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Paris To Become World Cycling Capital

By Adam Ulrich

Like Seville, Paris is aiming to break into the Bike Friendly City Index, but on an even grander scale. The city of lights will add over 700 kilometres of cycle paths, including 80 kilometres of cycling superhighways, by 2020. Coupled with financial incentives, the city aims to transform itself into the cycling capital of the world.

In an effort to tackle its air pollution problem, Paris is putting all its weight behind an ambitious EUR 150 million cycling initiative, known as ‘plan vélo’. Whereas Seville, which turned itself from a cycle-phobic city into a cycler’s delight, took its urban ridership from zero to nine percent, Paris aims to triple the share of all trips made by bike from five to 15 percent in the next five years.

Eiffel Tower

To do so, the city will double its network of bike lanes to 1,400 kilometres. 80 kilometres of this will comprise five protected two-way cycling superhighways running east-west and north-south alongside main roads and avenues, including the famous Champs-Élyseés. Additionally, motor-vehicle traffic will be limited to 30 Km/h on streets with cycling lanes and 50 Km/h on wider avenues. There will also be 10,000 secure biking parking spaces, as well as financial incentives for buying a bike.

Velib bicycles from a docking station in Paris

Building on the city’s Vélib city-bike hire scheme – one of the largest in the world – the new plan looks to improve every aspect of the Parisian cycling experience. It takes into consideration each step of the cycling journey, from buying a bike, to parking it, to riding it in safety. Most importantly, the plan views cycling not as providing individual facilities, but as an integrated system.

Cycling in Paris

Christophe Najdovski, the city’s head of transport and public space, told French daily Le Figaro, ‘The Netherlands has been working on [cycling] since the 70s. We have much work to do to get to this stage, but we are hopeful.’


To see how Seville turned itself into a haven for cycling enthusiasts, watch the Seville edition of our ‘Bike Friendly City’ film series.