In Paris, mayor Anne Hidalgo used to be laughed at when she talked about radically overhauling the city’s transport system.
But in the last couple of years, the number of cyclists in Paris has risen over 50 percent, with many citing the increased amount of bike lanes even in the centre of the city as a reason to do so.
A video from a few days ago shows many cyclists passing by a busy road, with the cars and buses being forced to wait – unlike how it usually goes.
Paris, like many other cities, prioritised cars in the road planning in the last century, but Hidalgo decided to turn some parts of the wide roads in the centre of the city over to bike lanes, and encourage people to bike with bike sharing initiatives and increasing biking garages around the city. During lockdown, she called for the building of 400 miles of “corona cycleways” which would help people get around without using public transport.
It seems to be paying off.
Another video from about a week ago shows a similar scene on another street in Paris – with two way bike lanes on one side of the road, and cars and traffic going by on the main road.
Around the world, the mayors of cities have brought in new powers to make roads bike lanes or pedestrian only during Covid-19 lockdown. In Milan, the mayor has tuned over more than 35 km to pedestrians and cyclists in the hope that it will ease car use as the world starts to reopen. In London, new cycle superhighways have been built in the centre of the city.
In New York, bike shops are selling out of bikes and parts, and have been doing so since March as more people turn to biking after eschewing public transport.
This video also shows how different Paris now looks to the Paris of 2012, where cars were much more dominant.
In 2017, Hidalgo said that she wanted Paris to have 1000 kilometres of bike lanes by 2020, which still hasn’t happened - 37 % of new bike lanes in Paris were built by last October. But Paris can be considered a cycle friendly city now. Recently, Hidalgo was re-elected as mayor, which shows that her agenda to make Paris even greener has obviously proved popular with residents.