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Paris mayor insists car ban on Seine quay will stay in place

General view on the banks of the Seine river closed to the traffic in Paris, France, September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

The Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, has said that cars will not be allowed to drive on the right bank of the Seine despite a ruling by the Administrative Court of Paris in February that the quays should be reopened to cars.

The Mayor explained in an interview published Monday in the French daily newspaper Libération that she will issue a decree this week, using powers that are allocated to the Mayor, to override the ruling of the Administrative Court of 21st of February, which overruled the original 2016 order to close the quays to traffic.

"Starting this week, with the support of the State…I will issue a decree, [using] police powers of the mayor, to maintain the pedestrianisation of [the quays],” she says in the interview.

She also announced her intention to appeal the decision of the Administrative Court to close the quays saying that both the Paris police chief, and the Élysée Palace, are convinced that the banks of the Seine should be closed to traffic.

The Minister of Transport, Elisabeth Borne, for her part, says she believes the decision by Hidalgo to close the quays to traffic was the right one, even if Hidalgo had erred by not properly explaining to people why she believed the measures are necessary.

Alternative plan?

Meanwhile, the president of the Regional Council of Ile-de-France, Valerie Pécresse, detailed Monday her "alternative" and "progressive" pedestrianisation of the quays of the right bank in Paris.

In an interview on France Inter radio station she said her solution would be to pedestrianise the quays slowly

Instead of closing the right bank in one go, she proposes a single lane for cars with a speed limit of 30/kmh, for a period of two or three years, giving the city and motorists a chance to transition to cleaner vehicles.

Her plan envisages opening this new car lane next month on weekdays. A second lane would be accessible to bicycles and pedestrians.

Car ban

The traffic ban for the right bank of the Seine was originally introduced in September 2016. The Socialist Mayor Anne Hidalgo hailed the move at the time as a "historic decision, the end of an urban motorway and the taking back of the Seine." A centerpiece of her battle against pollution, the plan has divided opinion in the French capital.

A poll at the time poll found 55 percent support for the plan among Parisians. Nearly 19,000 people signed a petition in favour, while a motorists' association gathered 12,000 signatures of members who oppose it.

The car ban applies to 3.3 kilometres of an expressway on the right bank of the Seine.

The project, with a cost estimated at eight million euros, added wooden walkways and greenery while leaving a lane for emergency vehicles.

The right-dominated greater Paris region has been hostile to the plan, citing fears that bottlenecks on alternative routes will hurt businesses and delay commuters.