Does Paris have too many SUVs? The mayor is putting that question to voters ahead of next year’s Olympics, the latest leap in her long-running campaign to make the city more pedestrian- and planet-friendly and less car-friendly.
Voters will be asked on Feb. 4 whether to impose a “very significant” increase in parking fees for SUVs visiting the city, Mayor Anne Hidalgo said Tuesday in a video posted online.
“Many of you complain that there are still too many large, polluting SUVs taking up more space on our roads and sidewalks,” he said. He hopes the vote will send a message to automakers to stop “pushing to buy bigger and bigger, more expensive, more fuel-efficient, more polluting vehicles.
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City Hall would not specify the size of the “very significant” increase or when it would take effect if approved. It is also unclear which vehicles would be specifically targeted. It will not apply to Parisians with parking permits.
While city policies – including support for cycling – have helped reduce the number of cars on Paris roads, City Hall said the actual size of cars has increased.
Car owners complain that the referendum unfairly singles out SUVs, while the pedestrian advocacy group 60 Million Pedestrians cautiously welcomed the idea, according to Le Parisien newspaper. Opponents accused Hidalgo of trying to restore her green credentials with the referendum idea after a city-sponsored trip around the world to Tahiti, French Polynesia, drew widespread scorn.
Earlier this year, Parisians voted to ban shared electric scooters amid concerns about accidents and traffic congestion.
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Getting around Paris by car will become especially complicated during the Olympics, with extra security measures and other restrictions. About half a million spectators are expected along the city’s docks for the opening ceremony on the Seine River, and even more for the rest of the July 26-Aug. 11 events.