SHARE
COPY LINK

PARIS

How Paris plans to transform the polluted périphérique into a ‘green belt’

Paris' Mayor Anne Hidalgo says she wants to transform the city’s congested, polluted péripherique ring road into a "green belt" around the capital city. Here’s how she plans to do it.

How Paris plans to transform the polluted périphérique into a 'green belt'
A sign over Paris' Peripherique ring road warns about air pollution (Photo by ALAIN JOCARD / AFP)

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). 

Increasing vegetation

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.

“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.

READ ALSO: Why this road is simply the worst in France (and possibly the world)

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.

Member comments

  1. “According to the mayor’s deputy, David Belliard, this would eliminate about 80,000 vehicles from traffic. ”

    And where will they be eliminated to, we wonder ? Into thin air ?

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

ENVIRONMENT

Ask the expert: Why is France’s drought so bad and what will happen next?

With France in the grip of an historic drought we asked a climate expert which areas are worst affected, what type of water restrictions we can expect to see in the coming weeks and how long the drought it likely to last for.

Ask the expert: Why is France's drought so bad and what will happen next?

Hydrologist and President of Research Organisation ‘Mayenne’ Emma Haziza answered The Local’s questions on the latest drought situation.

How does this drought compare to previous years?

When we look at previous years, France had four years of historic drought in 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.

Last year (2021) saw higher rainfall because of a cold polar air front that settled over France and played a role in generating a lot of rainfall. But even when we look at last year, we can still see that outside of France there were already abnormally high temperatures. 

In 2017, 18, 19 and 20 there was still a very good amount of underground water that was refilled during the winter months. This shows that even with a healthy amount of rainfall in the winter, the summer still ended up being historically dry.

However this year, the water tables were not adequately refilled due to a low rainfall during the winter.

We have already seen three heatwaves and we are expecting a fourth. We have seen temperatures higher than average, with the month of May being the hottest registered in France. 

READ MORE: More than 100 French villages without tap water in ‘unprecedented’ drought

This means that even if the water tables were sufficiently refilled over the winter, we would still be in a bad position – but our current situation is even worse because of the low rainfall over the winter.

What areas are likely to be hardest hit by drought?

It is basically all over the country, but in particular the entire Loire basin, along the Mediterranean, and the Grand-Est region (in the east of France) will be impacted. The Atlantic coast will also be impacted as it has had mostly high pressure systems and almost no rain since January. 

Ultimately, local drought situations depend less on the area of France and more on the type of aquifer – whether the water table is deep and full.

More shallow water tables feed the rivers and many of these are drying up too. 

So does this mean the North and West can expect to be impacted too? Could these regions also need to restrict household water usage?

Yes, this means that the North (and Brittany) could be impacted too. 

The lack of water at the tap is making its way across the country – it depends on the water tables, not whether a village is in the North or the South. 

READ MORE: ANALYSIS: Is water likely to be rationed as France’s drought worsens?

We once thought that climate change was coming for the South first, but heatwaves are proving to accelerate drought and are impacting the north and the west as well. It is like a hairdryer all over France.

How long could it last?

As the forecast does not indicate rain any time soon, looking into the month of September the situation could become worse. This means that in many parts of the country we might have to wait until October to see the water tables begin to be refilled.

In 2017, the drought did not end until December and this year might be similar for the localities that do not get rain. This means we will need to continue supplying villages by bringing in trucks filled with water. 

With the drought, we can also expect that when rain does come that there could also be flash flooding. 

How can people best stay informed?

The government website Propluvia.fr allows you to see underground water levels and whether they have reached a critical state or not, as well as keeping up to date on water restrictions in your area. 

MAP: Where in France has water restrictions and what do they mean?

You can also keep up to date with the latest restrictions on The Local’s climate crisis section.

SHOW COMMENTS