Unintended Consequences of Paris’s Traffic-Reduction Policies

paris_traffic.jpg
Red lights mean gridlock on this real-time map of Parisian road traffic.

During the launch of Paris's new streetcar system last month, a Times of London wrote that Parisians are beginning to turn against Mayor Bertrand Delanoe's aggressive traffic reduction measures:

Paris residents, most of whom do not drive much, were until recently happy with the anti-car policies of Delanoe's Socialist-Greens administration. The mayor put a brake on the "all-car" policies that reached their peak in the 1970s when Presidents Pompidou and Giscard d'Estaing drove free-ways into and around the city and turned the Seine embankment and boulevards into traffic arteries.

Now Parisians dislike the unintended consequences of Delanoe's crusade: an invasion of noisy scooters and motorcycles and a rise in accidents involving pedestrian and motorcyclists. A big factor in the death toll are the wide bus lanes that run in the opposite direction to traffic. People walk into them without looking and they are often used by motorcycles and other traffic. An Ipsos poll by the conservative le Figaro today found that while 52 percent of the city approves of Delanoe's mayoralty, 68 percent are now opposed to his traffic policy.

Photo: Suskela/Flickr