white lines to delimit the terraces of cafes, “it’s ugly but you need rules”

So that the terraces of cafes and restaurants do not overflow the space allocated to them, the municipality of Strasbourg wants to draw long white lines in the streets. This method is being tested in three streets of the city.

There were the large metal nails, driven into the ground, at each corner of the terrace, discreet. Maybe too discreet. To better materialize terrace spaces in the streets, the Strasbourg municipality is trying another method : white lines five centimeters wide, painted all around the terraces.

For now, the experiment is limited to three streets: Grand’Rue, rue du Maire Kuss, rue des Tonneliers. But it makes some people cringe. “It’s very uglysummarizes Gérald Mouginot, of La Part Thé, Grand’Rue. If we, restaurateurs, change colors or things on our terraces that are not within the standards of the City’s charter, we are reprimanded. And there, we have white lines in a Unesco district!

The aesthetic choice is weirdconfirms the vice-president of the syndicate of drinking establishments, Géraud Bonnet. It’s almost reminiscent of the parking spaces that existed years ago in the Grand’Rue. But overall, the majority of cafetiers and restaurateurs agree on the substance of the approach.

Because apart from these white lines, nothing changes: the terraces are not reduced, and their price is always the same. Restaurant owners pay a tax to be able to occupy public space, at the rate of €70 per square meter per year.

For the City, it is above all a question of making these limits more visible, in order to better share the public space, in particular in these pedestrian streets. “Everyone must be able to circulate, both pedestrians and cyclists as well as emergency vehicles“, explains the deputy mayor of Strasbourg in charge of shared spaces, Pierre Ozene.

After the various confinements and the forced closures of restaurants, there was more tolerance for overflowing terraces. The restorers had been able, for a time, to go beyond the nails. The new white lines become a bit more constraining. “With the covid, we enlarged the terrace a bit and we got a little used to itsays Nicolas Ghanam, from the Case de l’Ile Bourbon, Grand’Rue. We have to remove four tables and that disturbs us a little. But there have to be rules.”

In Strasbourg, the number of terraces has doubled in ten years, going from 350 to 730 today. And access problems have arisen. “In 2021, it took us 45 minutes to go up the Grand’Rue with a fire truck, says Pierre Ozene. There are certainly a lot of pedestrians, but chairs and tables from overflowing terraces had to be moved.”

Customers don’t feel more parked than usual. Some have not even seen the novelty. “We didn’t pay attention to it, I don’t think it distorts the environment“, says a lady on the terrace of a brasserie. “It’s not much, it’s done in other cities“, plays down this customer of a cafe.

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