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Drivers could make €100 by not driving

Council could pay drivers to take public transport instead of their cars

London has had congestion charging since 2003 and now Lille could follow suit – but in reverse: rather than charging drivers to commute into the city, the council will pay them to leave the car at home.

Called Ecobonus Mobilité, it follows the success of a project in Rotterdam, Holland, and will see com­muters paid €2 not to drive into the city at rush hour.

They would be encouraged to use public transport, work from home (télétravail) or simply set off earlier or later.

Mathieu Chassignet, head of the project at Lille, said: “If we take 5% of cars, 2,000 or so, off the road at main entry points traffic would still be dense but would flow more easily.”

“The south access from the A1 is the worst and we will start there at the end of 2018 with drivers paid at the start of 2019.

“We have already tested it with 40 volunteers with good results and we see from Rotter­dam that if drivers are paid for 12 months they find advantages to not using the car and continue, even when not being paid.”

Identifying drivers to join the scheme was a problem and the easiest method, using number plate recognition, had issues over personal data use but, he said, it was not insurmountable.

“It will cost less than €1million and has benefits of cutting congestion and pollution but it could also delay the need for new roads, so it could be a major saving.”

Bordeaux, Lyon, Grenoble and the Ile-de-France region have also been in touch.

Meanwhile, road deaths rose nearly 9% in November to 281 people killed and the government is looking again at plans to cut the 90kph speed limit on  most of France’s roads to 80kph.

The aim is to reduce accidents and pollution while allowing traffic to flow better. Road safety campaigners said it could also save 300-400 lives a year.

Prime Minister Edouard Phil­ippe said he backed the move as “two thirds of accidents are on two-way national and departmental roads with 90kph limits” and added that a decision would be made in January.

Rural mayors in the AMRF said it would not help country residents, just slow them down.

The government’s Assises de la Mob­ilité received a plea from 113,000 cyclists who called for better bike and road safety facilities. Cycling deaths have risen 22% since 2010 and 65 cyclists died in spring 2017 alone.

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