Who Stands to Benefit from Speed Limit Reductions on the Boulevard Périphérique in Paris?
Mayor Anne Hidalgo, seeking reelection, proposed a plan to renovate the 22-mile-long Boulevard Périphérique, a ring road surrounding Paris' historic center. "The traffic-clogged urban highway plays a major role in Parisian mobility, but it’s also a prime contributor of pollution, both atmospheric and aural, as well as an all-but-impassable barrier severing the historic city from its inner suburbs," according to Feargus O'Sullivan.
According to Mayor Hidalgo's recently released "Manifesto for Paris," plans include speed limit reduction to 30 kph (18.6 mph) for all of Paris Proper, childcare benefits for families, reduction in parking spaces, and permanent adoption of the cycle lanes introduced to manage the coronavirus crisis. The Périphérique would see a speed limit reduction to 50 kph (31 mph), dedicate a lane of traffic to zero-emission vehicles in addition to removing vehicle lanes.
There is disagreement among Parisians about who the proposed plan aims to serve. Some critics say that lower-income suburban commuters will be left to find new, slower ways to travel, as they rely on the Périphérique as a major metropolitan artery. "As the city continues to cautiously reopen from coronavirus restrictions, Parisians can expect increased anxiety about using trains and subways, making driving more appealing to those who have cars," explains O'Sullivan. Others argue that the same lower-income communities adjacent to the beltway suffer the most from the pollution it produces.