What Paris Does Well in Urban Mobility
Parisians embraced active mobility by building bike lanes and car-free zones to become one of the most walked cities in the world. Paris allocated more than $264 million from 2015-2026 to build about 179 kilometers (111 miles) of new cycling lanes. In advance of the 2024 Summer Olympics, reported infrastructure plans include a way for cyclists to travel from the city center to sports venues in the city outskirts.
Innovation in smart mobility and automated vehicle technology flourishes thanks to a strong academic sector, government investment, and the presence of many mobility companies. In 2022, for example, the Paris School of Economics, along with three public and private institutions, co-created a new university research arm to study urban mobility and energy development. The French capital is also host to a plethora of start-ups in the mobility industry.
Urban Mobility Readiness Index, Sustainable Mobility and Public Transit scores
Challenges and Opportunities for Paris’s Transportation System
Paris lags behind several European peers in direct electric vehicle (EV) incentivization and charging infrastructure, which translates to a low EV market share in sales – although the city’s 2030 plan pledges subsidies to install charging points in condominiums and underground car parks. Nationally, France currently does not meet the European Union’s recommended charging infrastructure targets, according to the International Energy Agency.
City residents complain of high levels of noise and light pollution that are typically associated with the relatively high amount of congestion. A downward trend in car usage – in which there were nearly 7,000 fewer cars used per year between 2018 and 2021 – may help alleviate noise and light pollution. The city has committed to short-term improvements on noise pollution, with plans to lower vehicle speeds, soundproof infrastructure, support active and electric mobility, and experiment with sound radars.
Dimensions of the Urban Mobility Readiness Index score
How Paris Can Improve Its Public Transportation and Sustainable Mobility
While Paris invested heavily in infrastructure development during the last few years, Parisians have not gravitated to cycling in their daily lives. The city is moving in the right direction with its Olympics-related plans but can do more to incentivize its residents to choose cycling. It can improve cycling safety and infrastructure by adding bike lanes with protective barriers and increasing enforcement of traffic laws. In addition, the city can increase public transit accessibility to cyclists by removing bike restrictions on the metro and RER.
Despite short-term efforts and commitments, Paris could improve its noise and light pollution compared to its peers. The city has laid the groundwork to ban combustion engine vehicles by 2030, increase the size and number of car-free zones, and reduce parking availability. These improvements are slated for 2030, but in the immediate future, the city can continue to incentivize EV purchases, enforce traffic safety for cyclists, and implement its plan to remove traffic and congestion from the city center in 2024 (via the zone à trafic limitée, or ZTL). Paris published plans to lower noise and light pollution to be completed in 2026, but further efforts may help.