Mayor of Paris removes urban motorways to give banks of Seine back to walkers and cyclists

From Saturday 1 September 2012, Parisians will be able to enjoy a large new people-friendly section of the riverside north of the River Seine.

The changes include narrowing the road between Hotel de Ville and Quai Henry IV to create new pedestrian corridors, riverside walkways, along with new cafes and bars.

In spring 2013, an even larger scheme will be completed that will remove a 1.5-mile section of urban motorway from the opposite riverbank, creating what's hoped will be a walking and cycling paradise.

The riverside transformations are the latest of Mayor Bertrand Delanoe's projects to reclaim portions of the city away from motor vehicles, following his expansion of cycle routes and introduction of the Velib cycle hire, which was the model for London's successful scheme.

Delanoe has had to fight against national politicians and motoring groups to make sure the £30 million project succeeds, but planners have assured motorists that journey times are only likely to be marginally affected.

The riverside project comes in the wake of the successful Paris Plages, which saw Voie Georges-Pompidou transformed each summer into a seaside resort, complete with sand, parasols and palm trees.

What about London?

As far back as 1986, Richard Rogers produced a visionary plan to redesign London's Embankment between Westminster and Blackfriars as a people-friendly space, to replace the four-lane urban motorway that exists now.

Mayor Boris Johnson signed up to LCC's Love London, Go Dutch campaign in May 2012, committing to creating three flagship walking and cycling projects in the capital.

In May of this year he announced Greenwich and Vauxhall as the first two locations. 


You should quick take a look at "The Developing City, A Vision for 2050" exhibition. It's in the Wallbrook Building, at the bottom of Wallbrook, across the street from the entrance to Cannon Street Station. It closes on the 9th Sept, and isn't open weekends or Mondays.

I noted that in 2050 the City of London will, apparently, have almost as many Segways as bicycles.

Still it's a good exhibition, covering London's development history all the way from AD120 on.

Regarding the future of bikes in Cities, It's worth reading Daniel Behrman's "The Man Who Loved Bicycles", the best bike book ever written. It's been out of print for decades, but you can read it on the internet at For the future of Paris, as viewed in 1973, see the chapter, "Is this bum trip really necessary"


Jeremy Parker

  • By garethm at 12:05pm 3 September 2012

As well as Velob and the extra cycle routes, the last time I was in Paris - summer 2011 - there were whole sections of the city centre completely closed to traffic on a Sunday. Pedestrians, bikes and cafe/restaurant tables took over the road space. Looked to me like a great idea for us to promote in London as well

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