Photo: Osbornb / Creative Commons
Classic cars, motorcycles and lorries are to be banned from Paris within two years under a plan to cut pollution that opponents claim is “anti-social, anti-suburban and anti-motorist”.Under proposals presented to the city council on Monday, Socialist mayor Bertrand Delanoë intends to outlaw by September 2014 the use of cars and utility vehicles more than 17 years old and lorries or buses more than 18 years old.
Motorcycles built before 2004 will also be forbidden, as the mayor said they were the “most polluting and noisiest”.
The “old banger” ban will apply to all vehicles inside the A86 motorway that surrounds the French capital.
If the measures go ahead, classic old cars like 2CVs, Peugeot 205s and Renault 4Ls will be a thing of the past in the capital, along with sputtering but charming old Vespas and other two-wheelers deemed too dirty to drive.
Fabien Breuvart, the proud owner of a silver 1990 Renault 4L asked: “Is this mayor really Left-wing?”
The plan would “exclude the poorest people from driving in the capital” and turn Paris into an “island for the rich”, he told Le Parisien newspaper.
The Socialists insisted they would introduce “social” measures to help families and businesses update vehicles, including state subsidies to scrap old cars for new ones – a move experts dubbed unrealistic given the huge cost of such a measure at a time of austerity.
Philippe Goujon, head of the Right-wing opposition UMP federation in the Paris council criticised the move as “anti-social, anti-suburban and anti-motorist.” He said it was a purely political manoeuvre by Mr Delanoê to make Anne Hidalgo, the deputy he hopes will succeed him in 2014, appear “greener” than the Greens.
Other measures unveiled on Monday included one to erect toll barriers on cross-city motorways for lorries. Eco-taxes will be also imposed for those using Paris’ inner ring road, le périphérique, with heavy vehicles tracked via satellite or number plate recognition.
The idea, the mayor said, is to “progressively and in a concerted manner” ban all lorries from driving in or around the capital.
The speed limit on the ring road will be cut from 80kph (50mph) to 70kph (43mph), while the number of 30kph zones within Paris will be multiplied starting mid-2013.
The measures require approval at ministerial level and the Paris Préfecture de Police.
They are part of a plan to turn Paris into a Low Emission Zone, cutting emissions by 30 per cent by 2015. Failure to comply with European air pollution norms could see Brussels slap a 100 million-euro fine on France in 2016.
Air pollution is responsible for 43,000 deaths per year in France and is estimated to take six months off Parisians’ lives compared to those outside the capital.
The ban is the latest in Mr Delanoë’s war on “the hegemony of the automobile” that has seen him introduce trams, bike and bus lanes and the popular cycle rental scheme. In the past year, he has launched Autolib’, the electric car rental system and begun pedestrianising stretches of road along the banks of the Seine.
This has delighted most non-motorists, now the majority in Paris, but has dismayed car and taxi drivers, who claim traffic congestion is worse than ever.
François Legaret of the UMP said the latest “autocratic” measure would not solve the “paralysis” he claimed the other traffic schemes had caused.
Critics said it failed to tackle the real problem in France: its heavy reliance on diesel, used by 60 per cent of all vehicles and emitting three times as many harmful fine particles as petrol. The town hall sidestepped the issue by calling on the government to cut tax incentives to use diesel.
Users of old cars are only thought to account for three per cent of the 4.5 million or so vehicles in the Paris region.
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