Author Mikael Colville-Andersen /
The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, is among a number of city leaders around the world who are fighting back against the dominance of automobiles in order to make urban space better serve its residents. The French capital has struggled to get its high pollution levels under control for years — air pollution kills 48,000 people in France annually — and instead of taking symbolic measures, Hidalgo wants to transform the city to improve quality of life for everyone.
The mayor’s plan is ambitious and has faced backlash from automotive groups. She plans to double the number of bike paths in the city to reach 1,400 kilometres (870 miles) by 2020, ban all gas-powered cars by 2030, redesign major intersections to favor pedestrians, expand the city’s public transportation system — including a 200-kilometre (125-mile) expansion to Paris’ world-class metro system — and the closure of certain streets to vehicle traffic. It’s on that last point where the city recently experienced a setback.