The New York Times recently ran an editorial outlining how Paris, France has aimed to cut car traffic within the city by 40% by 2020. Here’s some of their tactics, some of which should be considered by Richmond in our effort to re-create our downtown:

  • Improve transit:
    • Increase and improve routes
    • Make transit cheaper
    • Make transit easier to use
      • public posting of bus routes
      • electronic signs at bus stops with the wait times for the next bus
      • make payment easier
  • Reduce available travel lanes for cars
  • Create special bus lanes (in Paris and London these lanes can be used by taxis & bikes)
  • Make cheap rental bikes available all over the city ($1.50 a day or $43.50 a year)
  • Raise fuel taxes

Maybe instead of 2-way streets downtown, we should keep them 1-way and dedicate one lane for buses and bikes. That would calm traffic, provide access for emergency vehicles, and make transit faster and biking safer.

And I’d love to see inexpensive rental bikes all over the city- I don’t know the specifics of the Paris system, but in Amsterdam you can pay your rental fee and get a key which works for a generic lock on all the bikes. Then you can pick up a bike anywhere you find one, and leave it at approved destinations. This kind of program works only with a very high volume of bikes (Paris is starting with 10,000 at 750 locations and hopes to double the number of bikes by the end of the year). It also requires housing density to ensure that bikes are available where people live.

In Lyon, your pre-paid bus/metro card will unlock rental bikes. How’s that for convenient?

The point is, when you declare war on cars there has to be viable, affordable, convenient alternatives for folks to get around.  If we want to make downtown less of a traffic paradise and more pedestrian oriented, what transportation alternatives are we providing?  Otherwise we risk running everyone out of downtown and killing it off entirely, don’t we?

paris bikes