Speedways for Roller Folks?

photo: reataurant la cocarde

The bistro 'La Cocarde,' in the Montorgueil area.

Blackouts At the Copshop

Paris:- Monday, 21. May 2001:- "Why not let pedestrians, bicyclists and roller folks use the speedways beside the Seine during the summer?" is an interesting question. Now that there are new faces in city hall, there may be an answer soon.

A proposal to do so has been put together by Denis Baupin, one of 'Les Verts' deputy mayors. The new mayor, Bertrand Delanoë is not against the idea, but says the consequences have to be studied by the arrondissement mayors concerned, and by the traffic authorities.

The plan is to close the speedways to normal traffic from mid-July to mid-August. On the right bank the closure would be from Concorde to the Pont d'Austerlitz and on the left, from the Musée d'Orsay to the Pont de l'Alma.

Put very simply, for several years Parisians have had a desire for peaceful access to the Seine. According to Le Parisien, the mayorphoto: deli kat, us snack cafe would also like to see swimming pools installed in the river - near the Grande Bibliothèque and at the Piscine Deligny's old location.

Automobilistas, who have recently had the experience of having the speedways closed on account of flooding in the river, are not too happy with the idea. On Sundays, there has been only one lane available between Concorde and the Louvre.

The 'Deli-Kat,' a French snack shop featuring American specialties.

The result has been worse traffic jams on Sundays than on normally busy weekdays. But unlike weekdays, nobody is forced for job reasons to take the routes along the Seine.

The next step is to consider closing the Seine's quays above the riverside speedways to traffic. But this is possibly too radical.

On weekends at least, there must be tens of thousands of unused parking slots at the business megapole of La Défense, which is directly linked to the city centre by the speedy métro line one.

Closing both the quays and the speedways in the city might force Sunday and summer drivers to abandon their cars, or park them out of town and use the métro and the RER. Quel horreur!

Blackouts at the Quai des Orfèvres

During the Seine's floods, Paris number one copshop suffered several blackouts due to its caves being flooded by the nearby river, leading to the blowing of its fuses.

The place doesn't just have old caves - dungeons? - but until recently part of its electricity was still 110 volts.

Number 36. Quai des Orfévres is owned by the Ministry of Justice, but rented to Paris' Préfecture of Police. The building is not new and its owner isn't keeping it up too well - making it a perfect subject for any crime novel set in 1935 or so.

There are no fire escapes. The building is classed as a historic monument, and you don't tack on ugly modern fire escapes. For this reason the whole building is simply ignored by the city's fire inspectors.

Police unions don't like the situation and every couple of years there is talk of moving to someplacephoto: cafe noir, rue l'argout modern, but the old place has so much history and is included in so many police novels, that the Police Judiciaire are reluctant to move.

The Café Noir is just off the Rue Montmartre, not far from Les Halles.

Another big problem is that the entire question of money passes through the filter of an eye-dropper of a central budget office, which is also charged with buying supplies. If a detective runs out of Bics or typing paper after November, he will likely buy his pens at a Tabac and beg the paper from an arrondissement's mairie.

The central buying, which also involves taking the lowest bids, can result in the police receiving a fleet of undercover cars, all painted one shade of light green.

Other detectives, fighting high-tech crime, often have to buy their own software. With Internet-related crime on the rise, one can hope there may be adaptable shareware available.

One story has it that printer ink is sucked out of superior's printers by means of confiscated junkies' needles - while at any given time 20 of the narco squad's 50 cars are out of commission, for lack of spare parts.

Due to the new law of presumption of innocence, police reports have to be made in six copies now. This year, the Police Judiciaire have already run out of their year's supply of paper clips.

Police unions are talking about this because public safety was a campaign issue, and they may be able to get some money and reforms with new management in place. It is also an issue the right wing thinks it can use safely - at no cost to itself - as a political irritant now that they are in opposition.

One thing is certain, the installation of new management at the city hall has coincided with a new boss at the Préfecture, and plans for increased public safety in Paris will be the subject of major policy initiatives to be made public after today's meeting of the new city council.

Mo' Better It Ain't

Parisians usually reserve their Sundays for goofing off, and this they were doing in abundance yesterday. Meanwhile, 15,000 seriously annoyed suburbanites sacrificed their Sunday to gather at the Tour Eiffel to protest against the latest plans for new air corridors for the airports at Roissy and Orly.

These have been proposed for two reasons. So many people around the world have been convinced that Paris and France are wonderful places to visit that there's a flight every 90 seconds during rush hours.

The other reason is that many people are totally bugged by this noise and pollution, but no third airport can be expected before 2015 - which is reasonably close to 'never.' Active planningphoto: jungle bike for a third one has been underway for seven years already.

This means that the civil aviation people are trying to dream up ways to funnel more air traffic into the existing airports, by proposing new flight paths.

Leopard-skinned bike, parked in front of an exotic restaurant in the Rue d'Argout.

Putting these into action will mean seriously annoying even more people than those already half deaf from the 720,000 flights registered in 1999. And this was, if you recall, a slow year - before the 'millennium-thing.'

However, those who will possibly be affected are protesting the plans of the air technicians. The way out for the government, is to call in 'Eurocontrol' which is an Europe-wide independent body that studies navigation possibilities.

Nobody has yet suggested that the UK be turned into an offshore airport, but everybody knows it is directly linked to Paris' métro by the quiet and rapid Eurostar trains.

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