Paris injects 300 million euros into cycling infrastructure during the coronavirus
Paris has made great strides forward in transforming its infrastructure for people – cyclists and pedestrians – rather than cars amid the coronavirus pandemic. The Ile-de-France region has announced that it will support temporary and permanent cycle paths to the tune of 300 million euros, with some sections due to be ready as early as May.
It is expected that by May 11, some boulevards across Paris will have been converted to makeshift cycle lanes to provide express routes for key workers.
The region said it has decided to step up funding for improving cycling infrastructure due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and its effects on the city.
Politician Valérie Pécresse said investing in cycling infrastructure was vital because social distancing measures prevent commuters from using public transport.
Pécresse added that without better infrastructure for cyclists, people would be forced to use private rental cars, which could “cripple” the city with traffic jams.
Calls across the world have been made for cities to temporarily turn streets into cycle and pedestrian lanes to support essential travel during the coronavirus pandemic.
Measures have been implemented in Canada and New Zealand, and Paris will be the last city to follow suit, but with plans to expand infrastructure beyond the end of the lockdown.
The money will go to the RER Velo project which aims to provide nine segregated routes connecting 30 districts of Paris.
The investment of 300 million euros will cover around 60% of the construction costs while the remaining 40% will be covered by the municipalities and the national bicycle fund.
Calls for similar changes have been made in the UK, with Brompton CEO Will Butler-Adams calling on the government to convert some of London’s busiest roads into temporary cycle lanes.
In an open letter, Butler-Adams said it was imperative that the government encourage bicycle travel once the lockdown is lifted in order to limit the possibility of a second wave of the virus.
“After the current lockdown restrictions, a large part of the British population will move to cities again, but will be reluctant to use public transport where the risk of transmission is higher,” Butler-Adams wrote.
“In order to mitigate against a second wave influx of coronavirus cases, we believe it is prudent to plan ahead and implement these temporary measures now for key workers, but also to empower the population wider to travel by bike or on foot in the short term as lockout restrictions lifted. ‘