Paris and Brussels call a day without cars in Europe

Cars queue in the usually heavy early morning traffic congestion on the 'Rue de la Loi' in central Brussels.

Europe should celebrate an annual day without cars in an attempt to alleviate air pollution, said the mayors of Paris and Brussels on the eve of a day without vehicles in their cities.

The call came in a joint statement by the mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo and her counterpart in Brussels, Philippe Close, in which both noted "the urgency of climate problems and the impact of pollution on health."

Both capitals will celebrate their annual free car day on Sunday as part of the European Heritage Days 2018, a weekend of cultural events held every year in countries across the block.

In Paris, the City Council said on Friday that six areas in the heart of the capital would remain traffic-free on the first Sunday of each month, including Ile de la Cite and Ile Saint-Louis, Louvre, Opera, Chatelet and the Marais.

The plan will begin on October 7, and only cars will be allowed on the main roads that cross these neighborhoods.

Between 2017 and 2018, car traffic in central Paris fell by 6.0 percent, which reduced air pollution "in a comparable proportion," the City Council said, describing it as a "record" drop.