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POLLUTION

Paris bans most polluting cars as heatwave leads to pollution spike

France's sweltering heatwave is not over yet, and in Paris it's not just the temperatures that are high, with pollution levels set to peak in the French capital on Wednesday, forcing authorities to take action.

Paris bans most polluting cars as heatwave leads to pollution spike
Photo: AFP
Most of France is baking under the sun this week, with national weather agency Météo France increasing the number of departments on alert for heatwaves to 65 on Tuesday afternoon. And to make life more difficult, a peak in pollution linked to the heat has hit the French capital.
 
According to predictions by Airparif, which monitors pollution in the capital, the threshold for ozone pollution (set at 180 micrograms per cubic meter) will be exceeded on Wednesday.
 
The pollution problem has prompted the Paris authorities, where temperatures are expected to reach 37C on Wednesday afternoon, to ban the most polluting vehicles from the French capital and the area immediately outside the city known as the “Petite Couronne”. 
 
This means that for the first time vehicles carrying Crit'Air 3 stickers will not be allowed on the roads inside the A86 (see below). Only those with vehicles registered 0, 1 or 2, as well as people with electric vehicles, will be permitted to drive. 
 
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“You have to face reality, which is the increase in air pollution when there is a heat wave, like the one are experiencing at the moment,” France's Minister of Ecological Transition François de Rugy told the French press. 
 
Paris is one of several cities – along with Lyon and Grenoble – that is using the Crit'Air system. The sticker scheme assigns a number from 1 to 5 to all vehicles, based on how polluting they are. Level 5 vehicles have already been banned from central Paris on weekdays and level 4 – which mostly covers older models of diesel cars – will be banned from Paris from July 1st.
 
More than one million vehicles registered in the greater Paris Ile-de-France region have a vehicle registered as Crit'Air 3 (out of five million registered vehicles carrying a sticker). 
 
Meanwhile 410,000 registered vehicles carry a Crit'Air 4 or 5 stickers in the Paris region.
 
In addition to banning certain cars from the Paris region, city authorities also announced free residential parking on Tuesday and Wednesday to encourage motorists to leave their cars at home and use public transport or non-polluting transport.
 
Photo: AFP
 
On top of that the speed limit will be reduced to 110 km/h on motorways in the region from 130 km/h while on roads where the speed limit is normally 110 km/h the speed limit will be reduced to 90 km/h. 
 
Finally on roads where the speed limit is normally 80 or 90 km/h, drivers will be required to drive at 70 km/h.
 
One mayor in the region has made a demand that is as unusual as it is unlikely to be carried out.
 
The mayor of the town of Saint Prix in the Val-d'Oise department wants to ban nighttime flights at Charles de Gaulle airport so that people living in the area can get a good night's sleep with their windows open during the heatwave. 
 
Writing to France's Health Minister Agnès Buzyn, the mayor said he wanted to “draw her attention to the health situation and the health risks of 300 000 inhabitants.”
 
French words to know
 
Traffic – la circulation
Electric car – un véhicule électrique
Pollution spike – un pic de pollution 
Speed – la vitesse

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TRAVEL NEWS

Revealed: The fastest way to get across Paris

Car, moped, public transport, or electric bicycle - which means of transport is the quickest way to get across Paris?

Revealed: The fastest way to get across Paris

One intrepid reporter for French daily Le Parisien decided to find out. 

The challenge was simple. Which mode of transport would get the journalist from the heart of Fontenay-sous-Bois in the eastern suburbs to the newspaper’s office on Boulevard de Grenelle, west Paris, fastest?

Over four separate journeys, each one in the middle of rush hour, the electric bicycle was quickest and easiest. More expensive than conventional bikes, electric bikes do come with a government subsidy.

The journey was described as ‘pleasant and touristy’ on a dry but chilly morning going via dedicated cycle lanes that meant the dogged journalist avoided having to weave in and out of traffic.

It took, in total, 47 minutes from start to finish at an average speed of 19km/h, on a trip described as “comfortable” but with a caveat for bad weather. The cost was a few centimes for charging up the bike.

In comparison, a car journey between the same points took 1 hour 27 minutes – a journey not helped by a broken-down vehicle. Even accounting for that, according to the reporter’s traffic app, the journey should – going via part of the capital’s southern ringroad – have taken about 1 hr 12.

Average speed in the car was 15km/h, and it cost about €2.85 in diesel – plus parking.

A “chaotic and stressful” moped trip took 1 hour 3 minutes, and cost €1.30 in unleaded petrol.

Public transport – the RER and Metro combined via RER A to Charles-de-Gaulle-Étoile then Metro line 6 to the station Bir-Hakeim – took 50 minutes door to door, including a 10-minute walk and cost €2.80. The journey was described as “tiring”.

READ ALSO 6 ways to get around Paris without the Metro

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