Tackling air pollution in a major metropolitan area can be a tricky endeavor when you're trying to keep things running as smoothly as possible. But Paris—a city that’s been grappling with dangerously poor air quality lately—has decided to address the problem head-on by eradicating the primary source of the problem. For a day anyway.
On Sunday, September 27th, Paris will go car-free from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. While it’s only seven hours, it’s a symbolic move toward a cleaner, more sustainable way of life.
During the car-free day, portions of the city center will be open to cyclists and pedestrians only, though a few main drags will stay open with traffic slowed to 20 mph. Certain vehicles will be permitted to enter the partitioned parts of the city, including emergency vehicles, public transportation, taxis, delivery vehicles, and residents of those blocks.
Mayor Anne Hidalgo hopes to make La Journée sans Voiture an annual event. Hidalgo has become known for her progressive approach to pollution in the French capital and has continually pushed measures for car reductions, increases in pedestrian and cycling incentives, and efforts to reimagine public spaces with an eye toward sustainability. There’s even a cold hard cash incentive of $450 to ditch your vehicle.
The inaugural event was organized in conjunction with Paris Sans Voiture (Car-Free Paris), a self-described “citizen collective” and will happen a few months ahead of COP21, the United Nations’ annual climate conference, which will be held in Paris this year.