Paris is exerting more efforts in trying to rid the city of air pollution. Beginning in May 2016, cars will be banned once a month on Champs-Elysees to help reduce smog.
According to the Mayor’s office, the most famous boulevard will be closed to vehicles on the first Sunday of every month.
The Verge writes that the plan to ban vehicles periodically on Champs-Elysees was approved in February 2016. The regulation will officially begin on May 8, 2016, instead of May 1, which is a national holiday. Mayor Anne Hidalgo’s office expect several council members who are tasked to execute the ban to be off work on such holiday, which explains the postponement of one week.
Hidalgo is a socialist and has made combating air pollution one of her top priorities to hopefully rid the French capital of unwanted smog. Since she assumed office in 2014, the mayor also planned to add more pedestrian zones and ban diesel vehicles in Paris by the year 2020.
In September 2015, Paris celebrated its first “day without cars,” which prevented all vehicles from a number of major routes throughout the city. Nitrogen oxide levels allegedly decreased from 20 to 40 percent in the city at the time. In September 2016, the city will continue to hold the eco-friendly event but will expand the ban to cover all of Paris.
The Guardian notes that Champs-Elysees spans two kilometers. Every first Sunday of the month, museums throughout Paris are free to visitors, so the decongestion would help people enjoy a cleaner environment while viewing the landmarks and visiting various sites along the street.
In addition to the once-a-month ban, nine new routes will be allowed only to pedestrians on Sundays and public holidays. Paris previously launched an anti-pollution program called “Paris Respire,” which already placed 13 routes under traffic restrictions.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), fine-particle air pollution accounts for an estimated 42,000 premature deaths in France each year. Air pollution reported costs France $112 billion annually, with the majority of the amount being spent on health expenses. Aside from Paris, a number of cities in Europe have also began imposing restrictions to help battle smog, which is reportedly increasing to dangerous levels. In 2015, Milan banned private cars from city streets for a few hours daily. Oslo has plans to permanently ban vehicles from the center of the city by 2019.
More updates and details on the car ban on Champs-Elysees are expected soon.