Paris mayor announces plans for a car-free city centre
Paris, Nirapad News: The mayor of Paris has announced a plan to tackle traffic and pollution in the French capital by transforming the city’s historic centre into a “semi-pedestrianised” zone.
“In the four central districts, apart from bikes, buses and taxis, the only vehicles allowed will be residents’ cars, delivery vehicles and emergency vehicles,” Anne Hidalgo said in an interview with the Journal du Dimanche.
Ms Hidalgo said the proposed scheme would start at weekends, but could be rolled out for the rest of the week.
The mayor also said that the number of cycle lanes would be “doubled by 2020” as part of a €100 million ($A147 million) bike development plan, an investment again in stark contrast to Sydney’s controversial cycleways programme.
She said she also wanted to roll out a system of electric-powered bikes along the same lines as the city’s popular Vélib’ bike share network.
Central Paris has a relatively high population density in European terms and tourists are often surprised by the traffic levels in and around the historic sights of the world’s most visited city.
The city also experiences periodic pollution spikes forcing authorities to impose temporary speed limits on motorists and even to ban vehicles from running on certain days.
Ms Hidalgo said she wanted to limit the traffic on some of the most polluted streets – like the iconic but traffic clogged Champs Élysées – to “clean vehicles”.
As an “experimental” measure, she suggested allowing only ultra-low emitting cars on these major thoroughfares.
“I want diesel cars out of Paris by 2020 and, if possible, beyond the peripherique,” said the mayor, referring to the city’s constantly choked ring road.
“Today, 60 per cent of Parisians don’t have their own car, whereas in 2011, it was 40 per cent. It’s moving quickly,” she said.
In proposing a raft of anti-pollution measures, Ms Hidalgo is building on the efforts of her predecessor and mentor, the former Paris mayor Bertrand Delanoe.
He championed bike and car rental schemes, expanded bus and bicycle lanes, and reduced speed limits, as he sought to wean Parisians off cars in a bid to make the city more liveable.
Some 84 per cent of Paris residents see fighting pollution as a priority and 54 per cent supported a diesel ban in the city by 2020, according a poll of 804 people carried out by Ifop for the Journal de Dimanche.
Diesel engines are around 20 per cent more fuel-efficient than petrol engines, so generate less carbon dioxide per kilometre. However they emit other pollutants that health researchers, including the World Health Organisation, have found to cause health problems, including cancer.
Other major cities including London, Rome and New York have also tried to reduce their reliance on cars by pedestrianising certain zones or charging drivers to drive in city centres.