No renderings here: the banks of Lyon's Rhône River have served as a public park since 2007. Photos: Alex Davies
Recently, the idea of reconnecting cities with their rivers has gotten pretty popular. Since February, we've covered announcements from Paris, London, New York and Minneapolis that they will be kicking out cars in favor of parks for pedestrians and cyclists, and have featured some very sexy renderings. But while the futures of the the Seine, Thames, East, Hudson and Mississippi Rivers are bright, none of them can match Lyon's Rhône River.
That's because Lyon has already finished its waterfront renovation- it's been done since 2007, in fact. And it's gorgeous.
The renovation was a project of Mayor Gérard Collomb, elected in 2001 and now serving his second term. For a cost of 44.1 million euros, Lyon completely redesigned 5 kilometers (3 miles) of river banks. Where parking lots and highways once lay is now a public park, divided into eight sections.
Each section offers something a little different, but between them there's something for everyone. Designated paths for pedestrians and cyclists. Picnic sites. Playgrounds, volleyball and bocce courts. Fitness areas, a skatepark and wading pools. Lots of bike parking as well as stations for Vélo'V, Lyon's bike share program. Grassy lawns, dog runs and lounge chairs. A botanical garden and areas where trees and grasses grow freely.
And if you ever get too hot, just pay the 3 euro entry fee and spend a few hours at the public pool on the banks of the river- it even has a water slide!
It's great to see that a project like this really can be realized, and for a reasonable amount of money (NYC's Mayor Bloomberg has set aside $3.3 billion for his plans). Cities around the world would do well to take a look at Lyon's example. Green spaces help prevent insanity and make urban environments a lot more livable. Now Lyon just has to get working on its other river, the Saône.
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A look at the future of urban rivers:
NYC Has Big Plans For Its Waterfront
Paris Set To Remake Its River Banks as Green Spaces, Open to All
Berkeley/Boston Team Wins Competition to Redesign Minneapolis' Riverfront. Now the Real Work Begins.
Cable Cars and Floating Parks to be Built Along Thames River