Last month, Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo closed areas amassing almost quarter of its city to car traffic. This resulted in a major drop in air pollution levels and a major rise in happiness levels. And to document the experience of car-free streets in France's capital city, nos amis à Paris, Paris Chill Racing, guest-blogged the experience.
Photos by Ryosuke Kawai
Story by Gérald
After days and weeks of waiting, finally the day we had been waiting for arrived: a day without cars in Paris.
Some of us had been underwhelmed that it was only a few districts of the city that were closed to cars; cabs and busses were still allowed to move around. But on that sunny Sunday, more than a hundred riders gathered for a smooth ride around the city with Paris Chill Racing.
We left from Republique, our usual meeting place for the rides, and went straight to the heart of the city. Enthusiastically we took the Halle's tunnel to experience the thrill of speed in the city on the empty streets this sunny day.
Heading to the Champs Elysees with the help of the volunteer crew who ensured access to the pedestrian/cycling areas, we finally found out where all the people were.
The most beautiful avenue in the world was crowded with pedestrians. With our bikes in tow, we decided to get to the Bois de Vincennes for a little picnic. Slaloming through the people with children in the streets, we managed to get almost everybody to a green field to enjoy smiles, cakes and beers.
It was a great afternoon. Even though we wish we had more space dedicated to cyclists, we definitely had a lot of fun without the cars.
Quelle belle idée Paris! Vive les biciclettes!
Paris Chill Racing is a community of riders, cyclists, bike messengers, "fakengers," hipsters, commuters, etc. They have been promoting urban cycling for five years through alleycats, events, goldsprints and rides. They also organize a weekly ride in Paris every Wednesday. This social ride is "chill" and people gather around beers at the end. They love cycling and try to change French mentalities about cycling. Haters gonna hate. We are ParisChillRacing.