Europe's cities become traffic free zones

Police blocked cars from central Paris today as the French capital and hundreds of other European cities experimented with ways to cut traffic.

Police blocked cars from central Paris today as the French capital and hundreds of other European cities experimented with ways to cut traffic.

In Paris, the central districts that include the Louvre Museum and Notre Dame cathedral were shut down from 9am to 7pm to most cars. Some 200 bikes were on loan outside the city hall.

More than 1,000 cities, most of them in Europe, were taking part in the sixth annual car-free day, an operation that was first launched in France.

In Croatia’s capital, Zagreb, authorities shut down the city centre to traffic for 12 hours, encouraging people to take street cars or bikes.

Events in London included accordion performances with jazz bands on temporarily closed streets.

In Finland, where public transport is widely used, 18 cities and towns participated, with officials monitoring exhaust and noise levels carefully.

Two boulevards divided by a park in the heart of Helsinki were closed to cars, causing jams on side streets. A single ticket on the metro, bus, tram or commuter trains allowed travel on all forms of city transport for the whole day.

Some cities, including Copenhagen, launched the operation over the weekend. The Danish Justice Ministry said it would be too expensive to close the capital on a week day.

In Ireland 17 cities and towns participated by banning private vehicles from their urban centres for a number of hours in an effort to encourage walking, cycling and the use of public transport.

More in this section

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox