1 of 2 | A Range Rover SUV drives near the Eiffel Tower in central Paris on Sunday as city residents voted by a small majority in a municipal referendum to triple the parking changes owners of vehicles above 1.7 tons will have to pay. Photo by Mohammed Badra/EPA-EFE
Feb. 5 (UPI) — Parisians voted to triple the charges non-resident owners of larger SUVs will have to pay to park in the French capital.
Just over 54% of people in the referendum Sunday voted to increase the price of parking passes for “heavy, bulky, polluting” cars from outside Paris that weigh more than 1.7 tons.
The adoption of the measure means that starting in September city center on street parking for an SUV or any 4×4 car — gas, diesel or hybrid powered — exceeding the weight threshold will triple to $19.37 an hour. The charge for other areas of the city will rise to $12.91.
The charges ramp up after the first two hours with six hours’ of parking costing $242 compared with $80 for regular cars.
City residents and owners of electric vehicles are exempt, provided they weigh less than 2.2 tons.
“Parisians have made a clear choice. Other cities will follow,” said the city’s Socialist Party mayor, Anne Hidalgo.
However, 94% of residents stayed away from Hidalgo’s poll, part of a drive ahead of the Summer Olympics in July to make Paris greener and more pedestrian and cycle-friendly.
Turnout was just 5.7%.
Hotel de Ville, Paris’ city hall, claims the number of people riding bikes around the city is up 71% since the end of COVID-19 lockdowns in 2021.
David Belliard, deputy mayor in charge of transport, said the new parking fees could net as much as $37.7 million for the city annually.
However, motoring groups reacted with fury to the result with the “40 millions d’automobilistes” lobby organizations starting a petition to demand people retain the right to drive any vehicle they choose.
“We must firmly oppose these attacks on freedom pursued under false green pretexts,” it said.
The outcome is being observed by other highly congested European capital cities such as London where Labor Mayor Sadiq Khan said Saturday ahead of the referendum he would be closely watching how the Paris initiative pans out.
Khan was speaking at an event organized to mark the 10th anniversary of the passing of a nine-year-old London schoolgirl, the first person with air pollution recorded as the cause of death on her death certificate.