By late 2011 or early 2012 the city of Paris will begin testing restrictions on vehicles that emit a certain amount of CO2, meaning large, polluting vehicles such as SUVs. An environmental official with the mayor’s office said, “I’m sorry, but having a sport utility vehicle in a city makes no sense. Sell it and buy a vehicle that’s compatible with city life.” (Source: Detroit Free Press) Or, even better, sell it and ride Le Metro, or ride a bike.
Due to the current high levels of congestion and air pollution, similar restrictions will be tested at the same time in other French cities such as Lyon, Grenoble, and Aix-en-Provence. The cities where the large car ban will be tested will be called Priority Zones for Action against Air Pollution.
SUVs and other large vehicles will probably still be allowed to drive freely in the urban areas around the city of Paris, but not allowed inside. The population of the city is a little over two million, but the population of the Paris metro area is over ten million. The Paris Metro (subway) carries over four million passengers a day, so you can imagine potentially how many cars could be on the roads at the same time.
Bertrand Delanoë, the mayor of Paris, has been a longtime green campaigner and pledged to reduce traffic congestion by 40 percent by 2020. One of the ideas he has supported is a bike rental program which now provides 20,000 bikes in the city for residents and tourists to move around without having to use cars. With the program, called Vélib, a bike can be rented for a week for about nine dollars. The city also has about 230 miles of bike lanes.
They may be getting their ideas from Copenhagen, where there are car-free areas for pedestrians, and bicyclists. Also some areas have speed limits for cars of 19-25 mph, and some are even 9 mph. London has already considered banning cars from the central area, and a congestion charge is in effect for driving in certain parts of the city. The charge is about $15 per vehicle. If Paris could implement such a ban, it certainly might be a milestone in the struggle against auto manufacturers who built far too may over-sized vehicles which take up too much space, consume too much gas, and can be deadly when they impact smaller vehicles.
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