Paris by Bike: How did the City of Light become a city of cycles? | NYTimes

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I used to consider the people who biked around this city to be members of a fearless warrior tribe. Mostly men, they dressed for battle in helmets, chain locks and reflective gear. The city’s few cycling lanes were shared with swerving buses or sandwiched between rows of pitiless drivers and were known as “les couloirs de la mort” — corridors of death. . . .

For the first 16 years I lived here, I never got on a bike. But something changed recently, and it’s not just because I fear catching the coronavirus on the Métro. In a feat of urban chutzpah, Paris — though not yet a cyclists’ paradise — is becoming a cycling town. . . .

Paris is notable for the speed of its makeover. When visitors kept away by the pandemic finally come back, they’ll see that cordoned-off bike routes now crisscross the capital and connect it to nearby suburbs. Rue de Rivoli, the wide street that runs past the Louvre, has been entirely closed to private cars. Parisian drivers now expect to see bikes, and some even try not to hit them.

What happened? How did Paris go from a place where biking felt suicidal to one where even neurotics like me pedal around town?

MoBikeFed comment: When we read about cities that are really great for bicycling, we often think they are somewhere far, far away, that they have always been friendly for bicycling, and that what they did, we could never do here at home in Missouri.

Paris is far away from Missouri. But it definitely has not been a bicycle-friendly city for a very long time. And what they did--though not easy--is something we very well could do here at home in Missouri as well.

What did it take in Paris?

- Strong leadership from the top--the Paris mayor
- A well-conceived 5-year plan to make the entire city bicycleable by people of all ages and abilities
- Sticking with the plan and moving it forward continuously, despite obstacles and opposition

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