The City of Paris has unveiled its plan to create a reduced-traffic area in the heart of its metropolis by 2024 called the Peaceful Paris-Centre-Saint-Germain zone. It is the further refinement of a plan originally introduced with a 2022 goal, but it met resistance among residents and workers in Paris. Finally, something of a plan has come about for the famously congested Paris, and we should all be paying attention.
Strictly speaking, this plan does not ban cars from the city center, rather it limits transit traffic in certain arrondissements (French for department or subdivision) to local traffic and destination journeys only. If this passes into law, driving through the regulated zones is prohibited unless going to a destination within the zone, except for cyclists, reduced-mobility folks, taxis, VTCs (otherwise known as private drivers like Uber to us), and emergency vehicles.
Image: Le Parisien
The zone will be policed with random exit checks, as well as an electronic system like a toll pass. Generally, it seems like a good plan that helps decongest unnecessary traffic while allowing the folks who need to get there free passage. It also seems like a plan that can be used in dense urban areas all over the world.
Let’s be real: Driving in traffic sucks. No amount of save-the-manuals “real driver” posturing will save any of us from the reality that the quality of driving varies greatly on roads in the United States. I don’t want to row gears in traffic. I don’t even want to drive an automatic in traffic, I just don’t want to drive in traffic. And you know what? Nobody else does either.
We need fewer cars in city centers. As an Angelino, I don’t enjoy getting stuck in traffic on any weekday afternoon. New Yorkers don’t want to drive in Manhattan. There is also the issue of transportation equity, where space that could be otherwise used for mass transit like buses is wasted on personal cars.
That’s not to say I want to take anybody’s car away, just the opposite. I want driving to be more enjoyable more of the time. There is no need for loud machines that take up a lot of space in dense city centers where walkability is genuinely possible. Or even just a tram. There is a long road for us in the states to get anything like this, but we can dream and shape a better future for car enthusiasts. That includes being smart about how and when we use cars as personal transportation.
Maybe then people with awful burble tunes will stop terrorizing the streets. I can dream.
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