Paris: pedestrianisation of bankside routes approved

On the 26 September 2016, the Conseil de Paris officially adopted the pedestrianisation of the Right Bank of the Seine. A municipal by-law should follow in October.

The 3.3 km of the Georges Pompidou section from the entrance of the Tuileries tunnel to the exit of the Henri IV tunnel, currently used by 45,000 vehicles per day, will therefore be closed to traffic from Paris Plages. This decision, made in spite of an unfavourable response to a public enquiry in August, follows many months of debate between the left majority and ecologists who argue on the basis of improving air quality in Paris and elected representatives on the right and neighbouring mayors who argue that, beside the results of the regional consultation, the changes will also cause traffic difficulties and extended journey times. These arguments are also put forward by business owners, Medef and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry for Paris and the Greater Paris Region (CCIP).

The final pedestrianisation of these bankside roads does still require agreement from the Chief Constable/Police Commissioner for Paris who has indicated a favourable stance, subject to a number of conditions. These include a six-month observation period during which modifications may be made to the project, assurances for optimal access for police and rescue vehicles, the suspension of other changes to the road network that would impact traffic on bankside routes and the establishment of a technical monitoring committee.

As for residents, the project appears to be a welcome one –  according to a survey by IFOP carried out between 16 and 21 September 2016, 55% of Parisians were in favour, even when the Georges Pompidou lane had already been closed to traffic. This figure rose to 60% in April.

The pedestrianisation of city centres does appear to be in fashion in Europe. Brussels now has the largest pedestrian area in Europe and Oslo is planning to ban all cars from the city centre by 2019, there are also projects in many French regional cities. Neuilly-sur-Seine has also just presented “Allées de Neuilly”, a pedestrianisation project for the side lanes which run alongside Avenue Charles-de-Gaulle, also referred to as RN 13.