A photo taken using a slow shutter speed shows cars driving by the Arc de Triomphe on Champs Elysee avenue in Paris. EPA-EFE/IAN LANGSDON


Paris to vote on hiking SUV parking fees


Paris is asking residents to vote on whether to raise parking fees for large SUVs.

The city has made efforts to encourage public transport and cycling, but says while the number of cars has dropped, the size of vehicles has increased.

“Many of you complain that there are still too many big polluting SUVs taking up more space on our streets and on our side walks,” says mayor Anne Hidalgo.

A vote for a “significant” hike in parking fees sends a message to carmakers to stop “pushing to buy ever-bigger, more expensive, more resource-guzzling, more polluting” vehicles, she says.

The 4 February referendum will only target out-of-town cars.

She does not say how much she wants prices to go up, when the city will implement the measure, or exactly which vehicles will fall under the price hike.

The higher parking fees though will apply to owners of SUVs with an internal combustion or plug-in hybrid engine weighing more than 1.6 tonnes, and electric vehicles weighing 2 tonnes or more, says Le Parisien.

The move will let Paris pursue “a better distribution of public space for the benefit of soft mobility, from streets to schools and pedestrians,” the city says.

The mayor’s opponents point out she made a city-funded trip to Tahiti. They accuse her of now wanting to rehabilitate her green credentials and paper over the city’s budget deficit.

“On what grounds would Anne Hidalgo apply a different pricing policy for parking SUVs?” asked Pierre Chasseray of the French motorists’ association wonders.

The approach is discriminatory, while the term SUV refers only to one type of vehicle, he says.

“Moreover, SUVs in France are smaller than family minivans and emit no more pollution than a sedan,” he adds.

A parking fee hike may also irk visitors of the 2024 Olympics.

In another referendum last April, Parisians voted to ban for-hire electric scooters from the city’s streets.

Although 90 per cent of voters supported the ban, the referendum received only 100,000 votes, under 7.5 per cent of the capital’s registered voters.

Parisians wanting to participate are asked to register to vote before 8 January if they have not already.