Paris limits car speed to 30 km/hour in bid to boost safety, air quality

Paris during the second national lockdown due to the spread of COVID-19 infection
Some traffic is seen from place de la Concorde in Paris on the first day of the second national lockdown as part of the COVID-19 measures to fight a second wave of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in France, October 30, 2020. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

PARIS, Aug 30 (Reuters) - French authorities hope the streets of Paris will be safer, quieter and less dirty from Monday as a new speed limit for drivers of 30 kph (19 mph) came into force.

The city wants to encourage walking, cycling and use of public transport, deputy mayor David Belliard said on franceinfo radio. The new speed limit should help reduce pollution, noise and the number of serious accidents, he said.

"This is not an anti-car measure," Belliard said.

The 30 kph limit already applies to about 60% of the Paris area but will now cover the entire city. However, a few major thoroughfares such as the Champs Elysees will be exempt, with the speed limit remaining at 50 kph.

"We want to limit (vehicles) to essential travel," Belliard said.

Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo, who won a second six-year term in 2020, has built kilometres of new bike lanes, banned old diesel cars, and made the Seine quais car-free. She is also reducing parking space in the city in a bid to limit car traffic.

City hall has said police will be lenient in applying the new speed limit in the first weeks. Other French cities with a 30 kph speed limit include Bordeaux, Strasbourg and Toulouse.

Reporting by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Angus MacSwan

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