Go outside and take a long, deep breath. Do your lungs feel suitably refreshed? If you’re in any one of a growing number of cities, the answer to that question may well be ‘no’. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a staggering 98% of large cities (those with more than 100,000 inhabitants) in low- and middle-income countries do not meet minimum air quality guidelines. The situation is better in high-income countries, but still, less than half of cities are up to standard.
Paris is notorious for snarled-up traffic and cranky drivers - but cars are gradually being edged out as the city steps up a life-or-death battle to cut pollution.
A stroll along the French capital's grandest boulevard, the Champs-Elysees, has just become possible without choking on exhaust fumes - from May cars are banned on the famous avenue one Sunday every month.
Pedestrians have already reclaimed part of the picturesque Left Bank of the River Seine, where traffic has been permanently banned, allowing restaurants, cafes and art exhibits to spring up.
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo is not satisfied with limits on cars. In her utopian vision for the City of Light, she’d ban them. The Star’s Christopher Hume reports that Hidalgo views congestion as a critical public health issue.
Honking cars, blaring sirens, revving truck engines, and lung-choking exhaust fumes -- that's the norm on the streets surrounding the Eiffel Tower and along the Champs-Élysées. After all, Paris has some of the worst traffic congestion of any city on Earth.
In a big win for sustainable transportation, the streets of Paris will go completely car-free for one entire day. On September 27th, A Day Without Cars will make the French capital a pedestrian and bicycle paradise. Tourists and locals alike will be able to enjoy Paris without traffic congestion, the honking of horns or car exhaust.
Just one year after the introduction of the reduction of the speed limit from 80 km/h to 70 km/h on the Paris ring road, reports from the City Hall paint a positive picture of the results of this controversial measure.
Accidents on the ring road are said to have reduced by 15.5 per cent, from 742 in 2013 to 627 in 2014, while the number of injuries has reduced from 908 in 2013 to 776 in 2014.
The Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, wants to ban diesel cars in the French capital by 2020 and create pedestrianised areas in the city centre to tackle pollution.
In an interview with the Journal du Dimanche, Ms Hidalgo also hinted of a ‘very ambitious’ € 100m cross-city cycling network that would double the amount of bicycle lanes and integrate electric bikes into the city bike rental scheme.
A unique 19-mile belt of neglected green space in the very centre of the French capital is sparking debate among environmentalists and entrepreneur around the future direction of development in the city
A stretch of the 19-mile Petite Ceinture – or ‘little belt’ – in Paris. Photograph: Palmryre Roigt