“The lack of sound on the Champs Elysées was striking.
“With the eight lanes of France’s most famous avenue cleared of all traffic on Paris’s first car-free day, the usual cacophony of car-revving and thundering motorbike engines had given way to the squeak of bicycle wheels, the clatter of skateboards, the laughter of children on rollerblades and even the gentle rustling of wind in the trees. It was, as one Parisian pensioner observed as she ambled up the centre of the road taking big gulps of air, “like a headache lifting”.
“When Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, launched the idea of the French capital’s first car-free day at the suggestion of the collective Paris Without Cars, pollution was top of the agenda.
“In March this year, a rise in air pollution briefly made Paris the most polluted city in the world, with smog so bad it almost completely obscured the city’s landmarks, including the Eiffel Tower. As Paris prepares to host this year’s massive climate change conference, the city was under pressure to make a gesture.
“As Paris mayor, Hidalgo has set out to push the city towards less car use and cleaner vehicles. She has vowed to eradicate diesel use in the city by 2020 and plans to extend car-free areas along the Seine.”
Read the full story by Angelique Chrisafis and watch the short video clip….