Paris's historic centre to get cleaner air under new car-limit scheme

The mayor of Paris said on Sunday, Dec 7, 2014, that she wants the city's historic centre to become "semi-pedestrianised" as she lays out a plan to tackle traffic and pollution in the French capital. -- PHOTO: AFP
The mayor of Paris said on Sunday, Dec 7, 2014, that she wants the city's historic centre to become "semi-pedestrianised" as she lays out a plan to tackle traffic and pollution in the French capital. -- PHOTO: AFP

PARIS (AFP) - The mayor of Paris said Sunday she wants the city's historic centre to become "semi-pedestrianised" as she lays out a plan to tackle traffic and pollution in the French capital.

"In the four central districts, apart from bikes, buses and taxis, the only vehicles allowed will be residents' cars, delivery vehicles and emergency vehicles," Anne Hidalgo said in an interview with the Journal du Dimanche weekly.

Hidalgo said the proposed scheme would start at weekends but could be "quickly" rolled out for the rest of the week.

The mayor also said that the amount of cycle lanes would be "doubled by 2020" as part of a 100-million-euro (S$162.5 million) bike development plan.

She said she also wanted to roll out a system of electric-powered bikes along the same lines as the city's popular Velib bike hire network.

Central Paris has a relatively high population density in European terms and tourists are often surprised by the traffic levels in and around the historic sights of the world's most visited city.

The city also experiences periodic pollution spikes forcing authorities to impose temporary speed limits on motorists and even to ban vehicles from running on certain days.

Hidalgo said she wanted to limit the traffic on some of the most polluted streets - like the iconic but traffic clogged Champs-Elysees - to "clean vehicles." As an "experimental" measure, she suggested allowing only ultra-low emitting cars on these major thoroughfares.

"I want diesel cars out of Paris by 2020 and if possible beyond the peripherique," said the mayor, referring to the constantly choked ring road.

"Today, 60 percent of Parisians don't have their own car whereas in 2011, it was 40 percent. It's moving quickly," she said.