Cycling destination Paris

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!

There we go!

Arrived in Paris last night and received a warm welcome by Jérôme and his family.  Daughter baked cookies with lots of chocolate! Jerome is writer of several books about everyday cycling and cycling subcultures and a popular cycling blog. And of course he likes to ride his racing bike.The ideal host to stay for a few days and explore the city with.

The departure from Driebergen and Utrecht was a bit hectic. Making sure that everything ends up in the right place in the bags, a bit of stress to be on the Domplein on time. Lots of encouragement through social media.  However, the familiar holiday rhythm of breaking up, cycling, eating and finding a place to sleep and set up a tent soon returned. The familiar feeling of freedom. The wind was in my back, the temperature was pleasant and the roads along the canals made it very smooth. 

Cycling along canals is easy to navigate, but a bit boring. You don’t see much of the environment.

The route through Brussels was also easy, a Dutch couple that I spoke to at the campsite in the evening, had a lot more trouble with it. Cycling in the city is always a bit chaotic, because cycling infrastructure is created later. My strategy of keeping a close eye on a local cyclist heading in roughly the same direction still works. Sometimes cycling on the right, sometimes left on the bus lane, and sometimes also in the median strip, I’ve experienced it all again.
Paris has made great strides and that’s quite a difference from the other places I’ve passed through. The EuroVelo route 3 was largely on towpaths and quiet roads, but sometimes a busy road was unavoidable. The man who took my picture warned me about the French drivers. In general I experience them as very respectful and they keep a good distance. Would this be different in the Netherlands because there are often separate bicycle paths and when cycling on the road is seen as an infringement for the motorist? Or because there is so much more cycling in the Netherlands? Or are the Dutch more in a hurry in general? I’m not over it yet.  Let’s take a closer look at the city first

Cycling left in the bus lane, when it works, it works.

Break the grid, a week of ModeShift

Last week the ModeShift festival was organized in Winnipeg for the second time. I had the honor to be the guest of managing director Anders Swanson of Winnipeg trails all week to follow this thrilling week from close by. A week with many varied activities for a varied target group that does justice to the inhabitants of this Canadian city with brutal cycling circumstances. A week that I conclude with hope and excitement for a better future for active modes in Winnipeg.dav

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