Election Promise Kept

photo: le relais chablisien, wine bistro

For the first time since the meetings of the Café Metropole Club began, the wine restaurant Le Relais Chablisien did not have delivery truck parked in front of it.

Lawyer To Sue for 'Right To Drive'

Paris:- Monday, 30. July 2001:- As promised by the winners of the Paris municipal elections in late March, the west-to-east speedway on the right bank of the Seine was partially closed in mid-July, for a period not to exceed the 15th of August.

This expressway though the heart of Paris, which separates the river from the city's permanent and temporary residents, has seen partial closures on Sundays for some time.

During these brief Sunday periods the roadway has been turned over to pedestrians, bicyclists, roller-folks, parents with baby strollers and other taxpayers, for the purpose of doing whatever they wanted to do beside the river so long as it wasn't speeding.

With the summer's arrival, and with the assumption that some several hundred thousand automobile drivers might be whiling away their precious driving time elsewhere in France and nearby foreign countries, a decision was made to experimentally close the right-bank expressway seven days a week.

Rotten and crummy weather in July held down pedestrian usage of the expressway, while drivers - who don't have muchphoto: fountain marco polo sense anyway - were stuck in traffic jams on the quays just as bad as the ones created by the river's flooding during the winter or spring, or whatever season it was.

Paris' city hall - l'Hôtel de Ville - is full of people who actually live in Paris, and is presently partly full of people who used the métro or rode bikes to work before they were elected.

The Marco Polo fountain in all of its watery glory.

Thus, they seemed to be unaware that tens of thousands of commuters who live outside Paris, deliberately do not take holidays in summer expressly so they can drive their cars to work in the city instead of riding public transport like they do during the rest of the year.

So it is these drivers, who are normally not stuck in traffic jams because they are packed like sardines into trains, who were largely unaware of what traffic jams can be like - at say, for example - in front of the Café Metropole Club's café La Corona on the Quai du Louvre.

Actually, with the bad weather we had, city officials were turning over the idea of giving the speedways back to the motorists - but this changed when France Météo announced that conditions had advanced from the pits to 'several degrees above normal.'

Now a lawyer has stuck his nose into a dusty, old and largely forgotten legal volume and discovered that shutting public thoroughfares might actually be illegal.

He has done this because he can no longer drive from where he lives in 'central Paris' to his legal office in the 16th arrondissement 'in 15 minutes.'

As much as I study a map of Paris, I cannot figure out how this lawyer could possible by hung up by west-to-east direction right-bank traffic jams, when he needs to be going from east to west, or perhaps from northeast to southwest.

Whether he has the 'right' on his side or not, his action is a perfect example of the Paris area automobile driver, which is fundamental masochism.

While other lawyers buy snazzy BMW scooters, very expensive all-terrain bicycles or the latest thing in zoomy rollers, this one dumb cluck must have so few clients that he hasphoto: tropical rain storm, denfert lots of spare time to find old horse- and-buggy laws - just so he can sue for his 'right' to zoom around town in the summer like he was on his very own railroad.

Anyhow, some judge, possibly also with some time to kill, has agreed to hear the complaint on Wednesday, 8. August - about a week before the riverside speedways are due to be returned to the motoring public.

The first of last week's tropical rain downpours, shot from inside a dry place with a bar.

The report, in Saturday's Le Parisien, is accompanied by a deep two-column color photo taken on a nice Sunday - showing about 400 metres of the speedway - with no less than several hundred people of all ages and sizes, biking, skating and walking, beside the Seine.

Tandem Bike Taxi

During the last couple of summers, a company has tried to get pedestrians interesting in paying for rides in a form of pedal-powered rickshaws. I haven't seen these around this year.

After leaving the club meeting last Thursday, I ran into Ludovic Communier in front of the Saint-Germain l'Auxerrois church on the Rue de l'Amiral Coligny. Actually, the first thing I saw was his tandem bicycle, and the second thing I noticed was that it seemed to be a taxi.

Ludovic explained some complicated business about the gearing of the vehicle, which I understood to mean that the rear-seat passenger only had to look as if he or she was peddling too - or, at the very least, the taxi bike driver has to pedal harder.

The outfit, which is called Tandem Services, has about 100 bikes he told me. Fares, starting at seven francs, vary according to the type of trip, but are geared for either pleasure trips or serious commuting - and even shopping trips.

When the subject of the closed speedway was raised, Ludovic praised the idea highly because it is a route which bikes are allowed to use, even if they are tandems and even if they are taxis.

The official word is that bike drivers are now allowed to use the bus lanes, and the next step will be to make the bus lanes slightly wider so the two types of vehicles can co-exist.

When signing up, new club members occasionally write answers to a few of the questions posed by the club'sphoto: tandem taxi bike unofficial questionnaire. The almost routine answer to the question, 'What have you liked least about Paris?' has changed recently from what it was, to 'pollution.'

Ludovic Communier, sort of leaning on the steering wheel of his tandem vélo taxi.

To be true, some people mistake what Paris smells like - it smells like 'Paris' - with pollution, I think a lot of people use the word 'pollution' as a synonym for traffic - cars, buses, motorcycles and trucks.

Having the political will to close the speedways, as well as seeing services like the tandem taxis pop up, are signs that things in the future are not just going to be like past - despite the desire of some idle lawyers to be allowed to continue being 'kings of the road.'

Sports News

Lance Armstrong was the overall winner of this year's Tour de France, which had its climax on the Champs-Elysées - known locally as the world's most famous street - even if it is an 'avenue.' This happened yesterday and even though this news is tardy - it is worth mentioning that it was Mr. Armstrong's third win and Texas is quite pleased about it.

Internet Life

Your Paris Web URLs

If you have any favorite Paris Web sites you think other readers should know about, please send them in. If they haven't been featured before and they don't crash my browser, you'll get a modest 'thankYou' here.

I have not overlooked the URLs I've received as recently as several weeks ago, and I have even checked some of them out. The 'thankYous' are being readied.

However the server-lady Linda Thalman thinks you might be interested in a new apartment-rental service called 'Rendez-Vous à Paris' which she intended to tell me about at last Thursday's club meeting, because new member Alban was there and has something to do with it.

Actually, if Alban had not have been at the club he wouldn't have become a member, and his life would be less full than it is today - even though becoming a club member seemed to be a great surprise to him.

Generally, 'Internet Life' is not discussed at club meetings for the very good reason that it is tiresome and boring, so what needs to be mentioned about it gets its airing here, for what it's worth.

Forecast for August

Here it is, at the end of July and the first of August's 'grands départs' has departed, while all of July's 'departed' have tried to return at once - on account of disgust with July's weather - only to find Paris is hotter that any three July days in Brittany added together.

However, the weather is a ficklephoto: sunday free music, la villette beast these days on account of - ah - was it not always so? It is a handy thing to blame because it doesn't pay taxes and doesn't vote, but the fat lady hasn't sung yet.

On Sunday, out at La Villette's 'music kiosk,' for the very loud and absolutely free concert.

It isn't over until its over, yodelwise, so you will still be interested in Météo-France's short-range forecasts - which finally did end up predicting better weather for northern France because you stayed tuned in long enough.

Météo-France has also begun its 'Vigilance-Météo' service, which consists of putting out special alerts concerning hurricane-speed winds, torrential downpours, heavy storms, tornados, blizzards and/or avalanches within the next few hours in Paris and throughout France.

These 'alerts' are already getting tiresome, because the media are repeating them. By this coming Tuesday evening, France Météo is liable to say you should keep under cover and stay on your second floor, if you have one, because of fierce tropical storms in eastern Alsace.

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