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Drivers oppose Seine banks plan

A motoring lobby group is up in arms over the Paris mairie’s scheme to ‘reconquer’ the Seine's banks for pedestrians

A MOTORING lobby group is petitioning against the pedestrianisation of the banks of the Seine in central Paris.

The Socialist Mayor of Paris Bertrand Delanoë calls his project a “reconquest” of the banks for pedestrians.

A first stage has now seen a widening of pavements and new traffic lights along a stretch of more than a kilometre of the right bank in central Paris.

In a second phase, meant to be in place by next spring, a 2.3km stretch along the south bank, from the Pont de l’Alma, just east of the Eiffel Tower, to the Pont Royal, near the Louvre, will be closed to traffic.

The plan was given the go-ahead from the government after being blocked by the previous one.

However the drivers’ group 40 Million d’Automobilistes says the plan will cause more congestion in the capital. It has had several thousand signatures to its petition so far.

“In view of a hyper-saturated public transport system, it is entirely unrealistic to believe that there is going to be any reduction in the number of motorists,” the group said in a statement.

It claimed the plans will mean an extra 40,000 a day of cars will “clog up major tourist boulevards”, causing extra greenhouse gas emissions because of jams.

They will also increase drivers’ journey times, especially for those less well-off people who live in the suburbs and drive in because they can’t afford central Paris prices, says the association, which has 320,000 members.

Another association, l’Automobile des Avocats, has stated it will be “launching a legal battle against the mairie and its car-phobic policies.”

The mairie told Le Parisien that “this is not about a crusade against cars, it’s just so as to defend the quality of life of Parisians, who want a more peaceful, less noisy and polluted town”.

The Paris police say the changes on the north bank so far have not caused problems and journey times along it have even dropped.

Photo: Mairie de Paris

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