Sacre vroom! Paris bans cars in the city center

June 2, 2016

Air pollution is a major problem in many city centers. So, what's the solution? The powers-that-be in Paris, France think it's banning older cars.

That ban goes into effect on July 1 and will affect cars registered before 1997. (Motorcycles registered before June 1, 1999 will be included in the ban, too.) Those vehicles will be prohibited from entering Paris' city center during weekdays.

Those who violate the law will be hit with a fine of 35 euros ($39)--a sum that will rise to 68 euros ($76) for passenger cars and 135 euros ($151) for heavier vehicles as of January 1, 2017. 

The ban will affect roughly 10 percent of vehicles registered in Paris. Over time, however, that figure could grow: the government hopes to shrink the registration window so that by 2020, only cars from 2010 or later would be allowed to roam the Champs-Élysées during the work week. 

This is Paris' latest attempt to deal with the ever-growing problem of air pollution, and there's hope that it'll be more effective than previous plans. Arguably the worst of the bunch was a failed attempt to limit traffic based on license plate numbers, which banned cars with even-numbered plates and odd-numbered plates on alternate days. Even though mass transit was made free during the program's implementation, it was halted after just one day--though similar laws have worked moderately well in China and India.  

Paris' ban on older cars also includes a measure that would divide cars into six classes, based on their emissions. City officials eventually hope to limit vehicular traffic to only the cleanest categories of cars.

And for those who hold fond memories of seeing classic Citroën 2CVs (aka the deux cheveaux), we're sorry to report: the new law makes no allowance for nostalgic value. If you want to putter around the Arc de Triomphe in France's de facto national car, you'll have to do so on le weekend.

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