Paris’ 35km-long périphérique (French for ring-road, or beltway) is notorious for its high levels of pollution and terrible traffic jams.
Currently, over 1.1 million trips take place along the ring road each day, which puts those living near the road at risk of toxic air pollution.
But that might all change if Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo’s plan, which she announced May 18th, is successful. These are the steps for the green future of the périphérique.
An ‘Olympic Lane’
In 2024, when Paris hosts the summer Olympics, the mayor plans to create an “Olympic lane,” which would only be used for buses, taxis and carpooling for participants of the Olympics. According to the mayor’s deputy, David Belliard, this would eliminate about 80,000 vehicles from traffic. By 2030, their goal is to get rid of one lane altogether (normally the road has four lanes going in each direction).
Paris se transforme pour être à la hauteur des défis : piétonnisation, pistes cyclables, plus de nature et moins de place pour la voiture.
C'est la même ambition que nous portons en transformant le périphérique qui participera à la planification écologique et sociale de Paris ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/u2DsdbOVg8
— Anne Hidalgo (@Anne_Hidalgo) May 18, 2022
The mayor plans to make the road, which exposes its neighbours to poor air quality, more green by planting a total of 70,000 trees on the embankments, the ramps, the central median, and even eventually the lane that is set to be removed.
She also aims for more green spaces at points along either side of the road with some 10 hectares of vegetation to be planted in total.
— BFM Paris Île-de-France (@BFMParis) May 18, 2022
“Revegetation is an extraordinary and fabulous lever for transforming this entire territory,” said Hidalgo.
Also planned before 2024 is the upgrade of the entrance and exit points at the Portes de Clichy, La Chapelle, Brancion, Dauphine and Maillot.
How will they do it?
It will not be an easy task to accomplish – Mayor Hidalgo has already faced backlash for other efforts to reduce car usage in the capital. In her announcement, Hidalgo said she plans to “listen” to motorists, truck drivers, and shopkeepers before beginning the changes. She is betting that the long timeframe of the project will give people time “to adapt.”
Thus far, however, only the “Olympic” lane has been approved by Paris’ police prefecture, and Valérie Pécresse, the centre-right president of the Île-de-France region has expressed disapproval for the plan and announced that a poll she organised showed that 90% of voters opposed the “removal” of a lane on the ring road.
Ultimately, the goal of the project is to create a more “harmonious and pleasant living environment” for those who live near the ring road. In Paris, car traffic is responsible for more than half of the nitrogen oxide emissions, so decreasing pollution levels is of utmost importance. But it is not just air pollution that Mayor Hidalgo hopes to reduce – noise pollution is also an issue that affects the 144,000 people living in the immediate area.
“The grey belt will be transformed into a green belt,” said Hidalgo.