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Central Paris to become car-free zone in mayor’s anti-pollution fight

Only ultra-low polluting vehciles will be allowed on the Champs Elysées if Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo gets her way
Only ultra-low polluting vehciles will be allowed on the Champs Elysées if Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo gets her way Reuters/Charles Platiau

Non-residents’ private cars will soon be banned from central Paris and only clean vehicles allowed on the Champs Elysées, mayor Anne Hidalgo said on Sunday. Hidalgo outlined her plan to tackle the French capital’s high pollution levels ahead of a debate at the city council in February.

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"In the four central arrondissements, apart from bikes, buses and taxis, the only vehicles allowed will be residents' cars, delivery vehicles and emergency vehicles," Hidalgo said in an interview with the Journal du Dimanche weekly.

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She wants the scheme to start at weekends but to rapidly be extended to the rest of the week.

Hidalgo also wants to double the number of cycle lanes by 2020 as part of a 100-million-euro bike development plan and introduce a electric-powered bike hire system.

Paris is densely populated – with 20,980 people per km² - and suffers regular pollution spikes, leading the authorities to temporarily lower speed limits, make public transport free and introduce alternate-day limits on vehicle use.

Hidalgo is proposing an “experimental” measure of allowing only ultra-low-emission vehicles on “pollution canyons”, such as the Champs Elysées and the rue de Rivoli, which passes the Louvre museum and the Tuileries gardens.

Thanks to past government policy, high-polluting diesel vehicles are popular in France but Hidalgo said she hoped that they will be banned in the capital after 2020, with a possible exception for low-income families who only rarely use their car.

According to the plan, the speed limit will be reduced to 30km per hour throughout the city.

There has been some progress, according to Hidalgo.

"Today 60 per cent of Parisians don't have their own car whereas in 2011, it was 40 per cent,” she said. “Things are changing quickly."
 

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