City of Lights dimmed: Paris bans 50% traffic due to heavy smog

Reuters / Philippe Wojazer

Reuters / Philippe Wojazer

France is introducing emergency traffic restrictions in Paris due to massive smog that has recently gripped the famous City of Lights, almost obscuring the landmark Eiffel Tower. Half the capital’s drivers will be banned from the streets on Monday.

Paris Mayor Anne
Hidalgo, who has repeatedly asked the authorities to introduce
measures to battle the choking pollution, proposed the temporary

“I am delighted the state has agreed to put in place a
partial driving ban on Monday, which I have been requesting for
several days,”
Hidalgo wrote on Saturday on Twitter.

READ MORE: Smog alert: France introduces alternate driving days in
Paris for 1st time since 1997

Only those vehicles with number plates ending in an odd number
will be allowed on the streets. However, the ban doesn’t affect
taxis, electric cars and ambulances.

Public transport will be free on Monday all over Paris and its
satellite towns.

Air quality experts predicted dangerous particulates could
potentially jump over the allowed maximum over the weekend.
Pollution alerts in France are issued when these PM10 particles
reach 80 micrograms per cubic meter.

These tiny particles are also some of the most dangerous to
public health and can cause asthma, allergies and other
respiratory ailments.

A map of air
quality in Paris and other French towns shows that numerous
locations are smog-bound.

On Friday,, a website that monitors 60 cities,
Paris briefly topped their list for poor air quality. According
to the website, Paris had an AQI (Air quality index) level of
136, higher than the world’s most notoriously smoggy cities, such
as Beijing and Delhi.

In the long term, Paris is planning to ban all polluting cars and
lorries from the streets, and extend public transport.

“We need long-term solutions including extra charges on heavy
goods vehicles…,”

Fabrice Michel, a spokesman for the French Association of
Transport Users (FNAUT), told FRANCE 24 on Friday.

“Paris also needs a congestion charge inside the city,”
he added. “This would reduce circulation and raise revenue.
But all our politicians seem to do is wait for the rain and when
it doesn’t come, they blame the weather for their failings.”

polluted as Beijing’: Paris makes public transport free amid smog

This is not the first
time Paris has suffered from massive air pollution. Last March,
Paris and the whole of France were under pollution alerts of
various scales. The government was forced to introduce alternate
driving days in the French capital.

Air pollution doesn’t just affect France. UK authorities issued a
health advisory due to smog on Thursday.

“Winds bringing in pollution from the continent, combined
with locally generated pollution and still weather conditions has
[sic] led to some high pollution measurements across the
said a spokeswoman from Defra’s environment department.

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