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.
This is the so-called « peaceful zone » within which the fiercely anti-car Ville de Paris (City Hall) hopes to ban most traffic from 2024. Look at the size of it, and what it covers. Astonishingly ambitious for one of the world's great capital cities. Via @le_Parisien pic.twitter.com/ogA7Vla86r
— Peter Allen (@peterallenparis) February 17, 2022
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.