Paris mayor wants limits on cars in city centre

Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo speaks during a news conference at Paris city hall, Nov 7, 2014.

PARIS - The mayor of Paris said Sunday she wanted the city's historic centre to become "semi-pedestrianised" as she laid out a plan to tackle traffic and pollution in the French capital.

"In the four central districts, apart from bikes, buses and taxis, the only vehicles allowed will be residents' cars, delivery vehicles and emergency vehicles," Anne Hidalgo said in an interview with the Journal du Dimanche weekly.

Hidalgo said the proposed scheme would start at weekends but could be "quickly" rolled out for the rest of the week.

The mayor also said that the amount of cycle lanes would be "doubled by 2020" as part of a 100-million-euro bike development plan.

She said she also wanted to roll out a system of electric-powered bikes along the same lines as the city's popular velib temporary bike hire network.

Central Paris has a relatively high population density in European terms and tourists are often surprised by the traffic levels in and around the historic sights of the world's most visited city.

The city also experiences periodic pollution spikes forcing authorities to impose temporary speed limits on motorists and even to ban vehicles from running on certain days.

Hidalgo said she wanted to limit the traffic on some of the most polluted streets - like the iconic but traffic clogged Champs-Elysees - to "clean vehicles."

As an "experimental" measure, she suggested allowing only ultra-low emitting cars on these major thoroughfares.

"I want diesel cars out of Paris by 2020 and if possible beyond the peripherique," said the mayor, referring to the constantly choked ring road.

"Today, 60 per cent of Parisians don't have their own car whereas in 2011, it was 40 per cent. It's moving quickly," she said.