FRANCE DAILY LIFE

There can come a time when strong measures are needed to ease the effects of too many cars on city street. Today, that time came to Paris. And then it passed.

Government officials in Paris announced over the weekend that a new plan would go into effect early Monday morning: only about half of the city's cars would be allowed to drive on any given day. The reason, as you can probably guess, was to reduce the amount of smog in the air. All the air has apparently been cleaned up in just 24 hours, because the government has already backtracked. Starting tomorrow, any and all cars will once again be allowed on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées and everywhere else in town.

The rules, when they were in effect, forbid roughly half the cars (either with even or odd numbers at the end of the license place, the ones that didn't match the date on the calendar) from driving in Paris and 22 suburbs. Hybrids, EVs and cars carrying at least three people were given a pass, but that wasn't enough for a fair number of drivers. According to NPR, police handed out roughly 4,000 tickets today for not complying with the new rules, each carrying a $30 fine. Whether any of them tried the Steven Wright response is unknown.

Other cities limit cars from driving in their borders, based on license plate numbers. In 2008 in China, for example, no cars could drive during the Olympics for a short while. While drastic, today's move in Paris was certainly less draconian than Dubai's plan to stop poor people from owning a car.