French capital Paris joins the club of cities where cyclists outnumber cars

cyclists in paris, france, photo by rodrigo viera, license CC2.
Paris. Photo by Rodrigo Viera.

Many people may see images of the legendary bicycle race the Tour of France in their mind if you mention cycling and Paris, but the news is that on the busy streets of the French capital cycling has become so popular that there are more cyclists on the road than car drivers.

Urban planning and environmental agency L’Institut Paris Région conducted a research among residents of Paris and surrounding municipalities. The researchers asked 3337 people to wear a GPS tracker when they traveled by bicycle. The research was conducted from October 2022 to April 2023 which means that participants (or cyclists in general) didn’t give up cycling even during winter.

The results from the Institute’s research pointed out that the number of cyclists in Paris far exceed the number of cars. The most common reason for cycling is commuting from a suburb to the city center. Trips between suburbs or further away from the city are usually made by car.

What is the reason for the fairly rapid change in transportation preferences in Paris? Forbes reports that new bicycle lanes, closing a few main streets from cars altogether, reducing parking space, and restricting access from SUVs have been the primary strategies during the last few years.

I wonder how the traffic flows around the Arc de Triomphe at the end of Champs-Elysee? Years ago, it was a nightmare for an out-of-town driver, but perhaps cyclists can create a similar controlled chaos in the roundabout.

Paris is not the only city in Europe where people (with the help of town administration) are re-claiming streets from vehicles:

  • In March 2023, the transportation committee of London reported that cyclists are now the “single largest vehicular mode counted during peak times on city streets.”
  • The capital of Denmark, Copenhagen, reached the point when bicycles outnumbered cars in daily traffic in November 2016. “People see that the fastest way to get around town is on a bicycle,” said the mayor of technical and environmental affairs.
  • It is estimated that 881,000 bicycles are to roll on the streets of Amsterdam compared to 251,000 cars, which is obvious for everyone who has visited the beautiful city of canals. Bicycle lanes are everywhere, and if you are a pedestrian you really have to re-learn how you read the traffic. First, always keep an eye on bicycle lanes and cyclists, and then, the lanes where vehicles are allowed.