Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Paris starts monthly "Sunday Streets" program on its #1 street: the Champs Elysees

Wikipedia image.

Started in Bogotá, Colombia in the 1970s but raised to the level of global prominence in the 21st century by former Mayor Enrique Peñalosa who resuscitated the program in the mid-1990s, and after leaving office promoted it and other innovations (such as bus rapid transit) through a wide range of global speaking events ("Car-Free Streets, a Colombian Import, Inspire Debate," New York Times), Ciclovia is a program where streets are closed every Sunday in favor of walking, biking, and other community activities.
Now called "Open Streets" initiatives, they have spread across the world.

It's important when doing this to not be timid, to be forward and prominent, closing major streets.  DC's past attempts at such a program have been timid affairs, located in distant quadrants of the city.

The beaches on the banks of the Seine are known as the "Paris Plage" or "Paris Beach" (this photo shows the beaches in 2013). (© Pawel Libera/Corbis)

Perhaps a different form is the Paris summer "beach" program, Paris Plage, along the River Seine.

In 2002, then Mayor Bertrand Delanoë started dumping sand on the riverside road along the Seine to create temporary beaches ("Paris Brings the Beach to the Banks of the Seine," Smithsonian Magazine) for the month of August, a time when the city typically empties out as vacationing residents leave the city.

Paris is going big with a new Sunday Street program of its own, inaugurating its new monthly street closure program by closing its single most important street, the Champs-Élysées, according to the Associated Press ("Pedestrians take over Champs-Elysees as Paris goes green").

A man performs during a street show on the Champs Elysees in Paris, France, Sunday, May 8, 2016. Pedestrians have taken over the Champs-Élysées as part of a new program to ban traffic from the famous Paris avenue once a month. 

The initiative, for what is usually one of the busiest roads in the French capital, was launched by Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo and is aimed at reducing pollution in the city. Kamil Zihnioglu AP Photo.

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