Traffic has always been a problem, and the more cars there are, the worst traffic gets. Some cities, Beijing and Paris included, are taking drastic measures to curb traffic such as limiting new car registration and banning SUV’s from city streets.
New car registration in Beijing has almost doubled since 2005, adding over 2 million vehicles to the ancient city’s streets in half a decade, going from 2.6 million in 2005 to over 4.7 million this year. Even with China’s much-ballyhooed high-speed rail, traffic is horrendous and can even result in a weeks-long traffic jam. Thus, the Chinese capital city is implementing laws that many in America (me included) would consider draconian.
For one, they are going to slash new car registration by 2/3 to just 240,000 vehicles in 2011 (for comparison there have been 700,000 new vehicle registrations since the beginning of 2010), and while at the same time hiking parking rates. During rush hour, cars registered outside of Beijing will not be allowed beyond the city’s Fifth Ring Road, which is about 10 kilometers from the city center and mostly links suburbs to the city. Imagine being told, since you’re not from around here, you can’t go into the city? Additionally, Beijing will require all vehicles within the city limits to adhere to the strict Euro V emissions codes in 2012, which they claim will clean the air an additional 30 to 50%, but will force any vehicles that don’t meet the standards off the road.
Paris is taking a slightly softer approach, specifically targeting SUV drivers and owners of older diesel vehicles, perhaps even outright banning the vehicles within the limits of Paris. Cities such as Lyons are also considering a ban on SUV’s, which could come as soon as 2012. At the same time, they are going to push the billionaire Vincent Bollore’s AutoLib program, which for about $16 a month will give Parisians access to 1,000 electric “Bluecars” stationed around the city. This car sharing program will cost four or five bucks an hour in addition to the $16 membership fee, which is surprisingly reasonable if you ask me. Try telling that to slighted SUV and diesel vehicle owners though.
Do you think SUV’s be banned from cities too, or is that going too far?
Chris DeMorro is a writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to Hemis. You can follow his slow descent into madness at Sublime Burnout.