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Rethinking Streets in Paris

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In general, Paris is moving away from dividing users on the street... - What we call the "New Mobility Agenda" is based on people, it's based on our concept of "Slowth" which is: things that seems to be going slowly, but in the end of the day in an urban are even faster. - The street code relies on 2 main points: The first is that YOU are responsible for all users that are lighter than you are. So, the cyclist is responsible for the pedestrians, the cars are responsible for the cyclists, the trucks are responsible for the cars, etc... You have to take in account all the other users. - We will try to organize new "traffic calming" areas - And the only way to slow down a car is not through the police, is not through the radar, but it's through getting rid of the straight lines and through making the street surface sufficiently irregular, so that the car simply will slow down to, as I say in Italian: "al passo d' uomo" - to the pace of a person, to make it a "human system". - For example, in center of Paris there is a section of about 4 blocks that has completely been transformed to accommodate buses, pedestrians and cyclists - We have a Metro station with many people coming out, we have Velib, 3 or 4 bus lines, huge number of pedestrians. - Curbs have been removed, the surface is cobblestone to slow speeds down are there is signage indicating that the pedestrians have priority. - It's not possible, we don't have space enough to have 1 line for the buses, 1 line for the cyclists... enough space for the pedestrians, enough space and for the cars, etc... So, we'll put everyone together. As you don't have a classical road there, you have to take into account all the other users, and you get much more respectful, I think. - We have different kinds of "lanes" or bicycle ways. - On busy boulevards bike are actualy sharing space with buses buses have a protective lane that separates from moving traffic and they share that space with bicycles and taxi cabs. What this means is that: althought bikes aren't alone and they don't have their own protective space, there's far less traffic and buses, bicycles and taxis are learning better how to work together to get safe around the city. We've even seen that there's a bicycle bell on the buses, so you don't have to be startled when you're riding your bike and a bus wants to let you know that it's coming behind you. And then there's the traditional stripe bike lane, which we have in New York City. - This is example of a bicycle path sharing a sidewalk. - There is, in a one-way street, more possibilities for cyclists to use this street in 2 ways, we say that we do "counterflow" lanes. It's very difficult to convince people that it's a good measure, because people who don't ride a bicycle don't understand, and say that it's very dangerous. But it's not dangerous! Because cyclists are in front of other car drivers. - Streets here are broken down into 50, 30 or 15 km/h streets. So, almost all of the 30 and 15 km/h streets meet major boulevards with "raised crosswalks" and "neckdowns", which indicates the drivers they need to slow their speeds down, and creates added protection for pedestrians and cyclists that are travelling on this streets. - Behind us is one of the 15(km/h), and there is a lot of interesting things happening, the first is that the texture is actually cobblestone, so right away cars have to slow down. It's a shared space between buses and bicycles, but bicycles are coming against traffic. And the great thing about this bike lanes is that they make the bike network much bigger, and they allow bicycle to get around in more sensible way. But they also have a "traffic-calming" effect, because the streets have been redesigned or designed so that cars can only go at a certain speed, and having bikes there, moving against them, is just one of the ways that that's happening. - And where we're standing now we have actually a physically separated bike lane for cyclists, so that because they gonna be heading against traffic for this portion, they have extra protected space. And when they reach the busy boulevard ahead, they actually are linking up to the bigger bike network. So this little short block is kind of a shortcut, but it's a creative way to expand the bike network. - The Paris learning experience is now something like 35 years old, and it started in the yearly 1970's when some public groups blocked some major building projects to build new roads and very large parking facilities in Paris, and we become aware, collective become aware, of what is important is not the "throughput" of vehicles within the system, but the "throughput" of people and the conditions of the "throughput". - Paris also has a lot of new intersection markings. Intersections are obviously a really important place to make cyclists more visible. And, whether it be a different color, or a green colored "bike-box", "checkerboards", "sharrow" marking, Paris has it all! - The first thing that you to do is: technically step away from the car, think in terms of the people that are inside of the car. Is that the best environment for them to be in, within the geometry of the city? Or are they inside an elephant in the bedroom? It is through this process of focusing on people rather than vehicles, that you are able to move toward the system. So, New Mobility aims at the Human system. Old mobility aims at the car system.

Video Details

Duration: 6 minutes and 10 seconds
Year: 2009
Country: France
Language: English
Producer: Elizabeth Press
Director: Elizabeth Press
Views: 999
Posted by: pedalofilo on Feb 6, 2009

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Back in July I made a video about Paris' public bicycle system, Velib. Its success must in part be credited to the provisions made for safe cycling and the understood "street code," where users are responsible for others whose vehicles are lighter than their own.

This video explores traffic calming amenities Paris has installed. For example, in several areas of Paris curbs have been removed and bikes, pedestrians, buses and taxis coexist at low speeds. On wider roads bikes share the BRT lanes with buses and taxis. Counter-flow bike lanes expand the bike network. Raised crosswalks and neckdowns slow traffic and make pedestrians more visible at intersections. Watch for more.
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