The Citroen DS
Some of the most famous cars in French motoring history
would be banned from Paris under a law intended to hit
gas-guzzlers, but which is being criticised as a blow to the
poor and classic car fans.
The proposal to ban pre-1997 cars from the city centre is the
brainchild of Paris mayor Bertrand Delanoe, who was behind
the popular Velib' bike-rental scheme but has been accused of
turning the city of lights into a playground for the rich.
Under the plan, such classics as the stylish Citroen DS, one
of which was painted by Picasso; the Citroen 2CV, sometimes
described as a tin snail; and the boxy but durable Renault
4L, along with less iconic models driven by ordinary
Parisians who can't afford to trade up, would have to go.
"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," the left-wing mayor told councillors in
Claude Fauconnier, vice-president of the French Friends of
the 2CV Club, called the measure "another harebrained idea"
to please ecologists and wealthy Parisians, that ignores the
day-to-day reality of the less-well-off.
"If you're driving a 17-year-old car there's usually a reason
and it's certainly not for fun," he told Reuters.
"It's often people struggling to make ends meet at the end of
month and they're the ones who can't afford a modern car."
The proposal, which needs government endorsement and will be
submitted to a ministerial council in January, would outlaw
cars built before 1997 from the city and nearby suburbs from
The Paris Town Hall's press office said about 365,000 cars
would be affected and pre-'97 models were chosen because that
was the year strict anti-pollution rules took effect in
Delanoe has been fighting for more than a decade to cut
pollution in Paris and says his efforts - ranging from more
road lanes for buses and bikes and wider pavements - have cut
traffic by 25 percent and greenhouse gas emissions by 9
The Velib' bicycle renting scheme was followed up with a
similar Autolib' car-hire scheme, and, more recently, by
plans to close off part of the city's riverside expressways
to traffic and turn them into pedestrian boulevards.
If accepted, the proposals also would ban trucks that are
more than 18 years old, and motorbikes built before 2002.
Other ideas include cutting the speed limit on the busy ring
road around Paris and introducing a congestion charge, or
eco-tax, for trucks passing through the city.
Paris would not be the first city to ban old clunkers from
its streets. The Indian city of Calcutta ordered cars older
than 15 years off its roads in 2008.