Paris has staged a car-free day for the first time, with large parts of the increasingly polluted French capital taken over by cyclists, joggers and families with pushchairs on roads normally choked by vehicles.
Emergency vehicles, taxis and buses are the only vehicles allowed in roughly 30 percent of the city, according to BFMTV. In the rest, cars are limited to 12 miles an hour.
The ban is largely symbolic, aiming to showcase Paris’ commitment to curbing air pollution ahead of the UN climate change conference that starts in November. (Video via Ministère des Affaires étrangères et du Développement international)
Still, there’s more than symbolism at play here. In March, Paris briefly ranked first in the world for air pollution. (Video via France 24)
France’s senate said in June, air pollution alone costs the country €100 billion each year.
Interestingly, Paris’ car-free day started as a citizen-led movement, which petitioned the mayor more than a year ago. (Video via Paris Sans Voiture)
And it seems to be getting a lot of support, even from some unlikely sources.
The president of a French drivers’ association told USA Today, “I rarely agree with the mayor of Paris, but this time I am on her side. It’s a symbolic gesture that allows people to rediscover certain streets.”
Still, some environmentalists believe the ban on cars isn’t strict enough. They are now calling for a car-free day to cover the entirety of Paris next year.