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The Greening of Paris Makes Its Mayor More Than a Few Enemies (nytimes.com)
169 points by elorant 9 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 181 comments





The article is mixing a few different points in a strange way. Paris has an excellent subway system with about 350 stations, everywhere you want to go there is a subway station less than 500 meters away, sometimes you have 2-3 stations in this range. There is also the RER that connects to surrounding cities and villages. Driving is Paris does not make too much sense to me. But building lots of bicycle lanes is not making any significant difference, as a person that used to use the bicycle to commute to the office I can tell I had just 6-7 months when I was able to do that - in hot summer and in the middle of the winter it is simply too unpleasant to use the bicycle.

On the other side, the article suggests part of the disagreement with the mayor is because she is a woman. Well, that is a bad excuse, I don't think anyone has a problem with her gender.

Then it mentions the piss smell. Yes, it is there, it is terrible, but greening and piss have no relationship. There are some obvious causes for the piss smell in some neighborhoods, but they are not even mentioned because it does not match the political color of the newspaper. No comment.

But then it jumps into the Airbnb problem: while this is a real problem, it has nothing to do with "greening" the city. It should be discussed separately, not thrown in the pot and stirred just to put more words in the article or put more substance in the list of problems, even if there is no link to the subject.


Paris too hot in the summer? C'mon, the average high is like 25C. Too cold in the winter? Oulu, Finland would like a word.

As Germans would say, there is no bad weather, only bad clothing. Or in this case, probably bad infrastructure. Only visited once, but Paris didn't seem to have all that many protected bike lanes and paths compared to even Munich -- which definitely still favors cars over bikes -- let alone compared to Dutch cities.


You don't go to the office on the average temperature, everything higher than 25 degrees, some longer distance and/or some small hills and you get there sweaty and smelly. Anything over 30 degrees guarantees that and an average high of 25 degrees means you can have 2-3 hotter days every week - it is enough to make cycling unpredictable.

I currently work in Bucharest and the average high is higher, from May to September you have 30 degrees or more, while in the winter you have snow on the road and it is illegal to ride a bicycle. Not Finland and not Cairo (Egypt), but good enough to make cycling unpleasant.


Now there is something called electric bike that solve the summer and hills problems. And clothing that solve the winter one. I used to take public bus on an unconvenient path with a lot of walking, but now with an electric bike on 150m of positive climbs I take less time.

> And clothing that solve the winter one.

How exactly does that help you get grip on snow and ice? Combined with less light (harder to notice bikes) and generally more rainy days, biking just isn't an all around the year thingy here in central Europe. I do try as much as possible, though. And Paris might not be as bad as well.


It flat out does not snow that much in Paris. I live in NYC which gets more snow and there's rarely a single day per year where it snows enough to make biking impractical. It just doesn't actually snow that much, and when it does, it's cleared quickly.

On the very rare day where there's enough snow on the roads to make biking impossible, just don't bike on that day. Take the subway, or work from home, or whatever.


Same solution that cars have for winter weather overwhelming the traction capability of their normal tires: tires intended for improved traction in snow and ice. Yes, carbide studded snow/ice tires for your bike will cost more than the normal tires, but the same applies for cars. Yes, you're still more liable to slipping and losing control if you move or turn too quickly, but the cars have the same problem. The solution is also the same: slow down a little, and be attentive for (potential) ice in your path.

Less light in the winter can also be addressed: put lights and reflectors on your bike and/or on your person. One can get wind-breaking bike jackets in bright, high-visibility colors, and covered in plenty of reflective material. Wicking and warming layers can be worn underneath. A well-focused, reasonably-bright-for-your-circumstances light on the front makes it easier for you to see, and also be seen. A red light on the back also helps with being seen.


I live in Munich. People bike here all year around.

Did it all summer this year, in Paris. I work in the city and live in the suburbs on the opposite side of the city. It felt great ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

During the summer here I was cycling in at 30c just fine. Yes you get a bit sweaty but that's hardly an issue. I think people just need to harden up a bit and bring a change of clothes

It’s rare for the temperatures to be 25C+ at 0900. The metro on the other hand...

Paris can be pretty hot in summer. Last summer, Paris had a peak at 41 degrees C.

Are we sure that the subway is gonna be any better in those situations? At least you get a breeze. Here in NYC I find the subway (specifically the un-air-conditioned stations) much more unpleasant than biking.

That would be mid day though. The times people are commuting by bike are mostly a lot cooler.

> The article is mixing a few different points in a strange way. Paris has an excellent subway system with about 350 stations, everywhere you want to go there is a subway station less than 500 meters away, sometimes you have 2-3 stations in this range. There is also the RER that connects to surrounding cities and villages. Driving is Paris does not make too much sense to me. But building lots of bicycle lanes is not making any significant difference, as a person that used to use the bicycle to commute to the office I can tell I had just 6-7 months when I was able to do that - in hot summer and in the middle of the winter it is simply too unpleasant to use the bicycle.

It is okay-ish when you live in Paris and go work in Paris. When, like most people, you have to live outside Paris and go work there or worse: go work on some other side of Paris the public transportation system is shit.


However, it is still better than in the most of the other European cities and it would probably take less or equal time if you had to do the same trip by car.

> as a person that used to use the bicycle to commute to the office I can tell I had just 6-7 months when I was able to do that

I had no problem riding every day of the year in Paris. Loved it. The cobblestones were worse than the weather.


Same here in NYC -- I and many others bike commute year round. It's certainly true that numbers decrease in the depths of winter (though not in summer), but it's not correct to suggest that the weather is unsuitable for biking.

I'd much rather bike the same distance than walk it, in both extreme heat and extreme cold. When facing extreme heat, you get the nice breeze which cycling generates that you don't get when walking. In extreme cold, wear the right clothing and the heat generated from cycling will make you warmer than walking will.


One of the Uber drivers I rode with would disagree with you on that. He apparently considered a woman would only be suited to run a small suburbs town. At most.

Most Uber drivers are not living in Paris, so they don't have a say in who's the mayor and they are impacted in their work with all the roads closure, so of course they're critical of her.

Of course. I immediately thought the same. Doesn't change what he explicitly and unapologetically said.

It's not the greening that makes people in Paris angry, it's the the incompetence in implementing nice sounding ideas. Anyone can have a good idea and say it to get elected ... nobody is going to argue with more trees, family friendly city, less crime etc. everyone can recognize these are good ideas ... the difference is in that you put an incompetent but marketable idiot into office and the final outcome will be negative to where you started.

An example, Paris has now public piss boxes on every major cross-roads to avoid people pissing in small streets so now you have smelly pissed over boxes in the highest foot traffic areas and people openly pissing there.

Good idea, poor implementation, the net value is negative i.e. the situation is worse.

So you have a woman with no track record in life in an office surrounded by other people with no track record but ticking the political, sociological boxes. And if you're 50 and you haven't built a track record of any productive work with your own resources at your own risk, you're not likely to suddenly build one with other people's resources (money) at their risk ... your incompetence is likely going to show up.


> now you have smelly pissed over boxes in the highest foot traffic areas and people openly pissing there.

I bet all the residents who used to have pissed filled building corners consider it a net good. I caught one guy pissing in the stairwell RdC of our building. Now, there is just no excuse for that, pissoirs are plentiful.

> you have a woman with no track record in life

I get it, you simply don't like Hidalgo and that is okay. But she does have a long career in politics. It's not like she sent an applied for the Marie as a gag.


>I bet all the residents who used to have pissed filled building corners consider it a net good.

Sure, but now there are more people inconvenienced by that problem than before. So it's a net loss.


Nope, those who liked to piss in the corners still do so. When you're that kind of guy and you're drunk (and there's lot of drunks and drunk tourists) you're not looking for a decent place to do it, you don't care.

A more intelligent solution, there used to be metal instalments in Amsterdam that redirected the stream right on your pants ... it least the net value isn't negative as offenders were forced to carry some of those liquids home.


> Paris has now public piss boxes on every major cross-roads

I live in Paris. I can confidently say, no, that's absolutely not true.


> Paris has now public piss boxes on every major cross-roads to avoid people pissing in small streets

Do you have any example on this ? I often go to Paris on a lot of different places and I've never seen anything like this. There are public toilets but I think they are pretty similary to what you can find in every big cities in the world and definitely not open.


The "uritrottoirs" do seem a bit crazy:

https://www.cnn.com/2018/08/14/europe/paris-urinal-intl/inde...

Only 4 of them at the time of this article though.


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There only seems to be 4 of them as of now, so "every major cross-roads" become just "an experiment with 4".

That's also the only example you took to prove your point of politic's "incompetence in implementing nice sounding ideas."


I spent a week in Paris last Christmas, and made use of many of those public toilets, especially because I have a toddler. The ones I used didn't spell outside. I'm sure I only have a small sample of maybe a dozen, but I have no reason to think they're an exceptional sample?

>So you have a woman with no track record in life in an office surrounded by other people with no track record but ticking the political, sociological boxes. And if you're 50 and you haven't built a track record of any productive work, you're not likely to suddenly build one with other people's money

I obviously do not follow Paris municipal politics, but why would it flow that never having help public office means you'll never be able to hold off and "build a track record"? That seems a bit circular.


No, the problem is these people only held public jobs. They are what you get when bureaucrat breeds with a PR guy ... no creative work, no-problem solving, no personal stakes on their resumes.

When they then decide it's time to be productive the lack of competence and disparity between ideas and skills show up. You'll get the case of industrious idiot.

For such people a creative task is like a school activity with no personal risk other than bad grade ... but in reality the risk exists they play for other people's money and livelihoods. I've personally observed such tendencies and attitudes among eurocrats.


> No, the problem is these people only held public jobs

We had a good example under the last administration, with an employment minister who could even answer a basic question on how many times a duration-limited contract can be renewed (after reaching that number of times, the employer has to hire with a non-duration-limited contract (CDD => CDI)). And that's the people who are writing the work code!


> I spent a week in Paris last Christmas, and made use of many of those public toilets, especially because I have a toddler. The ones I used didn't spell outside. I'm sure I only have a small sample of maybe a dozen, but I have no reason to think they're an exceptional sample?

I think parent is complaining about the ones that are just for men to urinate into (hrmmm, seems like those were never brought back).

Now I'm confused. The public toilets shouldn't smell from outside.

You're talking about the (finally free to use) public toilets. They're great, but just not enough imo: 400 in total with 75% closing late in the night.


I didn't realize there was a previous design just for men to urinate in. That probably is my confusion with gp.

The mayor, Anne Hidalgo, has said she wants Paris to be a place "where you can let go of your child’s hand." I think that's beautiful. People sacrifice so much freedom to allow cars to dominate their space.

That's a nice way to put it. Once you have a toddler and you're walking around on a street with them, you realize that cars represent DRASTICALLY more imminent, lethal danger to your kid than basically anything else around.


Thank you so much! I've been searching the Web for years to find this cartoon (to no avail) and funnily that was to describe my life as a Parisian.

"asphalt ribbons of death" is the best description of roads I've heard.

I've recently become a huge fan of Horace Dediu's writing and podcast on micromobility[1] (defined as the rise of vehicles <500kg). He frames micromobility as the "unbundling of the car".[2]

While the article only tangentially talks about micromobility vehicles, the core argument of this article is the creation of infrastructure that enables micromobility.

I just spent yesterday walking through parts of Brooklyn and Queens in NYC (14 miles, 33K steps - a record for me). I saw people actually talking to each other on the street, and based on my deliberate route, very little traffic. That's a stark contrast to my usual suburban lifestyle on the eastside in Seattle.

I really hope to see more infrastructure creation happening in the US. It will likely need to start in dense places like NYC with good transit infrastructure.

[1] https://micromobility.io/blog

[2] https://medium.com/micromobility/micromobility-episode-1-tra...


There's been an explosion in electric things in the past few years (scooters, skateboards, one-wheels, etc), they're mighty convenient for last mile transportation, and not particularly expensive.

Paris traffic was insane long before she got elected. I'm always amazed at how people are unable to think two steps ahead, instead focusing just on today and how traffic is 'awful'. Well, she's doing something about it, isn't she?!

It's not like traffic jams weren't a thing prior to this, just that there wasn't an alternative.

What's the pro-auto solution to the traffic jams and pollution? You can't physically fit more cars in the space. Bikes, scooters and public transit are all so much more efficient and truly practical for city transportation that it feels hard to argue with.


Lots of tunnels a la The Boring Company and electric vehicles. The tech seems to work, but the politics doesn't support it. People in government want mass transit they control, not personalized transit.

The boring company has not yet demonstrated their ability to dig tunnels quickly and cheaply compared to the many existing tunnel-digging companies. Politicians actually seem to love Musk’s claims of being able to do so though, considering Boring is doing well landing some deals with them.

There isn’t really much “tech” there, just a small subway tunnel with car-sized cabs instead of trains. Personal rapid transit systems have already been demonstrated decades ago and there isn’t really reason to believe they could be cost-effective at replacing personal car use.


You realize the roads are controlled by the government too?

I don’t know how things are in Paris (never really been), but here in NYC public transit is extremely unreliable and optimized for only one use case: to move 9-5 commuters between their homes in the outer boroughs and the two central business districts of Manhattan. For any other use case the transit system is basically useless. For example, my kid needs to get from school to swim practice multiple times a week. School and swim team schedules are set in stone, but there isn’t a public transit option that will allow the two to coexist without incredible daily feats of arbitrage between ride share and a hellish commute involving two buses. This is physically impossible, not merely inconvenient.

Let’s not pretend that transit can solve for the needs of every single city resident. If the city has any ambition to be a melting pot for all, it needs to allow everyone to coexist. Some people will choose to drive, others will take transit, but to push one group out in favor of another will leave the city a hollowed out core once again... just like it was before the urban renaissance which began in the 1990s.

PS: If your main objection to cars is pollution, we’ll mosey on over to electric cars as soon as charging infrastructure gets off the ground. There’s only a smattering of Teslas in Manhattan, but soon enough there will be enough charging stations to get our gas guzzlers off the road for good.


> If the city has any ambition to be a melting pot for all, it needs to allow everyone to coexist.

Which is an excellent argument for public transport, the point of it is to serve everyone rather than those who can afford to own and run a car and those how have the ability to drive.

I can't comment to NYC public transit but there are plenty of cities around the world with reliable and effecient public transport, don't write it off completely because NYC's is subpar. The idea is not to ban cars completely but to make taking alternatives easier and better than taking a car, in doing that we need to divert some of the money and land that cars have historically dominated.


> plenty of cities around the world with reliable and effecient public transport, don't write it off completely because NYC's is subpar.

I'm certainly not writing off public transit as a concept. I'd love to be able to step out of my building, step into a magical conveyance that I didn't have to drive myself, and step out next to my destination.

It's great that other cities managed to solve this problem, but I don't live in those other cities. Yes, NYC could right itself, and build more subway/tram/BRT lines, but this tends to take forever. I need to get places now. My life won't wait for the city to sort itself out.


I'm in NYC too, and you're overstating how bad the public transit is here. It's still better than anything else in the entire country, and it runs 24/7.

And the thing about driving is, the city is simply too dense for everyone to do it. Everyone actually cannot choose to drive; there's simply not enough room to do so. And the same amount of street space can serve way more people as sidewalk, bike lane, and bus lane as it can travel lane for single occupancy vehicles, so we need to prioritize the former and deprioritize the latter. See e.g. the 8th Ave redesign by Penn Station: https://www1.nyc.gov/html/dot/downloads/pdf/8th-ave-cb4-jun2...

In particular, pay attention to page 9, which shows that 85% of the users of the space are pedestrians, yet 70% of it was given to vehicles. If more of those 85% of people "chose" to walk, it'd be complete standstill gridlock for hours long. Hell, it was already close to that bad already with just 15% of users driving.


That breakdown really surprised me and really goes to show how unbalanced the division already is. I'd love to see that breakdown on an interactive map for the entire city but couldn't find anything, though I expect similar ranges (minus the expressways).

> If the city has any ambition to be a melting pot for all, it needs to allow everyone to coexist. Some people will choose to drive, others will take transit, but to push one group out in favor of another will leave the city a hollowed out core once again

They aren't banning cars in the city, just slightly deprioritizing them in favor of other modes of transport on certain routes. That's what it means to allow different modes of transport to "coexist". The fact that you equate building 200 miles of bike lanes to "pushing drivers out" when tens of thousands of miles of road already exist for cars says something about the entitlement complex that you and your fellow drivers possess.


> The fact that you equate building 200 miles of bike lanes to "pushing drivers out"

I haven't actually said that, so please don't put words in my mouth. I myself am an "intermodal" traveler, in that I do use bikes when I travel solo; I simply can't transport my 11 year old daughter by bike with two backpacks. I'm in favor of installing more bike lanes, as these tend to get cyclists out of the way of cars. Mixing slow cyclists with fast cars couldn't have been a worse idea, so shunting the two modes of traffic into separate spaces makes a lot of sense for us drivers. Likewise, when I ride a bike, I find myself relaxing more in a dedicated lane than when I'm forced to weave between cars to get anywhere.


> I simply can't transport my 11 year old daughter by bike with two backpacks.

How Parisians use e-scooters is going to give you a heart attack.


How people use e-anything in Manhattan already gives me a heart attack. These things are 100% silent, go 25 mph on a flat surface, and are illegal here without a license. In fact, I’d prefer a heart attack to being hit by one.

Sounds like it mostly just needs better public transit. More bike lanes would also likely come in handy; bikes and scooters, whether owned or rented, can be very useful as complements to transit to take you that last mile.

I have a folding scooter that I take with me on buses and trains here in Munich, and while it's certainly dorky, it's also super useful.


>I don’t know how things are in Paris (never really been), but here in NYC public transit is extremely unreliable and optimized for only one use case: to move 9-5 commuters between their homes in the outer boroughs and the two central business districts of Manhattan.

This reminds me of the London Underground. It really seems like no matter where you are in London it is going to take roughly 40-60 minutes to get from A to B.


This is a key point: many transport routes are optimized for 9-5 commuting in and out of cities. And because we can only measure what is there, we don't understand the journeys that don't happen because they are not catered for.

How often do you meet people in the town centre because it is the only place you can both get to by public transport?


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I’ve flagged your comment for non-constructive tone. Please be civil. Regarding,

> And how will that fix plastic pollution you leave everywhere from the tires on your car?

You literally just found out about this with the rest of us. Buses and bicycles are afflicted by the same problem, since tire technology is the same everywhere. I’m sure a new material can be found; there’s no need to forever condemn ground transport just because the current implementation of tires is faulty.


I've left Paris 12 years ago. I hate cars so much.

Glad to see they're realizing those things.

People should never forget how the car industry lobbied so that cars own most of the street. Biking and walking have become marginal things. How often do you realize you can't go from point A to B because it's impossible to street walk anymore? I've walked around cities many times, and I could not go in a direction because of how roads could not be crossed.

The "1-person car " meme is a real, real problem. Most people think that driving is a right, but we soon realize it's more a privilege and a source of problems.


I’m another car hater. Living in London. Cars are everywhere. They park on the sidewalks. In some places you can’t even walk because the cars cover the entire sidewalk. Hammersmith bridge has closed due to constant, heavy truck traffic. Cars idle outside of schools in traffic all day as the kids play outside. Zebra crossings are incredibly dangerous as cars ignore them. Parents are afraid to let their kids go out and play due to the car traffic. I could go on and on. Dense urban cities are simply no place for cars.

One of the things I hate is when traffic ignores padestrian crossing indicators, including the ones with traffic lights, when traffic is backed up.

Yeah exactly. I’ve had a couple close calls with cars going right through zebra crossings where they had no visibility due to traffic. I’m extremely careful now but it’s still scary. It’s unfortunate that throughput is optimised over safety - otherwise these crossings on busy roads would all have traffic lights.

There were nearly 1400 serious injuries to pedestrians in 2017, 250 of which were children [1]. That means life altering injuries, like losing a limb. If you compound that with the health effects of air pollution, the only conclusion is that cars are disastrous in cities. Worse, most of these cars aren’t local and the majority of locals take public transit. So it’s a minority of people inflicting their personal convenience on everyone else. If you complain about this in public, you are seen as a crazy person.

1. http://content.tfl.gov.uk/casualties-in-greater-london-2017....


I left Paris 2 years ago.

I wish to go back there someday, especially if it gets greener.

Already, it is pretty easy to commute around Paris without a car in most cases. I actually had to buy a last mile vehicle only when I arrived in the USA.

If a large city gets serious about banning/severely restricting car presence, I would immediately consider moving there.


Madrid banned most cars from the city center a few back, and while the new mayor recently tried to overturn that, he failed: https://www.citylab.com/transportation/2019/07/madrid-car-ba...

Mediterranean weather + no cars ? I am officially psyched !.

That will give me a good reason to learn Spanish :)


He. You are in for a disappointment if you think about moving to Madrid for the nice weather. Extremely dry, very hot summers, quite cold winters, Its more continental than Mediterranean.

On the flip side, I keep hearing about some software companies opening development centers in southern Spain, so check out job offers around Malaga, if you are really interested in the Mediterranean thing.


> How often do you realize you can't go from point A to B because it's impossible to street walk anymore?

Never. Literally never. I live in a European city though.

Edit: In the City I live in there are literally no cases where I can't walk if I have time and inclination. Norway has taken a different approach to city planning to the US.


As much as we can rightly poke fun at Americans over here in Europe about this I've found Europeans really underestimate how much we're adopting American-style suburbs because they just haven't been to those areas.

Case in point, here's a 30 minute walk (5 minutes by car) for someone to literally cross the road in Oslo: https://goo.gl/maps/PFTnTrprKjiDrE7y8

Sure you can walk that if you have time & inclination, but unless you're willing to spend an hour just on crossing the street you're going to drive there.

This wasn't even hard to find, I just zoomed in pretty much the first freeway in the Oslo area I could find and saw what it would take to cross it for someone living on the other side.


Google maps routing is rubbish for walking and cycling in Oslo. There is a tunnel under that road...

where? can't see it

OsmAnd recommended a 15 minute walk that goes under the road.

That's a pretty peculiar example - the big box furniture store in your example is actually outside Oslo and you have farmland as the closest neighbor north and south of both locations.

Nobody is talking about banning cars from areas like that, just from the city center.


Some of Europe went whole hog on emulating US suburbs. Sadly Dublin is a fantastic, walkable city surrounded by seas of unwalkbale suburbia.

I’m jealous. I’ve lived in California oregon and Washington my whole life. You basically can’t walk to most nearby locations because of freeways, interstates, etc. In my current city there’s only two stores I can walk to because I’m walled in by major streets/freeways

To be clear, there is no way to pass those streets/freeways on foot or by bike? As in no pedestrian crossing?

That's shitty planning. I've never seen such a place in Europe.


There's a lot of amusing YouTube videos of tourists attempting to holiday there without a car, here's a good one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LEAVSGYuhCY

This sort of thing exists in Europe too, try walking out of an airport sometime, you can in some countries, but e.g. in Malaga I had to run across a highway because there was literally no way to get out of there otherwise, there simply aren't any footpaths.


In Copenhagen the airport has bike racks - its a 20 minute cycle to the city center.

Sure, and similarly you can easily bike to the airport here in Amsterdam. But let's not jump from "in Europe" to the two cities widely recognized as having the best bicycling infrastructure on the continent. I've spotted somewhat of a trend here on HN of Europeans generalizing about the whole continent based on experiences in a relatively small part of Western Europe.

My comment was meant more in the spirit, "It doesn't have to be like that. There are better solutions".

I was talking about a french city, so it still happens. Depends.

Convince Americans that have never lived in another city type that isn't strip malls this. Things like speed cameras, road diets, et. al. are considered attacks on people's way of life. The wealthy ones even resist every attempt to make our cities into a more walkable form whilst enjoying their trips to Europe to see such quaint towns.

In suburbs you will often have major boulevards, 6 lanes with 35 to 50 MPH (55 to 80 KPH approximately) speed limits and stop lights with half safe pedestrian crossings can be 1/2 a mile apart. It makes walking anywhere into anxious misery.

Cities in Europe are starting to build “bike speedways”. I am really looking forward to having them in my city

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bike_freeway


It’s fascinating how once you mentally open yourself to the idea that cars do not need to be the biggest beneficiaries of public space, how our current city distributions start looking so ridiculous. And how such a nicer world is imaginable, if more people started agreeing to de prioritize cars and prioritize humans.

> People should never forget how the car industry lobbied so that cars own most of the street.

Please stop with the conspiracy stories. I hate cars more than anyone, but all this "Big Auto" stuff just discredits the entire thing as a bunch of fanatics.


There is a documented history of this kind of thing. See https://www.vox.com/2015/1/15/7551873/jaywalking-history

That is a vox article. It's fun to read and gets a lot of shares on social media. But it wildly exaggerates reality and wildly downplays that massive demand and growth in car ownership during that period.

The idea that everyone hated cars and the evil car lobby came in and forced it upon them is flat out incorrect.


> The idea that everyone hated cars and the evil car lobby came in and forced it upon them is flat out incorrect.

This idea is not present in the article and is a wild exaggeration of your own.


I don't see the article claiming people hated cars.

What the auto industry accomplished was to push the government to favor cars to the eventual exclusion of almost every other form of transit.

Even if people didn't hate cars, this still wasn't a fair fight in an open market. It was an industry co-opting consumer and voter power.


You'll probably convince more people by citing evidence to support your claims instead of using ad homs.

Literally and chart about automobile ownership from 1940 to 1980.

Such a chart would in no manner prove your point. Something can become prevalent could be because (a) it is the preferred option out of many equivalent and equally available options or (b) it is the chosen option due to having been given preferentially treatment. Given that your time period contains Eisenhower's expansion of the federal highway system, option (b) is the more reasonable interpretation.

We've seen the phenomenon globally.

Not in the way it is in the US...

Even Paris discussed in TFA is 10 times better than 99% of American cities... and most of European cities are even better walkability wise...


Sorry, you need to wise up to the world. Conspiracy is not just about the BS stuff regarding aliens and illuminati.

It's also, and that's totally real and extremely common, big business interests, politicians, etc, working together to further their profits in covert ways, with under the table deals, bribes, trusts, price fixing, and several other ways...

Ever head of "conspiracy to commit fraud"? The real courts punish tons of cases of very real conspiracies every year...

Just because you've been conditioned by pop culture to associate conspiracies with aliens and illuminati and crazy people, doesn't mean actual conspiracies involving big car lobbies, big petrol, big pharma, big food, etc, don't happen every day...


It's not a conspiracy story: they were quite open about it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-AFn7MiJz_s

Adam Ruins Everything - Why Jaywalking Is a Crime


[flagged]


The controversial claim is that he succeeded.

To spell it out, the alternative theory is that maybe cars won fair and square.

There is always lobbying in all directions. That doesn't mean it's always the decisive factor when something that was lobbied for won.


It's too bad their electric carshare system failed: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autolib%27

And their municipal bike-sharing system probably won't survive the triple whammy of drop-bikes, e-scooters and a contract change.


Disclaimer : I live in Paris and my commute is 95% the municipal bike-sharing system.

My prediction is it wont go away because :

- too much branding associated, velib = Paris

- too much (taxpayer) money invested. Competitors are X5 in prices due to muncipal money distortion.


Hard to beat those 30 free minutes per ride at ~30€ / year

Well, price got revisited[1], now is more 40€/year for that

[1]https://www.velib-metropole.fr/en/offers#subscription


Oh. My bad. I should have kept up to date.

Still, at 0,20€ / minute on Lime, that's the same price as five half-hour Lime rides.


plus the 1€ unlock fee charged by most (IDK about lime particularly)

Also the bike-sharing system has run very poorly last year, when they switched to the existing operator (because Hidalgo didn't like JCDecaux) to a no-name startup who had done nothing on that scale. The new operator decided to change everything (bikes and stations) and the roll-up was a disaster of epic proportions, because they didn't have the experience, staff and equipment for such a switch.

> Don’t mention her name to taxi drivers.

This has more to do with Uber than a war on the car. If you thought your taxis were bad, Paris' were worse.


There is a war in the French twitter vs bike-enthusiasts and car users every time a major road sees a bicycle lane added.

It feels weird to the rest of us, living outside Paris, to see so much media noise over 500 m of asphalt...


New York gets physical altercations at public meetings:

https://gothamist.com/news/battle-over-park-slope-bike-lane-...


That has to be one of the most entertaining, bizarre and depressing accounts of local politics I have ever read. Thanks.

>But the city itself has seen a steep drop in car ownership, from 60 percent of households in 2001, to 35 percent today.

Having lived in Paris for 4 years (and I guess I could be accused of being a bobo since I am an engineer and I care about mitigating climate change), I wonder what the situation of these 35% is.

I sold my car as soon as I moved in Paris. The subway is just as efficient in almost all cases without having to drive.

And driving in Paris is just the worst..


> I wonder what the situation of these 35% is.

Easy. Live in Paris, work in the Banlieue somewhere inconvenient to an RER station...


I was just wondering from a stat perspective :)

I do know that there are cases where you still need a car.

I did dig up some info : https://www.insee.fr/fr/statistiques/1285604

Interestingly, it looks like the current mayor is just pushing the city in the direction where it is already going.


The "less car" direction was already started by the previous mayor, though.

My brother lives in Paris and works in multiple construction sites all around Paris, usually in cities without any train line, so he has no choice but to use his (company-provided) car.

> The environmental results are ambiguous at best. There were around five days with elevated ozone levels, for instance, in 2014, the year Ms. Hidalgo took over; in 2018 there were from 15 to 22, depending on which part of the city you were in.

>“There are fewer cars, but there is more congestion, and that can affect pollution levels,” said Paul Lecroart, an urban planning expert at the Paris regional planning agency.

I think this is what makes people angry. There is no evidence that this actually reduced pollution, in fact, it seems like it increased pollution. In addition, it has greatly inconvenienced a lot of people. So, unless you are a die-hard bike fan, this mayor’s program seems like a net negative to you.


That's short sighted. It takes time for people to change habits.

I've been a "die-hard bike fan" for a few years now (living in Paris for 10+ years, but commuting with bikes for only the last 2-3). However, most of my friends (especially girls/women) are only now considering buying a bike because the infrastructure is just starting to look safe enough for "prudent" people

That's why bike usage rising fast in Paris. But it will still takes a few more years to switch like Amsterdam.

Of course, many are still riding Ubers but they're changing mind right now. Be patient.


It also moved a lot of pollution to the suburbs of Paris, outside of the bobo area where Hidalgo, her cronies and her supporters lives, that was the only goal. She don't care about the people in the suburbs who get even more pollution.

American here. I wish we had a way to restrict trucks to delivery and work crews, with commuters who don't need a land yacht to driving something like Fiat 500, Toyota IQ, Mini Cooper: Max 1.6m tall, 1.8m wide, 4m long. Cities would be drastically more livable.

It's really amazing. I recently traveled to see my SO in Singapore, and made a stop in Seoul, and seemingly every city is laying down restrictions on SUVs. SUVs even make the road worse for other drivers yet no city in the US has the guts to put restrictions on them.

And it's OK that this move is making the Mayor more than a few enemies.

The job of elected officials is not to please everyone. The job of elected officials is to improve stuff, and leave the region in a better state than when they came into office.

In the coming years and decades we're going to need a lot of elected officials to "make enemies" as they work hard to improve the unsustainable world we've built.


… and 50 years from now the people being annoyed by green measures will be remembered only as at best misguided, like the people who claimed that smog prevention would devastate California’s economy.

Because of our pervasive rejection of logic/math/science/engineering we also cannot get rewarded for what did not happen. Even in supposed engineering driven businesses, the lack of rigor is astonishing. Use science, double check your work, map out the cognitive blind spots. Humans are drama addicted, short attention span, hairless chaos monkeys that like to look heroic fixing existing problem, and ignore impending ones.

This is a bit pessimistic — it especially ignores the role of highly-paid denial campaigns, which are far from inevitable – and in any case, any scenario where people are talking about it not happening is highly unlikely. We’ll be very lucky if the argument is that it wasn’t severe enough to warrant action because that’s basically halting along current levels.

You mean... voted into power and determined to destroy them?

Yes! Very true! But you have to be prepared when the knife comes for your back politically (ie voter support must continue). Otherwise you’re leaving these civil servants high and dry.

> And it's OK that this move is making the Mayor more than a few enemies.

This is basically a PR piece. The mayor has enemies because of the attrocities she inflict on parisian citizens ie: http://belairsud.blogspirit.com/archive/2016/04/03/du-style-...

All of this while tripling the deficit and turning some districts into crackheads theme parks (you can google "la colline du crack").

Several other miscelanous issues:

- rat problem

- bad planing in street renovation projects causing huge jams (and thus polution spikes...)

So she now plays the victim cards saying her vocal opponnents are nasty car addicts. And some people believe it.


The job of elected officials is to represent the people, no more, no less. "Improve stuff" is extremely subjective I don't think I want one guy to decide what it is.

> "Improve stuff" is extremely subjective

well breathing clean air and not cooking the planet is about as non-subjective as it gets. We're not really talking about sophisticated moral quandaries here, the bar for improvement in our societies is actually surprisingly low.

Not having everyone of the billions of people living in our cities carry around two tons of steel wherever they go ought to appeal to anyone who can do a bit of napkin math about energy consumption.

Elected officials doing whatever people tell them like a sort of walking strawpoll is a nice fiction but at the end of the day letting the inmates run the asylum is a bad idea. If we want to make necessary improvements it's going to come at the cost of going against the often short-sighted interests of citizens.


Ah yes the old "the majority of people are wrong, MY ideas are correct, why doesn't the government just implement all of MY ideas as they're obviously correct" argument.

in some cases the majority of people are wrong, and it is trivial to show why they are wrong. In case of environmental issues or degrading of the commons in general the issue is that externalities are not priced in as economists would say, and if they are tried to be priced in like in France, the democratic process or even street violence is used to prevent that from happening.

Again I think it's important to state that this isn't the case for all issues. On many fronts majority opinion may be useful, but on some issues it's glaringly obvious that people are unwilling to bear the costs for their lifestyle, and ignore the long-term harm they cause.

In fact there's another democratic majority that is completely ignored by this appeal to the people, and that is future citizens. As Chesteron once said about the dead

“Tradition means giving a vote to most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead.” Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about. All democrats object to men being disqualified by the accident of birth; tradition objects to their being disqualified by the accident of death."

I think more importantly than the dead are the countless of people who have to live with the mess we've left for them and in which they didn't have a say.


> I don't think I want one guy to decide what it is.

She didn’t decide. She said what she wanted to do and then the city elected her. The city decided.


The people who vote in the city decided. The problem gets trickier when, e.g. the people who work in the city come from close suburbs and get priced out of the city, where a different demographic lives, but influences the way they commute, among other things.

What is that supposed to mean in practice? Unless you have pure direct democracy on every issue, someone is going to make a judgement call which not everyone is going agree with. This is especially true on issues like allocation of public spaces where there’s always going to be someone who gets less than they want, and a vested interest which wants to preserve their advantage — like the drivers who’ve benefited from heavy subsidies in most of the industrialized world.

> Unless you have pure direct democracy on every issue, someone is going to make a judgement call which not everyone is going agree with.

This will still happen -- on every issue -- if you have pure direct democracy on every issue. It's not a problem that direct democracy improves or even addresses.


Not quite: you’d still have the issue of disagreement but without an intermediary. It’s totally unworkable in practice but you’d avoid the arguments about a politician not listening to one side.

Leaders are supposed to lead...

There are some improvements, like planting trees, that can't be debated

Too many trees attract pests and their roots break water pipes, I think we should cut them all down.

something wrong with the title?

> The Greening of Paris Makes Its Mayor Make More Than a Few Enemies

?


Not really. There is a repetition, but that is a minor issue that does not deserve a comment. The title is definitely overly complex for what it wants to tell, but that's just modern journalism/

FWIW: a few high-rise apartment buildings would do far more for climate impact than all the trees they could possibly squeeze into Paris. Paris's building codes have historically been a disaster for density, and at the end of the day it's urban density that matters more than anything else. Get/keep the people off then land, then turn it into something less impactful.

Paris is one of the densest modern European cities I have ever lived in. My first flat was a 20sqm studio. And my last apartment was 97sqm for a family of 4. Even in NYC the smallest place I could find was 45sqm and even that was considered less than ideal.

It costs a lot of fuel to keep a large apartment comfortable. So your typical American, 800sqft, 1/1 simply would not work in Paris. Micro-apartments are just becoming a thing in the US and even then there is a lot of pushback from inhabitants and developers.

Finally, Paris sits in a valley. The trees aren't just an aesthetic, they help keep the inhabitants sane and clear the air. New York City on the other hand turns into a miserable, swamp during the summer. It's hot, humid, and with no breeze the air actually feels gross.


That’s because NYC itself gets hotter than Paris. Paris isn’t very breezy at ground level because the streets are all short and keep turning. The air stays stagnant, unlike NYC’s grids.

Paris’ density is from the lack of building: instead units just get sub divided ad finitum, instead of building up. Still, density isn’t high, it just feels that way, especially with Paris proper's small size: not even 2 Manhattans.

Then you have larger units 95% unoccupied kept as pied-a-terres/investments.

Those Haussmann buildings don’t do a good job of insulating or HVAC. Even 1970s multiunit buildings in the burbs are all single-pane windows with cracks to the outside.

When you have a weak radiator-based central heating system, you don’t dare turn it down or off when you leave: your unit may never recover and be warm again.

Meanwhile in North America, I turn off HVAC whenever I leave for a few hours: I know it can get back to human temperatures quickly.

Though the French do a good job in summer: every window has shutters, so you can block out the sun very well.

Some of my darkest days have been in Paris in summer because my hosts kept the indoors in total darkness :)


>Still, density isn’t high, it just feels that way

That's factually incorrect. And even assuming that it isn't how do you propose to deal with even more people in the capital when all the streets are gridlocked at rush hour and the public transportation is more than saturated? Are you seriously proposing that we raze the city and rebuild it New York style? I mean I suppose Haussmann sort of did that but I think it would be quite a loss to do it again now.

I think it's much better to work on decentralization and developing other French cities. We're not Singapore, Monaco or Honk Kong, we don't need to fit everybody in the same metropolis.

>Paris isn’t very breezy at ground level because the streets are all short and keep turning.

I don't even feel like digging into this frankly absurd take (and again, are you proposing that we simply rebuild the city as a grid?) but it's also clearly not the only factor at play. Yew York is near the ocean, meanwhile Paris is in an inland basin which usually gets very little wind. Maybe very high rises could get above the smog at the top levels but would that really solve the problem?

>Those Haussmann buildings don’t do a good job of insulating or HVAC. Even 1970s multiunit buildings in the burbs are all single-pane windows with cracks to the outside.

>When you have a weak radiator-based central heating system, you don’t dare turn it down or off when you leave: your unit may never recover and be warm again.

That much is true, many buildings in Paris are very old and have terrible isolation (on every level).


>Paris isn’t very breezy at ground level because the streets are all short and keep turning.

> I don't even feel like digging into this frankly absurd take.

Microclimates are a thing. If you're ever in NYC/Boston/$NE_City/Toronto/Montreal in January/February, you won't forget arctic winds compressed through small passages.


> And even assuming that it isn't how do you propose to deal with even more people in the capital when all the streets are gridlocked at rush hour and the public transportation is more than saturated?

Maybe the metro/RER is saturated at rush hour, but I can assure you there is plenty of capacity left when you look at the whole picture. And you can always run more buses and create an environment that makes them fast through signal pre-emption, bus-only lanes/roads/hours, frequent runs, express buses, etc. A bus system can never be saturated unless they're running bumper to bumper.

And work on the demand side: Work-From-Home, compressed work weeks, staggered schedules and not forcing people to take vacation in the same month.

If you won't change supply, the goal should be to reduce transit demand, not increase it.

Finally, tabulate how much a new metro line costs. Send inspectors to every workplace with more than X employees. If it appears that any of the above could be done but isn't, send them a bill for their proportionate costs for a new metro line.

Could also send bills to employers for each employee-day they compel to arrive between 8 and 9. And/or give a discount to businesses that don't. You could achieve similar with dynamic pricing.


>> Still, density isn’t high, it just feels that way

> That's factually incorrect.

I'm not sure that be stated as factually anything without an accepted definition of "high density" for a city. I'm not aware of one.


Paris is less dense now than it was last century. Owners would buy 2 adjacent flats and knock down the walls between. In fact, that is going on now. Friends of ours converted 2 apartments to a duplex (French: an apartment on 2 floors, English: 2 units in 1 building).

Those Haussmanns (actually Belle Epoch, most visitors would not recognize an Haussmann) are quite average in efficiency (~C) if they have been maintained and had the glass replaced in the last 20 years.

Those same Haussmans are individually heated. Only the modern apartments (60s,70s,80s) have central heating. And they almost all radiators have a mechanical thermostat. So I'm not sure what you mean by turning it off. The building guardian will turn on the central heat and then it's up to you to find a comfortable temperature.

> Some of my darkest days have been in Paris in summer because my hosts kept the indoors in total darkness :)

Ahh, here we agree. My last flat we left the shutters closed until sunset. Then when we did open them the music, wine, and cigarettes came out :-)


Maybe we have a difference in terminology? By central heating, I mean a boiler for the building, not district heating. Are those 'Haussmanns' running electric heaters, (maybe mini-split systems nowadays), or fitting a ?gaz? ?oil? burner in a closet for heat?

My experience was that the radiators could maintain a temperature (with some prayer), but don't pump out a lot of heat. I still disdain the mechanical thermostats: you have to turn them up and down as the outside temperatures/sun/winds change.

It didn't help that my hosts put things in front of the radiators, preventing them from radiating.

> Then when we did open them the music, wine, and cigarettes came out

That didn't stop my hosts!


Central heating was more common in buildings built in the 50s-80s. The only places I know of with district heating are university and government campuses. It was popular then because it was more efficient than wood burning fireplaces. But has since been replaced with in-unit gas boilers.

Our apartment, a 60s era building, had central heating. It put out plenty of heat. I would say far too much heat. We ran into the problem that central heating isn't distributed evenly. Some apartments get lots of heat and some get far too little. Apartments at the top and near the bottom floors were the worst. We've actually had to crack the windows during the winter or we would have roasted.

> It didn't help that my hosts put things in front of the radiators,

I assume they were using them to dry clothes? If that is the case we are also guilty of this as well. Clothes dryers still aren't common in the city. It appears the problem wasn't central heating but your hosts.

Radiators don't pump out heat they radiate it. I would bet the building pipes weren't being maintained nor were the radiators. Paris water is really hard. If you don't descale them regularly the pipes will get blocked with lime. And it is really evident when water comes out in a trickle.


Not clothes, but putting a board on top to store things, or a couch next to it against the wall. Drove me bonkers.

At least I would aim a fan at it to actually heat a room.

Then those people move to North America and set the thermostat to 29C thinking it’ll make it warmer faster. It won’t.


One gas burner per flat, yes.

Let's put some numbers. Paris has almost double the density then New York (20000/km2 Vs 10700/km2)

Source: Wikipedia


Paris proper: 104km2. Density: 21.5k/km2

Manhattan: 60km2. Density: 26k/km2, and that's with a bias toward commercial buildings.

NYC: 783km2. Density 10.7k/km2.

Compare apples to apples please.


You're right, that wasn't a good comparison. Still, you have 21.5 vs 26 in Manhattan, saying "Paris' density isn't high, just build more skyscrapers" isn't really reasonable IMO.

Also Paris is small but it's not like it's rolling fields as soon as you cross the Périphérique. Many of the suburbs have densities as high, and sometimes higher, than the capital itself. I wish I could compare the densities of NYC and Paris+suburbs but I can't find the numbers for that. All I could find was a density of ~1k/km2 for the entire région but that's 12000km2 so it's not a very good "apples to apples" comparison.


Paris has 2 large central parks, Vincennes and Boulogne, that are part of the city. 8.45km^2 10km^2.

Paris is 84.45 km² if you remove woods that are outside "Boulevard Périphérique"

Wikipedia wrong by any meaningful mesasure

Most of NYC is 30000/km2 to 20000/km2

https://www.citylab.com/equity/2012/10/americas-truly-denses...

Also

https://urbantoronto.ca/forum/threads/weighted-density-of-eu...

Also

http://www.citymayors.com/statistics/largest-cities-density-... (this one puts Paris pretty far down but as Hong Kong is not on the list it's pretty suspect)

Also see animation showing Hong Kong density dwarfs cities like even Manilla and Mumbai which are clearly much much more dense than Paris

https://doodles.mountainmath.ca/blog/2019/04/24/population-w...


Try looking at Manhattan to Paris for a better comparison

Manhattan - 33.58 mi2 (87km2) - 72,918/mi2 (28,154/km2)

Paris - 40.7 mi2 (105.4km2)

Meanwhile the five boroughs are 468.484 mi2 (1213.7km2), so literally an order of magnitude larger than Paris as a whole.


Having more Montparnasse-esque towers would destroy the a lot of the streetscapes created by Haussmann that make Paris so distinctive. How can you not love all of the chimney pots?

Keep the height restrictions inside of the city and continue to keep high rises near La Défense and serve them with efficient and effective mass transit.


Agree. For some reason many people either dismiss or undervalue the character of cities and neighborhoods, which are a critical part of their culture, the quality of life, and what made them attractive in the first place.

That’s an odd take. Paris is the densest city in the EU and one of the densest cities in the world.

That's arguable one of those lies of statistics. This comes up every time for example Hong Kong is way way WAY more dense than Paris. But because of arbitrary city boundries some unpopulated mountains are included in the city borders so the true density is not remotely the density listed on these kinds of lists.

Go visit Hong Kong and you'll see it's easily 5x as dense as Paris. Maybe more. The same is true of many other cities in Asia. Visit and you'll realize the stats that show Paris in the top 10 are complete BS.

The same thing comes up NYC vs LA. By the land / people they are about the same density but anyone who's been to both knows NYC is more dense than LA. Using population weight density shows NYC is up to 3x more dense than LA

https://www.smartcitiesdive.com/ex/sustainablecitiescollecti...

With poulation weighted density Paris is not #1 in Europe

https://urbantoronto.ca/forum/threads/weighted-density-of-eu...

And if the same was applied world wide Paris would not even be in the top 100


It's also tiny. It's easy to win the "densest city" contest when you exclude the decreasingly dense outer areas.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_European_Union_cities_...


The trees are not there to prevent climate change by absorbing CO2, but to mitigate the effects of climate change by providing a cooling effect through shade and water evaporation.

Reducing car traffic also helps to improve the "climate" of the city on a hot day.


Paris is pretty dense already ! In the top 10 cities : https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/the-world-s-most-densely...

High towers cannot be put everywhere


> High towers cannot be put everywhere

Why not?


The ground. Paris's ground is not strong enough to support high rise building especially in the southern part, where a lot of it have been excavated in the last 500 years (and filled with dead bodies, ie the catacombs). Of course with clever engineering everything is possible, but that really limits the development of such towers.

It is true that the main limitation still is the construction code, which preserves the global proportion of the city.


The usual approach is to punch pilings into bedrock. Nothing new really. Hollow shafts might be an issue, but nothing a stroke of the pen won't solve.

Gets a lot more complicated when you have tunnels everywhere already.

That’s what I meant by shafts. You could fill them, but dunno how kosher that is. It’s not like they’re open to the public or anything.

I believe you can take the catacombs under Montparnasse station, so it’s a solved problem ( I hope ).


I'm not at all sure what you mean. There is no way you could fill the catacombs, if that's what you're suggesting. And how does having catacombs under montparnasse show that you can put pilings through train tunnels?

Because they worsen traffic, as they create high density traffic zones which then need to have bigger highways around it, then you have got the fact that Paris's low city profile is a monument on itself, so city administrators don't want to disturb that too much, then there's the issue of physical construction of em as paris is a river bank city, quite sandy ground iirc

Paris does have areas which have high rise office buildings tho, it is just not the zones people know much about because they are not the touristic areas


Hong Kong seems to be able to make tall buildings work, with as massively increased density, in comparison to paris.

> Paris does have areas which have high rise office buildings tho

Then maybe more buildings should be built in this area.


[flagged]


Surely the locals go out into the mountains and villages for recreation?

All I am hearing from you is "Nobody goes there anymore, it's too crowded!"

a lot of parisians like me find them very ugly and there's already not enough garden and green spaces to out to.

Paris is one of the densest city in the whole world.

In many large cities you see sprawling suburbs and neighborhoods with individual houses. These take up a huge area that could have been planted with trees, need a lot of new infrastructure built (a lot of asphalt), and a lot of brand new lawns to water. All of which have plenty of negative environmental impact. This also encourages people to go for personal cars since public transport never really seems to keep up efficiently given the low density and large areas. And all of those cars go to the city every day.

The problem is basically everyone thinks the solution to all of this is to buy an EV (I know I'll get a lot of hate from EV owners/fans for this one; still true for those who fit the rest of the description above) instead of seeing all the other ways with far bigger impact. Like not needing a car at all, for one. This would slowly reduce traffic to the point where cutting a lane doesn't cause any severe inconvenience.


I have family in the Paris suburbs: they never have to water the lawn, there is enough rain for that. Trey also don't have a lot of asphalt, there are some narrow streets connecting village to village and even smaller streets in the villages. There are lots of trees everywhere, it's as green as you can get.

What I described is a general problem around most if not all big cities. This is a random internet picture from a Paris suburb (close to CDG) [0]. While there are some trees it's far from a forested area. A green lawn is a far cry from a green forest when talking climate. And any unnecessary asphalt is too much. Just browse around with satellite view if you're curious how such villages look like compared to the actual patches of forest. This is a village ~25Km from Paris, right next to a forest [1].

While these low density suburbs definitely provide more comfort for their inhabitants much like cars provide comfort for their drivers, it's a very inefficient use of that land to everyone else's disadvantage and guarantees those people have to drive to the city. Public transport wouldn't be anywhere near as efficient when you start spreading tens of Km from the city in every direction.

And there are far bigger offenders out there like in this random pic. [2]

> they never have to water the lawn

That sounds like an anecdote but I drove through plenty of suburbs (Paris or otherwise) and most lawns were green even after heatwaves and droughts. I'm pretty sure so many still generously water their lawns. Pools just add to that.

[0] https://l7.alamy.com/zooms/cc7447863ce84406b71d51be29c7b830/...

[1] https://www.google.com/maps/place/Maffliers,+France/@49.0754...

[2] http://i.huffpost.com/gen/1291806/images/o-SUBURBS-facebook....




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