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Paris gives cyclists reason to cheer as work progresses on bikes-only highway

There’s a new highway in the works in Paris, but it’s not for cars. Rather, the 28-mile stretch of open road is meant exclusively for cyclists, but it’s being opened a very little bit at a time. Thus far, just 0.5 miles of the highway has been completed, but the city hopes that the roadway will be entirely ready for non-motorized two-wheel transportation by 2020.

It’s an initiative that began last year when the local government voted unanimously to dedicated $164.5 million to improve biking conditions in Paris. Not only will there by a nearly 30-mile stretch of uninterrupted cyclist-only highway, but there will also be two-way bike lanes on one-way streets, bike stands, and a new rule that allows bicyclists to turn without waiting for green lights at intersections (though they’ll have to proceed at their own risk).

These improvements come as a welcome change for the many cyclists in Paris. As Sandrine Gbaguidi told Wired, when she previously made her way around the metropolis on a bike, she was “constantly on [her] guard and annoyed or irritated,” despite the fact that “biking is supposed to be fun and relaxing.”

Related: GoPro announces new backpack and two bike mounts

But now, with dedicated roadways meant for cyclists and cyclists alone, perhaps cyclists will be able to actually enjoy their commutes. That, at least, is the hope of the city, which aims to increase daily bike trips from 5 to 15 percent by 2020, when the entire roadway is open. Paris’ bike-friendly initiative will also double the number of bike lanes, and create 7,000 more technologically advanced stop lines at red lights to make for more efficient interactions between cyclists and drivers.

 Charles Maguin, president and co-founder of Paris en Selle, a biking association, said of these changes: “I hope that biking gets to be considered as a viable alternative means to get around the city, and not just a project run by green parties for the Parisian hipster.”

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