Paris, a delighting city to walk? A study unveils the best walkable cities

Published by Cécile D. · Photos by Caroline J. · Published on September 10, 2021 at 05:12 p.m.
The “Place aux piétons” group unveils their barometer for the best walkable cities carried out after a six-month investigation online and surveys. Magny-les-Hameaux (Yvelines) ranks as the leader of pedestrians’ favorite cities. Marseille ranks last and Paris is not doing great either.

Some downtown streets have become entirely pedestrian, and bike lanes pop here and there… And yet, Paris still has a great deal of efforts to make for pedestrians to find the city fully “walkable”. This September 8, 2021 the “Place aux Piétons” group has released their investigation carried out between December 2020 and March 2021 and unveils the barometer of the most walk-friendly cities in France.

The association has collected reviews from 70,000 Internet users who filed the online questionnaire in. The investigation has not been carried out from a sample representative of the society and therefore, results only show participants’ opinions.

Yet, according to these pedestrians living everywhere in France, the main French cities often struggle to improve the urban area and pedestrians’ conditions in agglomerations. Cities including an average of 5,000 to 19,999 inhabitants are graded better than big cities with over 20,000 inhabitants.

The 200 cities of this investigation have been given a grade between A and G, depending on several factors: security, overall feeling, comfort, layout and services, city’s efforts… At the top of the list are: Acigné (Ille-et-Vilaine), Cesson-Sévigné (Ille-et-Vilaine), Gradignan (Gironde), Magny-les-Hameaux (Yvelines) and Sceaux (Hauts-de-Seine). They all have been given very good grades.

At the bottom of the list, Marseille and Aubervilliers are the worst pupils: both cities have been given a “G”. Right before them: Vitry-sur-Seine (Val-de-Marne), Noisy-le-Sec (Seine-Saint-Denis), Mont-de-Marsan (Landes), Les Pennes-Mirabeau (Bouches-du-Rhône), La Seyne-sur-Mer (Var), Deuil-la-Barre (Val d'Oise), Castelnau-le-Lez (Hérault), Carcassonne (Aude), Béthune (Pas-de-Calais), Asnières-sur-Seine (Hauts-de-Seine), Alfortville (Val-de-Marne) and Ajaccio (Corse-Sud).

Île-de-France ends up with a very bad ranking with several cities given an “F”. As for Paris, the city can do better: the capital is given a “D” with grades under 10/20 for most of them, especially when it comes to security and comfort.

Sustainable mobility engineer Mathieu Chassignet has come up with a link between pleasant cities for pedestrians and bicycle-friendly cities. “As a matter of fact, the most welcoming cities for walkers are also the most bicycle-friendly cities. And truth is the worst welcoming cities for walkers and bicycle are those who went too far in all-things car. As a result, pedestrians and bicyclers are the adjusting variable (and must share small public roads”, the expert explains on Twitter.

The “Place aux piétons” report condemns the lack of wide, clear and cleaned sidewalks enabling pedestrians to go out and about without any problem.

Another recurring problem: the lack of safety and space adapted to visually-impaired people or disabled people. Among the surveyed, 65% of them consider cities are currently too dangerous for disabled people because infrastructures are not adapted.

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