• Paris: to avoid pollution, ride a free Vélib’
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  • Health and environment,
  • 13.03.2014

Elina Baltatzi


Free Vélib’ is the solution of Paris City Hall to fight against pollution. Photo credit: Daniel Stockman

 In order to fight against heavy air pollution Paris City Hall decided to make the Parisian Vélib’ system free (or extremely cheap) for at least today and tomorrow. City authorities seem to realize that the high level of air pollution due to an unusually hot winter weather can be confronted by bicycles instead of cars. 

A thick cloud of fog seemed to cover Paris since early in the morning. It was nothing other than exhaust gas, exceeding twice the maximum permissible limit of air pollution. When the air quality index indicates that pollution can fluctuate between 25 and 49, Paris today reached an alarming 100. Paris City Hall hopes that its measure concerning Vélib’ will contribute to decrease the air pollution in the French capital and ultimately improve health conditions. In combination with free public transport, Paris city officials aspire to confront these unusually warm winter days by reducing the number of cars substantially. 

What does the measure entail? 

Anyone who wishes to use Vélib will be completely exempted by the daily general rental fee (1,70€). Furthermore, for each trip, the first half-hour is free of charge and then the usual price apply. Public transport will be free for everyone throughout the entire weekend. 

Photo credit: Alberto Hernandez (flickr)

Riding a bike is indeed a good solution for decreasing air pollution and improving health conditions for everyone. A bicycle is obviously less polluting than a motorized vehicle. For instance for a 5 km trip, a bike’s CO2 emission is only 105g; nothing compared to 1355g of a car (you can use our CO2 emission calculator here).

Paris in not the only city in Western Europe to confront heavy air pollution in the past few warm winter days. London and Brussels are only some of the other cities which pay the price of preferring motorized vehicles over cycling. We hope that Paris will be a source of inspiration for other cities to promote their bike hiring schemes  – and not only when air pollution is exposed by a revealing winter sun!

 About the author

 Thomas Mourey is a EuroVelo assistant at the European Cyclists’ Federation. TM-bw

Last Updated March 13, 2014