Friday, April 16, 2010

What World Class Cities Do

Do we want to keep up or continue self-delusions and pat ourselves on the back?

What World Class Cities don't do: they don't build new intra-city highways (as opposed to inter-city highways which are important in connecting regional economies). In fact, they learn from their mistakes and are all systematically removing them, restoring the neural network of local economies and instilling increased livability. Continuing the metaphor, if your economy is reliant on intra-city highways, every traffic jam (often caused by "accidents"), in effect, is like a cerebrovascular accident, aka a stroke.

Carte de voies sur Berges

Here is the translation of a French article about the Parisian mayor's most recent plans to upgrade his City's livability.
Reclaiming the banks of the Seine

On April 14th, 2010, Bertrand Delanoe unveiled the proposed redevelopment of embankment roads. The mayor of Paris offers a different treatment of both sides. Specifically, the left bank will be closed to vehicular traffic for more than 2 km of Solferino in Alma. The right bank, this "expressway" will be transformed into a Parisian boulevard, modern and harmonious, with red lights, allowing the coexistence of pedestrians, motorized traffic and cars. For Mayor Delanoe it represents the continuation of "evolving towards the use of beauty and pleasure of living". Discover the future embankment roads and join the citizens' forum by offering your ideas for management and use of these new places.

"To allow Paris to find his relationship to the river"
(ed: Hey, we've got a river with zero relationship to the City...)

"If we realize this ambition, it will really change Paris. We must continue in the second term, to change practices, practices with a little something pleasurable, the side of beauty and enjoyment of life" said Bertrand Delanoe. He recalled that he had long wished that Paris "found its relationship with its river." This should be done within two years.

The idea is to continue to reduce car use and decrease pollution. "This is not to punish but to reduce traffic and provide an opportunity for happiness".

Bertrand Delanoe discussed the dissociation of the Left Bank and Right Bank projects: "We are seeing much less traffic on the left bank than the right bank." Completely close down the banks of the right bank could cause "congestion of Paris which will strip the project of its viability. The additional traffic associated with the closure of the left bank would however be absorbed by the high platforms.

In total it is 15 hectares, of which 4 acres will be fully provided to users without cars. Organized around several points, including culture, sport and nature, these new banks should also leave room for night life.

For magic, stands at Solferino, which descend to the river, with a clear view on the Grand, the Petit Palais and the Louvre. "
(ed: I would love to provide a better translation here, but I have no idea what the intent is here.)

The mayor stressed that these areas would evolve over time with use and needs: "we will install a basketball court for two years and turn it into lawn bowling(?) if necessary.

The first deputy Anne Hidalgo, who will lead this major project of urban development, stressed the public input that will accompany these developments: "The citizen forum online must be a forum for discussion and ideas. We do not want to exclude the main users, including families, youth, seniors.

The reconstitution of low platforms on the right bank

A redevelopment of the wharf right bank, which is currently an urban freeway, reducing them to speed through the establishment of at least 5 traffic between the Pont de Jena and the Pont de Sully, by reducing the width of pavements and restating public space, which will facilitate access to the waterfront and reappropriation by the Parisians;

Closure to traffic of the dock bottom left bank, between the Musée d'Orsay and the Pont de l'Alma, will allow the installation of year-round activities accessible to all.

This configuration has been studied as well as many other scenarios, the services of the Directorate of Roads and travel to the City of Paris. Similarly, budget planning and operation has been unveiled and is available on

"The new embankment roads and delaying traffic: where, when, how?

A first discussion will be presented to the Council of Paris in July 2010, to present the design principles and allow launch various feasibility studies. By June, the exchange will be held with district mayors and the communities along the metropolitan dimension to the project is affirmed.

In his part of Paris, the project will be implemented within two years: developments on both sides will be made and delivered later in the summer of 2012.