This narrative originally appeared on CityLab and is part of the Climate Desk cooperation .
Paris has inaugurated its first motorcycle highway. Opening last May, the 0.5 -milestretch of freshly paved roadalongside the Bassin de lArsenal is part of theRseau express vlo( REVe) , an initiative to construct fast-track motorcycle lanes free of motorized vehicles. Its merely the first section of the soon-to-be 28-mile network of motorcycle roads that will cross the city by 2020.
In 2015, the city voted unanimously to expend 150 million ($ 164.5 million) on expanding and improving its biking infrastructure, including REVe( which translates to dream in French ). Cyclists will benefit from more bike-friendly rulesincluding the freedom to turn without waiting for a green light at every intersectionas well as new motorcycle stands and two-way motorcycle lanes on one-way streets.
Sandrine Gbaguidi, a local biking blogger, rarely leaves home without her motorcycle, using it to run errands, get to work, or just find a nearby park. But that wasnt always the case. When Gbaguidi moved to Paris from Dakarsix years ago, she first employed public transit to get around because she was too afraid to motorcycle. She bought a motorcycle after three years in Parisand, as she feared, there was a steep learn curve. Youre constantly on your guard and riled or irritated, tells Gbaguidi. Biking is supposed to be fun and relaxing.
Gbaguidis initial anxieties are not unique. In 2014, bikes amounted for only 5 percent of daily traffic in the city, accounting for about 225,000 trip-ups. Although that number is growing annually, it stilldoesnt compare to the 15.5 million daily trips by vehicle, tallied in 2012. Meanwhile, other European cities like Copenhagen and Amsterdam report 55 and 43 percentage, respectively, of their daily traffic happens in bikes.
Charles Maguin, chairwoman and co-founder of Paris en Selle, a biking association, tells one reason people dont bike in Frances capital is that they don’t feel safe vying with motorized vehicles on the road. Paris en Selle was founded in 2015 when Maguin noted the absence of biking groups advocating for the cyclists safety in terms of laws and infrastructure. Parisians would rather take the Metro for a short commute than motorcycle to run, tells Maguin.
But Metro, while popular, is not valued for comfort or cleanliness, especially during rush hour. Commuters breathe in more pollution using Metro than while riding a motorcycle, according to a study conducted in 2009 by Airparif, an association monitoring atmospheric pollution in the greater Paris area.
Above ground, Maguin says that since the automobile became popular in the 20 th century, the city has continued to prioritize cars over bicycles and pedestrians. To this day, theres a prevail stereotype of an average cyclist as a Parisian bobo, or hipster, biking in the city with a baguette in their front basket. But Maguin stresses that this clich is outdated as more people consider biking for get around the city. All thats missing is the right infrastructure to encourage more riders.
Riding a motorcycle in Paris is as much a mental workout as it is a physical one. Although there are bike lanes on most roads in the city today, cyclists are still being pushed out by other vehicles that share the same lane. Sharing the road with motorized vehicles makes a sense of insecurity, tells Maguin.
The new REVe network aims to counter that. With these new motorcycle lanes, the city hopes to see daily biketripsincrease from 5 to 15 percentage by 2020. The initiative will not only construct roads for bikes, but it will also double the number of motorcycle lanes from 435 to 870 miles, building the organizations of the system most effective and inclusive. And with the creation of 7,000 more advanced stop lines at red lights( with priority given to bikes at every intersection ), cyclists wont be as restricted by vehicle traffic.
Parismayor Anne Hidalgos initiative to create a more motorcycle and pedestrian-friendly city is part of a multi-year plan to stimulate the city greener, including goals to reduce vehicle traffic on its roads and the air pollution it creates. One of Hidalgos projects even involves turning major boulevards like the Champs lyses into pedestrian streets.
Paris en Selle salutes the mayors effort to incorporate cyclists into city planning, but wants to push these initiatives even further. I hope that biking gets to be considered as a viable alternative means to get around the city, and not only a project run by green parties for the Parisian hipster, tells Maguin.