French transport plans "not green enough"

Environment minister says cities need to be more daring in planning transport future

French environment minister Dominique Voynet has criticised transport plans being developed by 65 of the country's largest cities for doing too little to reverse road traffic growth. Ms Voynet was speaking shortly before an already extended deadline for cities to present their plans passed on Friday. Only ten cities have successfully sent proposals, a ministry spokesperson confirmed today.

Required under a 1996 law, urban transport plans are being drawn up by all urban centres with over 100,000 inhabitants. Since taking over the environment portfolio in 1997, Ms Voynet has stressed that the documents should be an "essential tool" for tackling reducing congestion, pollution and accidents.

Reviewing the few plans already submitted, the minister expressed concern, in particular over a lack of measures to tackle private car use. Most cities were not including numerical road traffic reduction targets, she said, and those that had were expressing them in terms of shifting to other transport modes rather than absolute reductions. Cities were "too rarely" restricting parking, she added.

Ms Voynet also stressed that the government had decided to speed up the remaining plans' completion by calling on departmental prefects, who are government appointed, to ensure faster progress.

Follow Up:
French environment ministry, tel: +33 1 42 19 20 21; Ms Voynet's speech.

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