Calling it an "urban, almost philosophical" project, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo announced plans last week to turn the right bank of the Seine into a car-free, 1.4-acre park by the summer of 2016. Adding more strollable miles to a city overflowing with scenic walks makes for a popular proposal, but the plan also manages to overturn decades of city planning orthodoxy that led to roadways being installed next to one of Europe's most romantic rivers.
The $9 million plan would upend a decision by the city to install roadways on the lower embankment of the Seine, according to City Lab. The initial two-tier system on the river quays, developed centuries ago, meant the lower level became a space for cargo ships and commerce, and an easy solution when city planners were looking to install new roadways beginning in the '60s. Hidalgo's plan, which would come into effect after the Paris Plage riverfront festival next summer, would not only cut out cars, but make room for sports facilities and playgrounds.
Two plans have been submitted, both subject to public consultation in June. One would cover a 1.5 kilometer-stretch from the Île Saint-Louis to the Île de la Cité, and the more ambitious proposal would transform an area from Pont de l'Arsenal to the Tuileries Gardens, connecting to an existing quay meant for walkers and cyclists only. Taken with the city council's just-announced $150 million initiative to double the amount of bike lanes and become the "world capital of cycling," it looks like Paris is destined to be even more pedestrian friendly.