18 November 2018
The Eiffel Tower is barely visible in the smog-blanketed French capital. Photo: dpa
The Eiffel Tower is barely visible in the smog-blanketed French capital. Photo: dpa

Traffic jams drop 40% as Paris curbs cars to ease smog

The most polluted city in the world — no, for several hours last week, it wasn’t Shanghai — is claiming success for emergency measures to halve the number of vehicles on its roads.

A noxious smog descended on Paris, completely obscuring the city’s famous landmarks, including the Eiffel Tower, on Wednesday last week.

City officials sprang into action.

Only “clean” cars, those with odd number plates or vehicles carrying more than three people were permitted to enter Paris and 22 surrounding areas Monday in an attempt to reduce the level of fine PM10 particles from diesel engines.

Vehicles were also ordered to travel at a maximum 20 km/h in the city, the Guardian reported.

About 750 police officers were dispatched from 5.30 a.m. to 100 busy roads and junctions to hand out fines to those who ignored the new rules.

Police said the measures had reduced traffic jams in and around Paris by up to 40 percent and that 2,800 drivers had been stopped and given on-the-spot fines of €22 (US$24) by midday Monday.

To encourage people to leave their cars at home, public transport and residential parking were free.

It is only the third time since 1997 Paris authorities have resorted to such emergency measures.

This time last year, a similar two-day ban was said to have had a positive impact on air quality, reducing the level of the carcinogenic PM10 particles (those with a diameter less than 10 microns) and toxic nitrogen oxides, Airparif, which measures pollution in the city, said.

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