An attempt to exclude road traffic from the French capital for a day has been hailed as a success by environmentalists, with levels of nitrogen dioxide dropping by up to 40% in areas of the city on Sunday, 27 September, according to the air quality monitoring network Airparif.
Although the measure was curtailed by the police, with only around 30% of the city being deemed off limits to vehicles, the results appeared to be dramatic. These included a drop in NO2 levels of around a third on the Champs Elyées, compared to similar Sundays, and an almost 40% drop along the river Seine in the city centre.
The mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo is the authority behind the “no traffic for a day” experiment, which follows a similar attempt in March to exclude traffic from the Parisian streets on alternate days, overruled at the time by Segolene Royal, the current Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy.
In March the city enjoyed brief status as the world’s most air-polluted city when for a few hours it scored 127 in an air pollution index of 60 cities, surpassing Shanghai on 106 and London on 91.
Deputy mayor Christophe Najdovski hailed the event as symbolic and useful as a demonstration of the fact that people can move about the city differently.