Jean-Louis Missika: “Most of the population understands there is a very serious pollution problem in Paris”

Sustainable mobility. We talk to the Deputy Mayor of Paris about the French capital’s measures for fighting pollution.

We interview Jean-Louis Missika (Algiers, 1951), the Deputy Mayor of Paris. Missika recently visited Barcelona to take part in the Approaches to sustainable mobility, cycle of talks, where he explained the French capital’s initiatives for improving air quality and public transport and reclaiming public spaces for pedestrians.

-What are the municipal government’s main initiatives for fighting against atmospheric pollution?

We are focusing mainly in reducing car traffic in the city, by expanding spaces for pedestrians and cyclists, and improving emission-related vehicle performance.

The goal is for there to be no more diesel-vehicle permits in Paris by 2020 and for diesel to be completely eliminated in public transport and in private vehicles and professional vehicles by 2025. This elimination of diesel is being accompanied by a series of grants and facilities encouraging people to move over to electric vehicles and clean energy. We want electric vehicles to become the main vehicles in Paris by 2025 and to achieve that we will be extending our recharge points, following the Autolib and Vélib models.

-And what about boosting the public transport network?

We aim to improve what we’ve already got: the RER and the metro, to continue developing tramways and increasing connectivity with the metropolitan area, Greater Paris, where we’ll be allocating lots of money.

And to promote cycling too, the idea is to double the city’s length of bike lanes: we shall be moving from today’s 700 km to 1,400 km.

-What measures have you taken to encourage citizens to use public transport?

The Navigo travel pass now has a single price for the entire metropolis, which has helped considerably to increase the use of public transport among people living in the suburbs, having been too expensive before. That is why we’ve asked people living in the city centre to make a small sacrifice, to ensure easy access to public transport for those living further out.

What is more, we are using stickers to classify private vehicles by their emissions, banning the most harmful ones during pollution peaks.

At the same time, however, this measure is being accompanied by the creation of a space daytime travel pass, where you can access the city’s entire transport system for the price of two tickets.

-How have drivers accepted the vehicle restrictions and reductions in car-allocated space?

Drivers have taken it badly. There was a lot of controversy when, nine months ago now, we banned vehicle traffic from the Rive Droite of the Seine.

But for all the protests there have been, I believe that this has been a useful experience, and most of the population understand that there is a very serious pollution problem in Paris and that we have to take measures to reduce pollution peaks.

-Now that you’re aware of Barcelona’s mobility policies, what you do believe we could export to Paris?

When it comes to sharing vehicles, you’ve got lots of initiatives here in Barcelona that come from civil society, whereas in Paris most of our ideas for sharing come from our City Council. And that’s very interesting and shows you’ve got a greatly aware associations’ network.

Barcelona’s bike lanes and how they are being extended are also an inspiration to us. The public transport network you’ve got is enviable, and the taxi system is very good, and has managed to fight Uber.

-And, vice versa, what do you believe Barcelona could copy from Paris?

The policies being implemented in our two cities are very similar: promoting bicycles, giving priority to buses and taxis over private vehicles etc. While it’s true your policy for reducing diesel-vehicle emissions isn’t as powerful as ours, that’s because your pollution levels aren’t as high as ours.

I believe the kind of thing that could be done in Barcelona is an exploration of vehicle-sharing systems, like our Autolib. You still need to finish developing your entire bicycle-on-demand system, Bicing, as the one we’ve got in Paris is more extensive. We’ve also got CityScoot in Paris, a private scooter-on-demand initiativeWhat’s possibly missing in Barcelona, then, is a deeper exploration of this idea of car-, bicycle- or scooter-sharing.

-Are you familiar with our superblock system? Could it be adapted to Paris?

It’s a very interesting project. Thanks to your Cerdà Plan, the concept can be realised better in Barcelona than Paris, where it is more complicated to carry out, because of our distribution of blocks.

We do have a road-calming system, where cars cannot travel faster than 20 km/hour and pedestrians and cyclists have priority.

-What do you think of Barcelona City Council’s aim to join up its two tram networks?

I believe it’s logical for tram lines to link up. It’s not just another means of transport, it’s a way to calm traffic, create urbanity and profoundly transform urban landscapes. I think the tram system will transform Diagonal along the right directly.

 

 

 

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