Cars Curbed in Paris
- Paris Mayor Defends Anti-car Moves as Drivers Moan
Friday, August 24, 2001
PARIS, Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe vigorously defended his
anti-car campaign amid growing criticism on Thursday that new lanes
reserved for buses, bicycles and taxis were turning the city centre
into a traffic hell.
The Socialist mayor, elected last spring on a platform of creating
more "civilised space" in the capital, argued he had a mandate to
fight pollution and he intended to use it.
"This problem affects all Parisians and especially the most
vulnerable, children and elderly people," he told the daily Le
"Fighting against the dominance of the car is therefore a duty, but
it also reflects the aspirations of a majority of Parisians," he
The lanes, which the city has been marking off with new concrete
dividers during the summer, has reduced the space available to cars
and caused gridlock in central Paris even before the return of summer
"This is what awaits you," screamed the front page of Le Parisien
over a picture of a traffic jam.
"The Greens and Socialists are about to achieve the incredible feat
of increasing pollution by blocking traffic," scoffed Yves Galland of
the centre-right UDF party.
OPPONENTS SLAM "ARBITRARY" SYSTEM
Opposition politicians criticised the way the new system was approved
and implemented during the summer, saying residents, police and local
officials were not adequately consulted.
Cyclists complained the new corridors were not properly policed,
allowing rogue drivers free rein.
Deputy Mayor Yves Contassot, head of the small Greens party in the
city's coalition government, became the first casualty of the system
when he was knocked off his bike on Tuesday by a motorcyclist
illegally racing down the central Rue de Rivoli.
Motorists say the new lanes also fail to provide for delivery trucks,
who are confined to the car traffic lane where they create a safety
hazard and aggravate tailbacks.
Delanoe had already courted controversy with his decision to
temporarily ban cars from a four-kilometre (two-mile) stretch of road
beside the River Seine in July and August.
Environmental campaigners praised the move to turn over the riverside
expressway to cyclists and skaters for a month. But it outraged
drivers who were jammed into narrow side streets.
A survey by the Ipsos institute found 66 percent approved the move,
although this proportion fell to 40 percent among those who used
their cars regularly. The poll questioned 800 residents aged over 15
between July 31 and August 2.
Copyright 2001 Reuters