Cars and the city: the end of an era?

Article published on March 15, 2008
Article published on March 15, 2008

This is the pet hate of every European representative. In the past, it was the symbol of freedom and independence, cars – being our main subject – is from now on in the firing line of any self-respecting politicians. Especially in big cities.

In September 2005, London was the first megalopolis equiped with a Toll gate called London congestion charge. Any vehicle must pay £8 (€10,70) in order to go downtown, from Monday to Friday between 7AM and 6PM.

Car-rejection policy all over Europe

Ken Livingstone, the Labour mayor of the British capital, and instigator of this car hunt, won’t stop there. A £200 tax (€268) is about to be implemented in order to decrease the traffic of the most pollutant trucks. Moreover, 12 ton lorries and above, that don’t respect European environmental norms will pay a £1000 fine (€1340). And that Car-rejection policy is being imitated all over Europe.

Going to Germany where Berlin, Köln, Hanover and now Stuttgart and 20 other cities are restricting the inner urban traffic. Thanks to green, yellow and red stickers depending on the CO2 rejection degree of the car.

At the beginning of 2008, under the impulsion of Milan mayor (Italy), Letizia Moratti, the ECOPASS system has been launched. It allows drivers of the least pollutant cars to get in the downtown area of the Lombard capital at certain hours (Monday to Friday, 7AM to 7:30 PM). The whole system being under traffic patrols and video cameras control.

What about Paris?

On the eve of city elections in France, candidates for the position of the Parisian mayor, reveal their assets. The present town team leading by Bertrand Delanoë (Socialist party) won’t satisfy with the Velib’. Besides the multiplication of public transportation, the present mayor has revealed one of his main projects: autolib. Self service electrical car stocks.

Françoise de Panafieu (UMP) supports the RATP Metropherique project. In order to make easier the Paris-suburban area traffic, an underground ring road is being studied to link each subway terminuses. The left-wing candidate declared that she would agree with a Iles de France highway but wished for “a consultation of the regional population on the urban toll gates.”

On the Verts (ecological party), we can hear a much radical speech. Denis Baupin, candidate and present deputy mayor for transportation, commits himself to “make the access to the ring road and the Iles de France highways paid for.”

One thing is for sure: cars have become unanimously politically incorrect.