Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Parking and cycling

My local village, although not particularly attractive, does date from the 12th century, so it is not surprising it has not adjusted well to the car. This week however, the first of the high season, the mairie have taken things in hand and designated the long high street as a one-way zone, and created a wide, coned-off cycle lane all the way to the big shopping centre. The initial results are a bit chaotic but I imagine things are going to settle down, particularly when we revert to normal traffic loads in September after the holidays.

The town's policy and that of the whole region is very much oriented towards use of bicycles, with an increasing number of cycle lanes appearing along the sea front, and also connecting to some of the villages inland, beneath the foothills of the Pyrenees. Perpignan, the departmental capital, has recently introduced a cycle share scheme like the one in Paris.

As a further gesture to the use of public transport over private cars, the Conseil Général now subsidizes the principal local bus service, so you can travel along the coast from Cerbère, on the Spanish boarder, and on to Perpignan for a standard single fare of just 1 euro. There is also talk of introducing trams in Perpignan, where at the moment it is notoriously difficult to park, even out of season. Much of the older town centre is already pedestrianised. All making for a very civilised way of life in this lovely region.