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Monsters of the road: what should the UK do about SUVs?

Interesting piece in The Guardian about SUVs.

Quote:

Sold as a means of escape from the concrete realities of the modern world, a symbol of individualism and the pioneer spirit, the SUV represents instead a uniform kind of selfishness, a collective indifference to community to which, alas, we are all more or less prone.

 

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144 comments

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marmotte27 replied to Adam Sutton | 5 months ago
2 likes

"A strawman would be trying to equate American vehicles to the SUVs on British roads."

Look at American roads, look at British roads, what do you see ?

(Definition of strawman: refuting an argument different from the one actually under discussion, while not recognizing or acknowledging the distinction)

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Adam Sutton replied to marmotte27 | 5 months ago
1 like

Mate, even the Gaurdian article was acknowlding that the idea of what an SUV actually entails needs consideration. There is a huge difference between what passes as an SUV in the majority of cases compared to something like a Land Rover Defender/Range Rover or BMW X series.

Nothing was even being refuted, an observation was being made. What is laughable is the average comment from most on here is littered with logical falllices of every kind, so carry on.

Edit: maybe we should apply a super tax to this? It is being described as an "SUV" after all so should be lumped in with Cadillac Escalades and Hummers, same as the Kona I gave as an example or Ford Puma maybe.

https://ebiketips.road.cc/content/news/fiido-titan-an-suv-e-bike-with-cl...

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chrisonabike replied to Adam Sutton | 5 months ago
4 likes

Well you've already done "careful now"... if it's fun with definitions we want I was going to propose one or two of my bikes as SUVs.  They're used for both utility purposes and as close as I get to "sport" (not very...) and they certainly transport me to "adventures".

So why not ignore the categories?  With that bike (or other "chunky" but legal pedelecs e.g. the Rad Rhino etc.) apply the same rules?  So check safety (visibility from the driving position*), the expected impact to others / to buildings that it crashes into (times the expected frequency of this).  How space-efficient is it for moving people / stuff and if stored in the public space when not in use?

Why not apply "road tax", that'll make everyone happier that the situation is "fairer" **.  So some kind of axle weight tax on it same as is sometimes proposed for other (four wheeled) motor vehicles (IIRC road damage is proportional to the fourth power of that).  And users should certainly pay for the pollution / carbon emissions of the electricity used in powering it.

I doubt the cyclists will notice the imposition.

* the old "cyclists drive their bikes, motorists just ride in their vehicles".

** I don't think it will obviously.  Cyclists will still be cyclists, and in people's way etc.

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mattw replied to marmotte27 | 5 months ago
1 like

Skirting that strawman, here's a recent Belgian study.

https://etsc.eu/suvs-and-pickups-make-the-roads-less-safe-for-car-occupa....

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chrisonabike replied to Adam Sutton | 5 months ago
3 likes

Well - the video is US centric I guess because this is where they originated from.  However - it is replete with specific examples.

Being specific (e.g. if reporting "growth in number of SUVs") is important.  No lesser grouch/pedant than BikesnobNYC has pointed out that what's in and what's out of "SUV" is somewhat arbitrary, if not completely meaningless.  And I notice the Kona says "SUV-style bodywork" and "Sleekly sculpted SUV style" on their site - presumably referring to the high front / some kind of look.  But that itself may be a safety concern if it affects your ability to see well out of it.

Definitions being more sloppy of course don't make a given vehicle less dangerous, or more efficient, give it more internal space or make it less of a scam on the public if you just move it to Europe.

If you can think of a catchy word or phrase which more accurately describes "vehicle which is principally designed to safely transport fragile egos - which is way larger / heavier / less efficient than the current norms for these things, or is less safe for those on the outside e.g. due to very high front / lesser ability to see what's around you" I'm all for it.

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Adam Sutton replied to chrisonabike | 5 months ago
2 likes

chrisonatrike wrote:

If you can think of a catchy word or phrase which more accurately describes "vehicle which is principally designed to safely transport fragile egos" 

Bicycle?

You will also find that again, when you are not fixated on American SUVs and RR's etc, the sightlines as you put it, on many "SUV"s in Europe are better than the saloons they share a platform with. I have driven both the Alfa Giulia and Stelvio, both sharing the Giorgio platform, and the Stelvio "SUV" had noticably better forward visibility due to the increased headroom and higher seating position giving a better angle of view down the sloping bonnet. 

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chrisonabike replied to Adam Sutton | 5 months ago
3 likes

Strange, I thought you might pick a bicycle as an example - I can't think why...

I wasn't familiar with the cars you mentioned, but I have say it looks like the Alfa Romeo Giulia has reasonable forward visibility.

Wikipedia (FWIW) does mention the Stelvio has large blind spots due to the door pillars.  From the pictures though I can't say if this is much worse in the other model.

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Adam Sutton replied to chrisonabike | 5 months ago
3 likes

chrisonatrike wrote:

Strange, I thought you might pick a bicycle as an example - I can't think why...

I mean, clearly there is at least a subset of "cyclists" that are egotistical and need affirmation that riding a bike makes them better.

https://road.cc/content/news/study-cyclists-more-caring-drivers-communit...

[/quote]

I wasn't familiar with the cars you mentioned, but I have say it looks like the Alfa Romeo Giulia has reasonable forward visibility.

Wikipedia (FWIW) does mention the Stelvio has large blind spots due to the door pillars.  From the pictures though I can't say if this is much worse in the other model.

[/quote]

I would dearly love a classic Giulia, they are something special.

Modern cars have wider pillars and all suffer this to a degree, due to increased safety of the cabin, much as in the opposite way cars now are designed to deform in the right places in an accident. 

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chrisonabike replied to Adam Sutton | 5 months ago
1 like
Adam Sutton wrote:

Modern cars have wider pillars and all suffer this to a degree, due to increased safety of the cabin, much as in the opposite way cars now are designed to deform in the right places in an accident. 

Obviously a concern for buyers. The modern one does seem to have swelled a bit, being almost half as heavy again. Perhaps another reason we need these wider pillars?

(Just an old grouch I guess, wondering what's changed about cars and why.
https://www.forbes.com/sites/samabuelsamid/2019/01/03/new-vehicles-keep-...
I'll be complaining that bikes are getting lighter next! )

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Adam Sutton replied to chrisonabike | 5 months ago
1 like

You could alway plump for the GTAm version which is lightened, it just happens to come with the 2.9 twin turbo with an extra bit of tuning as well.

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Dnnnnnn replied to the little onion | 5 months ago
4 likes

the little onion wrote:

an idiot driving a hatchback is not as dangerous as an idiot driving a SUV. Basic newtonian physics, when dealing with a larger, heavier vehicle. Plus basic biomechanics of a higher, squarer bonnet

And those who have an inflated sense of their own safety may well drive faster, more aggressively or less attentively - increasing the risk of collisions, as well as the consequences of a collision.

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the little onion | 5 months ago
7 likes

I'd make vehicle choice a factor in sentencing guidelines - if you choose to drive a monster vehicle, and don't need it for clear and consistent purposes (i.e. you are a farmer or builder), then you can expect a heavier fine or longer prison sentence.

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momove replied to the little onion | 5 months ago
0 likes

Agreed. I'd add that if you chose to drive the journey, it should also be considered an aggravating factor. Choosing to perform an activity so dangerous it is only allowed under licence by the government needs to also be considered.

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BalladOfStruth | 5 months ago
14 likes

Just a reminder how small a percentage of UK SUV owners can reasonably justify owning one:

Below is a picture of my driveway, it's 3/4 mile long, it has 15% gradients in places, the surface quality has deteriorated quite a bit since the picture was taken (thanks to the summer of rain), it's rutted, muddy, slippery, and it usually has a small stream running down it.

Based purely on this, I have more justification to own an SUV/Pickup than 99.99% of SUV/Pickup owners in the UK. I drive a 1.5l Mini Cooper. F*ck SUV owners.

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qwerty360 replied to BalladOfStruth | 5 months ago
8 likes

And of course the best 4x4 for ease of driving up that track is probably a Fiat panda 4x4.

You aren't trying to go over massive obstructions, so being significantly smaller makes driving a lot easier because you have a lot more margin for error...

 

I suspect your mini cooper, given suitable tyres gets up there more easily than 80% of 4x4 SUV's on UK roads would. (My understanding is 4x4 capability is minimally useful without tyres that take advantage - going from spinning 2 tyres to spinning 4 otherwise...)

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Cycloid | 5 months ago
10 likes

SUV = Socially unaceptable vehicle.

You know you are in a bad place when you look over your shoulder and the car coming up behind is a Big, Black, German SUV. Ticks all the boxes!

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jaymack | 5 months ago
13 likes

OldRidgeback's right, the most straight forward option would be a hefty annual vehicle excise licence. Say, in region of £2,500 to £3,500 p.a?  As Ronald Reagan once said if you wan't to encourage something you subisdise it, if you want to discourage something you tax it. 

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Cycloid replied to jaymack | 5 months ago
5 likes

jaymack wrote:

OldRidgeback's right, the most straight forward option would be a hefty annual vehicle excise licence. Say, in region of £2,500 to £3,500 p.a?  As Ronald Reagan once said if you wan't to encourage something you subisdise it, if you want to discourage something you tax it. 

Totally agree with the sentiment.  But for a percentage of the population if you make something more expensive it becomes a bigger status symbol.

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mattw replied to Cycloid | 5 months ago
0 likes

That, though, is a far smaller proportion of the population than currently drive them.

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OldRidgeback | 5 months ago
9 likes

I wouldn't ban them. If people want to buy them it should remain their choice. However, I do believe they're inappropriate for urban use. They pose dangers for other road users, particularly vulnerable road users. In the event of crashes they will pulverise more conventional cars as they're heavier and higher. They use more fuel, produce more emissions and cause more road wear due to their extra weight. My feeling is that the VED system for private cars and motorcycles should be revamped. I'd use gross vehicle weight as the key factor in the algorithm to calculate the VED charge as this correlates to road wear and also the risk to other road users in the event of an impact due to Kinetic Energy. I'd pitch the VED costs so as to penalise private cars weighing more than around 1.6tonnes.

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Simon E replied to OldRidgeback | 5 months ago
8 likes

I agree, I would find ways to make it less attractive to own them. Keep car parking spaces small and charge fines for overlapping/taking up 2 spaces. A higher congestion/road pricing fee for vehicles over a certain size and weight. Distribute free 'wankpanzer' stickers.

Would you incorporate higher fees for more powerful engines into your revamped VED model? I would.

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KDee replied to Simon E | 5 months ago
7 likes

Need to think about the wear/damage some of these huge electric SUV's can do. A Tesla model X is about 2400kg unladen!

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SimoninSpalding replied to KDee | 5 months ago
2 likes

This is true, and a heavy electric vehicle is also bad for the environment, however one with a massive V8 engine is even worse, so I would suggest a dual scale, one for weight, and one for emissions, with the result from the 2 being added together to come up with a total for the vehicle.

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SimoninSpalding replied to OldRidgeback | 5 months ago
2 likes

Would that 1.6T include or exclude the driver? I just checked the kerb weight of my car, and it is 1510kg - so with me in it I would only be a reasonable breakfast away for the 1600kg threshold 

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