By Damon Mitchell • 05 May 2020 • 15:52
WHEN France begins lifting its coronavirus lockdown next week some of the busiest traffic lanes in Paris will be reserved for cyclists in a bid to limit crowds on public transport.
The city’s mayor, Anne Hidalgo said “In total, 50 kilometres of lanes normally used by cars will be reserved for bicycles.” She also said another 30 streets would be made pedestrian-only, “in particular around schools to avoid groups of people,” she said.
The mayor had announced last week that the Rue de Rivoli, one of the main thoroughfares through the heart of the capital, would be only for bikes as from May 11. Other streets will include the Boulevard Saint-Michel in the Left Bank’s Saint-Germain neighbourhood, and the express tunnel under the chaotic roundabout at the Arc de Triomphe.
Many Paris suburbs have also announced plans for new bike lanes, hoping to reduce pressure on commuter trains and buses as well as the Metro, where many seats will now be off-limits to respect social distancing. Hidalgo, who is running for re-election, has been pushing for years to reduce car use in the capital by reducing lanes and speed limits and closing off dozens of streets completely. She said some of the street closures could be made permanent even after the crisis has passed.
The French government has unveiled a €20 million package to encourage the use of bicycles post-lockdown, including a €50 subsidy for bike repairs or tune-ups.
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