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In Paris, the banks of the Seine will stay car-free

In Paris, the banks of the Seine will stay car-free
[Photo: Joe deSousa/Unsplash]

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo is on a well-documented mission to make her city a leader in environmental policy. But she’s faced a fair amount of pushback along the way. Earlier this year, a coalition of right-wing politicians and automotive lobbyist groups mounted a legal challenge against one of her most prominent efforts: closing the banks of the Seine, beginning in 2016, to vehicle traffic. The Paris Administrative Court, in February, upheld the conservative challenge, ruling that the Hidalgo administration had not followed the proper steps in implementing the change to the streetscape, saying that an impact study about the effects of pedestrianization was still being disputed.

But Hidalgo swiftly hit back at the opponents, saying that she would continue to fight for car-free Seine banks as a protective measure, both for the city’s environment and air quality, and the historical significance of the riverbanks. This time, the court listened, and agreed today to uphold the pedestrianization of the Seine.

In a statement to Fast Company, Mark Watts, executive director of C40 Cities, an organization that advocates for green urban policies, said the following:

The policies of Mayor Anne Hidalgo, who also chairs the C40 network, are an inspiration to cities around the world as they strive to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and clean the air that citizens breathe. Earlier this month the IPCC warned that we need unprecedented action to keep global temperature rise to within safe limits. Transforming, this World Heritage Site, that was once the preserve of highly polluting vehicles into a wonderful new space for walking and cycling, is precisely the type of bold transformation that we need to see in the world’s great cities, in order to deliver on the ambition of the Paris Agreement.

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