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Paris leverages 'simple trick' to transform its air quality ahead of the 2024 Olympics: 'I was astonished'

"It was thrilling and made me optimistic about what can be achieved."

"It was thrilling and made me optimistic about what can be achieved."

Photo Credit: iStock

With the 2024 Summer Olympic Games set to be held in Paris, organizers and country officials have been trying to make the experience as positive as it can be for athletes and spectators. 

Among the initiatives is a $1.5 billion project to clean up the River Seine, making it safer for competitors in the marathon swim, triathlon, and paratriathlon to compete.

But another initiative has come at a much lower cost, and it's reaping incredible results. 

As Electrek detailed, this "one simple trick" has helped to improve air quality in the French capital city, and it's also provided a huge boost for pedestrians.

Paris has banned cars in much of the city, with public vehicles, residents, and delivery drivers among the small group allowed to pass through in a gas-guzzler. The shift, announced in 2022 and implemented in 2024, is expected to reduce the presence of dirty-fuel-powered machines by as much as 50%.

What's more, large SUVs are being discouraged in the city. For example, for those driving one of these vehicles, parking fees are triple what they would be for smaller vehicles. 

The results so far are impressive. According to a report from Ville de Paris, shared by Electrek, the city has seen a 40% reduction in air pollution compared to figures from 10 years ago.

This policy will allow spectators to enjoy outdoor events without inhaling so much particulate matter pollution produced by the tailpipes of gas-powered vehicles. Furthermore, residents of Paris will benefit from improved air quality and lower risks of cardiovascular and respiratory illnesses. 

Walkable cities are not just a trendy movement. They provide real, tangible benefits for the local community and visiting tourists. Being able to walk or cycle safely between spots in the capital will boost exercise opportunities, further discourage the presence of vehicles, improve social opportunities, and reduce incidences of car-related accidents. 

In Pontevedra in Spain, for example, cars were almost universally banned from the city center, and as of 2022, the area had seen no car-related deaths for over 10 years, as well as a 67% reduction in air pollution. 

One commenter on Electrek was particularly impressed with Paris' transformation. 

"Last year I cycled through the city, from 30km south to 15km north, anticipating problems," they began. "But the development of cycle lanes and cycle paths meant that it was a breeze. I was astonished by the numbers and diversity of bikes and riders. It was thrilling and made me optimistic about what can be achieved."

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