Blue skies in Paris — city center car-free

Click to enlarge — Champs Élysées in 1900

With the eight lanes of France’s most famous avenue cleared of all traffic on Paris’s first car-free day, the usual cacophony of car-revving and thundering motorbike engines had given way to the squeak of bicycle wheels, the clatter of skateboards, the laughter of children on rollerblades and even the gentle rustling of wind in the trees. It was, as one Parisian pensioner observed as she ambled up the centre of the road taking big gulps of air, “like a headache lifting”.

There were other weird and pleasant effects of this tiny glimpse of carless utopia. “Everyone seems to be smiling, and not as stressed,” marvelled Elisabeth Pagnac, a civil servant in her 50s, who had been emboldened to cycle in from the eastern edge of the city without a helmet. But strangest of all was the sky.

“I live high in a tower block in the east of the city and looking out of my window today I saw the difference straight away: the sky has never been this blue, it really is different without a hazy layer of pollution hanging in the air,” she said.

Others agreed that looking up towards the Arc de Triomphe and to La Défense beyond, a view that was so often hazy and distorted by the city’s famous smog was suddenly crystal clear.

“What a joy to go down the middle of the road taking in the sights,” said Claude Noirault, a wheelchair-basketball coach, who had done 10km in his sports wheelchair and was planning 30km more.

When Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, launched the idea of the French capital’s first car-free day at the suggestion of the collective Paris Without Cars, pollution was top of the agenda

Hidalgo, launching the event with other mayors who have already pioneered car-free days, including the mayor of Brussels, said the initiative showed people “are not obliged to move around in a personal car, there are other ways to approach mobility in a city”.

It wasn’t a complete success. RTFA. The sophistry brigade will find plenty to whine about, Left or Right.

The core commitment to a day without fossil fuel pollution in the City of Light let in lots of sunlight. A fresh beginning.

3 thoughts on “Blue skies in Paris — city center car-free

  1. Down goes Frazier! says:

    “VW scandal fuels French debate on whether to dump diesel, as polluted Paris bans cars for day” Also “PSA/Peugeot-Citroen, Renault, Fiat and Opel could be hit by Volkswagen’s admission that it rigged diesel engines to fool U.S. regulators as the revelations help to accelerate the technology’s decline in Europe. With the fuel systems already under attack in the region because of pollution concerns, VW’s diesel testing scandal could cause the market share of diesel cars to drop to as little as 35 percent of cars sold in Europe in 2022 from 53 percent in 2014, according to industry consultant LMC Automotive.”

  2. Meanwhile says:

    Volkswagen’s market value has fallen by more than 25 billion euros since it admitted to cheating U.S. emissions tests and it now faces a growing number of investigations and potential fines from regulators and prosecutors, as well as class action and individual lawsuits from customers. In response the company has hired Kirkland & Ellis, the US law firm that defended BP after the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster. On Monday German prosecutors launched an investigation into fraud allegations against former Volkswagen boss Martin Winterkorn and German Deputy Finance Minister Jens Spahn said that the scandal over rigged emissions tests has the potential to damage Europe’s largest economy. Also on Monday the Environmental campaign group Transport & Environment (T&E) said there was a wider industry problem, as it published new data showing some new Mercedes, BMW and Peugeot cars use 50 percent more fuel than laboratory tests indicate. T&E said its data did not prove other firms were using defeat devices but the gap between lab and road tests had grown to such an extent for emissions of both carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides that further investigation was needed to discover what carmakers were doing to manipulate results.

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