Four health-conscious cities putting pedestrians first

The pandemic, paired with numerous public-transportation strikes prior to lockdown, only strengthened the popularity of these human-centric and environmentally sustainable initiatives. “The beauty of getting around by foot in Paris is highlighted more since Covid,” said Kathleen Peddicord, founder of Live and Invest Overseas. “Public transportation was a no-go for a long time and was also more uncomfortable having to wear masks. So, more people started using their feet.”

Additional bike lanes have also been introduced to alleviate car traffic. In fact, the city plans to add an additional 180km of bike lanes and 180,000 bike parking spots by 2026.

“I’ve lived in Paris for 14 years, and I can confidently say that I’ve never seen a greater, city-wide transformation than the one that’s happened most recently to encourage cyclists,” said Sadie Sumner, who runs the Paris branch of bike touring company Fat Tire Tours.

Major throughways like the Rue de Rivoli in central Paris have been reduced to one lane, while cyclist paths have been expanded to the width of three car lanes.

The city also plans to plant 170,000 trees by 2026, with the intention of cooling Paris to make it more comfortable and enjoyable for pedestrians. In anticipation of the city’s hosting of the 2024 Olympics, the bridge between the Eiffel Tower and Trocadero will be fully pedestrianized, too.

Overall, residents have appreciated the widespread changes, and look forward to even more. “The locals really like it, there are less cars and people seem to be a bit more relaxed,” said Paris native Roobens Fils, who blogs at Been Around the Globe. He had suggestions for walking-minded travelers: the Parc Rives de Seine, a 7km-long stretch by the river; rue Montorgueuil in the heart of Paris for its cheese, wine and flower shops; rue Saint Rustique in Montmartre for its ancient cobblestones (this is the oldest street in Paris); and Cour Saint Emilion for its boutiques, cafes and restaurants.