Hard road or high road?

Jeff Gray (Globe and Mail 07.02.26) calls Paris mayor Bertrand Delanoë’s plan to reduce that city’s traffic by 40% by 2020, a hard road. No kidding. Since this “plan calls for bike, bus and ‘clean’ vehicle lanes, pedestrian areas, narrower roads, lower speed limits, a new subway line and possible new restrictions on cars entering the city centre”, but with no “direct mention” of congestion pricing (did he just hint at it?), it certainly will be a hard and, I assert, futile road.

The Parisian mayor, just as the Toronto Mayor or the New York Mayor or any other mayor won’t be getting anyone out of their vehicles by setting heart-felt targets and putting up posters about biking and buses. These kinds of programs take fewer people off the roads than the next graduating class of high schools and colleges put back on them.


The car, while as affordable as it is, is preferred by more people than any other form of mobility. How will these mayors incent motorists to make these changes?

Ask Ken Livingston.

Motorists (they are people, right?) are largely motivated by sex and money. Cars are sexy. Just like cigarettes used to be. And right now cars are cheap for the value of autonomy they return. When a mayor can actually get his or her political mind around congestion pricing, traffic in that city will be under new management.

Until then, just keep on talking.

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