Livable cities story: Paris
thanks to le vélo
In 2020, armed with a playbook for more livable neighbourhoods, Anne Hidalgo fights for her second term as mayor of Paris. The bicycle is central in her plan: as means of transport and metaphor for a more accessible and cleaner city. She wins the election outright.
Change layout to 2 columns
Soon after she began her first term as mayor of Paris in 2014, Hidalgo set aside € 150 million to improve the city’s cycling infrastructure. This resulted in, among other things, 300 kilometres of new cycle paths along the river Seine and on boulevards, and - mainly thanks to the corona pandemic - many more fellow citizens going by bike. During her second term she is taking things a step further.
The success of Hidalgo’s 2020 election campaign is partially due to a radical plan: Ville Du Quart d’Heure (The 15-minute City). The main principle is that every Parisian should be able to access all basic services within a quarter of an hour: on foot, by bike, or by public transport. The move is a reaction against the urban planning of cities such as Paris which were primarily designed to worship the automobile. With broad roads slicing through the city and plenty of parking facilities.
Hidalgo wants better livability and is changing course: from ‘city planning’ to ‘life planning’
Change layout to 2 columns
Hidalgo wants better livability and is changing course: from “city planning” to “life planning”. So, no big shopping malls on the outskirts of the city, but smaller shops in neighbourhoods. Narrower through roads and parks or playgrounds instead of parking spaces. All that in order to achieve cleaner air and more space for residents.
Hidalgo unveiled her plans in a well-known Parisian bike shop. That was no coincidence, because the bicycle has a leading role in the 15-minute city. The city council is making an additional € 250 million available up until 2026 for 450 kilometres of new main cycling routes and the construction of a dense network of cycle paths between Paris and the nearby urban regions. There are also numerous other initiatives to stimulate cycling. Young Parisians are learning cycle safety at primary school, 15 regions will get do-it-yourself bike garages and cyclists, along with trams and buses, will have priority during “green waves” for traffic lights. Cars can wait.
theft and vandalism
The new initiatives have suffered some growing pains. The number of bike thefts rose by 7% in 2020 compared with the previous year. This is the main reason most Parisians (81%) give for not using the bicycle. The city council reacted by freeing up a substantial amount of the cycling budget to provide more and better bike parking facilities. More bikes inevitably mean more abandoned bike wrecks. The council tackled this by teaming up with an organization which collects the wrecks and restores them or breaks them into useable spare parts. In 2020 more than 800 bikes gained a new lease on life.
cycling budget to provide more and better bike parking facilities. More bikes inevitably mean more abandoned bike wrecks. The council tackled this by teaming up with an organization which collects the wrecks and restores them or breaks them into useable spare parts. In 2020 more than 800 bikes gained a new lease on life.
Paris’ bicycle revolution in numbers
- 1,100 km of cycle paths in 2021 (2001: 200 km)
- on average 47% more cyclists between 2019 and 2020
- 60,000 bike racks (2021)
- 60,000 car parking spaces replaced by cycle paths alongside the major boulevards (2021)
- € 70 million invested in cycle paths (2015-2020)
- € 6 million for bike garages (2015-2020)
- 29% more bike shops (between 2017 and 2020)