As reported by the CBC and others the City of Paris is doing a remarkable thing in permanently closing the Right Bank to car traffic, turning it into a pedestrian and cycling paradise. The road along the Right Bank has been in Paris’ downtown since the 1960’s and worked perfectly for what it was designed to do-move commuting traffic. But Paris has an air pollution problem-living in Paris means your life expectancy is reduced by 2 years, and air pollution claims 6,500 people.
While the Right Bank has been closed since the early 2000’s into a beach experience each summer, it reverted to its car dominated use in the Fall. Now Mayor Hidalgo, who also is the head and chair of the C40 Cities addressing climate change, has spearheaded a movement which has passed to permanently close the Right Bank road.
Since vehicles regularly commuted on this route prior to the closure, there is a bit of pushback from those motorists. Before making way for the beach this summer, an estimated 43,000 cars drove the quay highway daily. Suburban commuters, taxi drivers and Uber are bitterly against the closure.
But Eric Britton, a sustainable development consultant looks to Copenhagen and the remarkable work that has been done to make that city into a biking and walking haven. He states”You see, congestion is also a policy. It’s a very valuable policy. Traffic is people, and people are smart, and they figure out other ways to get around.”