A year ago, the Georges Pompidou highway next to the right bank of Paris’s Seine River was filled with traffic. Now it’s permanently car-free. Later this month, a new park will open on the site, covering part of the road with playgrounds and grass. Cafes and a free bike workshop will open by the summer.
It’s one part of the city’s transformation of transportation away from cars, led by a mayor who has called personal car ownership “archaic.”
“Unparalleled challenges like air pollution require unprecedented action,” Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo tells Fast Company. “These policies are based on the urgency of both the health crisis and the climate crisis we are facing.”
A new electric “tram-bus” will soon replace two lanes of traffic on another major road in Paris. As of January 2017, the most polluting, oldest diesel cars are banned from city streets during the day; all diesel cars will be banned by 2025. The city is running trials of a driverless electric shuttle in a dedicated lane between two train stations and will soon test electric taxi boats. A new bike path will be built in the middle of the Champs-Élysées, part of a plan to double bike lanes from roughly 430 miles in 2015 to 870 miles by 2020, including “express” bike lanes separated from traffic. Major intersections are being redesigned to favor pedestrians, not cars. The city hosted a car-free day in 2015 and 2016. New devices will track emissions from cars in real time. The ultimate goal: fixing the city’s pollution problem.