There can come a time when strong measures are needed to ease the effects of too many cars on city street. Today, that time came to Paris. And then it passed.

Government officials in Paris announced over the weekend that a new plan would go into effect early Monday morning: only about half of the city's cars would be allowed to drive on any given day. The reason, as you can probably guess, was to reduce the amount of smog in the air. All the air has apparently been cleaned up in just 24 hours, because the government has already backtracked. Starting tomorrow, any and all cars will once again be allowed on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées and everywhere else in town.

The rules, when they were in effect, forbid roughly half the cars (either with even or odd numbers at the end of the license place, the ones that didn't match the date on the calendar) from driving in Paris and 22 suburbs. Hybrids, EVs and cars carrying at least three people were given a pass, but that wasn't enough for a fair number of drivers. According to NPR, police handed out roughly 4,000 tickets today for not complying with the new rules, each carrying a $30 fine. Whether any of them tried the Steven Wright response is unknown.

Other cities limit cars from driving in their borders, based on license plate numbers. In 2008 in China, for example, no cars could drive during the Olympics for a short while. While drastic, today's move in Paris was certainly less draconian than Dubai's plan to stop poor people from owning a car.


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  • 32 Comments
      DaveMart
      • 9 Months Ago
      Parisians ignored the ban, so the Government was left with the option of ticketing everyone, which conceivably might have been unpopular, or giving up. So they gave up.
        DaveMart
        • 9 Months Ago
        @DaveMart
        Apparently the authorities in Paris are claiming it was a huge success with high compliance: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/mar/17/paris-stops-car-ban-one-day I am rather fond of the tendency of the French not to conform to laws they don't like, so I rather hope it wasn't. Then they might do something about reducing the incentives for diesel on a permanent basis, which would help long term and reduce the need for panic measures.
      Santini Brice
      • 9 Months Ago
      no surprise, keep selling diesel cars and you'll still have smog.
      EVnerdGene
      • 9 Months Ago
      Mexico City tried this in the early 1990's. Hubby that commuted into the centro bought a beater so he could drive every day. Wife now has a car. Pollution worse. Congestion worse. Law of unintended consequences or idiocracy ?
      • 9 Months Ago
      Word had it the French Gov't also passed a bill requiring all citizens to Bathe every other day, too....but like this protests killed that proposal because the French said it was unfair to make them bathe that often.
      raktmn
      • 9 Months Ago
      This validates the regulation of emissions at the point of manufacture as one of the best options for reducing emissions. A ZEV credit program like in California would effectively do the same as removing gas cars from the road, without actually banning travel.
        EVnerdGene
        • 9 Months Ago
        @raktmn
        is this a bureaucrat solution ? like an executive order ? a fiat ? a mandate ? facism ? Why don't we just ban cars? The "authorities" already say we're too fat.
          EVnerdGene
          • 9 Months Ago
          @EVnerdGene
          BraveLil' Your tone is weird, but you have a good point - but not quite up to date. The FUV's birth can be attributed to its classification as trucks instead of cars; so not having to meet the emission standards or even safety standards of cars. (of course they are safer with weights sometimes twice that of a car they can crush) So, in effect the government, in their infinite wisdom, gave market incentive to buying FUVs and their wastefulness. (Making us even more dependent on foreign oil to supply these gluttons of the road.) Just recently, FUVs finally have to meet the same emission standards as cars, but only as a percentage of their total exhaust volume. So if they use twice as much gas, they are still allowed to pollute twice as much (like in grams per mile of any particular pollutant). The newest standards are based on "footprint". The bigger the vehicle, the more gas it is allowed to use (CAFE), and of course the more it is allowed to pollute. How do YOU spell idiocracy ? I asked a girl at a Sierra Club hike why she drove an SUV. She replied; 'because sometimes I take my dog to the beach."
          BraveLil'Toaster
          • 9 Months Ago
          @EVnerdGene
          Hehe. You're so cute. Because wouldn't you know it? "So you don't think that any auto company has ever tried to reduce the pollution from an automobile without having government legislate or dictate they do so ?" Yeah, actually? That's exactly what's happened. GM, Ford, and Chevrolet would actually prefer you just bought their high-profit vehicles. You know, the ones where they've put exactly zero work into fuel efficiency and emissions control, because oh hey, a loophole in the law that says "light trucks" don't have fuel efficiency standards! And how can they make "light trucks" look like station wagons? That is, when they aren't actually making "light trucks" into "family cars" with the extended-cab thing.
          raktmn
          • 9 Months Ago
          @EVnerdGene
          Show me anywhere in the world where a pure free market solution alone has lowered automobile pollution.
          EVnerdGene
          • 9 Months Ago
          @EVnerdGene
          So you don't think that any auto company has ever tried to reduce the pollution from an automobile without having government legislate or dictate they do so ? You don't think auto mfgs. and fuel mfgs. have research labs continually trying to stay ahead of the curve and their competitors ? You don't think it's a competitive advantage to come out with something revolutionary, and convinces government that it be used on all cars - crushes their competitors product development plans; and forcing them to use technology (licensing) from the first to market ? You have lots (too much) faith in government. Name something government manufactures (except for minor exceptions like pastries in the whitehouse kitchen) ? No manufacture, NO innovation.
      Dave Mac
      • 9 Months Ago
      The French like to be obnoxious especially to Americans, I came to accept this while I was stationed in Germany and traveled into France often. That being said I still have to admit that when I flew home from Europe 2 months ago aboard an Air France plane I had very good service and overall flight.
      Ryan
      • 9 Months Ago
      There are way too many cars in Paris, given that the metro and velolib go just about everywhere. You can see the damage being done by the pollution to the white granite buildings there. I'm surprised that they didn't keep this policy for a few weeks at least.
      Joeviocoe
      • 9 Months Ago
      Ah... the Bloomberg approach to problem solving.
      Ron
      • 9 Months Ago
      Don't know if it was such a good idea, but it certainly wasn't fair. There are several times annually when odd number plates would get to drive two days in a row (31st, 1st) and none where even number plates would get to drive two days in a row. Even in Leap Year, you go from Feb 29th to March 1st. That's two odd numbered days in a row. But, since they dropped it, I guess it doesn't matter.
      • 9 Months Ago
      In looking of the picture above I have a thought of not having a stoplight every 100 feet could in some way reduce the pollution. Government at it's best. Create serious pollution and then blames the public for the problem. I only wish this problem existed only in France.
        drew
        • 9 Months Ago
        Ah yes, it makes far more sense to have ten lanes of uncontrolled traffic in the presence of cross streets and mobs of pedestrians.
          Greg
          • 9 Months Ago
          @drew
          No, find better solutions that limit cross traffic and pedestrian routs that do not cross roads.
          EVnerdGene
          • 9 Months Ago
          @drew
          "pedestrian routes that do not cross roads." Yes, people sitting in leather-lined trucks (FUVs), while chatting on their cellphones should have top priority.
        BraveLil'Toaster
        • 9 Months Ago
        LOL! Dude, they'd basically have to bulldoze the entirety of Paris to fix *that* problem. These streets were laid down hundreds of years before Columbus discovered tobacco, nevermind Florida. Or cars. So you have a small problem with convincing the wealthy landowners that own Paris to give up a single inch. Nevermind a few thousand priceless cultural artifacts which have recently had to be restored thanks to the effects of smog and acid rain. Go there someday. Then you might gain some inkling of understanding of the problem.
      Levine Levine
      • 9 Months Ago
      France is the home of socialism. Like so many socialist European nations, it is also insolvent, always on the look-out for cash donations. On any given day, there's a labor strike somewhere in France. You ever wonder why there's no Renault, Citrogen or Peugot dealerships in USA? The French has a unique sense of entitlement. Eqalite', Fraternite', Liberte' , means I deserves mines and you can't have yours. Restricting the driving pleasures of the French based on odd-even license plate is an invitation to chaos, riots, and coup de tat. As a government official who gave the single digit salute to the proletariats, Maria Antoinette had learnt the swift lesson under the blade.
        Aaron
        • 9 Months Ago
        @Levine Levine
        No, the reason we don't have Renault, Citroen, or Peugeot dealerships in the US is because they brought us the Alliance, 2CV, and the 505 respectively.
          EVnerdGene
          • 9 Months Ago
          @Aaron
          Aaron, you forgot LeCar and pre-90's Citroens were an acquired taste like escargot acquired - I dare you to eat this snail smothered in butter and garlic hmmm - tastes like butter and garlic
          Actionable Mango
          • 9 Months Ago
          @Aaron
          I thought it was because US car regulation was very far out of line from the rest of the world.
      • 9 Months Ago
      They invoke a law that can't last 2 days and criticize any free-market solutions to any of the problems they have. Academics that stay in school to avoid work in the real world should be banned from holding office. But since they are the ones telling us what is best for us I guess this is unlikely.
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