A petition to ban SUVs (Sports Utility Vehicles) from entering Lausanne could be presented to the city’s municipality and then to the cantonal government, according to the newspaper Le Matin.
The petition, which, according to Le Matin, has 1,200 signatures – their website shows a figure of around 800 – aims to ban large vehicles from the city’s streets. Only vehicles bearing an official sticker attesting to their compliance would be allowed into the city. All others would risk fines.
In the canton of Vaud, the minimum number of signatures required for a referendum, or popular vote, is 12,000. In the municipality of Lausanne, the minimum number of signatures needed for a referendum is between 8,000 and 8,500 (10% of the voting population).
The ban, which still requires the signatures of many more voters to qualify for a referendum, would stop anyone with a 4×4, SUV, SUT1 or crossover vehicle weighing more than 1,500 kgs, including electric vehicles, from entering the city. For example a Skoda Octavia Combi 4×4 1.6 TDI 2011 ( 1,405 kg) would be ok but an Audi A4 Avant Quattro 2.0 TDI S-Line 2011 ( 1,600 kg) would not be. In addition, vehicles over 1,500 kg that are not a 4×4, SUV, SUT or crossover would be permitted.
For the organisers, these “oversized” vehicles are excessive except for certain specific commercial applications. They should therefore be kept outside the city, where their use adds to traffic congestion, air pollution and creates an additional danger to pedestrians and cyclists.
Jean-Luc Pirlot from the Automotive Trade Association told Le Matin that focusing on vehicle weight doesn’t take into account the differences between petrol, diesel, electric and hybrid cars. He also thinks that Lausanne’s steep streets justify these kinds of vehicles in winter.
Others have pointed out that SUVs are not necessarily the most polluting vehicles on the road. Many of the new ones are less polluting than some older smaller vehicles.
Petition organisers say that a focus on emissions would penalise some people with low incomes driving older more polluting vehicles when the petition is focused on banning newer oversized vehicles, which are typically owned by the well-off who can afford to change them.