It’s rush hour on Sébastopol Boulevard in Paris, France. Listen. You’ll hear snarls from gas-guzzling, horn-honking cars. You’ll also hear the shrill sounds of bicycle bells.
Until four years ago, cars had this road mostly to themselves. Now the boulevard is loaded with bike lane traffic jams. Mayor Anne Hidalgo wanted to make the city safe for cyclists. She got her wish! But now bikes crowd cars off the road. Cyclists get in each other’s way.
On some Paris boulevards, bicycles already outnumber cars. Wheel-to-wheel lines of riders ring their bells. Sometimes they lose their cool.
“It’s the same feeling as the one I had when I was younger” when riding in his parents’ car, says Thibault Quéré. There were “traffic jams all over the place,” he remembers. “Now it’s really a bike traffic jam.”
He continues, “But it’s kind of a good difficulty to have. Especially when we think about what Paris used to be.” He has a point. Once, Paris had just 125 miles of bike paths. Now cyclists enjoy more than 620 miles of free riding space. Some roads allow no cars at all.
More cycling lanes are coming. City planners will make room for them in time for next year’s Paris Olympics.
Meanwhile, bicycle traffic can be tough. Cars drive. Scooters wriggle through. Walkers try hard not to get squished. For bikers, traveling the busiest streets feels like playing Mario Kart—but with real-life dangers.
But most Parisians agree that riding has big benefits. Unlike cars, bikes produce no pollution. Dirty air often blankets Paris. More bikes mean better health for everyone.
Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul. — 3 John 1:2