The development of light commercial vehicles poses problems of traffic and pollution, Le Monde, 17 / 01 / 05 By Dominique Buffier
The light commercial vehicle (LCV) is experiencing strong growth in large cities. In France, in four years, the fleet of LCVs has grown by 1,1% per year, like passenger cars. At the same time, that of trucks has practically stagnated, underlines a study of October 2004 of the Institute of planning and town planning of the region of Ile-de-France (Iaurif). On January 1, 2003, Ile-de-France had 801 LCVs under the age of 600, or 15% of the national park.
Its size and weight, less than 3,5 tons, make it a vehicle more and more sought after for the transport of goods. The difficulties of circulation in the city centers partly explain its growing success: it takes the place of the heavy vehicles, more and more excluded from the dense urban fabric.
In Paris, heavy goods vehicles with a floor area of between 16 and 24 m2 are subject to traffic authorizations. Beyond this reference, all trucks are prohibited, except those registered on a specific list: flour mills, tanks, refrigerated trucks, car carriers, moving trucks, road construction trucks and, finally, the trucks that supply the discovered markets.
The dimensions of the vehicles authorized to circulate meet the characteristics of the demands of city dwellers. In the capital, nearly 80% of orders to individuals are less than 150 kilograms. But the home delivery sector (LAD) is awaiting regulation from the public authorities on the sharing of the roadway for the exercise of their activity. A July 2004 survey showed, in fact, that in Ile-de-France only 21% of LCVs were parked in an authorized area; 23% stopped on prohibited parking, 32% in double queues and 3% in bus lanes.
The use of LCVs may seem more rational in urban space, but it also has the effect of increasing traffic. The Iaurif survey refers to another study, carried out by the Environment and Energy Management Agency (Ademe), from 1997, which demonstrated the negative effects on the environment of this development. . The Ademe showed that twelve 500 kg vans, making deliveries to twelve stores located 10 km from the distribution center, emitted more exhaust fumes and produced more noise than a single 6 tonne truck making the same route .
Another problem posed to the public authorities: the state of the vehicle fleet of transport companies. Until now, taking a strict transport efficiency perspective, companies have used the older vehicles for built-up areas.
In its merchandise circulation plan, the City of Paris will exclude from its perimeter the most obsolete vehicles, which are also the most polluting. The implementation of this program should start within two years and spread over several years.