike trips are on Vélib bikes, which are showing a regular increase of 13-14% year on year in both 2013 and 2014, with a 90% satisfaction rating. However, only 5% of journeys are made by bike and it is this figure that the deputy mayor wants to see increased to 15% by 2020.

The deputy-mayor sees another benefit in that a number of the routes will form “circuits cyclotouristiques”, or circular cycle routes for tourism, an emerging, sustainable form of tourism which will be created.

Putting the €150 million into context, Ipswich has a population of 5.87% of that of Paris. On a pro-rata basis, that would mean an €8.8m spend on cycling lanes and parking in Ipswich, or around £6.4 million, which in turn is about £48 per head or nearly 5 times what the cycling lobby has asked the next UK government to spend on cycling per year. If the Paris plan is adopted on the 13th, it does cover a 5 year period, which comes back again to the £10 per person per year UK target.

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