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Paris bans cars along part of River Seine

Medical experts blame air pollution for 2,500 deaths each year in Paris © AFP/File / Ludovic Marin

Paris, France, Sep 26 – The city of Paris on Monday voted to ban cars along a stretch of the River Seine as part of an anti-pollution drive.

Mayor Anne Hidalgo said the move, which will pedestrianise a 3.3-kilometre (two-mile) stretch of the river’s Right Bank, was a “historic decision, the end of an urban motorway and the taking back of the Seine.”

The project is a centrepiece of the Socialist mayor’s battle against pollution, which has also included banning cars from the Champs-Elysees avenue on the first Sunday of every month.

As expected, left-wing and environmentalist members of the city council approved the plan, while the minority right-wing opposition voted against it.

The decision affects a stretch along the river that has been pedestrianised for a month every summer since 2002, for the hugely popular Paris Plages riverside beach bonanza.

This year, the road which cuts across Paris from west to east remained closed to traffic for an exhibition after the sand was cleared away.

The mayor is determined to fight pollution in a city where air quality regularly violates EU norms, sometimes rivalling that of heavily polluted cities such as Beijing and Shanghai.

Medical experts blame air pollution for 2,500 deaths each year in the city, and 6,600 in the greater Paris area.

To ensure the effectiveness of the road closure, the city plans to monitor traffic on other main arteries, along with noise and emissions levels and the use of the river bank by pedestrians, cyclists and rollerbladers.

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