SPRINGTIME in Paris is usually a celebratory moment when the city turns inside out, pavement cafés put out their tables and diners prolong their lunch breaks in the sun. The past week, however, as a menacing smog has set in over the city, the warm weather has brought concern and irritation. On March 17th, for the first time in 17 years, the government enforced new rules allowing only motorists driving cars with odd-numbered registration plates to enter the French capital and use the roads in the surrounding departments.
The city’s extensive public-transport network was made free from March 14th, and extra trains were put into circulation. The speed limit was also reduced on certain roads. A more drastic attempt to enforce a reduction in car use came into place today, and will be continued tomorrow if necessary by allowing cars and motorbikes with even-numbered registration plates on the roads.
The city authorities provided cheaper alternatives, but commuters ignored them. This shows that changes in individual behaviour need strong authoritarian actions.