January 01, 2003

Gutsy Mayors to Liberate London and Paris from Autocracy

Mayor Delanoë was publicly derided for his sustainable transport bent until his Paris-Plage – a pedestrian area on the Seine river reclaimed from the Georges-Pompidou Expressway – proved a resounding success. He is still taking a lot of heat, however, for widespread traffic delays caused by extensive busway and cycleway construction.

Meanwhile, across the Channel, Mayor Livingstone is planning to charge motorists £5 (approximately $7.80) for entering downtown London, inciting similar outcry. Here’s how these hackle-raising mayors stack up:

In their own words:

Delanoë: “[I will] fight, with all the means at my disposal, against the harmful, ever-increasing and unacceptable hegemony of the automobile.”

Livingstone: “Improving transport and reducing congestion will have a significant impact on pollution.”

Also Known As:

Delanoë: The first openly gay man to hold a high-profile office in French government

Livingstone: The first openly socialist man to hold a high-profile office in English government

Outspoken Critics:

The Anti-Delanoë: Jean-Pierre Jerabek, of the Ile-de-France Automobile Club, who said, “It’s absurd. … Mr. Delanoë must rid himself of this idea that motorists will just abandon their cars.”

The Anti-Livingstone: Kevin Delaney, traffic and road safety manager of the Royal Automobile Club Foundation, who said, “I was surprised – well, staggered would be a better word.”

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