Paris Pollution Causes Auto Ban

The City of Lights isn’t always—sometimes the pollution is so dense that it’s hard to see all that famed twinkling. Indeed, Paris has a real air quality problem, so much so that the local government has taken unusual steps.

The mayor of Paris has banned all cars made prior to 1997 from the city center during weekdays, as well as banning motorcycles built before 1999. By 2020, that weekday ban will include vehicles made before 2010. And violators who want to tool down the avenues? They face a fine of $39 for each violation.

It’s all part of an effort to curb smog, and includes a measure to increase carless travel via pedestrian walkways, as well as an annual “Day Without Cars” throughout the various neighborhoods of Paris.

The ban makes sense in one way—older cars spew more pollution, so eliminating them should reduce harmful chemicals from the air.

Clearly, drastic measures are called for: The World Health Organization says air pollution is responsible for 42,000 deaths annually in France. Unfortunately, Parisians love their automobiles, and often look at classic cars (read: ones built before 1999) as part of the romance of being French. So, pushback to the new law has occurred. Still, the government is soldiering on, with more environmental efforts being considered.