Paris is taking rare steps to cut car traffic as pollution persists

Hazy with a chance of smog.
Hazy with a chance of smog.
Image: Reuters/Gonzalo Fuentes
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

The Paris mayor’s office announced that it would dramatically limit (link in French) the number of cars allowed to drive in the city and surrounding areas on Monday (March 23) after several days of fine-particle haze from pollution. Vehicles with even-numbered license plates are not allowed on the roads that day—unless they’re carrying more than three passengers or meet other requirements. It’s a restriction Paris has imposed just twice before (link in French), including in March 2014.

A dense pollution haze covered the French capital in the past week, with levels of so-called PM10 particulates—particles with a diameter of 10 microns or less—well above the levels the World Health Organization considers acceptable air quality.

The Airparif nonprofit monitoring group predicted PM10 levels would drop to safer levels on Sunday (March 22), but then would rise again (link in French.)

Alongside the car restrictions, Paris public transportation is free on March 22 and March 23 and bike- and electric-car-sharing programs are offering free trips. When Paris imposed similar driving limits last year, traffic dropped roughly 18%, and pollution particles measured fell by 6%.