Paris prioritises people over cars by banning through traffic

In June last year, the re-elected Paris mayor, Anne Hidalgo, thanked Parisians for choosing “a Paris that breathes, a Paris that is more agreeable to live in.” One year on and Ms Hidalgo has stepped up her plans to ban cars from the city centre by 2022. This comes as the Clean Cities Campaign (CCC), a new European civil society coalition backed by T&E, released a poll showing people in 15 European cities, including Paris, overwhelmingly support clean transport and better air quality.

Barbara Stoll, director of the Clean Cities Campaign said: “This announcement sets an ambitious new benchmark in the fight against air pollution in cities. Banning through traffic and giving priority to cyclists, pedestrians and public transport over cars will make the city cleaner, healthier and more liveable. Other European mayors should follow Ms Hidalgo’s lead and give citizens the level of air quality and type of urban space they are crying out for.”

The low-traffic zone (LTZ), which should be implemented at the beginning of 2022 following a consultation period, will only restrict cars and vans crossing the centre of Paris. Residents, taxis, local traders and people with reduced mobility will still be able to access the city centre by car.

But there are concerns over how strict the enforcement of the policy will be. Early indications suggest policing will be difficult, with no CCTV system in place to automate fines. There is also a risk that pollution will simply be displaced outside of the LTZ if it does not come with other measures, such as a strong low emission zone which bans highly polluting vehicles, park and ride facilities and better public transport throughout the city.

Paris already has a low emission zone (LEZ) covering the whole city which came into force in 2015 and was strengthened again in 2019. Next month it will restrict the use of Crit’Air 5 and Crit’Air 4 vignette cars throughout the city, including the ring road. The LEZ is planned to eventually ban all diesel vehicles and all internal combustion engines from 2024 and 2030 onwards.

Public support for ambitious urban mobility measures has never been higher. The Clean Cities Campaign poll showed that seven in 10 European city dwellers want their mayors to do more to protect them from air pollution and think they should focus their efforts on promoting public transport, walking and more green space. Demand for sustainable mobility was particularly strong among those who have suffered from Covid-19.

The Clean Cities Campaign, is a new European coalition of grassroots and civil society groups backed by T&E, aiming to encourage cities to transition to zero-emission transport by 2030.