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To fight air pollution, Madrid is activating a temporary car ban

It's going to be a lot easier to drive through Madrid — and the city council hopes that means it's soon going to be easier to breathe, too.

With bad air pollution a growing concern in the Spanish capital, the city council announced that when nitrogen dioxide in the atmosphere reaches a certain level in at least two measuring stations for two days in a row, and if the air is likely not going to quickly clear, there will be a restriction on which cars can be on the road from 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., The Guardian reports. Vehicles with even-number registration plates will be allowed to drive on even-number days, and cars with odd-number registration plates will be able to be operated on odd-number days. There are a few exceptions: moped, hybrid cars, vehicles being used to transport disabled people or three or more passengers, buses, taxis, and emergency vehicles are all exempt from the ban.

There are 3.2 million people living in Madrid, with 1.8 million cars, and the ban will be lifted once smog levels drop by a specific amount. Should the air quality not improve, the city could go a step further and ban taxis, with the exception of hybrids. "It's not about traffic restrictions but about the important issue of public health," deputy mayor Marta Higueras said. "Lots of people suffer from breathing problems and are very affected by pollution." The conservative Popular party is criticizing the measure, calling it "ideological."