Paris’s city centre is going car-free for the first Sunday of every month to help improve air quality and share public spaces more fairly.
Starting 7 October, the move is part of the French capital’s Paris Respire initiative, spearheaded by Mayor Anne Hidalgo.
It’s already in place in several parts of the city, but will now be rolled out to the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th arrondissements.
From 10am to 6pm, pedestrians and those on bikes, scooters and rollerblades will be permitted into the city centre. However, local residents, delivery vehicles, public transport, taxis and VTCs will also be allowed to enter and leave via designated access points – although vehicles must limit their speed to 20km/h.
Repairmen, carers and those attending a religious service in the city centre also have the go-ahead to use their cars.
“This measure, eagerly awaited by the inhabitants, is the fruit of an important partnership between the prefecture of police, mayors of the district and neighbourhood associations,” said Mayor Hidalgo.
Christophe Najdovski, deputy mayor of Paris, added: “It will cover most of the streets, with the exception of major roads such as Boulevard Sébastopol, which will remain open to traffic.”
It’s not the first time Paris’s socialist mayor has proposed a radical solution to combat air pollution. In March this year, Hidalgo announced plans for a study into the feasibility of free city-wide public transport.
She told the French daily newspaper Les Echos that many of the world’s big cities were looking into developing clean mobility and boosting air quality by reducing the number of cars on the roads.
“To improve public transport we should not only make it more extensive, more regular and more comfortable, we must also rethink the fares system,” she said in a statement.
However, the head of the regional transport authority said the move would hit taxpayers.
Paris’s championing of car-free travel, which first started in 2003, has resulted in a 6 per cent fall in inner-city traffic in 2018 compared to 2017, plus a reduction in air pollution.