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Cyclist in Paris
Photograph: Alphapicto /

Paris is banning cars from the centre – here’s what that would look like in your city

The City of Light plans to block off the first four arrondissements to vehicles. That’s massive. But what would it mean for other cities?

Sophie Dickinson
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Sophie Dickinson

Remember how quiet everything was during lockdown? The streets were eerily empty, and that meant less honking, cleaner air and loads of surreal city-centre walks.

That was certainly the case in Paris, and now officials have pounced on the opportunity to clamp down on vehicles more generally. The city has announced plans to ban traffic in the first four arrondissements, which cover both the Left and Right Banks, and stretch from the Place de la Bastille in the east to the Place de la Concorde in the west. Some cars will still be allowed through, like delivery drivers and those needing to access amenities, but it’s estimated that the ban will take over 100,000 cars off the roads daily.

The changes are due to come into place in 2024, which is two years later than expected. It’s part of a wider plan to make the city more green ahead of the 2024 Olympic Games in the city. The area concerned represents a massive swathe of the centre – 5.59 square kilometres, to be precise – so we thought we’d see what that would look like in other big cities around the world.

First up, here’s what Paris’s first four arrondissements look like. As you can see, they take in most of the super-busy central tourist spots:

Paris map
Photograph: Time Out

And now here’s what a similar-scale car ban would look like in Barcelona:

Barcelona map
Photograph: Time Out

And Hong Kong:

Hong Kong map
Photograph: Time Out

And Lisbon:

Lisbon map
Photograph: Time Out

And London:

London map
Photograph: Time Out

And Los Angeles:

Los Angeles map
Photograph: Time Out

And Melbourne:

Melbourne map
Photograph: Time Out

And New York:

NYC map
Photograph: Time Out

So in other words: it’s pretty bold undertaking. And we’re pretty sure it’ll make walking around the City of Light a much more pleasant (and far less stressful) experience. Us next, please?

Now read about 20 other amazing things cities are doing to fight the climate crisis.

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