Paris is banning traffic from half the city. Why can’t London have a car-free day?
Cars will be outlawed from 400 miles of Paris streets on Sunday as the French capital joins the likes of Brussels, Bogotá, Jakarta and Copenhagen in marking World Car-Free Day. Isn’t it time for London to join the club?
Nick Van Mead
Thursday 22 September 2016 07.30 BST
The streets of Paris will be transformed this Sunday, with thousands of people on foot and on bikes expected to take advantage of a ban on cars that covers almost half of the city centre.
Mayor Anne Hidalgo promoted the first Journée Sans Voiture a year ago, in response to a rise in air pollution that briefly made the French capital the most polluted city in the world. In March, she backed a regular Paris Respire (Paris Breathes) day on the first Sunday of the month, with traffic cleared from the eight lanes of the Champs Elysées and a number of surrounding streets, and is pushing through plans to pedestrianise a busy expressway along the Seine. This weekend, the French capital is closing 400 miles of streets to cars in an “XXL” version of the event to mark World Car-Free Day.
Airparif, an independent air pollution monitor, said that on Paris’s first car-free day – which covered around a third of the city – nitrogen dioxide levels dropped by up to 40% in some parts. Bruitparif, which measures noise, said sound levels fell by half in the centre.