Paris to delay city-centre car ban by two years

Paris officials said on Thursday they would delay by two years a sharp reduction in car and motorcycle traffic allowed in the heart of the city, saying they needed more time to implement the change.

Paris to delay city-centre car ban by two years
Central areas of Paris will progressively be turned over to cyclists and pedestrians. Photo by Eric FEFERBERG / AFP

The ban on nearly all vehicle traffic in the Paris Centre district, formerly the first four arrondissements of the capital just north of the Seine river, was announced last May and set to come into effect this year with a massive impact on daily travel expected.

The district includes the two islands on the Seine, whose landmarks include Notre-Dame cathedral and the Sainte-Chapelle, and the winding narrow streets of the Marais.

A large swath of the historic Left Bank and its Saint-Germain-des-Pres neighbourhood would also be part of the so-called “tranquil zone”, off-limits to through-traffic except for residents, taxis and professionals.

It is one of several projects by Socialist Mayor Hidalgo to green one of Europe’s densest cities and tackle chronic air pollution, by reclaiming streets for pedestrians and encouraging bicycles and other travel alternatives.

Hidalgo, whose campaign for the French presidency in looming elections is languishing in opinion polls, is pushing to clean up the city ahead of its hosting of the Summer Olympic Games in 2024.

But the plans targeting drivers have proved divisive, with many complaining of huge traffic jams for residents as well as the millions of people living in suburbs having no viable public transport options for getting to work in the city.

Deputy Mayor David Belliard, in charge of transportation, said that even after the clampdown in 2024 private car trips in the centre districts would be allowed for people “going to the theatre or to visit friends” or with “something to do in the zone.”

Driving into the centre to go shopping will also still be allowed.

But the city “doesn’t want any more through-traffic, which accounts for around 50 percent of traffic in the zone,” Belliard told a press conference.

It was the second retreat this month by Paris City Hall on a key transport  measure, after officials pushed back to next year a ban on older and more-polluting cars that had been set for July 1st.

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Paris street art legend Miss.Tic dies aged 66

Miss.Tic, whose provocative work began cropping up in the Montmartre neighbourhood of Paris in the mid-80s and made her a pioneer of French street art, died on Sunday aged 66, her family told AFP.

Paris street art legend Miss.Tic dies aged 66

Radhia Novat grew up in the narrow streets in the shadow of Sacre-Coeur basilica, the daughter of a Tunisian father and a mother from Normandy in western France, where she began stencilling sly and emancipatory slogans.

Her family said she had died of an unspecified illness.

Other French street artists paid tribute to her work.

On Twitter, street artist Christian Guemy, alias C215, hailed “one of the founders of stencil art”. The walls of the 13th arrondissement of Paris – where her images are a common sight – “will never be the same again”, he wrote.

Another colleague, “Jef Aerosol” said she had fought her final illness with courage, in a tribute posted on Instagram.

And France’s newly appointed Culture Minister, Rima Abdul Malak, saluted her “iconic, resolutely feminist” work.

Miss.Tic’s work often included clever wordplays — almost always lost in translation — and a heroine with flowing black hair who resembled the artist herself. The images became fixtures on walls across the capital.

Miss. Tic with some examples of her work. Photo by Bertrand GUAY / AFP

“I had a background in street theatre, and I liked this idea of street art,” Miss.Tic said in a 2011 interview.

“At first I thought, ‘I’m going to write poems’. And then, ‘we need images’ with these poems. I started with self-portraits and then turned towards other women,” she said.

Miss.Tic also drew the attention of law enforcement over complaints of defacing public property, leading to an arrest in 1997.

But her works came to be shown in galleries in France and abroad, with some acquired by the Paris modern art fund of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, according to her website.

And cinema buffs will recognise her work on the poster for Claude Chabrol’s 2007 film “La fille coupee en deux” (“A Girl Cut in Two”).

For a spell she was a favourite of fashion brands such as Kenzo and Louis Vuitton.

“So often it’s not understood that you can be young and beautiful and have things to say,” she told AFP in 2011.

“But it’s true that they sell us what they want with beautiful women. So I thought, I’m going to use these women to sell them poetry.”

Her funeral, the date of which is still to be announced, will be open to the public, said her family.