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POLLUTION

The whole of Paris to go completely car-free just for one day

Imagine a day when Parisians were not allowed to drive. That day will take place after the Paris mayor gave the green light to ban cars from the city for a whole day.

The whole of Paris to go completely car-free just for one day
Photo: AFP

The car-free day will take place on October 1st, but unlike previous “car-free” days in Paris this one will mean what it says.

From 11am to 6pm cars, motorcycles and mopeds will not be allowed to travel around in the centre. Cyclists, roller bladers and non-motorized scooters will be allowed in Paris. And pedestrians too of course.

However you'll still need to keep an eye out whilst crossing the road.

That's because taxis, emergency service and delivery vehicles, RATP public transport vehicles and “artisans” who can prove they are working” will be allowed to take to the roads.

Although they will not be allowed to break a 30km/h speed limit.

But let's not complain, the 2017 car-free day has been vastly extended from previous years when it was held.

In 2015, only the very heart of Paris went car-free. Last year the area was extended to stretch from the Champs-Elysées in the west to Père-Lachaise cemetery in the east and from the Sacre-Coeur in the north to Montparnasse tower in the south.

Christophe Najdovski, the Deputy Mayor in charge of transport, told Le Parisien newspaper: “Only the Peripherique ring road and the main routes around the Bois de Boulogne and the Bois de Vincennes will remain open to traffic.”

“The idea, it is to show that you can live in the city without having a car,” said Najdovski. 

 

He said people would be able to come to Paris by car either before 11 or be forced to park on the city's limits and take public transport into the city.

“This third edition, will not only benefit Parisians but also the inhabitants of Ile-de-France, and tourists. It will be a first in the history of the capital and will allow everyone to rediscover a quieter and less polluted city,” said Najdovski.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo has long declared war on cars in a bid to battle pollution. As well as holding annual car free days she has also taken the controversial measure of pedestrianizing part of the highway along the right bank of the river Seine.

She has also banned the most polluting cars from the streets of Paris, and the plan is to ban all diesel cars from the city’s roads by 2025.

On the last car-free day, the 25th September 2016 the Airparif association, which measures air quality, said nitrogen dioxide had reduced on average by 20 to 35%.

Hidalgo said the first car-free day, on 27th September 2015, was an “indisputable success” which “involved citizens, reduced emissions and noise pollution, and roused the spirit of Parisians and tourists.”

 

 

POLLUTION

Paris faces legal claim over lead pollution from Notre-Dame fire

Paris authorities have been accused of failing to safeguard the health of people living near Notre-Dame cathedral due to lead pollution from a devastating fire two years ago.

Paris faces legal claim over lead pollution from Notre-Dame fire
A complaint has been lodged over lead pollution in Paris from the devastating fire at Notre Dame cathedral Photo: Fabien Barrau | AFP

Local families along with the Paris branch of the CGT trade union and the anti-pollution association Henri Pezerat, have filed the legal complaint alleging city and public health authorities endangered lives.

“Despite the scale of the fire and knowledge about the risk of pollution and contamination… no precaution in particular was taken by the authorities involved for more than three months after the fire,” according to a copy of the complaint seen by AFP.

It says 400 tonnes of lead from the roof of the Gothic masterpiece melted or were dispersed as microparticles over the French capital during the blaze on April 15, 2019.

“Children (in crèches and schools), neighbours and workers have clearly been exposed to the risk of lead” pollution, the complaint adds. “These facts amount to the crime of endangering the lives of others.”

The square in front of the cathedral was closed again to the public in May this year after tests revealed high concentrations of toxic lead particles.

Several months after the fire, city authorities ordered a deep-clean of schools in the area, while children and pregnant women were urged to have blood tests.

The complaint says the city withheld information from school directors and failed to act promptly. It also targets the police department, the culture ministry and regional health authorities.

The efforts of firefighters ensured the great medieval edifice survived the fire despite the collapse of the spire and much of the roof being destroyed.

But the lead risks delayed work on clearing debris and launching the restoration effort for the landmark, which President Emmanuel Macron wants open for visitors in time for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

Investigators have yet to determine the cause of the blaze, but they have said an accident, possibly caused by a short circuit or discarded cigarette butt, remains the most likely explanation.

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