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Photo: PCA Architecture.
The Champs-Élysées will be returned to the French people with wider pavements, bicycle lanes, and more green spaces,” says PCA Architecture.

This post is about a more pedestrian-friendly vision for Paris, but as far as I can tell, it’s still in the imagining stage. Covid, ironically, has helped move things along.

Tim Gibson at the B1M describes what it would be like.

“Mayor Anne Hidalgo has given the green light for the city’s iconic Champs-Élysées to be transformed into an urban garden.

“Traffic congestion has seen the famous boulevard lose its grandeur over recent decades, and many local Parisians have abandoned it in favour of more pedestrian-friendly avenues. Hidalgo hopes to bring the road back to its people by removing its outer lanes, widening pedestrian areas, planting more trees and greenery, and creating dedicated bicycle lanes.

“Plans were first proposed in 2019 by local community leaders who begged the government to restore the road to its former glory. …

“The massive overhaul is part of a £225M project to regenerate Paris’ streets and make the city greener and more people-friendly. Throughout Paris, 140,000 on-street car parking bays will be removed and replaced with vegetable allotments, food composting, playgrounds, bicycle lock-ups and more trees.

Local residents have been consulted on what they’d prefer the spaces to be used for.

‘We can no longer use 50% of the capital for cars when they represent only 13% of people’s journeys,’ deputy mayor David Belliard told The Times.

“ ‘We have to plant greenery in the city to adapt to the acceleration of climate change. We want to make the air more breathable and give public space to Parisians who often live in cramped flats.’

“While plans for the rejuvenation of Paris pre-date COVID-19, the pandemic has expedited the entire process. City-wide lockdowns have shifted the perspective of many Parisians – and others around the world. There is a newfound emphasis on public transport, green spaces, parks and community.

“Hidalgo has become a major proponent of the ‘fifteen minute city,’ where all residents will be able to reach necessary amenities such as shops, parks and offices within a fifteen minute walk or bike ride. …

“Copenhagen continued with plans to become completely carbon-neutral by 2025 and have 75 percent of all journeys be done by foot, bicycle or public transport. Like Paris, the city has started transforming many of its parking bays into areas for plants and trees.

“During the April lockdown, London also shifted space on its roads over to bicycles, expanding its network of cycling lanes.” More at the B1M, here.

I’m hoping Alison, who blogs about her adventures in Paris, will weigh in. Carol at cas d’intérêt, too.

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102318-NYC-subway-Happy-New-Year-mosaic

Our New Year’s Eves are quiet these days. We watched an Agatha Christie on television and went to sleep. But I’ve been saving a suitable tile from the New York subway system since my October trip to visit my sister, so here it is and Happy New Year!

2018 was not a good year for my sister, who was diagnosed with a bad brain cancer in July. But it was also a year we learned to be grateful for things like a clean surgery and cancer treatments without bad side effects. My perspective changed.

My perspective on the nation and on the future of the planet and my own role in it has also been evolving. I began to suspect that, other than our Bill of Rights, our country may not be as special as we thought. After all, all countries think they are special. And even the Bill of Rights can’t survive unless we commit to protecting it and interpreting it justly. Surely none of those rights were intended to lead to the deaths of thousands of innocent Americans every year. Perhaps 2018 was a turning point.

I’ve also been giving more thought to my role in global warming. Do I make too many unnecessary car trips when I could walk or take public transportation? Do I serve the family too much meat, especially beef? Should I find a way to plant more trees? I know I need to stop sneaking around the local laws against plastic bags and find a sustainable alternative.

I will be writing more about initiatives to protect the planet and will be looking for ideas to apply in my own life from you and from websites like 1MillionWomen. By the way, I learned about 1MillionWomen from a wonderful book called Climate Justice, by Mary Robinson. I hope you will put it on your list. It shows how the poorest communities are the first to feel the crunch of global warming and how, if we pay attention to those communities, we will also be taking arm against the sea of troubles that threatens us all.

Even better, the book shows how extraordinarily effective ordinary people can be when they have simply had enough.

 

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“New York City is using poetry to boost traffic safety. The city is installing 200 colorful 8-inch square signs featuring haiku about safety at cultural spots, schools, and high accident areas. In an age when many messages compete for attention, officials hope that ones such as

‘Oncoming cars rush
‘Each a 3 ton bullet
‘And you, flesh and bone’

“will encourage pedestrians to exercise caution.”

So writes the Innovators Insights listserv, linking to the CBS New York news story, where you will find some amused and amusing comments from New Yorkers.

“ ‘What we’ve learned that is that the more innovative the message and with a little bit of humor, or something a little off beat, is much more effective form of communication,’ Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan said.”

Reminds me of my October post on traffic mimes in Caracas. Remember? There’s something delightfully incongrous about traffic adminsitrators being the ones, out of all possible professions, to use mimes and haiku to further their work objectives.

But maybe I don’t know much about traffic administrators.

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