Paris to go car free, if only for a day

By Sarah Harvey

Paris traffic.
REUTERS/Charles Platiau
Paris traffic. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

The city of love is set to go car-free.

On Sunday, September 27 Paris will be a car-free zone in a glimpse of what France’s biggest city could be like free of traffic congestion.

On that date, the heart of the city – the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th arrondissements – will be strictly car free between the hours of 11am and 6pm.  Cars will be tolerated elsewhere in the city with a speed limit of 20kmh. Some vehicles including taxis, emergency vehicles and delivery trucks are excluded from the ban.

According to the BBC the event comes after vigorous lobbying from a group called Paris Sans Voiture (Paris Without Cars).

The group — “made up of scientists and high-profile individuals, residents aged 7 to 89 years old” — went to Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo with a proposal for a pedestrian-and-cyclist-only day. The group pointed to the success of the annual Car-free Sunday in Brussels, which dates to 2008.

Paris traffic. REUTERS/Charles Platiau
Paris traffic.  REUTERS/Charles Platiau


Hidalgo was perhaps swayed by the fact Paris was, briefly, named the world’s most polluted city in March and was said to be frustrated at refusal to have a more wide-reaching event.

“I would, of course, have preferred a more ambitious event to respect the democratic will of the Parisians to go faster and further in the fight against pollution,” she said to the BBC.

She also had the backing of the city’s transport boss – Christophe Najdovski,  an enthusiastic supporter of a cyclist-friendly Paris with an ambitious plan to stretch cycle lanes from 700km to 1400km by 2020.

According to Paris Sans Voiture the lack of cars will mean there will be space for “all kinds of activities and initiatives – great big picnics, music concerts, sports and games, leisurely walks around the city. It would be like a festival: everyone could take part”.

“It [will] be a moment to reclaim Paris and liberate the streets ; a time to discover other, healthier, cleaner forms of transport. The focus of the day [will] not be about the restriction of cars ; rather it [will] be a fun, warm, inclusive and engaging day for residents and visitors alike.”



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