Facing serious health alerts over smog and pollution, Paris tries to get its citizens out of their cars.
By: Sami Grover Mother Nature Network, 14 March, 2014
It's not just China that's looking for novel ways to cut down on air pollution. Facing health warnings over dangerously high levels of particulates across much of France, authorities in Paris say levels have reached levels four times those deemed safe by the World Health Organization, and the city is taking extraordinary measures to bring emissions under control.
Salon reports that all buses, subways, trains and the city's bike-share scheme are going to be offered free of charge over the weekend. Even the city's famous Autolib' electric car-share scheme will offer a first hour free. The measures come alongside other initiatives such as newly reduced speed limits — which police are taking extra measures to enforce — as well as municipal vehicles being taken off the roads unless their use is absolutely necessary.
The free transit, however, offers the promise of more than just temporary respite from smog. Even though transit ridership is increasing in many parts of the world, including in the U.S., transit advocates often say that getting people to try public transit is often the biggest challenge; once they do they often find it easier, more convenient and pleasant than they had imagined.
It's a shame, of course, that it takes dangerous levels of pollution to spur such measures in the first place. Perhaps a case could be made for making all transit free, or at least offering free rides on certain days to get people hooked