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Paris bid to ban designer jeeps

An SUV: But are city centers the place for them?
Should designer jeeps (SUVs) be banned from city centers?
Paris (France)

PARIS, France -- Bulky, gas-guzzling sports utility vehicles (SUVs) could be banned from the chic but traffic-clogged streets of Paris within 18 months following a resolution passed by the city council.

Denis Baupin, a leading Green party councilor who tabled the resolution, says the designer jeeps are "not suited to towns" and he could not understand why people drove the fashionable "off-roaders."

"They're polluters, they're space-occupiers, they're dangerous for pedestrians and other road users. They're a caricature of a car."

Deputy Mayor Baupin said Wednesday that the resolution could lead to a ban on the increasingly popular vehicles in about 18 months if it is included in an overall project to improve traffic flow in the city.

"We have no interest in having SUVs in the city. They're dangerous to others and take up too much space, " he said on Europe 1 radio.

The city council voted to urge Socialist Mayor Bertrand Delanoe to consider banning SUVs, which have become increasingly popular and now make up about five percent of the French car market -- just below the western Europe average.

Baupin said Paris, which has been setting aside more lanes for buses and bicycles since a Socialist and Greens coalition took over City Hall in 2001, could not legally ban SUVs outright.

"Our idea is to limit the circulation of the most polluting vehicles," he said. "That means SUVs and lots of other vehicles that don't meet European pollution standards."

Plane include banning 4x4s from Paris city centre during peak pollution periods, and denying their owners residents' parking permits. Off-roaders could also be banned from protected areas like the Bois de Boulogne and the banks of the river Seine.

The proposal, certain to be opposed by motoring groups, follows similar remarks by the mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, who in May month described SUVs as "bad for London -- completely unnecessary" and called their owners "complete idiots."

Britain's Guardian newspaper reported a survey showing that just one in eight 4x4 drivers had driven their car off-road, and six in 10 never take it out of town.

The Guardian added that France caught on late to the vogue for SUVs, mainly because Renault, Peugeot and Citroen have not so far offered them.

But with luxury carmakers like Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Porsche selling plush leather-upholstered 4x4s, the vehicles are an increasingly common sight in Paris's wealthier quarters. Sales surged by 11 percent in France last year.

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