Paris bike lane pic by Gadl
Last week I attended the first public meeting for the Central Waterfront redesign. I am happy to report that the presentations were very bike-focused. We were all given a waterfront workbook, along with the Quay to the City summary report, available online here.
TWRC VP, Planning and Design, Christopher Glaiseck said the numbers clearly showed a â€œpent up demandâ€ for cycling infrastructure on the waterfront. The graph on page 30 of the report illustrates the massive increase in bike traffic during the Quay to the City “test drive” in August. Page five shows bike traffic increased from 10 to 661 at the west-bound evening peak. I would call a 60-fold increase an “overwhelming need” rather than a “demand,” but, hey, that’s just me.
West 8 senior designer Adriaan Geuze started and ended his presentation with slides of happy, colourfully-clad cyclists (which he continuously referred to as bikers.) Geuze talked a lot about bikers…and Paris. He said the mayor of Paris has been busy creating reams of greenways and car-free streets to make that city more livable. Paris is now a “biker city”, Geuze proclaimed.
Indeed, thanks to Paris’ go-getter mayor, Bertrand Delanoe (whose accomplishments include introducing Nuit Blanche and creating the Paris Plage — an urban beach on a former highway along the Seine), there are now over 314 kms of bike lanes (many separated from traffic) in his city. Roads along the Seine are closed to traffic on Sundays and holidays and he has even appointed a Chief of Bicycle Policy.
“Bicycling in the heart of our city preserves our environment, reduces pollution, and improves the quality of life,” Delanoe has said.
There is a good article about Paris’ turn for the better on the Project for Public Spaces website here.
Geuze also compared Toronto’s “heartbreaking” CN Tower (showing a slide of its imposing concrete base) to the aesthetically pleasing Eiffel Tower, with its open base, surrounded by greenways. In closing, he said (with an almost Parisian-like smugness) that it was time that Queen’s Quay boulevard was transformed into just that: a boulevard.
The summary report also said people felt that the bike trail is “critical to opening up the waterfront to the city.” I couldn’t agree more.