The global climate treaty was signed here; now the city is showing the world how the targets of the Paris Agreement can be achieved. Around 43,000 cars, lorries and motorcycles have had to find a different route through the capital since October 2016. The right bank of the river Seine – the four-lane expressway Georges-Pompidou – will in future be car-free along a three kilometre long section.
The so-called Paris Plage, which residents and tourists have been enjoying on a temporary basis up to now, is to remain permanently the exclusive domain of pedestrians and cyclists according to the wishes of the city authorities. The car ban has been established initially for six months as an experiment and in April 2017 the effects on traffic and air quality will be investigated. Critics however fear higher noise and exhaust gas pollution due to the increase in traffic on neighbouring boulevards.
Car-free cities and a ban on diesel motors
Town planner Frédéric Héran on the other hand supports the initiative of mayor Anne Hildago and forecasts a reduction in traffic volume. With her initiative for a “liveable Paris” Hildago is emulating other European models in the battle for clean cities. From 2019 Oslo’s entire city centre is to be car-free – except for vehicles with no harmful emissions. The car ban is part of the ecological agenda of the city’s red-red-green government. By 2020, with more cycle paths and support for e-bikes, the intention is to reduce CO2 emissions by half. Today, there are already some residential areas which are car-free or have reduced the number of cars: in Freiburg a 38-hectare former barracks site was designed to ensure that residents could manage to a large extent without a car. And in Munich or Hamburg, Amsterdam or Copenhagen, Vienna and Bern similar projects are to be found.
The German environmental and consumer protection association Deutsche Umwelthilfe, which is taking legal action against several cities due to excessive levels of fine dust pollution, sees an urgent need for action. And in autumn 2016 the administrative court of Dusseldorf agreed: the city’s district government must in future do more to counter air pollution. One of the suggestions made by the judges was a ban on vehicles with diesel engines.