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Cities need to offer alternatives to the car

In Paris, the challenges for mobility are even more pressing than in other expanding cities. However, the French capital city has eased the situation with a clever traffic concept. Steffen de Rudder, a professor in urban studies, explains the basis for this success - it has to do with buses.


Steffen de Rudder

The professor teaches urban development and urban studies at Bauhaus University in Weimar. In this interview he talks about the change in the mobility policy for Paris and attractive traffic concepts with buses.

Mr de Rudder, more people now use the bus and train in Paris than elsewhere. How is the mayor Anne Hidalgo pushing ahead with the change in the mobility policy?

DE RUDDER Anne Hidalgo has designated Paris as the city of new mobility. She is using flagship projects, such as most recently closing off parts of the right bank of the Seine River to car traffic. But nothing will be achieved by banning vehicles as the private car will not simply disappear. There needs to be good alternatives. And this is what Paris is doing by coordinating urban development and the transport infrastructure and expanding the local public transport network. The offers must be so attractive that users cannot turn them down.

Paris currently has no funding for new Metro or RER lines. How can the use of buses help?

DE RUDDER The Metro and RER move large numbers of people, but the necessary networks mean investing for centuries. Buses are much cheaper and flexible in use and they are the perfect shuttle and cross connection services.

How can Paris be a model city for other European cities?

DE RUDDER No other European city is nearly as densely populated as Paris; London can however offer a similarly sized metropolitan region. The traffic concept for Paris can therefore not be applied in exactly the same way in other cities. But what we can learn from there is that a change in transport policy can be achieved with a clear vision and the political will.

Despite all the differences, are all cities facing similar problems?

DE RUDDER The problems in Paris are more pressing than elsewhere but the challenges are the same: many European cities are growing because urban centres are becoming increasingly popular. As a result, the general traffic and also the delivery traffic are increasing, mainly due to online trading. At the same time, the cities have to comply with increasingly stringent climate and civil protection regulations. They need to accommodate both conflicting developments.

Interview   Florian Sievers
Photos   Claus Bach

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