As the city prepares to end lockdown, Mayor Anne Hidalgo plans to use bike lanes, buses, and social distancing to keep more cars off the roads and reduce pollution.
“I say in all firmness that it is out of the question that we allow ourselves to be invaded by cars, and by pollution,” she said. “It will make the health crisis worse. Pollution is already in itself a health crisis and a danger — and pollution joined up with coronavirus is a particularly dangerous cocktail. So it’s out of the question to think that arriving in the heart of the city by car is any sort of solution, when it could actually aggravate the situation.”
Hidalgo’s anti-car program is focused on remodeling the city core to make more space for pedestrians and cyclists, while barring older, more polluting cars from entering the city. This process has seen major thoroughfares for motor vehicles pedestrianized and the steady phasing out of car lanes and parking spots to create wider sidewalks and greenery. Earlier this year, Paris adopted a 15-minute neighborhood blueprint for future development that would see yet more of the city’s surface area taken away from car lanes and repurposed as community spaces.
Hidalgo’s statement shows a clear refusal to backtrack on this push. It may also be a hint of new forthcoming plans to restrict car access. The end of lockdown on May 11 will not mean the return of normal transit habits nationally: Anyone wishing to travel beyond a 100-kilometer zone around Paris, pictured in the image tweeted below, will require official permission from national authorities. Even if it does not affect commuters, this restriction should still mean that motor traffic in Paris will not immediately return to pre-pandemic levels.
Comment savoir si vous respectez bien la zone des 100 kilomètres, après le déconfinement du 11 mai ? http://www.oalley.fr/map/7rj6