The Paris plan

THE CYCLISTS PEDALING UP TO A COBBLED square on Paris’ Left Bank looked like any group of friends enjoying a Sunday afternoon ride in late June. But this was no casual outing. To them, it was a revolution in the making. From one bike hopped a slight dark-haired woman in a Chicago Cubs windbreaker: Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris. Unclipping her bike helmet, she told journalists gathered there that the French capital needed to drastically cut car use—the key message on the campaign trail for her re-election on June 28. “We are getting there,” she said, “but we have long way to go.”

Hidalgo is hardly alone among city leaders in trying to transform urban life. Across the U.S. and Europe and even in the megalopolis of Istanbul, mayors have pledged to create millions of acres of new parkland, finance

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