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The Mobility of Paris Residents and Retailers: Their Viewpoints on the Effects of the City's Pedestrianization

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Abstract

This study searches for French urban mobility practices with the dilemma of planned versus lived spaces with a focus on the specific urban planning practice of pedestrianization. The contradictory interplay of residential, commercial and transport-led mobility is studied in Paris through direct observation, primary and secondary data collection. Moreover, the possible impacts of the on-going pandemic on this interplay of personal mobility, residential mobility and commercial mobility is recognized as a major factor –a game changer– in the Paris study. The Paris study findings are compared to Japanese pedestrianization practices from a perspective of municipally-led and gentrification-induced mobility practices as part of the urban neoliberal agenda. The Paris field study was made from February to June 2021. It composed mainly of an online survey with Paris (Île-de-France) residents and a corresponding paper survey with shopkeepers of three local shopping streets in Paris, including Rue Montorgueil-Rue des Petits Carreaux (in 2nd arrondissement), Rue Cler (in 7th arrondissement) and Rue Daguerre (in 14th arrondissement). Both surveys were translated into French and had multiple choice questions regarding the respondent’s personal situation, daily mobility habits and ideas on municipal pedestrianization efforts. The shop survey also had questions on the type of commerce, the effects of COVID-19 on one’s business and ideas on the effects of shopping street pedestrianization on one’s business in terms of number of customers, sales and shop value. The online resident survey was responded to by 119 people. The shop survey was done on Rue Montorgueil (31), Rue des Petits Carreaux (11), Rue Cler (25), Rue Daguerre (45), and the side streets of these shopping streets (9) on paper with the willing shopkeepers, who amounted to 121 altogether. Although the small size of the study surveys is a limitation of this study, the additional oral communication with the English-speaking shopkeepers about mobility and pedestrianization practices in Paris helped to mitigate this limitation. The online resident survey had been kept on purpose at Paris (Île-de-France) level with the intention of getting as much opinion as possible of Parisians on municipal pedestrianization efforts. The survey analysis that had been conducted at two different geographical levels—Paris (Île-de-France) and specific local shopping streets—on purpose indicated that Parisians can take a different stance against the on-going changes in the urban mobility regime of Paris, depending on their outlook as a resident or a local business. In that sense, their attitudes are not carved in stone, but they are quite flexible. Furthermore, the application of nonparametric tests of Chi-square test of independence and Fisher’s exact test indicated statistically significant relationships among the data variables, such as age and ideas on pedestrianization (resident survey); duration of residence in Paris (Île-de-France) and ideas on pedestrianization (resident survey); and place of residence and mode of transport to work (shop survey). Additional critical comments were made by some of the shopkeepers on Rue Cler and Rue Daguerre. Pedestrianization seems to create common problems for shops’ regular product deliveries, when their customers want to make large purchases at once, or if they have luggage (as mentioned by hoteliers) in particular. A couple of shopkeepers also heavily criticized a lack of municipal support for local independent businesses, and urban planners who did not ask about their opinions regarding their street’s pedestrianization as well as a wrong prioritization of pressing urban issues. Despite all these significant critiques, the study also found enormous support for the municipal pedestrianization efforts. This study also looked at the real estate values by taking a snapshot of Paris apartment and shop values on two online sites, including: paris-housing.com and thestorefront.com to search for a possible connection between higher than average real estate prices, used as a proxy for gentrification and pedestrianization. The study acknowledges that private agencies may modulate their database and housing offers in accordance with a specific group of customers, hence their online catalogues may not represent the actual price averages as a whole. Yet other potential databases were out of reach for the researcher because of language and economic barriers. Based on this simple real estate data analysis, although the m2 rental values for apartments and shops that are located near pedestrian streets seem to be higher than the Paris average in a few cases, this is not enough to conclude that there is a statistically significant relationship between pedestrianization and real estate values. It would require a consideration of the mediating factors, such as the assets’ own qualities, centrality, convenience, and availability of facilities and greenery nearby to cancel out their effects besides a more long-term data to compare the pre- and post-pedestrianization rental values. The paper concludes that despite the common tendency to prioritize active transport modes, such as walking and bicycling by the urban mobility regimes belonging to countries at different development levels, the mobility-based urban change policy and practices cause differing outcomes in different contexts. These can range from the more beneficial, such as resilience against environmental and health crises to the more controversial, including involuntary moves of people and shops (displacement) and more expensive, over-aestheticized cities of consumption (touristification and gentrification) with strengthened socio-economic demarcation lines between their citizens. The research underlines the possibility that popular urban policy discourses, in this case, a pedestrian-friendly city might create just the opposite ends depending on their way of implementation and contextual factors. At the same time, this paper argues that only by taking into account the opposite political stances of: the right to stay put, place-making, dwelling, anti-displacement, occupy and slow city movements in relation to the use of city space just as much as fluidity, liquidity, and mobility, more even forms of urban mobility can be achieved in the crisis-tested contemporary cities of the world.
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Dates and versions

hal-03481305 , version 1 (15-12-2021)
hal-03481305 , version 2 (06-05-2022)

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Attribution - NonCommercial - ShareAlike - CC BY 4.0

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  • HAL Id : hal-03481305 , version 2

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Meriç Kirmizi. The Mobility of Paris Residents and Retailers: Their Viewpoints on the Effects of the City's Pedestrianization. 2021. ⟨hal-03481305v2⟩

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