France Faces Massive National Strikes Over Pension Reform
Parisians rides their bicycles near the Eiffel Tower. (Photo by Chesnot/Getty Images)Getty Images

Official measurements have found that Paris is rapidly becoming a city of transportation cyclists. The survey of how people now move in Paris was conducted with GPS trackers by academics from L’Institut Paris Région, the largest urban planning and environmental agency in Europe.

The institute’s transportation report was published on April 4. It found that the way Parisians are now traveling from the suburbs to the city center, especially during peak periods, has undergone a revolution thanks in part to the building of many miles of cycleways.

Those cyclists now on the streets and roads of central Paris are not Spandex-clad professionals as seen on the Tour de France but everyday transportation cyclists.

L’Institut Paris Région carried out the survey for a consortium of fourteen public and private partners, including local government and rail companies.

Reporting on the institute’s survey, French TV channel 20 Minutes told viewers that the “capital’s cycle paths are always full.”

Between October 2022 and April 2023, 3,337 Parisians aged 16 to 80 years old were equipped with GPS trackers to record their journeys for seven consecutive days. In the suburbs, where public transit is less dense, transport by car was found to be the main form of mobility. But for journeys from the outskirts of Paris to the center, the number of cyclists now far exceeds the number of motorists, a huge change from just five years ago. Most of the journeys recorded were commuter trips.

The city’s socialist mayor Anne Hidalgo has pushed through a great many anti-motoring measures during her two administrations—such as reducing the number of parking places, restricting access by SUVs, and closing some major roads to motorists—and the latest survey will be validation for her policies, none of which have caused the kind of protests that the French capital has long been famous for.

In short, culling cars has been far more popular than her petrolhead critics predicted, with Paris becoming cleaner and healthier to boot.

Notably, and without the spread of conspiracy theories common outside of France, Paris is also putting into practice the home-grown concept of the “15-minute city,” creating urban areas where access to amenities is close and hence there’s less need to drive. {read}

Carlton Reid

I was Press Gazette’s Transport Journalist of the Year, 2018. I’m also an historian – my most recent books include “Roads Were Not Built for Cars” and “Bike Boom”, both published by Island Press, Washington, D.C.