Paris Bans Older Cars

Legislators in Paris have passed a new law that will ban all cars registered before 1997 from being driven on the streets of the famous city. The law is intended to help curb the city’s chronic air quality and traffic problems by banning older cars from the city center during the weekdays in addition to all motorcycles registered before 1999.

blerpfThe ban itself was announced some time ago, being a small part of a larger anti-pollution measure that was put forward by legislators last year. By 2020, the ban will extend to cover cars that were registered prior to 2010 and violators will face a fine of up to $39 at the start of the ban and around $85 by January 1st of 2017.

This isn’t the first measure to be passed in an attempt to reduce pollution in the French capital. Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo has brought forward and implemented many new laws for this purpose including a recent move to ban cars from the Champs-Elysees on the first Sunday of every month. The mayor, a self-proclaimed Socialist, has also moved to create more pedestrian zones at major traffic circles along the Seine river and a planned city-wide “day without cars” which will be repeated this year and expanded to cover even more neighborhoods.

According to studies, the ban on 19-year-old cars will affect 1 in 10 vehicles owned in Paris. According to a French newspaper, Minister of the Environment Segolene Royal has agreed to classify cars into six different categories based on the amount of pollution that they create. The most environmentally friendly cars will likely be electric. The vehicles will then be identified by color of sticker placed on their windshields, a system created to make it easier for cities to implement traffic restrictions in times of heavy pollution. While the ministry for the environment previously pushed for a more severe system with only four categories, French legislators contested such a quick switch and lobbied for the more gradual transition that six categories would allow.

“If we had stayed at four stickers, one-third of vehicles would have been suddenly forbidden from Paris on the 1st of July,” explained Christophe Najdovski, the adjoint in charge of transportation at Paris’ city hall. “This was unenforceable.”

That said, pollution statistics have shown that a change must occur. Apparently fine-particle air pollution is responsible for about 42,000 deaths per year in France, and air pollution costs the country as a whole somewhere around $112 billion every year.

blopWhile there being a pollution problem in the country’s capital is not contested, what exactly should be done remains unclear. Critics of the old car ban have complained that it disproportionally affects low-income drivers without creating significant environmental remedies.

“These restrictions don’t achieve anything from an environmental point of view,” explained Daniel Quero, president of the anti-bam club 40 millions d’automobiliestes. “The only reason that Anne Hidalgo announces these restrictions is to push cars outside of the capital, without concern for the economic and social consequences.”

Only time till well if the initiative actually helps Parisians, but surely some changes must at least be attempted.

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