Pollution has taken its toll on the City of Light.

By Jess McHugh
January 09, 2017
Credit: Philippe Lopez/AFP/Getty Images

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo has a new plan to combat the city's pollution problem: take cars off certain streets permanently.

“The idea is to move little by little toward a pedestrianization [sic] of the city center, that would remain open to riverboats, police, rescue and delivery vehicles, but not to everyone,” Hidalgo said in an interview with local newspaper Le Journal de Dimanche.

Hidalgo took aim at Rue de Rivoli in particular. Much like Fifth Avenue in New York City, Rue de Rivoli is a tourist and commercial street that cuts through the city, passing by major attractions such as the Louvre, the Tuileries garden, and into the trendy neighborhood of the Marais. Her plan would be to establish more bike lanes in this area and to drastically reduce the number of motor vehicles.

The downtown city center of Paris could become entirely car-free, if the mayor has her way. Her plan is to eliminate vehicles while adding a tramway that would run along the right bank of the Seine,The Local reported. Many Parisians have railed against this plan, signing a petition to prevent its implementation.

While the project may seem radical to some, Paris has been battling its worst pollution problem of the past decade. The city’s dense population, coupled with the prevalence of high-polluting diesel vehicles have caused entire days where the pollution levels spiked beyond the safe breathing level in 2016.

Parisian authorities made all local transport free for several days in December when the level of fine airborne particles reached levels of nearly three times the safe limit set out by European Union regulations. Half of the city’s cars were also ordered off the roads, and authorities imposed fines on drivers who ignored the ban.

“Faced with the scourge of pollution, I am taking on my responsibilities,” Hidalgo told the Journal du Dimanche.