French first as city brings in parking charges linked to car’s weight

Lyon says the policy will allow for fairer parking charges. But critics say the move is discriminatory

Parking in the city of Lyon will be charged by vehicle type and weight from next year
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A city will become the first in France to introduce parking charges according to a car’s weight in a bid to dissuade drivers from using larger, more polluting vehicles.

The charges in Lyon - scheduled for 2024 - are aimed at encouraging people to use public transport or use smaller and less-polluting cars.

The plans are part of a wider set of new parking rules that will aim to:

  • Address climate change concerns and reduce air pollution
  • Make parking simpler
  • Improve city-centre access easier for all users.

People driving vehicles for professional reasons will also benefit from a simpler charging system, said the Ville de Lyon.

The new tariffs will also take residents’ household income into account. Low-income families and those with three or more children will benefit from a family tariff costing €15 per month (down from the current €20). This will affect almost half of households and 60% of families in Lyon.

The tariff system will comprise:

  • Lower rate of €15 per month: Electric vehicles with a Crit'Air verte sticker (except for vehicles weighing more than 2,200 kg). Vehicles weighing less than 1,000 kg will also benefit, as will the lower-income families mentioned above.
  • Standard rate of €30 per month: Internal combustion vehicles weighing between 1,000 and 1,725 kg, plus plug-in hybrids weighing up to 1,900 kg.
  • Higher rate of €45 per month: The biggest and highest-impact vehicles. This means vehicles weighing more than 1,725 kg (equivalent to 1,800kg in operation), plug-in hybrids weighing more than 1,900 kg, and Crit'Air verte vehicles weighing more than 2,200 kg.

Read also: ‘We tried out driving from Yorkshire to Dordogne in an electric car’

Read also: A guide to Crit’Air stickers in France

‘More fuel, more pollution’

The new policy builds on the conclusions from the 2019 Citizens’ Climate Convention (la Convention citoyenne pour le climat). In its report, it said: “Heavier vehicles have a much greater impact on the climate. They consume more fuel, require more materials to build, and, in the case of electric vehicles, need much larger batteries.

“The accidents they cause are more serious (particularly for tall vehicles such as SUVs, whose bumpers are at the same height as pedestrians' vital organs), braking emits more fine particles, and they take up more public space, to the detriment of other, less polluting modes of transport.”

Read also: Car and stove restrictions launch to ease pollution in French cities

‘A fairer pricing system’

Valentin Lungenstrass, the deputy mayor with responsibility for transport, urban logistics, and public spaces, said: “The transport transition is one of the major challenges of the decade, in terms of both the environment and social justice.

“We wanted to create a parking policy that would meet these challenges by being progressive and truly integrated into an overall strategy…Faced with the challenges of congestion in public spaces and the urgency of climate change, motorised vehicles are becoming heavier and bigger.

“Taking into account the weight of vehicles, in addition to their fuel type, will enable us to create a fairer pricing system for Lyon's public spaces.”

Although Lyon will be the first city in France to introduce such a system, it will not be a world first. The district of Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie, in Montréal, Canada, is also bringing in a very similar system from July.

Read also: France’s vehicle safety checks are changing. Here is how

‘It’s an aberration’

But, unsurprisingly, the new policy did not go down too well with some drivers.

"I don't agree,” Thierry told Europe 1. “I have an SUV and I don't want to pay more. For me, a car is a car. Small or big. It's discrimination. This is not normal.”

Pierre said: "It's an aberration. It doesn't consume more than a normal car. We're a little wider, but we can always park in normal places. It's completely ridiculous. You always need a scapegoat."

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