Paris to Reclaim Right Bank for Pedestrians

Rendering of the proposed pedestrian plaza.

After the success of Paris’s inaugural journée sans voitures, Mayor Anne Hidalgo announced a plan to turn over two miles of the Right Bank into a pedestrian paradise by the end of next summer, according to an interview with Le Journal du Dimanche.

The roadway along the Seine would be forbidden to vehicles and replaced by almost twelve acres of pétanque courts, food carts, miniature sports venues, and green spaces. Drivers’ advocates have already registered complaints that the loss of the highway could increase transit times through the city and cause congestion to spill out into surrounding neighborhoods as motorists try to navigate around the closed Voie Georges-Pompidou.

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But with a reported 57% of Parisians supporting the plan and the now-quiet critics of pedestrian plazas in other cosmopolitan cities like New York, it seems a fait accompli for motorists from the Quai des Tuileries in the first arrondissement to the Port de L’Arsenal in the fourth.

Proposed portion of the Right Bank roadway to be closed.
Proposed portion of the Right Bank roadway to be closed. (via Mairie de Paris)

Hidalgo said that there could even be a nightclub in the Tunnel des Tuileries—once it’s shut down to traffic, of course.

For those trying to traverse the distance taken over by les piétons without using their feet, Hidalgo hopes to put a modern tramway in place on—or on a platform above—the Rue de Rivoli. The tram would ferry passengers between the west and east of Paris, helping to reduce traffic and emissions, a cornerstone of the Mayor’s administration.

In the meantime, Hidalgo intends to institute a car-free Sunday every month that, unlike the first, will extend to the entire city of Paris—with the exception of the Boulevard Périphérique that circumscribes the city.