About this time last year I wrote a post on Paris’ very first ‘Journée sans voiture‘, which saw vehicles banned from the city centre between 11am and 6pm. Tomorrow the initiative is back for a second round – only this time, it’s going XXL.
Not only will the pedestrianised zone be five times as large as it was last year, covering the vast majority of Paris’ first 11 arrondissements, but there will also be a second zone in which the speed limit will be reduced to 20km/h. More information can be found on this website dedicated to the event.
For most Parisians, the Journée sans voiture is an opportunity to spill out onto the roads of Paris and enjoy a traffic-free day. A number of events, including a parade and activities for children, will take place throughout the day. However, as is usually the case, not everybody is getting behind the initiative.
The Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, has made it her mission to clean up Paris; to reduce pollution and make the city’s air less toxic. It is for this reason that certain sections of the roads that run along the River Seine have been closed since July. As of Monday, these measures are due to become permanent. Anyone who has been treated to a 30-minute wait in a traffic jam with a ranting taxi driver will know that this so-called solution has thrown up additional problems, and that Hidalgo is making enemies as well as friends.
The pedestrianisation of certain roads has, so far, only increased the level of traffic elsewhere. The real challenge lies in getting people who are used to driving in Paris to resort to other means of transportation – to walk when possible, use the rentable Velib’ bikes and make greater use of public transport. And if one thing’s certain, it’s that it will take more than an annual Journée sans voiture to get that ball rolling.