The ‘One simple trick’ Paris used to reduce air pollution 40% ahead of Olympics


The ‘One simple trick’ Paris used to reduce air pollution 40% ahead of Olympics

The ‘One simple trick’ trope has long become a running joke among journalists, usually signifying the beginning of a scam. But every once in a while, it’s exactly right. Such is the case with how Paris was able to transform its air quality and thus the quality of life in the city in the run-up to the upcoming 2024 Summer Olympics.

So what was the trick? Kicking out cars.

Or perhaps more specifically, Paris reduced the city’s dependence on cars in favor of alternative forms of transportation.

As NBC’s Mike Gagliardi recently explained, “a campaign to make Paris greener, primarily by reducing its dependence on cars, has transformed it into a shining example of what many environmental activists, city planners and transit advocates say ought to be the future of cities worldwide.”

The city’s push away from cars has come in several forms. One of the simplest has been banning cars in much of the city center, which has become an increasingly common move in cities around the world. Pedestrian-only streets have often resulted in friendlier cities that prove to be more accessible to more people, increasing foot traffic and boosting the local economy.

The city has also made efforts to reduce the size of cars in Paris, tripling parking fees for large SUVs. Since not everyone wants to or can get around without a car, at least they can be encouraged to only use as much car as necessary and not needlessly drive energy-wasting oversized vehicles.

Sure, Paris has seen micromobility setbacks as well, such as its ban on shared e-scooters last year. But for the most part, the city has taken major strides towards creating a more walkable and bikeable environment for residents and tourists alike.

Ahead of the upcoming 2024 Summer Olympics, the effect has been a major reduction in air pollution. Compared to ten years ago when Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo first took office, the city has seen a 40% reduction in air pollution. Hidalgo has been fiercely supportive of initiatives to improve Paris’ accessibility to pedestrians and micromobility users such as cyclists and scooter riders.

Electrek’s Take

Paris’ success in reducing air pollution ahead of the 2024 Summer Olympics stands as a powerful testament to the impact of strategic urban planning and transportation reforms. By prioritizing pedestrian-friendly streets, expanding cycling infrastructure, and implementing low-emission zones, the city has not only improved its air quality but also enhanced the quality of life for its residents. This transformation underscores a vital message for cities worldwide: meaningful change is within reach.

Other cities can look to Paris as a model and adopt similar, straightforward initiatives to combat air pollution.

Expanding public transportation options, creating safe and extensive networks for cyclists and pedestrians, and promoting the use of electric vehicles are all feasible steps. These measures not only lead to cleaner air but also create healthier, more vibrant urban communities. The journey towards cleaner air doesn’t require monumental leaps; even small, focused actions can drive substantial improvements. By committing to these changes, cities everywhere can build a healthier, more sustainable future for their inhabitants.

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