Paris combats vehicle pollution while service stations decline


Pollution from private cars is a major problem in all of France’s major cities, including Nice, where there are frequent ozone alerts. A number of towns are taking action.

The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, has announced tough new measures to reduce the problem of car-caused pollution in the nation’s capital. Starting in 2018, a busy thoroughfare in the centre of the city will be closed to traffic, with the exception of public transport. While the one-kilometre stretch between the Place de la Concorde and the Pont Royal will be off limits to drivers, another stretch of road, to and from the Place de la Bastille, currently one-way, will revert to two-way traffic.

Outside the Louvre, only buses, taxis and bicycles will be permitted, while the Marais district will become a huge pedestrian zone.

Needless to say, drivers in Paris are up in arms condemning the moves in no uncertain terms, claiming they will add to traffic jams in other parts of the city. However, there is also growing consensus that such is the threat to public health that something drastic needs to be done. Ms Hidalgo has promised to ban diesel cars from Paris by 2020, and points to efforts in Lyon and Bordeaux to limit traffic.

It is estimated that pollution from traffic causes 48,000 premature deaths in France.

In other car news, an item on France 3’s 19/20 Monday night reported that in 1975, France counted nearly 47,500 petrol stations across the country but by the end of 2015, and despite twice as many vehicles on the roads, there were only 11,269 service stations still operating in France.

Another major development in the fuel distribution network is its structure. In 2015, there were 128 closures of petrol stations owned by oil companies or independents while 41 new ones were opened by “des grandes surfaces”, what the French refer to as supermarkets and hypermarkets.

The French government website Prix des carburants en France helps drivers find the cheapest (and avoid the most expensive) prices at the pump. 

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