Bicyclists, pedestrians, and rollerbladers swarmed the streets of central Paris on Sunday, taking advantage of the city’s first ever “day without cars.” All private, non-electric cars were banned from Paris’ historic city center for seven hours yesterday, as part of a campaign to promote clean transportation. It comes as the city prepares to host the UN climate conference in December, where world leaders will seek an agreement on limiting the rise of global temperatures.
Socialist Mayor Anne Hidalgo announced the no-car campaign in March, at the urging of a citizen collective called Paris Sans Voiture (Paris Without Car). The city has faced severe air pollution problems in recent years, and has occasionally implemented strict driving restrictions due to dangerously high smog levels.
Paris isn’t the first city to implement a no-car day; Brussels, Sao Paulo, and the English city of Bristol have launched similar campaigns in the past. In an interview with French newspaper Le Parisien this month, Hidalgo described the effort as “a movement of education and learning,” adding that it aimed to “show that Paris can function without cars.”