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Has Paris Become the Healthiest City in the World?

Among Paris’s many attributes—the art, the boutiques, chocolate for breakfast—ease of getting around is not one of them. Cars move at an average speed of…

Wednesday, Apr 27

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Among Paris’s many attributes—the art, the boutiques, chocolate for breakfast—ease of getting around is not one of them. Cars move at an average speed of 18 miles per hour. The Métro is so overcrowded that even the deputy mayor in charge of transport won’t defend it.

Ease of getting around is one of the most underrated elements of life. I discovered this shortly after moving to Amsterdam in 2019. In Los Angeles I was forfeiting two hours a day—more than an entire workday, each week—sitting in traffic, to travel 30 miles round trip from my Eastside home to my office in Beverly Hills. Traffic has become such a fundamental part of life in L.A. that no one even complains about it anymore; it would be like complaining about night. In Amsterdam everyone bikes. Not because it’s quaint, but because it’s easy and efficient and healthy for the population, and the city is designed to facilitate cycling as a common mode of transportation, and to make driving difficult and expensive.

Paris’s mayor, Anne Hidalgo, has embraced this notion. Since her election in 2014 she has installed 186 miles of cycling routes in the city, increasing the length of bikeable streets by 35 percent. Her platform in her 2020 reelection campaign included expanding on these changes, and she won in a landslide. She’s bullish on other health-related initiatives, too, including the recent installation of noise cameras that will automatically issue fines to illegally loud motorcycles and cars, citing the relationship between noise reduction […]

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