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Could 2024 Paris be car-free?

by yang

With the opening ceremony of next year’s Olympic Games in Paris less than a year away, the French capital is preparing to host the world. Now a proposal from the Parisian Green Party is set to set tongues wagging at the next city council meeting. They’re proposing that for the six weeks of the Games – from the eve of the Olympics to the end of the Paralympics – Paris (and nearby towns affected by the event) should be completely car-free. Not only that, but the city should offer free public transport.

To back up their case, the group has set out 14 reasons, touching on everything from simple common sense to environmental and safety issues. They also remind people of commitments made by various levels of government.

For example, they point to the challenge of managing the flow of 15 million people in public spaces and on public transport; carbon emissions estimated at 1.58 megatonnes; and Mayor Anne Hidalgo’s comments about the Games being a “catalyst for environmental change”. They also suggest that the whole free transport thing could be funded by an eco-tax on e-commerce deliveries.

So that’s the proposal. Now comes the hard part: making it happen. When it comes to free transport, let’s face it, it’s a bit of a long shot. The fate of the transport network is in the hands of the IDF Mobilités, chaired by Valérie Pécresse, who is more likely to raise the price of tickets than give out free rides.

As for getting the motion through the council, it’s a bit of an uphill battle. From the right-wing opposition, forget it – David Alphand, the group’s vice-president, has said: ‘It’s all hot air. These are the crazy ideas of the Greens. On the majority side, which includes the Greens, things are still under discussion.

Green councillor Fatoumata Koné told France 3: “Opinion isn’t necessarily in favour at this stage, but I have the feeling that things could change; it seems to be moving in the right direction. What comes next is anyone’s guess, because even if the proposal gets the thumbs up, there will still be negotiations with local authorities and the various cities hosting the games.

So yes, there’s still a long way to go. But if the Greens get their way, this could be a big step for sustainability at the Olympics.

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