As It Happens

Paris cyclists free to run red lights

Paris is implementing a new system for cyclists allowing them to roll through red lights at designated intersections.
Parisian cyclists. (AP Photo/Remy de la Mauviniere) (The Associated Press)
Green still means go but red no longer means "arrêtez" for cyclists in Paris. The city is introducing a new system that allows cyclists to roll through red lights at intersections designated with signs.

"You get stopped all the time by the red lights so you lose energy...it doesn't make cycling as a means of transportation very easy," Charles Maguin tells As It Happens host Laura Lynch.

Maguin is the head of the cycling organization Paris en Selle. He argues that "when you are at the red light...near the cars and trucks...you have a risk that someone goes right and doesn't see you...but when you get a head start because you can pass the red light you have more safety."

Diagram of the new system for Paris cyclists (Paris Mayor's Office)


When asked whether this creates a new risk for cyclists entering oncoming traffic Maguin insists that most cyclists are not going fast enough and have "very good visibility on the intersection."

He adds, "In cases where the intersection is very complicated, this possibility to pass the red light will not be given...signs will only be in intersections where it is safe and possible."

Charles Maguin, Head of Paris Cycling Organization Paris En Selle (Charles Maguin)


The response from motorists and pedestrians is mixed but Maguin notes that the same system is successful in many other major cities in France. He claims the system "works perfectly...even in the beginning I don't think there will be many problems at all."

Maguin admits that most cyclists already run red lights. He hopes that "the fact that the rule is now in place it will make cyclists also understand that this rule is now adapted to the way they move in the city...then they should respect absolutely the priority of pedestrians."

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