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Posts from the "Bertrand Delanoë" Category

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Picturing a Car-Free Seine: The New Vision for the Paris Waterfront

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left_bank_before.jpgThe new plan for the Seine's left bank will transform space for highways and parking into space for people. The area outside the Musee D'Orsay will host outdoor film screenings. Image: City of Paris.

A few weeks ago, Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoë announced a plan to transform his city's waterfront, closing 1.2 miles of expressway on the left bank of the Seine and slowing the highway along the right bank to the speed of a city boulevard. For an added bit of historical irony, the city's waterfront expressway is named for Georges Pompidou, the president responsible for scarring the nation's cities with highways -- the French Robert Moses, if you will.

Delanoë's plan is the latest development in an incremental transformation that's been years in the making. Soon after he became mayor in 2002, he instituted Paris Plage -- a month-long transformation of the Pompidou into a riverfront beach, complete with sand and swimming -- as a way of bringing summertime recreation to those not able to leave the city for vacation. Paris Plage was itself an expansion of the practice of giving the highway to pedestrians and cyclists for a few hours on summer Sundays. In 2006, it became "Paris Plages," as the popular beaches multiplied along the Seine.

Even this permanent highway closing isn't the final word in Paris's rediscovery of its river. "This is only a step," Denis Baupin, Paris's deputy mayor for the environment, told Time Magazine

The politics of reclaiming so much space from the automobile -- "reconquering the Seine," in Delanoë's words -- were a lot easier thanks to the massive investment in walking, bicycling, busways, and commuter rail that Paris has made over the last decade. The Paris city council votes on the proposal in July. 

More pictures below the fold: 

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How Paris is Beating Traffic Without Congestion Pricing

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Biking by the Seine during car-free hours on the Georges Pompidou Expressway.

The mayor of a global metropolis, elected to his first term in 2001, set out to reduce driving and promote greener modes of transportation in his city. Congestion pricing turned out to be unfeasible, because influential political forces in the suburbs believed, rightly or wrongly, that charging people to drive into the urban core was regressive. Undaunted, the mayor found other means to achieve his transportation agenda.

The mayor is Bertrand Delanoë, and the city is Paris, where private auto use has dropped 20 percent in a few short years.

As Mayor Bloomberg and the team at DOT chart a way forward without London-style congestion charging, it's worth noting that for all the differences between New York and Paris, Delanoë also confronted a vocal car culture while winning huge victories for pedestrians, bikes, and transit. To get a better sense of how New York can apply the lessons of Paris, Streetsblog spoke to Luc Nadal and Aimée Gauthier of the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy about the hurdles faced by Delanoë and his deputy mayor for transportation, Denis Baupin.

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Après Congestion Pricing, It’s Time to Look at the Paris Model

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Amsterdam Ave. and 76th St. with street space reallocated to walkers, bikes and buses.

When Transportation Alternatives, Project for Public Spaces and the Open Planning Project started the New York City Streets Renaissance Campaign nearly three years ago, the plan was to build a movement that would work block-by-block and neighborhood-by-neighborhood to reclaim the city's streets from the automobile on behalf of pedestrians, cyclists and transit riders. With congestion pricing knocked off of the civic agenda, in a funny way, we're back to the original plan: Reclaim the streets.

If London was the model for congestion pricing then Paris is, probably, the best big city example of the kind of street space reclamation that now needs to happen in New York City. Here is a short piece I wrote on the topic for this week's New York Magazine:

With the death of Mayor Bloomberg’s London-style congestion-pricing proposal, New York's transportation advocates have turned to Paris for inspiration. Bertrand Delanoë was elected mayor of the French capital in 2001 on a platform of creating more "civilized space" and a promise to "fight with all the means at my disposal against the harmful, ever-increasing, and unacceptable hegemony of the automobile."

Shortly after taking office, he dumped 2,000 tons of sand on the Pompidou Expressway, which runs along the rive droite, and called it Paris Plage. Complete with volleyball nets, dance classes, a climbing wall, and a floating pool, the beach attracts 4 million visitors each summer and is paid for almost entirely by sponsors. Elsewhere, Delanoë eliminated on-street parking to create lanes for Le Mobilien, a citywide bus network with real-time electronic scheduling information at the stops, physically separated to keep cars out of the way. Bikes got their own protected lanes, too, and he doubled the size of the path network. His pièce de résistance? Last summer, Paris launched Vélib, the municipal bike-sharing system.

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Paris Wins the ITDP Sustainable Transport Award


The Institute for Transportation and Development Policy has chosen Paris for its 2008 Sustainable Transportation Award. In a letter from the ITDP Board of Directors to Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoë, the Institute praises the French capitol's recent transportation policies, most notably the Vélib project:

Under your leadership, Paris has implemented a range of innovative mobility solutions with vision, commitment and vigor. Vélib, the boldest bicycle share program to date, makes the city a leader in the implementation of a new form of individual mass transit. Programs such as Quartier verts, Espace civilisés, 'Réseau vert' shared streets, and the growing network of quality cycling facilities have made strides in reclaiming street space for people. The new 'Mobilien' Bus Rapid Transit, and 'Traverses' Microbus neighborhood loops have increased transportation service and scope. All these achievements stand as new symbols of the priority of walking, cycling, and riding public transportation over private cars in urban space.

It is because of these innovative efforts that we wish to award Paris the 2008 Sustainable Transport Award. London will also be receiving the Award in recognition of its expanded congestion charging zone, implementing a low emissions zone, and t2025, the city's 20 year transport plan.

Photo: Pascal Lemoine/Flickr

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French Revolution

paris-bus.jpg Two lanes in the middle of this Parisian avenue have been set aside for the exclusive use of buses, bikes and taxis. Private automobiles have been squeezed into the margins.

Serge Schemman has a great little essay on Parisian transportation and public space policy on the editorial page of today's New York Times. I was recently in Paris as well and was struck by the remarkable transformation currently underway in that city. London's congestion pricing system is held up as the model for New York City but the Parisian policy of re-allocating street space to buses, bikes, pedestrians and taxis could be done, for the most part, without going to Albany for permission. Schemman offers a nice summary:

Now that Michael Moore has broken a taboo by holding up France as a model for national health care, maybe it’s safe to point out other things France seems to do right. Like how Paris is trying to manage traffic and auto pollution. What Paris has done right is to make it awful to get around by car and awfully easy to get around by public transportation or by bike. Any tourist in a rent-a-car who’s circumnavigated the Arc de Triomphe most likely will never drive in Paris again. But there are plenty of Parisians who do it all the time — far too many, in fact. So Mayor Bertrand Delanoë, a Socialist, vowed in coming to office in 2001 to reduce car traffic by 40 percent by 2020. He’s serious about it. I live near the Boulevard St. Michel, and two years ago the city laid down a granite divider between the bus-only lane and the cars, squeezing private cars from three lanes to two. Taxis and bicycles may use the bus lane. At the same time, every bus stop was newly equipped with a screen that told you how long the wait was for the bus. During rush hour, when the cars stand still along Boul’ Mich, there’s nothing better than zooming past them in a bus.
Read on... Photo: Aaron Naparstek, Parisian Bus Rapid Transit lane, March 19, 2007
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The London Model is Dead. Time to Look at Paris.

David Haskell, executive director of the Forum for Urban Design, and organizer of last week's New York Bike-Share Project demonstration in Soho, says it's time for New York City to ditch the London model and take a closer look at the traffic-reduction techniques Paris has implemented without congestion pricing. An op/ed in today's New York Times focuses on one aspect of the Paris approach, bike-sharing:

If it turns out that New Yorkers are not yet prepared to embrace congestion pricing, and if Albany remains its intransigent self, Mr. Bloomberg should get over his fascination with London — and look instead at what’s happening in Paris.

Last week, Bertrand Delanoë, Paris’s maverick and popular mayor, introduced the world’s largest and most ambitious bike-share program: 10,600 bikes (scaling up to 20,600 by the end of the year) available at 750 “docking stations” situated every 1,000 feet. With a swipe of a credit card and a modest fee, Parisians (and tourists) can now pick up or drop off a bike in any neighborhood in the city. Riders no longer need to worry about storing their bikes in tiny apartments. The program’s high-tech stations make theft virtually impossible. And with about twice as many bike stations as Métro stops, a free bike is pretty much always within reach.

New York’s subways and buses are already at capacity, and as we prepare to add one million new residents by 2030, our existing mass transit will require improvements that will take years (if not generations) to put in place. Mr. Bloomberg has fewer than 1,000 days left as mayor. His best chance at securing an environmentalist legacy is to embrace bike-sharing.

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A French Revolution: This One On Two Wheels, No Guillotine

On Sunday in Paris, more than 10,000 bicycles became available at 750 self-service docking stations. The bike program, called Vélib (for "vélo," bicycle, and "liberté," freedom) is supposed to double in size by the end of the year. Pierre Aidenbaum, mayor of Paris's trendy third district, said "For a long time cars were associated with freedom of movement and flexibility. What we want to show people is that in many ways bicycles fulfill this role much more today." The New York Times reports:

Vélib is the brainchild of Mayor Bertrand Delanoë, a Socialist and longtime green campaigner who has set a target for the city to reduce car traffic by 40 percent by 2020. Since he took office in 2001, his administration has added about 125 miles of bicycle paths, at the expense of lanes for cars, prompting accusations from drivers that it has aggravated congestion in the city.

Still, only about 40,000 of the 2.5 million Parisians say they use their bicycles regularly. Mr. Delanoë would like to raise that number to 250,000 by the end of the year.

City Hall is hoping to draw on the experience of smaller-scale rental programs in other cities like Berlin and Stockholm to address concerns about theft and financial viability that ended an experimental program in Amsterdam in the 1960s.

The key, Mr. Aidenbaum said, is to make it easy. "What this initiative does is to take away some of the inconveniences of owning a bike in Paris," he said, "the lack of storage space in Paris buildings, the issue of theft and the hassle of maintenance."

First indications are positive. Even before the docking stations opened, 13,000 people had bought annual subscriptions online. On Sunday, some docking stations were so popular that they temporarily ran out of bikes.

Denis Bocquet, 37, an urban planner who divides his time between Paris and Berlin, had to wait in line before renting a bike with his partner, Nora Lafi. From now on, he said, he would use the Vélib to go to work during his stints in Paris.

"It used to be stressful and dangerous to cycle in Paris, but the city has changed, and this could change it even more," Mr. Bocquet said.

Photo: Alastair Miller/Bloomberg News

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Paris Embraces Plan to Become City of Bikes


The Velo'v public bicycle system in Lyon, France. By the end of 2007 the city of Paris will have 1,450 bike stations offering 20,000 bicycles.

The Washington Post reports:

On July 15, the day after Bastille Day, Parisians will wake up to discover thousands of low-cost rental bikes at hundreds of high-tech bicycle stations scattered throughout the city, an ambitious program to cut traffic, reduce pollution, improve parking and enhance the city's image as a greener, quieter, more relaxed place.

The program was meant "not just to modify the equilibrium between the modes of transportation and reduce air pollution, but also to modify the image of the city and to have a city where humans occupy a larger space."

The Socialist mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoe, has the same aim, said his aide, Jean-Luc Dumesnil: "We think it could change Paris's image -- make it quieter, less polluted, with a nicer atmosphere, a better way of life."

But there is a practical side, too, Dumesnil said. A recent study analyzed different trips in the city "with a car, bike, taxi and walking, and the bikes were always the fastest."

"It's faster than the bus or metro, it's good exercise, and it's almost free," said Vianney Paquet, 19, who is studying law in Lyon. Paquet said that he uses the rental bikes four or five times a day and pays 10 euros (about $13) a year, half for an annual membership fee and half for rental credit that he never actually spends because his rides typically last just a few minutes.

Photo: Chris73, Wikipedia.
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Paris Approves Plan to Reduce Traffic by 40% by 2020



The Paris Link reports:
Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoë has unveiled his plans to cut traffic in the capital by 40%. The plans, which also aim to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases by 60%, has met serious opposition with both drivers and right-wing parties.

Despite this opposition, the Mayor's detailed plans were adopted by the town council. The plans cannot go into effect until local elections in 2008, which Bertrand is expected to win.

The plan includes the extension of the recently terminated tramway all the way to the Porte d'Asnières in the north-west of the city by 2013. The addition of "civilised thoroughfares" will give priority to buses and bicycles, while the troubled line 13 will see further trains and a new signal system. A sixth RER (express suburban metro) line has also been proposed which will link Saint Lazare and Montparnasse stations in the north-west and the south-west of the city respectively.

Transport will be free for those living under the poverty threshold, while the banks of the Seine will become fully pedestrianised. Indeed, a number of areas may become pedestrianised throughout the city, while speed limits will be reduced in areas such as Beaubourg.

The boulevard Peripherique, the motorway the circles the city, will be forced to include a lane that allows the quick passage of buses, taxes and emergency vehicles.

Le Monde offers more details on the traffic plan (in French).

Photo: ArnoldPouteau/Flickr

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Unintended Consequences of Paris’s Traffic-Reduction Policies

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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