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by Adam Lynton
Controversial “old banger” law will see classic cars, motorbikes and trucks banned from the French capital within two years.
Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe wants to outlaw from the French capital the use of cars more than 17 years old, trucks and buses more than 18 years old, and motorcycles built before 2004, considered by the mayor to be the "most polluting and nosiest." The "old banger" ban will apply to these vehicles inside the A86 ring-road motorway that encircles Paris. If the city council rubber-stamps the proposal, Parisians will no longer be able to cruise around the capital in classics cars such as the Citroen 2CV, Renault 4L and Peugeot 205.
Nor will they be able to buzz around town on old Vespas and other "dirty" two-wheelers. To placate opponents of the plan, who fear the poor will be driven away from the capital and that Paris will become a playground for the rich, measures will be put in place to assist families and businesses update their vehicles. For some, the move is seen as anti-social and anti-motorist, but is deemed essential to turn Paris into a Low Emission Zone and cut emissions by 30 percent by 2015. Failure to do so could see the EU fine France 100 million Euros.
It's claimed air pollution results in 43,000 deaths per year in France and cuts the lives of Parisians by six months compared to those that dwell outside the capital. Opponents of the proposal note, however, that eliminating old cars from Paris streets will have a negligible effect on cutting pollution as they make up just 3 percent of the 4.5 million vehicles in the capital. The majority of Parisians are non-motorists, giving rise to claims the controversial move is politically motivated. Other measures introduced by the mayor to quell the rise of the automobile include trams, bike and bus lanes, bicycle rental schemes, an electric car rental system and the pedestrianizing of certain roads.
Car and taxi drivers claim these traffic schemes have simply intensified traffic congestion and do not tackle France's real problem: that 60 percent of all vehicles run on diesel, producing three times as many harmful particles as those powered by gasoline.