Cycling is now more popular than driving in the centre of Paris, study finds

People ride on Rivoli street in Paris.
People ride on Rivoli street in Paris. Copyright AP Photo/John Leicester
Copyright AP Photo/John Leicester
By Rosie Frost
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Walking and public transport were still the most popular ways to get around the French capital.


More people now travel by bike than by car in the centre of Paris, according to a new report.

The study by urban planning agency Institut Paris Region (IPR) found that Parisians use bicycles for 11.2 per cent of their trips inside the city centre whereas people use cars for just 4.3 per cent of journeys.

It is a market increase from 2010 when IPR found that cycling accounted for just 3 per cent of trips in Paris.

Walking was the most popular form of transport in the city centre, wracking up 53.3 per cent of all journeys. This was followed by public transport at 30 per cent.

“Ten years ago, who could have predicted that bicycles would take over cars,” the city’s deputy mayor in charge of transport, David Belliard said on X (formerly known as Twitter).

“There’s still a lot to do but this is a first victory.”

Suburban Paris is still reliant on cars

The study looked at 3,337 residents in the Île-de-France region aged 16 to 80. Their movements were tracked with a GPS unit and they were asked to fill out travel journals.

Suburban areas of Paris were still heavily reliant on car travel. The IPR study found that the further outside of the centre you go, the higher the percentage of journeys being made in this way.

Travelers waiting to to board a train at Gare de Lyon train station in Paris.
Travelers waiting to to board a train at Gare de Lyon train station in Paris.AP Photo/Michel Euler

Between the city’s two ring roads, car journeys made up almost half of all trips. For trips within the more distant suburbs, this figure was 61 per cent. IPR says this is a sign of “automotive dependence” in these areas.

Public transport still took the lead, however, for journeys between Paris and the suburbs. People used it for 66 per cent of journeys from the inner suburbs and 77 per cent from the outer suburbs.

How is Paris cutting car journeys in the city?

Paris has been gradually cracking down on cars in the city centre over the last few years. More polluting vehicles - including many older petrol and diesel cars - will be banned from 2025. Parking spaces have been removed, roads pedestrianised and a vote in February of this year also saw Parisians approve a proposal to triple parking fees for large vehicles like SUVs.

There has also been significant investment in alternative forms of transport over the last few years. This includes around €250 million on a centralised plan to improve cycling infrastructure in the city by 2026. The plan is to make Paris a “100 per cent cycling city”.

To improve public transport outside of the centre, 200 km of metro lines are being built across the Île-de-France region as part of the Grand Paris Express project. It will bring 68 new stations, four new metro lines and the expansion of two existing lines that are already part of the network.

A huge 76-kilometre-long rail ring will connect the city’s outer suburbs for the first time.

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