Paris mayor says her city has too many SUVs, so she’s asking voters to decide on a parking fee hike

Does Paris have too many SUVs

ByThe Associated Press

November 14, 2023, 1:20 PM

FILE – Cars drive on the Champs Elysee avenue, Thursday, May 7, 2020 in Paris. Paris mayor says her city has too many SUVs, so she’s asking voters to decide on parking fee hike on Feb. 4, 2024. The Arc de Triomphe is seen in background. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena, File)

The Associated Press

PARIS — Does Paris have too many SUVs? The mayor is putting that question to voters in the runup to next year’s Olympic Games, the latest salvo in her long-running campaign to make the city more friendly to pedestrians and the planet, and less friendly to cars.

Voters will be asked on Feb. 4 whether to impose a “very significant” hike 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 big polluting SUVs taking up more space on our streets and on our sidewalks,’’ she said. She hopes the vote will send a message to carmakers to stop “pushing to buy ever-bigger, more expensive, more resource-guzzling, more polluting’’ vehicles.

City Hall wouldn’t specify the size of the “very significant” hike or when it would take effect if approved. It is also not clear which vehicles would be specifically targeted. It would not apply to Parisians with parking permits.

While city policies – including support for cycling — helped reduce the number of cars on Paris streets, City Hall said the actual size of the cars has grown.

Car owners complain the referendum unfairly singles out SUVs, while pedestrian advocacy group 60 Million Pedestrians cautiously welcomed the idea, according to newspaper Le Parisien. Rivals accused Hidalgo of trying to rehabilitate her green credentials with the referendum idea after a city-funded trip across the world to Tahiti in French Polynesia that drew wide scorn.

Earlier this year, Parisians voted to ban shared electric scooters amid concern about accidents and road nuisance.

Getting around Paris in a car will become especially complicated during the Olympics, with extra security measures and other restrictions in place. Some half a million spectators are expected along city quays for the opening ceremony on the Seine River, and even more for the rest of the July 26-Aug. 11 events.

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