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Car and motorcycle ban in Paris

Temporary restrictions imposed on vehicles in Paris designed to tackle air pollution.

The city of Paris is attempting to tackle air pollution by imposing restrictions on cars and motorcycles. Only vehicles with registration plates that end in an odd number can enter the city today. Vehicles with an even-numbered plate will be allowed to enter on March 18th if the restrictions remain in place.

The drastic move comes in the wake of air pollution levels in Paris and surrounding areas, which exceeded safe levels five days in a row. Smoggy conditions caused by warm days and cold nights have prevented pollution from dispersing.

Cars and motorcycles will have to abide by the ban from 5:30am to midnight on March 17th. Hundreds of police officers will be enforcing the restrictions, with a small fine given to those who disobey. Electric and hybrid vehicles are exempt from the restrictions, as are cars carrying three or more passengers.

The government is encouraging other methods of travel by making public transport free for three days. It has also made parking free for cars that are under restriction from entering the capital.

Paris is now said to rival Beijing as one of the world’s most polluted cities. On Friday pollution levels hit 180 microgrammes per cubic metre, which is 100 microgrammes above the PM10 particulate safe limit.

Back in 1997 Paris trialled a similar initiative. Air quality monitoring body Airparif said the move had a noticeable impact on improving air quality. Elsewhere in the world traffic restictions have faced strong criticism.

Critics argue a day of rainfall would have more of an effect than a car and motorcycle ban. There’s also the fact many French people could, in theory, buy a second car, giving them both an odd and even number plate number. A city full of old cheap bangers is, therefore, a possibility.

The government will review the pollution levels before considering whether the car and motorcycle ban should be extended.

Controversial eco-friendly methods are happening elsewhere in Europe. Stretches of the M1 motorway in the UK will see the speed limit reduced to 60mph as part of a proposal to improve local air quality.

A study in Florida suggested air pollution was more dangerous than smoking.

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