Paris was car-free on Sunday in a bid to cut pollution. According to Yahoo! News, France’s capital city banned all traffic save for taxis and emergency vehicles on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. local time. The streets were instead filled with people — walking, cycling, jogging, and doing just about everything except driving.
Hundreds of people lined the usually car-packed boulevards in the largest city in the world to hold a car-free day. Paris’ mayor, Anne Hidalgo, wanted the whole city shut down from traffic, but she was happy with the results achieved nonetheless.
“We didn’t get as wide a perimeter as we’d have liked, we asked for the whole of Paris, but it’s a first and I think next year it will be even bigger,” said Hidalgo.
— PBS NewsHour (@NewsHour) September 27, 2015
Doesn’t get more epic than this. Car free day in Paris – only bikes and people. pic.twitter.com/Igcw3ZPwEV
— Ray Maker (@dcrainmakerblog) September 27, 2015
— Nine News Australia (@9NewsAUS) September 28, 2015
Paris’ car-free day impacted drivers in all areas of the city. Those who did not abide by the ban were asked to drive 12 m.p.h., likely as a precaution due to the many pedestrians on the streets. Yahoo! News points out that many people did not obey the rules, though it’s unclear if police strictly enforced the mayor’s request.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, about 30 percent of the city saw virtually no traffic for about seven hours.
Paris, France, isn’t the first city to hold a car free day. Vancouver, Brussels, Sao Paulo in Brazil, and Bristol in southwest England have also participated in the initiative.
As one of the most polluted cities in the world, however, the people of Paris felt as though they wanted to make a difference, even if it was a small one.
Paris’ car free day was originally started as a “citizen-led movement” about a year ago. Mayor Anne Hidalgo was petitioned, and together with the people, the car-free day was a success. Hidalgo had a lot of support behind her decision to move forward with the initiative as well.
“I rarely agree with the mayor of Paris, but this time I am on her side. It’s a symbolic gesture that allows people to rediscover certain streets,” said the president of a French drivers’ association.
In May of 2014, CNN posted an article about the 20 most polluted cities in the world based on air quality data collected by the World Health Organization (WHO).
“Delhi has the highest level of the airborne particulate matter, PM2.5 considered most harmful to health, with 153 micrograms. Not far behind is another Indian city, Patna with 149 micrograms. These figures are six times what the WHO considers a “safe” limit — which is 25 micrograms. Half of the top 20 cities in the world with the highest levels of PM2.5 were in India, according to the pollution data released by the WHO, which included 1,600 cities. Other cities with high levels were located in Pakistan and Bangladesh.”
The least polluted cities in the world were in Canada, the United States, Finland, Iceland, and Sweden. That isn’t to say that pollution isn’t a problem, of course.
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, Paris, France, is slated to host the global summit on climate change in two months time. Several themes will be discussed at the summit, including climate finance, green funds, new technologies, and leadership and innovation in business.
Do you think more cities should participate in car free day as Paris did this past weekend? Do you think these initiatives help curb pollution problems?
[Photo by Kristy Sparow / Getty Images News]