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EU Urban Mobility Observatory
News article17 October 2022

The actions taken by Paris deliver as cars are leaving the city

The proportion of journeys by car in Paris has dropped by about 45% since 1990, according to a paper published by the journal Les Cahiers Scientifiques du Transport. At the same time, the use of public transport in the French capital has risen by 30% and the share of cyclists has increased tenfold over the same period. This is being attributed to the extensive actions taken by the city over the last few years - and particularly its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In recent years, Paris has implemented an array of measures to prioritise pedestrians, cyclists and public transport use, while at the same time reducing car use. In addition to pedestrianising the quayside of the River Seine, the city has banned heavily polluting diesel cars by the creation of a low-emission zone, reduced drivers’ access to major streets, expanded green areas and promoted other ways of moving around the city. During the pandemic, 50 kilometres of cycle routes were added to the city's existing network.

Separate research released by the Parisian Urban Planning Workshop (Apur) found that the number of cars in the city has fallen every year since 2012. That means that now, while nine out of ten French people have a car, only three in ten Parisians do.

The latest projects in Paris include enforcing a new citywide speed limit of 30 kilometres per hour and establishing car-free zones outside of schools. One of the most radical new measures is a “peaceful zone,” set to launch in 2024, that will make it illegal to drive across the city centre without stopping, which the city estimates could cut through-journeys by up to 70%.

Other cities are taking similar actions. The Norwegian capital Oslo has replaced parking spaces with pedestrianised streets and bike lanes and Rome in Italy has restricted access to the city centre for cars, with the revenue from any fines used to finance public transport. Both cities have reduced car traffic by 10% to 20%. The Dutch city of Utrecht has reduced the share of commuters traveling by car by 37% by providing mobility services, including free public transport for employees, and workplace shuttle buses. Bristol in the UK and Catania in Italy have both cut car commutes to their universities by 24% to 27% by providing free public transport for students and incentives for staff to use car-sharing, walk, cycle or use public transport.

Such actions are of fundamental importance in helping cities achieve their climate neutrality targets. 



Publication date
17 October 2022
Policy and research