Paris Buses Get Own Way

photo: bistro chez lucette, jonquiere

Away from the main roads, fast food hasn't found Chez Lucette in the Rue de La Jonquière.

Paris Drivers Get Less

Paris:- Monday, 3. September 2001:- Once promised, now done - the city's initial new exclusive lanes for buses went into operation two weeks ago and produced some lovely traffic jams for summertime motorists, who barely had time to get over being happy with the Seine's expressway being re-opened.

The new bus corridors have been widened to allow room for both city buses and bicyclists to co-exist, and basically enjoy an obstacle-free right-of-way.

This has been achieved by the installation of serious but low barriers, which make it impossible for cars and trucks to stray into the new lanes.

As an aid to delivery trucks, they may park to load or unload in the middle of the street next to the barriers as well as next to the curbs on the opposite sides.

While the drastically reduced roadways create nightmare situations for ordinary drivers, the buses skim along. So far, only seven kilometres of Paris' streets has been rearranged, but another 34 kilometres are scheduled for the same treatment by the end of the year.

Nobody knows if Paris drivers will switch to public transport, but the RATP plans to increase its fleet of buses in service by ten percent.

It seems as the most unhappy drivers are mainly from the suburbs. Many of these drive intophoto: new bus lane, rue rivoli Paris every day because they consider public transport to be inadequate or they plain don't like it.

The bus lane on the Rue de Rivoli. Notice cars squished into remainder of street on the right - and snazzy cross-hatching like other big cities.

It is true that during Paris' relatively rare periods of light traffic a car can be a lot faster than a RER train. These light-traffic periods are rare in weekday daylight hours, and non-existent during rush-hours.

The major reason for all this is explained in a quote by Paris' mayor Bertrand Delanoë in an interview with Le Parisien, "I am not obsessed with cars, but by the health of the Parisians."

Rome went a lot further with the reduction of central-city traffic some years ago and has seen a real drop in pollution levels. Besides being Paris' 'sister city,' the two mayors are pals and they are watching each other's experiments.

Université d'Eté

At the end of each summer, while common folks are facing the stark realities of going back to work and the hurdles of getting their kids into schools, most political parties hold conventions in still-warm holiday spots that are generally called, 'Université d'Eté.'

I guess it doesn't matter what these gatherings are called so long as it isn't 'Banana Harvest Time.' This year's editions of these meetings are more important than usual, because all of the parties are getting ready for the eight-month 'Battle for the Presidency.'

Mind you, there are no official candidates yet. The current Président of the République, Jacques Chirac, is expected to run for re-election - but he hasn't formally announced his intentions - and won't, until the politically-correct time.

The part of the RPR party loyal to him, held their 'Université d'Eté' to tell each other and show the media that they are 101 percent for the Président's re-election. This was not exactly news.

What was news was Philippe Seguin's new beard. How much good it will do for Mr. Chirac is unknown, but it has certainlyphoto: tabac rue levis let the world know that the RPR is not to be trifled with, now that one of its heavier hitters has a very attractive full beard and looks a bit like a famous movie star.

On an otherwise dull Friday, sun washed this café terrace in the Rue de Lévis.

The Socialists, who run the government majority in the Assembly National, tried to look like plain folks by taking off their habitual ties, and some even wore colored shirts.

Education minister Jack Lang doesn't count here because he always wears colored shirts, but I think I saw him with one that hadn't sported a tie two minutes before TV's cameras caught him.

Like the president, Prime Minister Lionel Jospin is not a candidate for the office of Président of the République. He too is waiting until the politically-correct time - tieless.

The so-called liberal wing of the right wing has UDF for a party name, and its leader François Bayrou also did not announce his candidacy. He merely said he was the 'third man' and poked three fingers at the sky. His supporters cheered this political move.

The Greens - 'Les Verts' - seldom wear ties. But instead of being united behind their already announced candidate, Alain Lipietz, they have decided to feud about Corsican matters.

This is not good news because Corsica is sort of the 'Deep Black Hole' of French politics. It is so incomprehensible, so long-standing, so bizarre - that the 'man on the street' would vote to sell it back to the Italians, even if they could be persuaded to take it back for nothing.

Daniel Cohn-Bendit, who is a European deputy for Les Verts, is not a candidate for president. He could hae, but didn't actually say that the Greens' position on the unsolvable problems of Corsica, has no place in the matter at hand - which is a reasonable amount of party unity.


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