Paris car ban lifted after just one day

Place Charles de Gaulle, Paris, France
Credits: All images courtesy of Google Earth
18 Mar, 2014 10:31am Joe Finnerty

City car ban helps cut pollution while police issue 4,000 fines

Paris has lifted its car ban after just one day with police issuing almost 4,000 fines as pollution fell back below the safe limit.

Motorists with even-numbered licence plates had been prohibited from driving in the smog-filled capital on Monday, with restrictions expected to be reversed to even-numbered plates on Tuesday and so on.

But after just one day and 3,859 drivers who chose to ignore the strict regulations stopped by police, French officials have lifted the ban.

Congestion in the city was 60 per cent lower than normal while a cooler climate also helped to disperse the dangerous pollution. French transport minister Frederic Cuvillier said: "This is a public health problem ... we thank everyone who fell into line."

The strict regulations had aimed to halve the number of cars in the city after pollution rose to double the safe levels. Hundreds of police officers patrolled the morning rush-hour handing out on-the-spot €22 (£18) fines to those with the wrong plates. 

But many drivers in Paris and its suburbs chose to flout the rules and pay the fine, which equated to less than the daily congestion charge in London over a week. Officers racked up €80,000 in fines on the day.

• Minimum bay parking size to be axed as cars get too big

The congestion charge is £10 a day while a wider low-emission zone covers most of Greater London. Drivers with cars that fail the required safe pollution levels must pay to drive within it.

An ultra-low emission zone is being planned by Mayor Boris Johnson, too, with the aim for every vehicle driving in London during working hours to emit zero or extremely low CO2 emissions by 2020. This would prevent London having to enforce a Paris-style ban.

• Variable speed limits planned for motorway roadworks

In France, it was the first time since 1997 that such a drastic ban had been introduced after pollution particulates were recorded at double the safe limit and in-line with Beijing.

Paris made its rental bike and electric car scheme free along with public transport while the cities of Caen, Grenoble, Reims and Rouen  announced similar measures.

Electric or hybrid cars were exempt from the ban, as were taxis, buses, and emergency vehicles. Cars carrying three or more people can also travel regardless of their number plate, in a bid to encourage car-sharing.

The smoggy conditions were initially caused by a combination of cold nights and warm, sunny days, which have prevented pollution from dispersing.

Police stop over 5,000 drivers for lane hogging and tailgating

Environmental groups say the continued tax breaks offered by the Government for diesel cars has resulted in the recent pollution rise, with 67 per cent of French motorists driving diesels which are more harmful than their petrol counterparts.

The pollution was made up predominantly of PM10 particulates – created by vehicles, heating and heavy industry – can cause asthma attacks, heart defects and respiratory problems while the World Health Organisation has said finer particulates – known as PM2.5 – are cancer-causing.

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Presumably there are more pre-particulate filter cars running in France than in the UK and these vehicles would get worse with age. Presumably there is also the same percentage of idiots in France as the UK who disable filters deliberately.
A bit more attention really ought to be given to commercial vehicle emissions.

Over here it would just mean people would swap cars. We have both an odd and an even car in our household.

Are the French like the stupid British government in that we are incentivised into buying a diesel due to lower road tax based on the lower carbon emmissions of diesels that are actually worse to the environment overall when you consider the other pollutants in exhaust gasses? People think they are being green over here by buying a diesel. School roads are full of big heavy diesel 4x4 driving school run mums; 'won't someone please think of the children', lol

In France the government has authorised exorbitant taxes last year to abolish petrol engines vehicles in favour of giving big bonuses to the 80% park of polluting diesel vehicles, this even though the World health organisation gave it’s critical health warnings against this polluting fuel which has been heavily subsidised by same government since they were the main investors in the refinement of diesel for their old electric generators which they substituted with Nuclear ones in the early 1980’s leaving them with a excesive overproduction in their diesel refineries. They have now just ordered 38 new diesel buses for the Paris needs.
Don’t look for logic in French vehicles just wear your mask it’s going to get worse here before it gets better. For the masks looks to the Chinese markets & buy in bulk to save…!!!

Yes. But in France it's been going on for 50 years with lower taxes on diesel than petrol (it started under De Gaulle if I'm not mistaken, as a 'gift' to promote the then 'new' diesel technology in passenger cars and help the French brands sell their asthmatic diesel cars). As a result, over 75% of all cars here are diesel powered. Just try selling a second-hand petrol car here with an engine over 2000cc. It's impossible. Diesel rules.
I was just wondering the other day, after watching the news where it was stated that the government was trying to find ways to reduce particle saturation, why people aren't now incentivised to buy petrol models rather than diesel. It's not a quick fix; but in the long run it would definitely work.

It is not entirely true. When you say big bonuses, I say no. The level of bonuses changes every year, and no, for a "normal" car (small or compact category), at best you would not pay any additional tax, but you don't have any bonus. Basically, right now, only hybrid cars can apply for a bonus.

Hi Your right its difficult to sell a petrol car to Dieselaholics the French have been brain washed by the french Government But I just sold my 1998 VW Passat Tiptronic 1.8 turbo Automatic one of the only ones available in France (as they decided to hold out about 6 years without importing it to sell more Diesels) finally marketed in 2001.
Well my Passat I resold at 226,000 kms to a friend at twice the 2013 bonus price (My friend is very happy with it) It still passes the pollution controls without throwing out the fine partials which create the unbreathable Paris air....

Even the new partial filters don't filter out the smaller partials. The OMS WHO have sent out there reports based on their tests carried out in an independent laboratory in Lyon :-)
They have chosen to ignore the tests.!!!!

An auto ban is a great idea. The funds should go to cycling and transit improvements as diesel exhaust is now linked to cancer with gasoline soon following.