Paris plans to cut its downtown traffic by a significant margin next year. The City of Lights has just about had it with car congestion, and is implementing a ban on traffic traveling through its city center in 2022, according to Bloomberg.
The forthcoming traffic ban was announced by Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo. She wants to cut down on pollution and noise by creating a mostly traffic-free zone for “trees, cycle lanes and pedestrian areas” within an area covering roughly five and a half miles of the city’s innermost boulevards.
The operative word there is “mostly,” however, because some traffic will still be around in the city center, as Bloomberg notes:
The new zone would not ban cars altogether: It would still permit motorized access to the zone’s residents (including short-term hotel guests), to people with disabilities, and to vehicles used for public transit, deliveries or services. The new rules would nonetheless make it illegal to drive across the city center without stopping. That would cover about 55% of total traffic — more than 100,000 cars — passing through this zone on average per day, the city says.
So if you live in the center of the Paris, you can still drive your car in and out of the area and commercial vehicles will operate in this new zone just like before, but drivers that are crossing through this zone without making any stops will be subject to fines.
The city refers to this kind of driving as “through-journeys,” and that’s exactly what it wants to cut back on, as Bloomberg details:
The zone is needed, the city says, because much of the traffic flowing around the Place de la Concorde consists of vehicles making trips that could easily be carried out by public transport. The city’s press release estimates that 70% of current through-journeys in the zone need not be carried out by car.
In order to enforce this new ban, Bloomberg claims that Paris may track cars moving through its downtown with automated cameras, such as those used in other European cities like London. Paris wants to encourage people to use public transportation for drive-through trips, which is precisely the kind of trips that public transportation is designed for.
The ban is also meant to kickstart the use of public transportation in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The city estimates that public transit use is sitting at about 60 percent of pre-pandemic levels and this ban is meant to encourage people to take, say, the metro line instead of their private car.
The ban is a bold step in curbing pollution and in pushing a walkable way of life in the city. Bloomberg notes that a public consultation plan is underway, but it’s more or less likely to materialize in actual policy, given that the Mayor and her administration have been trying to rein in the city’s traffic for years.