Paris has been fighting to reduce the number of cars on its streets for some time now and, on 17 February, Deputy Mayor Emmanuel Grégoire and Transit Commissioner David Belliard announced the latest measure: a complete ban of non-essential traffic through the city-centre.
We hope to prove that the zone can itself be an attraction and boost trade. Already, today, customers have been giving up coming in because the traffic is too heavy. When you remove unnecessary through-traffic, however, you leave more room for destination traffic.Emmanuel Grégoire, Deputy Mayor of Paris, for Le Parisien
1. How does it work?
The ban, which is scheduled to be fully implemented just in time for the 2024 Olympics, aims to reduce the daily traffic in Paris’ city centre by half.
Non-essential traffic in the area, i.e. people who just pass through the centre to cross the city, is estimated by the City of Paris between 350,000 and 500,000 daily journeys, thus cancelling or re-routing them will make a “radical difference” in congestion and emissions. People who will choose to ignore the ban will be issued fines, either by random police checks or through a camera monitoring system.
The almost 14 square kilometre zone will not be shut for all traffic. Residents and public transport will, of course, be permitted access, along with hotel guests, people with disabilities and people coming to visit or shop in the area.
2. Paris and traffic
The plan, originally intended to be implemented this year, is part of the city’s long-term objective of reducing the number of cars. The car free zone was postponed by two years, so the city can carry out an in-depth public consultation. This is however considered a pause in the car reducing policies the city started being renowned for during Mayor Anne Hidalgo’s administration.
On the other hand, there is criticism against the measure, from mayors of the inner arrondissements, as well as from the public, among which some see it as aggressive. The scepticism is also powered by the 2016 experience of the Seine quaysides; when the area was pedestrianized, congestion just moved to the alternative routes for a while.
Deputy Mayor Grégoire is nevertheless confident the measure will be successful. The measure will make Paris the 3rd European city to implement a car free centre, after Madrid and Brussels. The city of Brussels has also just announced it plans to ban traffic in the inner ring, also known as “the Pentagon”, starting 16 August.