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Paris Slaps Mega Tolls on SUVs to Drive Cars From City

PARIS (AP) — Parisians voted Sunday to remove SUVs from the streets of the French capital with a significant increase in parking fees starting in the fall. It is the latest part of Socialist Mayor Anne Hidalgo’s efforts to make this year’s Olympic host city more environmentally friendly. Friendly to pedestrians and cyclists.

More than 54% of votes cast in a low-turnout election tripled parking fees for out-of-town large SUV drivers in the city center to 18 euros (about $19.50) per hour, according to official City Hall results. ). Only 5.7% of the 1.3 million eligible voters cast their ballots at the city’s 39 polling stations.

In a poll posted on social media, Hidalgo said SUVs take up too much space on Paris’ narrow roads, pollute too much, “threaten our health and the planet” and cause more traffic accidents than smaller cars. insisted. Hidalgo said the additional fees will go into effect Sept. 1.

“It’s time to break away from this trend where cars are always bigger, taller and wider,” she said. “You have the power to take back ownership of our streets.”

December 8, 2023, Paris, France: On a billboard, the City of Paris announces a citizen survey regarding the increase in parking fees for SUVs. Photo: Michael Evers/dpa (Photo by Michael Evers/picture Alliance via Getty Images)

For non-residents in the 1st to 11th arrondissements of central Paris, parking an SUV costs €18 ($19.50) per hour for the first two hours, compared to €6 per hour for small cars. .

After that, parking became increasingly punitive. A six-hour stay in the SUV will cost him 225 euros ($243), enough to enjoy shows and restaurants, for example. This compares to 75 euros for a small car.

In Paris’ outer 12th to 20th arrondissements, away from the city center, an out-of-town SUV driver’s hourly wage starts at 12 euros for the first two hours, gradually rising to 150 euros for six hours.

The mini-plebiscite is open to Parisians who are registered to vote. The question they were asked was: “Do you support or oppose setting a specific fee for parking individual vehicles that are heavy, bulky, and polluting?”

Siléane Desmeurs, a 20-year-old student, voted in the chic 8th arrondissement, which includes the traffic-clogged Champs-Elysées and the chaotic roundabout around the monumental Arc de Triomphe.

Mr Demour said heavier cars would “further complicate” congestion, so “ecology and parking issues need to be taken into account”.

But voter Jadyn Lorendu, 75, said SUVs “do not get in the way, they take up less space than other cars, there are signs in the parking lot, and people should drive how they want.” ” he said. It’s about freedom. ”

The vote follows a separate City Hall consultation last year on whether to ban electric scooter rentals. The polarizing 15,000 mini-machines were then banished from the streets of Paris after almost 90% of 103,000 voters rejected the electric scooters.

In a country of car enthusiasts that is home to Renault, Citroën and Peugeot, Hidalgo has long worked to make Paris car-friendly. Some roads, especially the Seine embankment, which used to be a busy main road, are completely closed to motor vehicles. Since Hidalgo closed its doors to car traffic in 2016, it has become a haven in central Paris for cyclists, runners, families and romantics.

More bike lanes will be added from July 26th to August. The next 11 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

But with car traffic steadily declining, having been cut in half since the end of the 1990s, SUVs are impeding that progress and polluting the air with their outsized dimensions, City Hall says. City Hall has announced that collisions with pedestrians by SUVs are twice as deadly as accidents involving small cars. The magazine points out that two-thirds of Parisians currently do not own a car.

The increase in parking fees proposed by City Hall will apply to SUVs with conventional or hybrid engines from outside the city weighing more than 1.6 tonnes, or more than 2 tonnes for fully electric vehicles.

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