Sunday, July 30, 2006

As A Chocolate Fireguard …

I was weaving my way home last night after a rather delightful dinner up in the wilds of the 20th Arrondissement, when I realised I was following a vehicle which, in effect, was totally against all why and wherefore.

The 4 x 4, SUV or ‘off-road vehicle’ is now a common sight driving around city centres, with an ever increasing number of road users, cyclists and environmentalists, calling for their removal. To the owners, they are simply a status symbol. With inner city traffic now rolling slower than it ever has, one has to ask the question: ‘why?’

Why do people feel the need to grumble around towns and cities in these expensive, wasteful and pollutant-filled tanks? These excessive vehicles typically use more fuel than cars (cost-prohibitive tank fill-ups of € 100 euros) and they generate much higher levels of carbon-dioxide. In turn, up goes the level of global warming.

I have often seen large 4x4’s driving through Paris driven by what appears to be a stick insect (of the female variety) who, at the same time, is either applying make-up or on the phone. “Yes, but ordinary drivers to the same thing”, I hear people saying. Indeed. But the fact is, with the combination of all the fuel required for a 4x4 and it’s increased output of noxious gases, there is invariably only ONE person in the bloody thing.

Apologies all round, but the streets of Paris, London, Berlin or Los Angeles are hardly 4x4 territory. There are local governments and city departments who have paved the way for wheeled vehicles by building roads - flat rounds. No mountainous terrain here. After all, my late Mother’s Triumph Herald seemed to make all over the south of England in the 1960’s without requiring four-wheel drive, roll cages and chrome bars.

If a pedestrian is struck by a normal car, then the impact is made at knee-level. With a 4x4, it’s at chest level. You do the mathematics.

Some affluent types defend their choice of car with; “It protects little Johnny when I take him to school”. That Triumph Herald was good enough for us ...

There’s a passive French vigilante group who have started a nocturnal movement called ‘Les Dégonflés’ (The Deflaters). It prowls the streets of Paris deflating the tyres of 4x4s as a protest to all of the above. Under French Law, their actions are not seen as criminal as a deflated tyre is not classed as ‘damaged’. Nonetheless, some 4x4 owners have attempted to prosecute but no-one has ever been successful.

Anyway, back to my vision of last night. It was a cool 26C night in Paris and the air was whistling through my shorts - the fresh gusts wafting round the orchestra's. A scooter is the only way to travel in these sticky times. Anyway, as I turned left at the lights on rue de Louvre, I found myself behind a 4x4 of laughable origin, his number plate delivering the punchline. Answer me this: why on earth would a Dutchman need a 4x4?

Answers on a postcard to the usual address …

Pffffft!

Stu

2 Comments:

Anonymous Les said...

Well Stu,
I think that this particular topic is about 15 years too late.
SUV's and 4x4's have come a long way from the smokey old Land Rovers and Jeeps of past years and in fact put no more filth into the atmosphere and use no more petrol or diesel than the average large saloon, especially as in many cases these days they actually use the same engines.
So, why not pick on ALL vehicles over 1.1 litre instead of singling out SUV's and 4x4's...why not prohibit the use of Rolls Royce, Bentley, Cadillac, Lexus and Ferrari....why not prohibit the larger BMW's or perhaps the Jaguar you were drooling over in a previous article?
As to your apparent premise that its safer to be hit by a car than a 4x4....well, its not safe to be hit by either and as both a driver AND a pedestrian I think its really important to be careful when stepping onto the road no matter what type of vehicles are present.
As to the "green" concern...well, do you want to open the list or shall I? How about the huge 32 and 44-ton Artics smoking up the atmosphere at 9 miles per gallon....what about motor-racing, going around in big circles making noise, wasting fuel and polluting the atmosphere....large motorbikes, some of which have the same mpg as some of the large saloons.....and what about the smokey, noisy two-stroke-and-therefore-oil-burning scooters, which seem to me to be generally driven by people who have absolutely no regard for their own safety or others?
Contrary to your comments, the SUV or 4x4 is not the cause or even a major factor in pollution, fuel-wastage, traffic-jams or RTA's....but you HAVE unwittingly put your finger very much on the crux of the matter...."To the owners, they are simply a status symbol"....and thats it, plain, unvarnished jealousy, old son.....the green-eyed monster hiding behind a thinly-disguised and rather transparent "concern" for green issues.
Freedom of choice matters...if someone has the cash to own and maintain a big, expensive car then I say good luck to them....because I share the same freedom of choice that they do.....to work hard and to spend the fruits of that labour as I see fit...not as some latter day "sauvages" decide.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006 3:09:00 pm  
Blogger dom said...

I see you have taken to using "Americanisms" now Pfffft indeed !
Well done my friend Debbie :)

Thursday, August 10, 2006 2:45:00 am  

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