Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, first elected in 2014, campaigned on a promise to make Paris a greener city and prioritized pro-cycling measures.
Hidalgo’s cycling plans have succeeded in attracting more cyclists to the streets of Paris: comparing the year following the launch of Hidalgo’s first “cycling plan” in 2016 with 2022, the average number of cyclists on the streets cycle paths in Paris per day increased from 702 to 1,870.
But the increase in the number of cyclists has not come without problems, particularly among pedestrians who say they worry about their safety due to the large number of cyclists, not all of whom obey the highway code.
READ MORE: How close is Paris to its goal of becoming a 100% cycle-friendly city?
In an attempt to reconcile the interests of cyclists, pedestrians and motorists, Hidalgo announced in January that it would present a ‘street code’ (street code) to better ensure safety on city streets.
This is in addition to existing measures in France Traffic Laws (highway code) which brings together all the laws and statutes related to road safety.
While the Traffic Laws mainly aimed at motorists and cars, it contains provisions for cyclists, such as a ban on wearing headphones or using a mobile phone while cycling.
But many city residents demanded additional measures to prevent accidents and incivility on Parisian roads. In response, Hidalgo’s team developed 12 major rules to improve coexistence between all groups on the streets of the capital.
The situation on the street
Pedestrians aren’t the only ones frustrated: some cyclists believe that neither pedestrians nor motorists respect the highway code.
In October 2022, the daily Le Parisien spoke with cyclist Cécile, who said she had recently had an accident and fell because a car had not respected the right of way. “I had to turn my bike away to avoid an accident with the car,” she tells Le Parisien.
Others referred to pedestrians not paying attention or looking at their phones: “I recently had an accident where I hit someone who was crossing the street without looking,” one cyclist said, Chloé, at Le Parisien.
In June, Hidalgo’s office released its list of 12 rules, which the City Council passed in July and are now in effect.
- Bicycles, cars and other two-wheeled vehicles must respect the priority of pedestrians
- Everyone must be vigilant and pay attention to the most vulnerable people (e.g. the elderly, children and people with disabilities) as well as those with specific needs.
- Motorized two-wheelers, scooters and bicycles are not allowed to travel on sidewalks
- Motorists must not encroach on bus lanes, bicycle racks and cycle paths.
- Do not exceed the authorized speed and respect traffic lights and signs.
- Pedestrians must wait before entering a congested intersection
- Park your vehicle only in authorized locations
- Do not drink before driving a car, bicycle or other two-wheeled vehicle
- When opening a car door, be sure to look first. Open the door with your right hand instead of your left hand.
- honk your horn in case of danger
- Pedestrians should only cross the street on crosswalks
- Pedestrians must look both ways before crossing the street
In addition to these rules, the city promised that children in Parisian schools would also learn road safety during lessons on riding a bicycle.
According to the existing Traffic LawsCyclists can be fined up to €35 if they change direction without warning or have a passenger on the bike who is not sitting in a secured seat.
Cyclists also face fines of up to €135 if they use a phone or wear headphones while cycling, fail to respect pedestrians’ right of way, or ride under the influence of alcohol or drugs. .
Response from Parisians
For some Parisians, the new street code does not represent a strong enough response. The group “Changer Paris” tweeted a parody video, ostensibly mocking the 12 rules for being too obvious.
– Changeur Paris (@GpeChangerParis) July 6, 2023
In a recent column in the French daily Le Figaro, the writer Vincent Roy called the street code “Anne Hidalgo’s Latest Fashion” and argued that the city’s resources would be better spent by simply applying the rules of the existing system. Traffic Lawsespecially for cyclists.
The city also promised to increase the number of tickets issued by “video verification” (radar) and that the municipal police would carry out more targeted checks based on different themes of the above rules.
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