Last week was marked as quite memorable for the citizens of Paris. For a first time, they enjoyed the significantly overdue car-free day, and I do believe they can only be thrilled with the reported results.
According to Airparif, the independent agency, which measures pollution levels around the city, across Paris there were areas where the levels of nitrogen dioxide dropped by up to 40%, while noise pollution was halved. These incredible results were noted even when only 30% of the city was allowed to be closed up for cars.
The decision to introduce car-free days in the French capital came after the devastating smog event in March this year, when the noxious smog nearly prevented visitors to take a glimpse on the iconic Eiffel Tower. At that time, the city mayor, Anne Hidalgo, made reducing pollution levels her main priority and decided to make public transport free for a weekend, to encourage more people to leave their cars behind.
Now, after the first car-free day is over and the results are officially out, Hidalgo promised to introduce many more such days throughout the year. As part of the larger anti-pollution plan of the city officials, eventually, the city should prohibit old diesel vehicles, and invest mullions in better public transport and improvement of pedestrian areas, among other measures.
Unfortunately, as great as this plan sounds, it does not seem to be very well accepted by the people of Paris, who seem to value their cars much more than their health. According to Christophe Najdovski, deputy mayor, who is responsible for the city transport, the key to tackling pollution would be to first change people’s attitude and behavior.
The city of Paris is constantly exceeding the limits that are set by the EU. There are areas, where nitrogen oxides were measured to be three times over the limit of 40µg/m3, with a maximum of 150µg/m3 measured at the city ring road.
The city officials hope that the car-free day will serve as a symbolic start of an ever-so-needed fight against pollution. People were made aware that they can easily move around the city without their cars, and hopefully they will opt for clean means of transport more regularly.
The dream of Najdovski is to see the city entirely car-free, all day, every day. It will be great if his wish comes true.
Image (c) Getty