Can you imagine a day in the city where the streets are empty of cars and full of people? The air feels fresher and the skies a more vibrant blue?
Well for Paris this became a reality when on Sunday 27th September cars where banned for one whole day! Pollution levels in Paris have become dangerously high in the last year due to car exhausts, wood smoke and industrial emissions, as well as weather conditions preventing the dispersement of pollution, making it one of the world's most polluted cities in 2015. In the last week smog levels reached double the safe limit of 80 microgrammes.
Paris responded with a ban on all cars in the city district. Citizens saw a noticeable difference in air and visual quality and officials claim smog levels dropped back below safe levels after only one day car-free!
The resulting clear-skied Sunday saw residents take to the streets enjoying walks, bike riding, picnics and even yoga!
The experiment also comes two months before Paris is due to hold the global summit on climate change. So what can we hope to learn from Paris' example?
They're situation is certainly not unique to millions of people who transmute to cities everyday for work as traffic and industrial emissions damage our air quality and contribute heavily to global warming processes. Specifically Parisians favour diesel-fueled cars which expel more toxic emissions. The ban is in fact not the first of it's type, previously attempted in 1997, and a half ban and free public transport offers in March this year when the Eiffel Tower became shrouded in smog.
Many cities have attempted to promote cheaper more efficient and carbon-friendly public transport, as well as bike and walking paths to reduce traffic congestion in cities. But I have to admit a full day ban looks like a lot of fun!