Change is hard, and sometimes drastic, and in the case of Paris‘ Mayor Bertrand Delanoe, grounds for accusation. Delanoe has been trying for more than ten years to cut pollution in the City of Lights, with some amount of success, including dedicated bus and bike lanes as well as the immensely popular Velib’ bike rental system and Autolib’ car rental company.
Delanoe’s latest plan has some people accusing him of trying to turn Paris into a playground for the rich, that is, those who can afford a car newer than 1997, but why? The year 1997 marks when France started implementing stricter emissions laws, requiring emissions control devices on all vehicles since then, so it actually makes a decent cut-off year to ban older, dirtier vehicles.
Delanoe estimates that this new law might affect some 365,000 cars, but Claude Fauconnier, VP of French Friends of the 2CV [the popular Citroën 2CV, that is], calls the proposal “another hare-brained idea” to please the wealthy and ecologists, saying, “If you’re driving a seventeen-year-old car, there’s usually a reason… people struggling to make ends meet at the end of the month and they’re the ones who can’t afford a modern car.” Delanoe responded, “This is for our citizens. It’s a public health battle and we’ve been fighting since 2001 to try and make the air here more breathable.”
Under the proposal, by 2014, passenger cars older than 1997, trucks older than 1996, and motorcycles older than 2002, would be banned from Paris city limits. Other parts of the proposal include dropping the speed limit on the highway that circles the city, and an eco-tax on trucks passing through the city. The proposal will be submitted to a ministerial council in January 2013, and still needs government endorsement before it could be implemented.