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Environment

Paris mayor renews Seine-side car ban after court ruling

media The quays on the left bank of the Seine in April 2017 FRANCOIS GUILLOT / AFP

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo has renewed a ban on cars driving on the right bank of the Seine after a court overruled a previous bylaw that was bitterly contested by right-wing parties.

"I have launched a new bylaw taking into account what the court said," Hidalgo said on Thursday.

Last month a Paris court ruled against the ban on the grounds that a study of its environmental impact suffered from "inaccuracies, omissions and shortcomings concerning the effects of the project".

Although the city council, backed by the government, initially presented the move as primarily intended to reduce pollution, the new bylaw does not mention ecological considerations at all.

Instead, it advances aesthetic and touristic arguments.

Motor vehicles should not be allowed to drive along 3.3km of quays so as to "preserve the authenticity and integrity" of a Unesco world heritage site, the bylaw says.

The ban allows people to "stroll along the Seine without interruption passing Paris's most popular monuments with an unprecedented visual perspective", it asserts, adding that it "offers the possibility of regaining access to the river, to benefiting from contact with water in the heart of a built-up urban environment and enjoying an island of coolness that is unique on this scale".

Political battle over vehicle ban

Council officials told Le Monde newspaper that the new bylaw was not an attempt to get around the court's ruling but "drawing conclusions from it and adapting to them".

The first bylaw was bitterly opposed by leaders of the Ile-de-France regional council, which is controlled by the right-wing Republicans party.

The council's chair, Valérie Pécresse, called for a phased pedestrianisation of the quays on the right bank, the left bank quays having already been pedestrianised.

The move was unpopular with some commuters who used their cars to get to work from the suburbs.

But a poll, commissioned by the city council and published on Thursday, showed 55 percent of Parisians in favour of pedestrianisation and 66 percent in favour of the reduction of traffic in the capital.

The city council has taken a number of measures to battle pollution levels that lead to frequent alerts.

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