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“Why not make the builders pay?” : Parisians divided over the anti-SUV policy

“For or against a specific rate for the parking of heavy, bulky and polluting individual cars?” : here is the question to which Parisians are invited to answer this Sunday, February 4, on the occasion of the second "citizen's vote" organized by the City of Paris to limit the place of SUVs (for Sport utility vehicles, Editor's note) in the capital city.

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“Why not make the builders pay?” : Parisians divided over the anti-SUV policy

“For or against a specific rate for the parking of heavy, bulky and polluting individual cars?” : here is the question to which Parisians are invited to answer this Sunday, February 4, on the occasion of the second "citizen's vote" organized by the City of Paris to limit the place of SUVs (for Sport utility vehicles, Editor's note) in the capital city. If some voters say they are in line with this line, ready to put forward their opinion as citizens even though they readily admit not to be concerned, some take advantage of this opportunity offered to them to express their disagreement with the policy of the Mayor Anne Hidalgo.

At the town hall in the 10th arrondissement, which has more than 80,000 inhabitants, opinions are very divided. Cécile, in her sixties - who describes herself as a "Parisian cyclist" - did not hesitate to come and give her opinion in favor of tripling the prices for the "heaviest" cars, explaining that we "don't need SUVs in the city. She also came to answer the second question, only asked to residents of the 10th: “for or against reserving the sidewalks of Boulevard de Magenta for pedestrians and creating new secure cycle paths on the roadway”. “I would have come even if it had only been the first question, but I am really against this cycle path on the sidewalk, where cyclists almost run over pedestrians at any time,” she explains.

An opinion shared by Michelle, 70, who assures that she came “specially” for this second question, she who “absolutely wants this cycle path to disappear from the road”. She still took advantage of the vote to position herself against the increase in prices for the heaviest cars, deeming it “inadmissible that we tax the owners of large cars” while recognizing “not being transported” and saying that she “disgusted by ecologists”. “It’s shameful,” she says, offended that we can make car drivers pay more depending on the model of their car, even though “some are electric.” At her side, her husband Guy even speaks of a “break in equality”.

"The first time I saw the voting flyer, I said to myself 'is this a joke?'", Laurence, 67, protests in turn, even questioning the legal nature of the vote. approach “to make only the owners of the biggest cars pay more”. According to her, this measure “stigmatizes” a part of the population, or even worse, contributes “to increasing inequalities”. A decision symptomatic in his eyes “of the policy led by Anne Hidalgo which consists of pitting one against the other”. “Why not make car manufacturers who are the first to decide on the size and weight of vehicles pay directly?” she asks.

It is also to show his disagreement with municipal policy that Grégory, 39, came, “decided to vote against all of the mayor’s projects”. He also voted against the cycle path on the road, for “fear of seeing his neighborhood transformed into a huge construction site” if the pro side prevailed. With him, his companion Damien, 50, adheres to the “citizen principle” and takes advantage of giving his opinion as soon as he is “offered the opportunity”, no matter if the subject does not concern him. Finally, Cécile, 30, took action on the Parisian issue of SUV parking. “I am a cyclist and a pedestrian, and it has become more and more complicated for us to circulate in such a dense city, especially when the cars are parked half on the sidewalk, half on the road,” laments her, bicycle helmet in hand.

Also read Does Anne Hidalgo's electric car really weigh more than the SUVs she intends to drive out of Paris?

Present this afternoon in her district town hall, the mayor of the 10th Alexandra Cordebard, for her part, was delighted with “the strong interest of Parisians in the two questions asked”. “A lot of people came to vote. The fact that we added the question on the development of Boulevard de Magenta to the Parisian question also interested a lot,” said the left-wing elected official. According to her, this cycle path on the road “embodies the pedestrian-bike conflict” which “we must succeed in resolving”. “The participatory democracy exercise is going rather well,” confirms Paul Simondon, the deputy mayor of Paris in charge of the city’s finances and budget.

Openly in favor of tripling the parking rate for the heaviest and most polluting cars, the elected official nevertheless believes that the objective is not to replenish the town hall's coffers, but rather to reduce the space allocated to these polluting vehicles. . “It’s win-win. Either we have more revenue, or we have fewer SUVs in Paris,” underlines the guardian of the City’s stock exchange. If the pros prevail, the visitor, whose thermal or plug-in hybrid vehicle exceeds 1.6 tonnes, or two tonnes for an electric vehicle, will have to pay 18 euros per hour for the central districts or 12 euros for the outer districts.

Unsurprisingly, motorist associations denounce the organization of this vote, first and foremost the 40 million motorists association. For its president Philippe Nozière, “this vote is a charade”, while the results are according to him “a foregone conclusion”. “The people who will make the effort to go and vote will be those who are against,” he believes, recalling that Parisians “are not concerned” to the extent that the increase in prices will not apply to Parisian residents, nor to sedentary professionals parked in their authorized parking zone. And no longer to taxi drivers in dedicated stations, to craftsmen, health professionals and disabled people, lists the town hall.

“Those who will be affected are the commuters and tourists who come to Paris and who will be charged three times more for parking than others. This is a position that I find unacceptable,” criticizes the motorist representative, who questions: “Is it really legal to charge more for parking?” “It’s a total inequality,” he further regrets, estimating that “Parisians themselves are unequal with regard to parking as soon as they park in a district that is not theirs. (...) It’s communication as only Anne Hidalgo is capable of doing it.”

Proof of this, according to him, is the question asked at the start – “more or fewer SUVs in Paris?” - the one present on all the flyers distributed by the City is not the correct one. “They realized they weren’t asking the right question. This is also why they chose to avoid the problem of SUVs in the final question,” continues Philippe Nozière, according to whom SUVs “do not pollute more and are not bigger than another vehicle , only higher”. An evolution in the size of cars decided with the objective of “better security for motorists and also provide a certain number of additional features”. “All this generates weight and size, that’s why vehicles are heavier and bigger than 20 years ago, but if it’s a question of weight, Anne Hidalgo should ban buses !”

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