Paris, February 4, 2024, saw Parisians voting in favor of a proposal put forth by the city’s Socialist Mayor Anne Hidalgo to triple parking charges for hefty SUV-style cars. The official results from city hall indicated that 54.55% of voters supported charging cars weighing 1.6 tons or more at 18 euros ($19.50) per hour for parking in the city center, or 12 euros farther out. Despite the low turnout of only 5.7% of the 1.3 million eligible voters, Mayor Hidalgo applauded the decision as a “clear choice of Parisians” that is “good for our health and good for the planet.”
The move to increase parking charges for SUVs aims to address environmental and societal concerns, particularly focusing on the impact of these vehicles on air pollution, safety, and the fair allocation of public space. Hidalgo’s administration has been actively working to pedestrianize streets, build cycle lanes, and discourage driving in a bid to reduce harmful transport emissions.
The measure is set to target drivers from the suburbs who park in central Paris during the day, with exemptions in place for fully electric cars, taxis, health workers, and people with disabilities. The proposal is expected to bring in up to 35 million euros per year and is part of the city’s ongoing mission to combat air pollution, congestion, and motor traffic dominance.
However, the initiative has not been without its critics. Some argue that the SUV classification is imprecise and fails to differentiate between vehicles that may have different environmental impacts. France’s Environment Minister, Christophe Bechu, has labeled the SUV surcharge as a form of “punitive environmentalism,” emphasizing the need for drivers to opt for lighter vehicles.
The decision to implement a special parking rate for heavy SUVs reflects the city’s commitment to addressing environmental and safety concerns, while also aiming to optimize the allocation of public space in the capital. This landmark referendum in Paris is likely to inspire cities around the world to follow suit in addressing the challenges posed by the growing presence of SUVs in urban environments.