|Mayor of Paris remains committed to the struggle to reclaim her city from the car: Hume||1434 readings|
|Posted by Joan Russow|
|Monday, 15 August 2016 22:15|
Mayor of Paris remains committed to the struggle to reclaim her city from the car: Hume
Anne Hidalgo admits her traffic plan is “radical,” but makes no apologies.
“I would like to give Parisians back the space that cars have taken from them,” the Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, told the Star in an email interview. (AFP/GETTY IMAGES)
By CHRISTOPHER HUME
Urban Issues and Architecture
Sun., Jan. 10, 2016
The news from Paris has not been good. Between recent terrorist attacks and last week’s Charlie Hebdo memorials, the City of Light has been cast into darkness.
Through it all, however, the French capital carries on and is embarked on an ambitious, even radical, urban remake aimed at reclaiming the city from the car.
“I would like to give Parisians back the space that cars have taken from them,” the Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, told the Star in an email interview. “It is a matter of rehabilitation that must be thought of and implemented as a form of reparation. Reconquering the city involves reorienting our actions around nature and human beings. This fight is even more important because it involves crucial environmental and health issues that affect everyone, without the slightest exception.”
Hildalgo, elected mayor in 2014 with 55 per cent of the vote, is the first woman to serve in that role. For her, the environment is the big issue. As much as anything, she views congestion as a question of public heath.
“We are leading a more global fight against the monopoly held by cars in our city and in our lives,” she declares. “We want to create a peaceful city, free from the hegemony of private cars, to give public transit, bicycles, and pedestrians their rightful places. Reducing car traffic will help make Paris more pleasant and more full of life.”
As well as banning diesels from the city by 2020, reducing parking spots by 55,000 annually, spending 150 million Euros on cycling infrastructure, Hidalgo plans to pedestrianize 3.3 km on the Right Bank of the Seine this year.
As she points out, “With more than 4.1 million visitors coming each year, transforming the Left Bank into a pedestrian area has been an undeniable success. To further amplify this dynamic, I am committed to reconquering the Right Bank as of summer 2016. The arguments cited by some of the project’s opponents are the same as those that were used to oppose the pedestrianization of the Left Bank at the time . . . that project is now unanimously accepted. Progress like this, uniting private citizens and economic actors, increasing our protection of our environment, and piquing interest well beyond our borders, deserves to be reproduced on the Right Bank.”
But as Hildago makes clear, the changes environmental degradation have made necessary aren’t only legislative, but also cultural: “We have to rethink our habits,” she insists, “this much is certain. Since 2001, we have made considerable progress in the development of less harmful forms of transportation . . . . Our mindset has already changed a great deal. There are now many people who share the desire to scale back the presence of cars in the city. The facts are there to support this: less than half of Parisians currently own a car. Of course, some resistance remains, but we will continue our dedicated work on this issue.”
Comparisons aren’t always useful, but it’s impossible to imagine words like these coming from, say, the Mayor of Toronto. Hidalgo frankly admits her program is “radical,” but that hasn’t dampened her support. Paris’ first car-free day last September was a huge success.
In Toronto, where traffic flow takes precedence over basic pedestrian safety, the idea of sharing the city frightens some. They needn’t fret, Paris has survived worse and so will we.
|Last Updated on Monday, 15 August 2016 22:46|