Paris banned cars from its streets for a day

The French capital celebrated its third annual Day Without Cars on October 1.

The goal of the initiative, of course, was to raise awareness for the devastating effects of air pollution and to show what a world without cars would be like.

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 historic heart of the city – 105 square kilometers.

All car and motorcycle drivers were asked to stay off the streets from 11 AM to 6 PM local time – with exceptions made for taxis, buses, emergency vehicles, and people visiting an elderly or handicapped person or in the case of a personal emergency. Those who ignored the restrictions were fined from 90 to 135 euros. More than 1000 police and council workers were deployed to ensure the event ran smoothly.

Residents and tourists were encouraged to get around the city on roller-skates, skates, bicycles and other eco-friendly vehicles, or on foot.

The initiative was supported by the Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, who was elected in 2014 after promising to slash air pollution and cut traffic.

Paris’ Mayor Anne Hidalgo arrived at Place de la Bastille on a bicycle to attend the Car Free Day. Picture: Climate Action Summit 2018

A day without cars brought some difficulties to the organizers of the Paris Fashion Week, which is held in the French capital from September 26 to October 3, as they rely on trucks to install stages and lavish sets. Worried fashion houses like Valentino sent out numerous email reminders to guests who planned to arrive by car, reminding them to organize alternative transport.

The Paris authorities also urge citizens to reduce or abandon personal transportation from 19 to 25 September.

“The aim is simply to enjoy the city in a different way,” said Paris city transport official Christophe Najdovski. “It’s a day that is meant to be educational, fun and friendly.”

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