On Sunday, Paris closed down all the roads on the interior of the city to cars. Only cyclists, pedestrians, buses, taxis, and emergency vehicles were allowed to wander across the gorgeous cobbled streets. The Chicago Tribune reports that this isn't the first time Paris has shut down their roadways to motorized vehicles, but it's the most extensive ban they've ever hosted, lasting from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The initiative was backed by Paris mayor, Anne Hidalgo, who ran on a platform that promised a reduction of air pollution and congestion in the center of Paris. It also seemed to be popular with bike lovers and kids, who made the event a fun free parade, even dressing up as "cars."
In 2015, during another "car free" day, The Guardian reported that levels of nitrogen dioxide dropped by up to 40 percent in some parts of the city, and 20 percent in the busy center by Place de l’Opera. At the time, Hidalgo was so excited by these measurements she suggested that the city would increase to doing car free days "perhaps even once a month," but there are obviously logistical issues to work out every time cars are banned from the city center.
One person tweeted a screenshot of traffic in the area when cars could not pass through Paris:
And as the Chicago Tribune notes, Paris fashion week was thrown into disarray as organizers planned for accommodating designers, models, and guests traveling to shows. However, everything went well, as the Paris couture federation cooperated and planned ahead with authorities to support the event. Whether or not the success of the day will bring Hidalgo closer to her goal remains to be seen, but the popularity of no car days in busy cities has been spreading. For example, car free days have happened in New York City, Rwanda, and China.
Maintaining a car in the city can be expensive and time consuming, especially if you have to move and maintain it. If you can forgo driving it by cycling or using public transit, you can create your own personal car free day any time. The roadways and the planet will thank you.
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