Pedestrians and cyclists cheered two days ago as Paris closed all of its streets to cars. The government held a Car Free Day and the streets filled with bikers, walkers, and roller-bladers instead of smog.
Paris held a Car Free Day in 2015 and 2016 as well. But this was the first time they extended the boundaries to include the entire city. From 11 AM to 6 PM local time, cars were asked to stay off the streets – with exceptions made for emergency vehicles, taxis, and buses. The Paris City Council hosted Car Free Day, together with collective Paris Sans Voiture, or Paris Without Car, which is behind the city-wide car-free idea.
Pollution from cars is often an issue in France’s capital – the Associated Press said mayor Anne Hidalgo was elected after promising to slash air pollution and cut traffic. The government’s statement on the day said one of the Car Free Day’s objectives was “to show that cities can and must invent concrete solutions to fight against pollution” coming from road traffic. They encouraged people to travel by scooters, skates, bikes, or walking.
The symbolic event also brought results. The government said Airparif Association conducted independent measurements during the Car Free Day using sensors and a bicycle outfitted with measuring instruments. They saw “an increased decrease in nitrogen dioxide levels along major roads” and “access roads to the capital.” Meanwhile, the Bruitparif Observatory looked at noise with the help of 11 measurement stations. They saw sound energy decreased 20 percent on average, as compared against a regular Sunday.