For decades, Paris and cyclists rarely got along. Cars were very much king in this traffic-clogged city. But this year, quite suddenly, things have changed. First, 50km of temporary bike lanes set up on main roads during lockdown – dubbed ‘coronapistes’ – were made permanent. Then came plans to create a 650-kilometre cycling network across the surrounding Île-de-France region.
Now, in perhaps the most ambitious move yet, plans are afoot to create a bike path along the Seine, from Paris all the way to the English Channel. The new, 420km-long ‘La Seine à Vélo’ route will pass through eight départements (Paris, Seine-Saint-Denis, Hauts-de-Seine, Yvelines, Val-d’Oise, Eure, Seine-Maritime and Calvados) and end up at Le Havre and Deauville in Normandy. That’s a heck of a lot of beautiful, diverse French countryside for keen cyclists to take in, and we’re very into it.
Paris’s mayor, Anne Hidalgo, has been fighting to make her city greener ever since she was first elected. Since 2014, she’s created some 30 new green spaces – including 28 school-playground ‘oases’ – and plans to plant four ‘urban forests’ right next to major landmarks. Now, by creating new cycling links and banning cars from iconic thoroughfares like the Rue de Rivoli, she intends to make Paris a truly bike-friendly city. Watch out, Amsterdam!
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