The increased parking fees in Paris for so-called SUVs – which actually means almost all cars – are causing quite a stir. Our author says: Before we talk about certain models in Germany, we should first start somewhere else.
Since the referendum in Paris, a heated debate about parking space has broken out in Germany. Should heavy cars, preferably SUVs, but also Jeeps and some oversized station wagons, pay more for parking in city centers? The Parisians said “yes” to this, and some German cities such as Tübingen also have parking regulations based on the vehicle’s curb weight.
At first it sounds logical, especially in this way you can give one to the SUV drivers who are hated in many places. But what I think we should talk about at this point are the other calibers that have been blocking parking space in big cities since Corona at the latest – and often permanently. This refers to mobile homes, all surf mobiles, i.e. converted transporters, caravans and trailers.
This is now reaching proportions where a corresponding debate would actually be worthwhile.
Get out of the sun for me!
I will never forget it: Hamburg, Eimsbüttel. In the middle of the city. I wake up in the morning and pull aside the curtain on my bedroom window. But it doesn’t get any brighter. Funny – it’s already seven o’clock and it’s spring. Sun where are you? I found them behind the gigantic, old, unsightly mobile home that had taken up space in front of my apartment overnight. Feels eight meters long, close to the 7.5 ton limit and poorly maintained on top of that. A visual imposition. And yet: It would take three months until the monster finally started moving again and then disappeared for a few weeks.
However, the double parking space (or four Smarts parking space) that had now become available could not be used for another two weeks: someone seized the opportunity and parked their trailer with an advertising structure there. Wedges on, lock the clutch and sayonara. I didn’t buy the advertised bauble.
As I said: This is no longer a marginal phenomenon. In Hamburg, drive along Isfeldstrasse to Blankenese. Or via Heinrich-Plett-Straße towards the Elbe shopping center. These are my local favorites, but I’m sure you can think of similar hangouts near you. There are countless streets where the word has apparently gotten around that you can park your vehicles relatively safely and, above all, legally, indefinitely. If you drive past there, it quickly feels as if you have taken a wrong turn and are heading to the Caravan Salon in the Düsseldorf exhibition halls.
Legally a safe bet
From a purely legal perspective, motorhome owners are on the safe side. In contrast to trailers and caravans, there is no time limit for motorhomes. If it is approved, it can be parked permanently. Parking in residential areas at night and on Sundays and public holidays is only permitted if the vehicle is heavier than 7.5 tonnes.
Anyone who thinks that resident parking would help here is wrong. This was last discussed in Hamburg in the summer of 2023, and the authorities were powerless. The “” quotes authority spokesman Dennis Heinert as saying: “The nationwide road traffic regulations fundamentally do not differentiate between the vehicle types mobile homes and normal cars. Mobile homes can be parked in public spaces like normal cars. There are no special parking spaces in public spaces.”
Even with trailers and caravans, you don’t have to stress: If a gap is found, you can park them on the side of the road for two weeks. How exactly this is checked is a completely different matter – and even if someone complains: Then you simply implement the bulky things and the deadline starts again.
So when we start to be more selective about the distribution of limited parking space in big cities, the approach of basing this on the weight of cars is complete nonsense. As far as the city center of Paris is concerned, one has to assume that the aim is to keep tourists away – and in the end no one cares what cars they parked there with. The idea of a restriction for SUVs only works better because the emotive word can be used so beautifully.
If you buy a motorhome, you should plan something beforehand
I believe that the cityscape would change significantly in many places if motorhomes were no longer classified as simple cars and the thumbscrews were tightened on trailers. It may sound presumptuous, but it can’t actually be too much to ask to think about where you’re going to put your stuff before you buy a second home on wheels or a trailer. If you don’t have space, you shouldn’t make it a problem for your neighbors. Especially not where there is hardly any space anyway. How campers from the village handle it is their business: If there is enough space, I don’t see a problem.
I actually see it very similarly with trailers. Especially because here, perhaps even more so than with mobile homes and caravans, they are often not used for months and the things just sit around uselessly.
This caravan owned by ex-Tesla employees is intended to “ride along” and relieve the burden on electric cars
In case of doubt, traffic experts know better than I how this is ultimately regulated. We would also have to talk about accommodation for owners: If you are not allowed to park your car everywhere, other tax rates will have to be used, for example, since you are actually financing the street that you want to park on but are not allowed to.
Exclusion is always a difficult topic and someone will always complain about it – so perhaps it’s about looking for the lowest common denominator or the least amount of harm. I think banning vehicles that rarely move could bring some relief.
Cities without cars are utopia
But it doesn’t seem to make sense to me to bother with the SUV again and again and to declare the evil heavy cars the enemy. It doesn’t matter to me whether a Smart, a Polo or a Q8 is blocking a parking space. When in doubt, I’m even more annoyed when a small Smart is parked deep in the parking space and I briefly hope that I’ve finally found a spot, but then I only see the mini-blocker.
Finally, I would like to pick up those who are already on the way to writing me an angry email about how cars generally don’t belong in cities. I agree. I know, amazing. But only under one condition: If public transport works so well that it doesn’t make sense for me to take the car, I’m happy to forego it. Since this is by no means the case in the west of Hamburg – and there are certainly other examples here too – I don’t think the debate makes sense at the moment.
I’m a recent graduate of the University of Missouri with a degree in journalism. I started working as a news reporter for 24 Hours World about two years ago, and I’ve been writing articles ever since. My main focus is automotive news, but I’ve also written about politics, lifestyle, and entertainment.