Parisians vote to triple parking charges for SUVs

More than 50 per cent of people voted for the proposal to raise fees for SUV to €18 an hour

SUV drivers will be charged €225 for parking in Paris, under the new rules. AP
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On-street parking fees for SUVs are set to increase above €100 ($107) for a few hours in the French capital after Parisians voted to raise charges for larger cars.

More than half of those who voted, 55 per cent, approved the proposal to raise fees for SUVs to €18 an hour for the first two hours in central districts of the city – in the arrondissements numbered one to 11 – triple the cost of smaller vehicles. After that, parking will become increasingly punitive.

Parking a SUV for three hours will cost €72, with four hours rising to €117. Five hours will cost SUV drivers €171 and a six-hour stay will reach €225, compared with €75 for smaller vehicles.

The mini-referendum was open to Parisians registered to vote. The question they were asked was: For or against the creation of a specific rate for the parking of heavy, bulky, polluting individual cars?

But only 5.7 per cent of the 1.3 million eligible voters cast ballots at the 39 voting stations in the city, newspaper Le Monde reported.

The parking measure will apply to vehicles weighing more than 1.6 tonnes, or two tonnes if they are electric.

In Paris's outer arrondissements numbered 12 to 20, an out-of-town SUV driver would pay €12 an hour for the first two hours, rising to €150 for six hours.

While often criticised for their size and higher levels of pollution, SUVs have not yet lost their appeal to motorists, including in France.

SUV sales have risen seven-fold in the past decade in the country, representing about 40 per cent of new car sales, a report by WWF France found.

In its proposal, the mayor’s office said SUVs take up too much space on streets and pavements 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.

The vote was the latest leg in a drive from Socialist Mayor Anne Hidalgo to make the host city for this year's Olympic Games greener and friendlier for pedestrians and cyclists.

In a country of car lovers, home to Renault, Citroen and Peugeot, Ms Hidalgo has worked for years to make Paris less car-friendly.

Motor vehicles have been barred entirely from some roads, most notably a River Seine embankment that used to be a busy motorway.

It’s become a central Paris haven for cyclists, runners, families and romantics since Ms Hidalgo closed it to motor traffic in 2016.

Officials claim car traffic has steadily decreased, down by half since the end of the 1990s but SUVs are denting the progress due to their outsize dimensions. City Hall says that SUV collisions with pedestrians are twice as deadly than accidents involving smaller cars. It notes that two thirds of Parisians now do not own a car.

In get-out-the-vote posts on social media, Ms Hidalgo argued that SUVs take up too much space on narrow Parisian streets, are too polluting, “threaten our health and our planet,” and cause more traffic accidents than smaller cars.

“The time has come to break with this tendency for cars that are always bigger, taller, wider,” she said. “You have the power to take back ownership of our streets.”

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.

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

Updated: February 05, 2024, 10:59 AM