What is the law?
The Loi des orientations des mobilités is a wide-ranging transport bill that has been making its way through the parliamentary process. Its aim is to alleviate the transport difficulties still experienced by many in France, especially outside the big cities, which make travelling by car virtually the only option in some places.
At the same time, the bill aims to honour France's commitment to tackling climate change by making transport greener and cleaner. There are 50 articles on the bill, which includes better coordination between transport providers, opening up competition on some bus routes and introducing incentives for car pooling. There is also an amendment allowing local authorities to set speed limits, which could lead to the scrapping of the highly unpopular 80km/h speed limit on secondary roads in some areas.
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Parking enforcement in Lyon. Photo: AFP
But what about parking spaces?
Well, one MP has introduced an amendment to the bill that would make it illegal to park withing five metres of a pedestrian crossing.
Jean-Luc Fugit, a member of Emmanuel Macron's governing La Republique En Marche party (LREM) and representative for the Rhone area, wants to prohibit all parking of cars, trucks or other motor vehicles within five metres of a pedestrian crossing. Bikes and scooters would still be able to park there.
He hopes that the measure will make using pedestrian crossing easier and safer as it will reduce obstructions to visibility.
He told French newspaper Ouest France: “The risk of an accident is real. This amendment aims to remind us that the street belongs to everyone.”
How many spaces will this actually affect?
More than you might think. In Paris alone it is calculated that there are 7,000 parking spaces within 5 metres of a pedestrian crossing, all of which would have to be removed.
“This can be an opportunity for elected officials and the population to reflect together on the city they want,” added Fugit. “It's a good thing that we no longer give priority to the car above all else.”
Will it definitely happen?
No, the law has not been passed yet and the amendment will be debated by the Assemblée nationale next week. After that, it must be approved by the Senate before passing into law. Having said that though, as the amendment has been introduced by a member of the governing party it is likely to be passed in the lower parliament and there are no indications that the Senate will object.
If it is passed, the amendment proposes a fairly lengthy time scheme, giving local authorities until December 31, 2026 to make the necessary changes in their towns.