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Parisians revolt against large cars in historic vote

Graphic: Sean Creighton/The Progress Playbook
Graphic: Sean Creighton/The Progress Playbook

By Albertina Torsoli and Alan Katz

Heading into Paris in the comfort of a big car appears set to become an expensive endeavour after voters approved a referendum on Sunday, with on-street parking fees that will rise above €100 ($108) for just a few hours of shopping or errands.

Nearly 55% of those who voted approved a proposal to raise the base price to €18 an hour in the city centre, triple the cost for smaller vehicles. The format of the referendum was similar to one held last year banning shared electric scooters. The city’s authorities went through with the removal, even though few people turned out to vote.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo has made the French capital a leader in urban climate-protection and anti-pollution health measures. Aside from significantly curtailing space taken up by cars — often frustrating drivers — she’s set out to make Paris a “15-minute city” where people can reach most daily necessities by foot or bicycle in that time.

The parking measure would apply to vehicles weighing more than 1.6 tonnes, or 2 tonnes if they’re electric. While often derided for their size and higher levels of pollution, SUVs haven’t lost any of their appeal, including in France.

SUV sales have risen sevenfold in the past decade in the country, representing about 40% of new car sales, according to a report by WWF France. In its proposal, the mayor’s office said SUVs take up too much space on streets and sidewalks in Paris and are more dangerous than smaller cars for pedestrians. Still, the referendum has come under fire for unfairly targeting families from the outskirts of the city that can’t rely on public transport.

Authorities in other cities, such as France’s Lyon and Tübingen in Germany, have already started to incorporate vehicle weight into car parking tariffs.

– Bloomberg

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