Right now, the Place de la Bastille in Paris is basically a traffic island: A huge memorial sits in the middle of a road packed with cars. There’s no way to easily cross the street on foot. But that will soon change. The square is one of seven major sites that Paris is redesigning for pedestrians and cyclists.

“Parisians are finding out that what were once admirable squares of theirs are now just intersections,” says Jean Macheras, the Paris delegate of the French Transportation Users Assocation.

The shift started with the Place de la République—until 2013, it was also a busy road, but now it’s a pedestrian plaza planted with trees, lined with benches, and filled with people. The transformation was so popular that the city decided to keep going.

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