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This Summer, Paris Will Ban All Cars Made Before 1997

As the city works to improve air quality, everyone in Paris must ditch their old clunkers.

This Summer, Paris Will Ban All Cars Made Before 1997

Photo: Flickr user Don O'Brien

Too bad if you're a fan of classic French cars. In the name of improving Paris's air quality, soon the city will ban cars older than 1997.

From July 1, any car built before 1997 will be prohibited from entering Paris between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. on weekdays. For now, nighttime and weekends are fine, but in 2020, these cars will be completely banned from the center even then, and the 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ban will be updated to cover cars built before 2010. Fines for those caught with older models will range from $39 to more than $500.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo put forward the rules, and they are actually less strict than those proposed by France's Ministry of the Environment. The central Government's rules would see a third of Paris's vehicles banned from the center, whereas the mayor's version prohibits just 10%, which—combined with strict and rolling updates to the cars affected by the ban—should actually be more effective at cleaning the city's air in the long term. Or at least more enforceable.

Paris is getting serious about its air quality and is attacking the problem from many angles. The latest is this car ban, but it has also tested car-free days and is redesigning its intersections to make them better for both pedestrians and for cyclists. Since last year, it even lets cyclists run red lights.

In general, Europe's capitals have terrible air, but some of them are trying other measures in trying to clean things up. London is investing in electric delivery vehicles, and Barcelona's superblocks are effectively pedestrianizing huge swathes of the city. Cities are finally going car-free, and that's good news for everybody.

In Paris, cars will now have to display stickers in their windshields. The Certificates of Air Quality are currently optional in the rest of France, but will be mandatory in Paris and show the car's age, so the older cars can be easily identified by police. In some places, the stickers will confer advantages to drivers of electric cars and very low-emission vehicles.

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