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How Did Paris Become a “Cycling City”?

Like many major cities across Europe, reducing pollution and taking as many cars off of the roads and streets has been an important priority of most local governments. 

Paris is no exception to this. But how did this happen in the city of love, and how much progression have they really made towards being a more bike friendly city?

Paris Cycling Revolution

With the pandemic and rising prices of living, more people jumping on bikes as a main or regular mode of transport seems to have occurred globally. Many major cities, such as the obvious candidates: Amsterdam and Copenhagen, have already been through a cycling revolution, as it were.

However, Paris was slightly later to this party in becoming a more cyclist orientated destination. Slowly but surely more and more cycling specific infrastructure has been added, such as bike lanes and routes. This has largely been due to the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo of the Socialist Party, wanting to take more cars off of Paris’ busy roads. 

In addition to the increased infrastructure, Paris also benefits from having their own version of London’s famous Boris bikes. These are called the Vélib’ Métropole and are a public bike sharing transportation service, which is a solid alternative to driving and adding to the fumes and pollution in and around the city. 

SOURCE: Unsplash.com

How Many Bike Paths Are There in Paris?

Currently there are around 700km worth of cycle paths as well as routes around Paris. Although just an estimation, it’s hard not to agree that this is still a really solid amount of space to be dedicated to cyclists and bikes.

Since Anne Hidalgo was elected mayor of Paris in 2014, she is estimated to have had 299km worth of bicycle lanes installed around the city. Which in turn gave an increase of 35% of bike friendly streets throughout Paris. 

During the pandemic, Paris saw an increase in temporary bike lanes (which are not the same nor as effective as protected bike lanes) being set up around the city to help provide a safer riding environment for cyclists while there were less cars on the roads. Many of these happen to stay after the pandemic eased which is great for those choosing to cycle. 

Moreover, these bike paths are also brilliant because they are also multi-use. For example the ever growing electric scooter community also benefit from having improved and increased use of bike paths throughout the city. Once again, taking more cars off of Paris’ streets. 

Does Every Street in Paris Have Bike Lanes?

Although many more streets in Paris do now have bike lanes, whether they be protected or temporary ones, sadly not all streets have them as of yet.

However, many streets are gradually being turned into more bike friendly places, in addition to more green spaces being created. But, improving the infrastructure for cyclists will never be an overnight fix and it will unfortunately take a little more time.

Paris Cycling Strategy

Due to wanting less cars driving as well as parked on the streets of Paris to reduce pollution and promote greener modes of transport, Paris’ Mayor promised some plans to ensure the already impressive progression was continued upon.

For example, within the next four years the city’s government announced that it would be gaining around 180km worth of bike lanes. These bike lanes would also be permanent as well as protected to ensure a safe experience to encourage people to ride their bikes. 

In addition to this, Paris has also decided to triple its popular secure bike parking spaces by adding up to 100,000 new spaces which also includes 1,000 for cargo bikes. This is to ensure cyclists feel their bikes are safe to leave and practical to use in and around the city. 

How Much Has Paris Spent on Cycling?

So far with the improvement of cycle lanes and appropriate infrastructure, Paris has already spent €150 million which was implemented due to their first cycling focused plan to ensure more people rode their bikes.

It was announced in 2021 by Mayor Anne Hidalgo that the local government was going to be investing a staggering €250 million into updating, as well as improving, the cycling infrastructure around Paris.

Therefore it’s clear to see that the current government definitely wants to improve upon their already growing cycling network to help secure themselves a spot as one of the most bike friendly cities in Europe.

How Many Cyclists Are There in Paris? 

According to the New York Times, around 1 million people are riding their bikes within Paris on a daily basis. Which is a pretty staggering figure if you consider how many cars that take off from the roads of Paris, not to mention the fumes and pollutants. 

Therefore, imagine how much this figure could grow with the added infrastructure and support which would be implemented thanks to the new bike plan from Paris’ government. Could we see Paris as the new Copenhagen with Parisians ditching their cars for bikes?

What is Cycling in Paris Now Like? 

Paris is now a much more bike friendly city to visit if two wheels is your thing. This is thanks to the improvement of existing bike lanes as well as the investment which has been made into improving cyclists’ experiences of riding around the city.

Therefore offering a much safer as well as significantly more carefree and enjoyable bike ride throughout Paris. You will also subsequently see a lot more fellow cyclists riding throughout the streets too which is always great to see.

However, as this implementing and building sufficient infrastructure isn’t unfortunately a quick fix, parts of the city are still not too great for cycling, mainly big junctions. Therefore as long as you keep alert, the overall riding experience has greatly improved. 

Charlotte Broughton
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Charlotte Broughton

Since Charlotte was a young child, bikes have played a paramount part of her life. She races bikes, rides bikes and also loves writing about bikes. It’s always just been a way of life for Charlotte and a passion that she now loves to share with others. You can follow Charlotte on social media via: Instagram: @charbroughton Twitter: @char_broughton

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