Springtime in Paris might not be as pleasant as you'd think, thanks to a recent spate of warm weather which has the City of Light shrouded in smog. In an effort to combat rising air pollution, authorities in Paris and several other French cities have made public transit free for the weekend.
Over 30 regions in France have been on maximum pollution alert for days, and a thick smog has blanketed several cities across the country. The European Environment Agency says France is experiencing its worse epidemic of air pollution since 2007. (Via France 24)
A BBC reporter notes the country is experiencing unusually warm weather, which has turned the already-severe emissions problem of French motorists into a crisis.
"The particles from morning rush hour are getting caught beneath a layer of warm air as the day warms up. That plus the fact that there's very little wind to disperse the car emissions."
International Business Times points out the resulting smog has made the air quality in Paris rival Beijing's infamous toxicity. And that's not a comparison to be made lightly.
French authorities have already been trying to curb vehicle emissions by lowering speed limits and banning heavy trucks from the roads. The weekend of free public transit is meant to encourage people to use public buses and trains, along with the city's bike-sharing program. (Via Euronews)
While a weekend of free rides doesn't seem like it'll make much of a dent in the Parisian fog, a Mother Nature Network writer notes the scheme might encourage a more widespread use of public transit in the future.
"Transit advocates often say that getting people to try public transit is often the biggest challenge; once they do they often find it easier, more convenient and pleasant than they had imagined. It's a shame, of course, that it takes dangerous levels of pollution to spur such measures in the first place."
France, along with several other European countries, has struggled to meet the environmental standards of the European Union, and could face a multi-million Euro fine if its air quality doesn't improve.