To minimize social contact and maximize daily physical activity, many cities around the world have been giving over road space to cyclists and pedestrians during the pandemic. While the idea is to give people the sort of generous space generally allotted to motorists, it’s also giving cities a chance to experiment with new ways of organizing the streets.
Paris, for instance, has been rolling out emergency bike lanes for the use of key workers and others during the lockdown. 650 kilometers of cycleways—including a number of pop-up “corona cycleways”—are set to be ready for May 11 when the lockdown is eased in France.
Before the coronavirus crisis, Mayor Anne Hidalgo had promised that every street in the city would become cycle-friendly by 2024, but fears of gridlock caused by increased car traffic once the lockdown is eased are allowing officials to accelerate Hidalgo’s existing “Plan Vélo” transport changes. On January 29, Hidalgo revealed that the space required to make Paris cyclist-friendly would mostly come at the expense of motoring. Under her plans, Paris was to remove 72% of its on-street car parking spaces.
As for the new cycleways, the routers mirror that of the local RER metro rail lines, including an “express” route for the use of e-bikes. Elsewhere in France, 116 towns and cities—including Lille, Dijon, Rouen, Le Mans, and St Etienne—plan to build temporary cycleways for the duration of the current lockdown and the next few months.