By cycling in a few from Paris to Bourgogne, the impressions fall into place. First of all, Paris remains a fantastic metropolis, where life goes on forever. The high density of homes and the intensive use of public space are well known. In that respect, the use of the bicycle is of course obvious, but it took a Covid crisis to really boost the infrastructure and the use of bicycles. In the street I could identify three forms of infrastructure.
At the first place, there is the traditional infrastructure, whereby the bicycle paths should not take up too much space. It looks carefully fitted and attention has been paid to trees, parking for cars and loading and unloading. However, the bicycle paths often end in complex places, so that you have to figure it out yourself on the junctions. I call this myself “Shy interventions”.
The second category of infrastructure is the brave, tough infrastructure that was created during the term of Mayor Anna Hildago. Space for car traffic is taken up by cycle paths on the same level, separated by curbs. The physical shielding for car traffic gives confidence, but you have to be careful, because the visibility of the curbs sometimes is a bit poor and should be improved. The network of these new cycle paths is still far from complete, which is why the third category, that of the “Corona pistes” receives so much attention.
The Corona pistes popped up like mushrooms and comes with yellow paint and pylons and has many appearances. From sharrrows to two-way bicycle paths in the middle axis of the street and even a Rue Amsterdam where through traffic for cars was made impossible traffic and the street actually functions as a bicycle street.
In my opinion, the network has become quite complete, and many different types of cyclists can be distinguished. The similarity is that everyone should have a decent degree of traffic insight, because traffic remains hectic and as a cyclist you sometimes have to search for the continuation after crossing the intersection. Later this week I learned from Judith Un from EspacePama that educating people about cycling is not in the first place about traffic regulations, but for a lot of people it goes much deeper, to get the concept of balance in their nerve system
With Jerome Sorrel I visited the place where a 24 year old woman got under the wheels of a truck. The driver couldn’t see her and the infrastructural measures to keep her out of the blind spot were missing. It is emotional every time to visit such a place, but it makes my the urge to change the traffic system stronger every time.
I would like to end on a positive note, having cycled around Longgchamps in the Bois de Boulogne, said to be the most cycled Strava segment in the world. On the Champs-Elysees I met a Dutch family, who had cycled to Paris in two weeks and had experienced all kinds of adventures. They were deeply impressed by the transformation Paris had undergone and could not have imagined this when they cycled through Paris without children 20 years ago. Paris has now truly become a cycling destination!