The suggested route for the new Paris cycleway makes it down the Rue de Rivoli
A cycle lane in Paris championed by the French capital’s mayor has been criticised by the city’s chef of police as being a safety risk, writes Patrick McDonnell.
Mayor Anne Hidalgo and police commissioner Michel Delpuech have been embroiled in a war of words on the proposal. The Le Monde newspaper has dubbed it “The battle of the bicycle”.
The two-way cycle route between the Place de la Bastille in the east of the city to the Place de la Concorde in the west would run parallel to the River Siene. City officials say the scheme will be “one of the city’s centrepieces” when it is completed in 2020.
The route would open up the city centre to cyclists who currently have to negotiate with the French capital’s wide and unforgiving roads.
However, the capital’s police say it could be dangerous because the proposed cycle lanes would require the removal of one lane of traffic on the Rue de Rivoli, one of Paris’s major thoroughfares.
Police say that removing the lane could lead to more congested traffic flow and lower speeds for the emergency services such as police, fire and ambulance vehicles.
Police commissioner Delpuech told Le Monde the project “starts alarm bells ringing”.
There is also a wider issue of improving Paris’ air quality. The city has instituted a series of car-free days in a bid to reduce emissions and France’s president Emmanuel Macron has championed the use of non-polluting travel. Following US president Donald Trump’s decision to renege on the Paris Agreement on climate change, Macron took the Trump declaration “Make America great again” and converted it into the message “Make our planet great again”.