Paris traffic police tackle air pollution – Sprinter Stuffed

We’re sceptical of Paris traffic police’s apparent love for the environment, and Bulgaria’s claim to be building the longest tunnel in Europe (but could be wrong on both counts). An extraordinary amount of people managed a trans-continental journey squeezed inside a Sprinter minivan. Bosnian farmers blockade the Croatian border, money goes missing from a Macedonian motorway fund, and Belarus braces ahead of its first caravan season.

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PARIS TRAFFIC POLICE RIDE TO RESCUE AIR QUALITY

Or is it a desperate bid to reverse ailing accident stats?

Photo via @PrefPolice

Photo via @PrefPolice

A few months ago, Paris traffic police had their Christmas and New Year’s holidays held to ransom for not booking enough motorists.

Now, all of a sudden, they’ve issued 13,000 speeding tickets in the past week in a bid to tackle air pollution.

Really? Police that not too long ago were reluctant, for whatever reason, to book any motorists at all have now taken to it with the zeal of missionary converts, and all in the name of the environment?

Well, possibly. Since 4 March, the Paris Prefecture de Police twitter account @PrefPolice has started providing regular updates on local air quality.

But might there be another explanation?

As we have consistently reported, the impressive overall fall in fatal road accidents in France last year all happened shortly after the introduction of unmarked radar cars in March.

After that there were steadily declining gains for the rest of 2013. By this January the figures were ‘stagnant’.

Radar cars undeniably worked in the beginning but the effect wore off quite quickly. What they did prove though was that drivers were responsive to a well-publicised, well-funded and organised crackdown.

It’s true too that the message behind recent speed controls has flip-flopped between air quality and road safety. The limit cut on the Peripherique last year, from 80 to 70kmh, is a classic example.

France would not be alone in using air quality rules to change driver behaviour where other more direct methods have previously failed.

Meanwhile, the reputation of a certain up and coming government minister depends on the continuing success of the road safety campaign, and might suffer if it became known the stellar headline figures are not all they suggest.

It seems that this year’s road safety strategy has finally revealed itself. For too long these busted flush radar cars were the only trick the police had up their sleeves. It now looks likely that the summer will be a succession of flash mob-style anti-speeding actions. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

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Austrian police

Austrian police stopped this French registered Mercedes-Benz Sprinter minibus on Saturday and found an impressive 42 people inside. Two families – 20 adults and 22 kids – were on their way from Romania to Regensburg in south east Germany. Thirty three of the occupants were taken to nearby St Polten train station to continue the journey. The remaining nine people were allowed to proceed after a technical inspection. Photo via www.polizei.gv.at (h/t @RoadRescueUK)

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BULGARIA will build the longest tunnel in Europe according to local reports. Two tunnels on the third stretch of new road between Sofia and the Greek border will total 37km apparently (by our calculations the Kresna Tunnel will be just shorter than Gotthard). MACEDONIA. Accusations of dodgy dealings in the construction of the Demir Kapija-Smokvica highway in the south east to the Greek border. Almost 100 suspicious transactions totalling €3.5m have been observed involving money mostly from EU institutions. BOSNIA. Farmers have blockaded the Orasje-Zupanje border crossing over alleged unpaid incentives. Trucks have been blocked entirely but some cars are getting through. Alternatives include Posavina-Brčko and Bosanski-Šamac (see map). BELARUS now has its first ever National Caravanning Association. ‘Caravanning is a type of tourism,’ says a statement. ‘Caravanners travel in motorhomes and stay in camping sites.’ It may take some time for them to get used to the idea. Five new sites are due to open in the capital region this year. GIBRALTAR QUEUE WATCH. Delays reached two hours today, about average recently.

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