Strasbourg is one of the most pedestrian-friendly cities in France (Photo: Luc Citrinot)
In an era when cars are increasingly being pushed out of city centres to make way for so-called “soft” mobility and pedestrians, the quality of public space reserved for pedestrians has become a real attraction for urban tourism. More and more cities are promoting their policies towards pedestrians, bicycles and other mobile solutions that exclude the car.
In France, the “Place aux Piétons” collective has published its first barometer of walkable cities. And it has many surprises in store for the good and less good students in this field. Overall, it appears that cities are less and less open to pedestrians. And that they do little to remedy this. Surprising or not, the bicycle is singled out in most of the responses. In everyday life, there is a real antagonism between bicycle paths and pedestrian areas, the former making access to the latter more difficult.
Paris is one of the cities most criticized by walkers. The latter are increasingly in conflict with bicycles, scooters and other non-motorised mobility.
Eight major cities above average
With just over 40,000 responses, the Barometer found about 50 cities with more than 100 responses and 150 with less than 100 responses. 75.14% of respondents felt that the situation for pedestrians had deteriorated over the last two years, 69.77% thought that facilities for pedestrian comfort were rare and 69.12% felt that pedestrian spaces were not free of encroachment and respected. These impressions are in fact feelings and do not necessarily correspond to the reality on the ground.
Of the fifty or so French cities where the number of responses allows significant conclusions to be drawn, only one exceeds a score of 12 out of 20. This is Le Rheu, a town adjacent to Rennes with only 8,000 inhabitants. This is not very significant.
If we look at cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants, the top three are Versailles, Annecy and Dijon – all three with a score above 11 out of 20. The other cities reaching or exceeding the average are Angers, Besançon, Grenoble, Rennes and Strasbourg. The very large metropolises show mediocre results: Lyon scores 9.49 out of 20; Paris 8.56; Lille 8.19, Toulouse 7.7 and Marseille is at the bottom of the ranking with 5.04
I’m Michelle, and I love to travel. As a former hotel expert for one of the world’s largest hotel chains, I’ve stayed in nearly every type of room imaginable (including many that were not so desirable!). Nowadays, I am fortunate enough to be able to explore the world on my own terms. From international flights to learning different languages, there is nothing too far out of reach!