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Cyclist films vehicles including a bus coming towards him on Paris pop-up cycle lane

Council of 20th Arrondisement brings in further safety measures after footage goes viral

Paris has quite rightly won plaudits for some of the pop-up cycling infrastructure put in place over the past year or so, such as the protected bike lane on the Rue de Rivoli which is used by thousands of cyclists a day – which adds to the shock of watching this video shot this week in the French capital’s 20th Arrondisement in which a rider using a bi-directional cycle lane has to contend with vehicles including a bus coming straight towards him.

The footage was shot on Avenue Gambetta, which runs along the northern side of the Père Lachaise cemetery – the last resting place of celebrities including rock star Jim Morrison, the writer Oscar Wilde and two-time Tour de France winner Laurent Fignon – and has gone viral on social media.

The cyclist who made the video, which follows another he filmed on the same street last summer, said on Twitter: “I hope that physical separators come soon to the cycle track on Boulevard Gambetta.” In a subsequent tweet, he added: “The big problem is there is no arrow on the ground for vehicles to tell [motorists] not to drive against the flow of traffic.”

Despite Avenue Gambetta being made one-way for motor traffic this week by the town hall of the 20th Arrondisement, the video shows a succession of drivers ignoring the new rules on circulation and heading straight towards the rider.

The video going viral has resulted in the local council moving quickly to provide extra security measures, reports ActuParis, including adding new signage in the early hours of Thursday morning as well as physical barriers to increase the safety of cyclists.

The network of protected cycle paths which Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo launched in response to a public transport strike at the start of last year and developed further as the coronavirus crisis escalated have resulted in huge growth of cycling in the city, with recent research finding that around six in ten riders took to a bike after they were built – in most cases, providing greater protection than the one shown in the video here.

> Six in ten users of pop-up bike lanes in Paris are new to cycling, says city’s government

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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brooksby | 12220 posts | 2 years ago

Am I understanding this correctly? There's one or two lanes of one-way motor traffic in the same direction as the cyclist and then bidirectional cycle traffic? So none of those oncoming vehicles should be going along any of that stretch of road AT ALL??

So where are the notoriously militarised French police to enforce this? Surely it would be the Easiest Ticketing Exercise Ever...

Sriracha replied to brooksby | 4096 posts | 2 years ago

No, the vehicle section is two-way, one lane each way. But because cars park [4:15] in the right hand lane other vehicles default to using the remaining vehicle lane the wrong way, thus obliging oncoming traffic to use the cycle lane. In the end each car just does what the one in front is doing.

The author does point out later [4:50] in the video using his rear view camera that drivers oncoming in the cycle lane mostly did move over and remain in the correct lane once their error was made apparent by his doggéd presence.

He goes on to show how the authorities responded [5:30] very quickly putting in physical separation, however a few drivers remain confused.

brooksby replied to Sriracha | 12220 posts | 2 years ago

So its actually all the parked cars which are causing the problem...? Hmm, never seen that before...  3

wycombewheeler replied to Sriracha | 4070 posts | 2 years ago

not many parked cars, and two lanes of cars travelling in the same direction as the cyclist between them.

FixTheBloodySite | 8067 posts | 2 years ago

Has he finished his submissions to the police portal?

Captain Badger | 4046 posts | 2 years ago

Jeez, chapeau pour standing (riding?) ton ground.

fwhite181 | 107 posts | 2 years ago

Looks like the Parisien authorities have neatly demonstrated the old adage: Paint Isn't Infrastructure. Although it sounds like they've reacted pretty quickly. How many weeks/months/years/dead cyclists would it take for a British council/government to do something about this kind of driver-behaviour? 

SPaM replied to fwhite181 | 2 posts | 2 years ago

About 5 minutes. They'd just rip it out as they have done with all the other pop-up infrastructure that gets in the way of motorists - problem solved.

wtjs replied to fwhite181 | 3088 posts | 2 years ago

How many weeks/months/years/dead cyclists would it take for a British council/government to do something about this kind of driver-behaviour? 

The UK version would see the staring-eyed, ranting, swearing, tattoed, obese Sun/Mail reading driver either stopping the vehicle and coming out in a vest to hit you with a baseball bat, or just driving straight over you. In either case, suspended sentence and community service. Seems that in Paris, they do realise they're in the wrong and retreat.

Sriracha replied to wtjs | 4096 posts | 2 years ago
wtjs wrote:

In either case, suspended sentence and community service.

...for the cyclist, I presume, for inciting violence?

grOg replied to fwhite181 | 749 posts | 2 years ago

In Australia, the traffic police would have been there handing out infringement notices to every one of those drivers; any time there is a change in road rules, such as a reduction in speed limits, the cops make sure the message sinks in by strict enforcement of the changed rule.

Philh68 replied to grOg | 573 posts | 2 years ago

Yes, but in Australia they would also be handing out fines to cyclists for new laws the government passed at the same time, just so they can claim to be even-handed to motorists and cyclists alike. Because you can't give cyclists something without also punishing them for something else.

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