Higher parking fees for SUVs is nothing but “virtue signalling” from "hippie lunatics".
That’s according to Irish Independent columnist Ian O’Doherty, who criticised Paris’ decision to impose higher parking fees on owners of SUVs to fight ‘autobesity’.
Paris City Council agreed to introduce the charges in a unanimous vote to reduce pollution in the capital.
The size and weight of the SUV will be considered in the charges, while larger electric cars are not expected to face higher charges.
“I don’t drive,” he told Newstalk Breakfast. “But what I would suggest is stop telling people what to drive and what to do.”
Mr O’Doherty agreed SUVs are particularly large and has noticed the trouble owners have parking them.
“[But] so be it,” he said. “If they want to drive it, let them drive it.
“When it comes to the weight, electric cars have now been blamed for causing more potholes because the batteries are so heavy.
“You might as well then start banning electric cars.
“It's another way for the hippie lunatics from the environmentalist movement to try and tell people what they should be doing.”
Friends of the Earth Chief Executive Oisin Coughlan said governments across the world “regulate all sorts of things”, especially cars.
“We regulate speed,” he said. “And I’m old enough to remember seatbelts weren't a thing in the back of cars.
“We regulate all the time to ensure safety... and there are literally streets now that people can’t drive backwards and forwards on because there's so many SUVs trying to go both ways and they don't fit.”
Mr Coughlan said SUVs are less safe for road users and more damaging for the environment.
“We need to move to less pollution,” he said. “We need to keep our city streets open for pedestrians and cyclists and other road users.”
The increased parking charge “incentivises” people to choose smaller cars and therefore cause less waste, according to Mr Coughlan.
Mr O’Doherty said buying an SUV is an individual choice – and we shouldn’t penalise drivers unless they break the law.
“SUVs are not illegal,” he said. “They might be annoying if you’re not in one, but so be it. That’s life.
“We need to get used to letting people do what they want to do as long as it’s not breaking the law.”
Mr Coughlan said we need to address the “environmental elephant in the room” and acknowledge the dangers of SUVs.
“You're much more likely to get injured or killed by SUVs because of the height of the front of the grill," he said.
“It’s about making people aware of the danger.”