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Paris Is Now Banning All Pre-1997 Cars

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Paris has tried just about everything to combat its terrible smog problem. The city has launched attempts to take half the cars off its road, introduce regular car-free days, and close famous streets to vehicular traffic—but Paris still has some of the worst pollution in Europe. Now a much bigger idea is going into effect: Kicking the oldest cars out of the city.

Starting July 1, all cars registered before 1997 and motorcycles registered before 2000 will be banned from the city center during weekdays, as reported in Le Monde. The ban on older cars was announced last year as part of a comprehensive plan that will eventually ensure that no cars more then 10 years old will ever be found on Paris’s streets. By 2020, all cars will have to be registered after 2011, for example. The city will track the status of cars using color-coded chips, which will organize vehicles into six categories (electric/hydrogen are “first class” vehicles).


How many cars are we actually talking here? Sure, pre-1997 cars don’t make up a whole lot of the actual vehicles on Paris streets, only around 10 percent. But they could potentially generate as much as half of all the city’s emissions. Paris has already banned diesel, which is far worse for air and lungs, in trucks and larger vehicles. Historic cars are not exempt but that could change; an exception was discussed last year.

For those with vintage Citroëns, classic car owners can still drive their pretty smog-makers on the weekends, and they can always drive them out in the country. But these types of blanket policies still manage to anger residents. As with a similar ban in Mexico City, some people are outraged that older cars are targeted as they’re usually owned by the city’s poorest residents, who rely on those vehicles for their jobs.


Like many cities that are trying to ban cars—or at least some cars, some of the time—Paris also needs to improve public transit options for those who are leaving their cars behind. The city recently announced another service to complement its successful bike share program: electric scooters.

About 1,000 Cityscoot scooters will make their way onto Paris’s streets by the end of the summer, one of the biggest rollouts on the planet. Now who wouldn’t want to trade in their old diesel-guzzler for one of those?