March 26 2014

Rethinking Urban Mobility in Orléans Centre, France

Cars parked on the roadside in Orléans, France

A few hundred kilometers from Orléans, other cities more modern than our own have already begun to convert their downtown parking garages into a variety of different buildings. These include: roller discos, alternative art spaces, skating rinks, metro stations, fire stations, housing (such as this former parking-silo in Tourcoing, a city notable for its innovative downtown swimming and water sports center), shopping centers, avant-garde bookstores, tropical paradises, festival spaces, and rehearsal studios – and I’m not inventing any of these examples. In addition, all these cities are choosing to set up park-and-ride facilities in their outskirts.

It must be said that in Orléans we still do not have a network of bike paths, nor a large amount of park-and-ride facilities. There is not any well thought out mixed-mode transportation, and the city’s administrations have not established any incentive measures for carpooling. Moreover, sidewalks are not always free of parked cars, businesses located in areas serviced by public transportation do not pay fewer taxes than those which are not serviced, and the city’s electric van delivery system is not adequately developed. Much is yet to be done: measures need to be implemented so that Orléans moves beyond the automobile and enters the era of mobility. Still, I dare not mention the city’s toll booths which are making election candidates break out in cold sweats.

A street in downtown Orléans, France

So, while many of us are stopping to think about how to facilitate Orléans’ economic development, we are also giving in to the whims of ill-informed shopkeepers who do not even make their purchases downtown. Yet, they complain that their own businesses are going downhill. That is why I encourage our future elected officials to look beyond selfishness and our cities’ current lack of solidarity. To be even more brutal, I must mention that a large number of downtown employees park their cars in the street, all day, in parking spots normally reserved for their clients. In turn, these clients complain about not being able to find parking spots downtown. In short, if no one is going to do their part, the situation is not going to improve.

If you travel and look around, it will be apparent that the automobile is not the future of downtown areas in France and Europe. It is necessary to think about the city on a larger scale – that of the entire urban area. I hope that there are candidates who have thought about this.

How can local governments encourage skeptical citizens to carpool and make use of park-and-ride facilities?

Original article, originally published in French, here.

Credits: Images and data linked to sources.

Marcus Khoury

Marcus Khoury is a recent graduate of the University of California Los Angeles, where he obtained a B.A. in French & Francophone Studies. Aside from his native Michigan, Marcus has lived in several states, in addition to France and Chile. Owing to his experiences with a variety of cultures, languages, and environments, he has always been keenly interested in how the exchange of ideas between different cities, regions, and countries helps to shape both physical and cultural landscapes. His linguistic background, in addition to his interest in the diversity of international urban environments and experiences, has led Marcus to fill the position of French Language Translator at The Grid, where he will be translating and presenting French language material involving environmental design.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 26th, 2014 at 9:01 am and is filed under Community/Economic Development, Government/Politics, Marcus Khoury, Social/Demographics, Transportation, Urban Development/Real Estate. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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