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Paris Limiting Driving


Very bussy Paris street-flickr-Paul Beattie
Photo credit: Paul Beattie / Flickr

Paris has a smog problem that rivals that of China and Los Angeles. All that smog may soon obscure the lights in the famous City of Lights. The city has long had a problem with air pollution, but, thanks to its unusually warm winter, its air pollution levels are now at record highs.

In order to combat the smog problem, the leaders of Paris are taking some drastic measures. After all, they want visitors to be able to see the city’s most popular tourist attractions, and have a pleasant visit while they’re visiting. One of the measures Paris has put into place has limited the amount of driving people are allowed to do in the city.

The Driving Plan

Much of the smog in Paris is caused by the large number of cars that are on the road at any given time. It is a crowded city with a lot of people with automobiles. While cars aren’t the only cause of the smog, they are serious contributors to it.

By limiting driving in the city, the leaders of Paris and of France in general hope to reduce the amount of smog in the city. Right now, half of the cars in the city are banned from driving on Mondays. The ban doesn’t have an end date set to it yet, but is intended to be temporary.

However, if it is found that the ban significantly reduces the amount of smog in Paris, it might be extended to a long-term environmental management plan.

In deciding which cars could drive on Mondays and which ones could not, the city’s leaders adopted an alternating license plate strategy. Odd-numbered license plate cars are allowed to drive every other Monday.

Even-numbered license plate cars drive the Mondays in between the odd number driving days. This limit covers the city of Paris and 22 suburbs of the city. Public transportation, commercial vehicles, and electric cars are exempted from the limit on driving.

Making it Easier on Commuters

Naturally, such a limit on driving will make things difficult for commuters and other people who need to access the city on the Mondays on which they are not allowed to drive. To help out its citizens, Paris has made it free to use the city’s excellent public transportation system on Mondays, so anyone who cannot drive that day can still get to where they need to go with ease.

The city also released a statement acknowledging the difficulties this limit may place on residents, but emphasized the need for it to protect the health of the people of Paris.

Showing They’re Serious

Of course, with any change like this, especially one which makes it difficult for people to get around the city as they normally do, there are those who will not comply at first. There are also those who have not been tuned into the news, or ignored notices sent to them, and simply did not know about the ban.

To enforce it and to make sure everyone knows, the city of Paris set up 179 traffic checkpoints throughout the city and its suburbs on the first day of the driving limitation. Police were assigned to each checkpoint.

A total of 4,000 traffic tickets were issued for those driving when it was not their assigned day to do so, and 27 cars were impounded when their drivers refused to take their car back home and off the road.

Paris hopes this driving limitation will help clear up its air for visitors and residents alike. It is not the first city to introduce such a limitation. Brazil, London, Hamburg, Athens, and other cities have done similar things to reduce traffic and air pollution. The limitation on driving in Paris is still new. It remains to be seen if it is effective.

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