December 23 2013

Pedestrian Blues: Walking in Paris, France

A crosswalk signal in Paris, France.

In Paris proper, 60% of travel is done by foot. In order to make the movement of pedestrians easier and safer, especially for the most vulnerable, the city has carried out a number of developments over the past decade. Such developments include widening sidewalks, shortening crosswalks, lowering sidewalks, and creating shared spaces. Nevertheless, pedestrians still face problems that have yet to be resolved, in addition to new ones.

Certainly, problems such as motorized two-wheel vehicles that are either being operated or parked on sidewalks, street furniture that is too numerous and often badly placed, and cafe terraces that get in the way do little to facilitate movement for pedestrians.

There are still a number of two-part crosswalks that are hardly respected by pedestrians. This is especially the case with the one found on Louis Braille Street, which is not only inconvenient for pedestrians, but also features a central area that does not allow individuals to park child strollers. The arguments given for not simplifying this route have never been convincing.

A crosswalk in Paris, France.

But beyond these obstacles, which could be solved by means of investment and/or fines, recent measures have made travel by foot more complicated, and even dangerous. Crossing boulevards where the tramway operates is not easy since these crosswalks include two types of traffic signals (Prefectoral and RATP) and require a three-part process in order to be crossed.

The expansion of two-way bike routes on all streets in Zone 30 is a measure that has satisfied cyclists and increased their safety while also having the advantages of increasing visibility with motor vehicles, and decreasing traffic. On the other hand, pedestrians have to be extra cautious when crossing streets that they believe to be one-way.

The creation of bike-routes on sufficiently wide sidewalks has often led to side-by-side bicycle and pedestrian movement. In these cases, only the markings on the path differentiate such situations from otherwise unauthorized, and unwelcome, occurrences of bicycle and pedestrian coexistence.

With the increasing trend of promoting bike accessibility and the needs of cyclists, are pedestrians at risk of being overlooked?

Credits: Images and data linked to sources.

Original article, originally published in French, here.

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 Monday, December 23rd, 2013 at 9:07 am and is filed under Infrastructure, Social/Demographics, Transportation, Urban Planning and Design. 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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