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Paris wants to ban through traffic in city centre by next year

The proposal would create a ‘greener, more peaceful and safer’, council says

Clea Skopeliti
Friday 14 May 2021 12:27 BST
Cyclists, pedestrians and public transport will be prioritised
Cyclists, pedestrians and public transport will be prioritised (AFP via Getty Images)

Traffic may be dramatically reduced in the centre of Paris by 2022 through a plan to make the city “greener, more peaceful and safer”.

The scheme being proposed by the city council would ban people from driving through four central districts to make way for cyclists, pedestrians and public transport.

The pedestrianisation would cover an area stretching from Bastille in the east to the Tuileries in the west, and including both banks of the Seine and part of St Germain.

The council said the scheme will create a “less polluted, greener, more peaceful and safer city”.

The plan follows a number of green initiatives in recent years to tackle the city’s well-known smog problem, such as closing Champs-Élysées to cars on the first Sunday of every month and making the riverbanks of the Seine available to pedestrians only.

During the pandemic, Mayor Anne Hidalgo also expanded the city’s existing 900 miles of cycle lanes.

Parisians re-elected the Socialist politician last year partly on her promise of a “15-minute city”.  Ms Hidalgo pledged to create self-sufficient communities in each district, with shops, services, health centres and schools a walk or bike ride away.

Under the proposed plan, which is under consultation, through traffic would be banned but residents and businesses would still be permitted to drive in the central area.

Encouraging residents to take part in the consultation, Paris’s deputy mayor David Belliard underlined that the plan was “not about eliminating traffic completely”.

“Neighbours, people with reduced mobility, taxis and local traders will still be able to access [the city centre],” Mr Belliard said.

Since her re-election, Ms Hidalgo has also announced plans to transform the 1.2 miles of the Champs-Élysées into “an extraordinary garden”.

The makeover, which is expected to cost €250m (£225m), includes cutting space for vehicles by half, pedestrianising roads and increasing the number of trees planted to help improve air quality.

Although some 100,000 people walk down the famous avenue each day, it is estimated that only five per cent are Parisians, with tourists accounting for 65 per cent of foot traffic.

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