No sooner was she voted in as Paris’ new Mayor in March 2014, than Anne Hidalgo set about proving that she wasn’t all hot air…
Mme Hidalgo is passionate about reducing pollution in France’s capital city which, on really bad days, sits in a layer of smog that can be seen from the top of the Eiffel Tower. The pollution can get so bad that speed limits have to be restricted, and sometimes driving is even banned.To reduce the fumes, the Mayor has a two-sided plan of attack.
Paris already has several semi-pedestrianized zones, including entire districts that are blocked off to cars over the weekends, but our new Mayor wants to take things even further and eventually semi-pedestrianize the heart of the city center (the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th arrondissements) to reduce pollution.
This would be great news for public health, as well as for visitors (residents’ cars, emergency vehicles, deliveries, buses and taxis would not be affected) who would benefit from a far calmer and more tourist-friendly city. The busiest streets, like the Champs Elysées and the rue de Rivoli, would be reduced to low-emission vehicles only, and the number of cycle lanes throughout Paris doubled.
However, Hidalgo’s dream has angered those who live outside Paris and work in the center, who claim that poor public transport means it is impossible not to take the car to work. They feel unnecessarily penalized, and worry for their jobs.
Down with Diesel
And, just in case drivers weren’t already grumbling about being pushed out, Hidalgo also wants to ban all diesel cars from the city by 2020. Although 60% of Parisians don’t own a car, many of the older models on the road are powered by diesel, considered in France to be extremely toxic, despite being more fuel-efficient than gas, according to a World Health Organization study.
“What do I do with my car then?” owners of diesel-powered cars are asking. It’s not as easy as that to just buy a new, greener, vehicle. The mayor has suggested certain exceptions to the law, or possible subsidies on low-emission cars. Either way, this will have to be handled carefully so as not to isolate the lower classes who often live outside Paris and need their car for work.
Do you know what vehicle is electric, fun and not too fast? The Segway! Try it out on one of our Paris Segway Tours. We’re almost certain Anne is a fan…