On September 27, 2016, Paris banned cars on some of its streets for one day as a part of the car-free movement which began in the 1990s. The result was amazing!
Even though the ban involved just 30% of the city’s streets, nitrogen dioxide dropped 40% compared to a typical day. Sound levels in the center of the city were also cut in half!
These results impressed Mayor Anne Hidalgo so much she tweeted, “We might envisage days without cars more often….perhaps even once a month.”
Something similar happened in Hong Kong in 2015 when the Umbrella Movement democracy demonstrations stopped traffic in a few small areas of the city.
Air quality roadside monitors in the part of the city where the demonstrations took place measured vastly lower air pollution than in the other parts of the city. It stayed that way for almost 3 weeks until the Umbrella Movement road blocks diminished.
In the U.S. in 2005, there were more deaths attributed to the effects of air pollution than there were deaths caused by traffic accidents.
Emergency room visits due to lung and heart conditions drastically increase on days when air pollution is high. At $1000.00 per ER visit, these costs add up fast!
Approximately 150 million Americans live in areas that don’t meet federal air quality standards. Imagine how beneficial it would be if those areas banned cars on most of their streets just once or twice per month!