The French government has ended a controversial partial ban on vehicle activity in Paris, just hours after increasing pollution moved the city to take drastic measures.
More than 700 police were ordered onto Paris streets to enforce the ban, which allowed vehicles with only odd-numbered plates to be driven, after five days of dangerous smog covered the city.
The ban was lifted later in the day, after it was decided that weather conditions had improved and pollution levels would not exceed official safe limits.
The city has not seen such a ban since 1997, when similar measures saw chaos erupt as the city’s business was disrupted to combat deadly smog.
Nearly 3900 drivers were fined for driving with incorrect plates, but the nation’s ecology minister Philippe Martin said 90 percent of Parisians had complied with the ban.
Along with the decrease in pollution, the ban saw congestion drop by 60 percent as traffic volume fell by around a quarter.
Car rental services were reportedly flooded with requests for vehicles with odd-numbered plates, and many commuters turned to public transport - made free for the day - and bike-share services.
According to figures from the World Health Organisation, France is more prone to smog than other European capitals, due to a tax regime that favours the purchase of diesel cars over petrol models.
Figures show that new registrations in France in 2012 were 67 percent diesel, compared to the western European average of 53.3 percent.
Denis Baupin, member of parliament for the Green Party in Paris, told Reuters this week that it was time for government support of diesel models to be scrapped as emissions requirements tighten and the efficiency of other fuel options continues to increase.
Figures from the European Environment Agency (EEA) web site showed last week 147 micrograms of particulate matter (PM) per cubic meter of air in Paris - compared with 114 in Brussels, 104 in Amsterdam, 81 in Berlin and 79.7 in London.
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