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ON THE GROUND

Paris goes car-free for a day amid surge in cycling due to coronavirus

Paris goes car-free for a day on September 27, 2020.
Paris goes car-free for a day on September 27, 2020. © FRANCE 24
4 min

This year’s car-free day in Paris comes amid a surge in cycling in the French capital, as a growing number of commuters choose to ride a bike instead of taking public transportation out of fear of the coronavirus.

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Parisians have taken to their bikes in droves since the end of France’s lockdown on May 11 with residents taking advantage of the extra 50 kilometres of bike lanes set up as a public health measure.

Milena has been cycling to work every day since the end of lockdown. It takes her a little over 20 minutes to get from the north of Paris to the bookshop where she works in the city centre.

Cycling in the French capital isn’t without it’s difficulties however. On her commute, she sometimes encounters narrow streets, vehicles parked on bike lanes and cyclists who run red lights.

“I respect traffic lights. Sometimes I get the impression that I’m getting in the way of other cyclists when I stop.”

Others say the new bike lanes are a positive development – but don’t go far enough.

“It will be satisfactory when every street will be fit for cycling – like in the Netherlands or Denmark,” said Stein van Oosternen, spokesperson for Ile-de-France’s bike collective.

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