PARIS • The French capital Paris implemented licence plate-based driving restrictions for a third day in a row yesterday and is planning bans on old cars as the City of Light experienced the worst air pollution in a decade.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, Paris banned cars from circulation based on whether their licence plates end with odd or even numbers. It extended the ban on half of all traffic again yesterday.
Other French cities such as Lyon are also planning bans as pollution hangs over many European cities due to a lack of winds that normally blow in off the Atlantic Ocean.
This is the fourth time in 20 years that Paris has imposed such a ban and the first time it has been applied for consecutive days. Municipalities around Paris also imposed the ban.
With its famous Eiffel Tower shrouded in a greyish haze and some tourists donning face masks, the city made public transport, residential parking and the Velib' bicycle and Autolib' electric car schemes free.
"Cars are poisoning the air. We need to take preventive measures," said Paris city hall transport official Herve Levife.
The city also plans to step up its fight against chronic pollution by gradually banning the oldest and most polluting vehicles from the city centre, he said.
From mid-January, Paris will become the first French city to require cars to have a colour-coded sticker indicating their age and pollution level. The stickers will allow police to control which vehicles can circulate in the city centre.
Grenoble in eastern France also plans to use the stickers and other French cities are looking into banning clunkers from their roads.
Cars 20 years and older have been banned from Paris roads since July 1, and some 120,000 stickers have already been distributed. But participation in the scheme so far has been voluntary and enforcement scarce.