Prague may limit cars during smog alerts

An odd / even license plate plan should reduce traffic

Prague is contemplating a new solution to the smog problem. After a smog situation is announced, cars with even license plates would be allowed on some days, and cars with odd plates on others. Similar measures are already used in other cities. The plan has been proposed by the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute (ČHMÚ).

“A sensible option in terms of environmental impacts is even / odd licenses and a prohibition of trucks over six tons,” Ondřej Vlček from the ČHMÚ air pollution protection department told broadcaster ČT24.

The even / odd policy is already used in Paris, for example. Cars with an even-numbered license plate can be driven on even days, and on odd numbers on odd days.

He added that the current policy of urging people to use public transportation instead is insufficient, and it does not reduce traffic enough to have a significant effect on air quality. Prague also restricts some industrial businesses during smog alerts, but the biggest source of pollution is traffic.

Jana Plamínková, city councilor for the environment and infrastructure (STAN), also said an evaluation of options have shown that offering free public transport and a ban on parking for non-residents in the paid parking zones has had a negligible effect.

This year, the municipality wants to develop a regulatory plan. Prague City Hall spokesman Vít Hofman told ČT24 that an expert group should discuss the even / odd proposal in the middle of October and make recommendations.

City officials want to have new rules in place by this winter. The risk of smog is greatest during the cold months. Last winter, meteorologists declared a smog situation in Prague three times.

A smog situation is declared when airborne particles of a size designated as PM10 exceed the limit of 100 micrograms per cubic meter for 12 hours and are not expected to drop below that threshold for 24 hours.

The regulation limiting some industry takes effect if at least half of the stations in a region over 12 hours show average concentrations of airborne particles exceeding a limit of 150 micrograms per cubic meter, and the situation is not expected to change for 24 hours.

A smog situation can be caused by cold temperatures, inversion and lack of wind. A temperature inversion is an increase in temperature with height, which creates an inversion layer. An inversion can lead to pollution being trapped close to the ground.

Numerous health problems have been linked to smog, It can be especially harmful to senior citizens, children, and people with heart and lung conditions such as emphysema, bronchitis, and asthma.

Related articles:
Prague may restrict diesel cars - Prague.TV 18.04.2017
City may ban older cars in the center - Prague.TV 14.03.2017
Prague working on smog plan - Prague.TV 15.02.2017

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