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Proposal to create SUV-free zones rejected by mobility organisation

An Audi SUV pictured in a street in Brussels. (BELGA PHOTO BRUNO FAHY)
06:25 08/06/2021

The Belgian mobility organisation VAB has responded to an academic’s call for SUV-free zones in cities and municipalities by saying that it does not think it is a good idea to ban specific categories of passenger cars from certain areas.

While the VAB agrees with Eva Van Eenoo, a mobility expert at VUB university, that the safety of pedestrians and cyclists should be a priority, it believes that refusing entry to certain private vehicles is not the solution.

It points out that many cities and municipalities are already blocking heavy transport and allowing it to be diverted and that the authorities are open to alternative solutions. "We want to take proposals to cities and municipalities ourselves to increase road safety," a spokesperson said.

Van Eenoo has voiced her opinion on SUVs in the Belgian media and recently denounced the increasing popularity of sports utility vehicles on national radio. "Everyone involved in road safety and sustainable mobility is seeing the rise of SUVs," she said.

"The fact that the SUV driver is higher gives him a safer feeling, but that comes at the expense of the actual safety of pedestrians and cyclists,” she said.

“Behind the wheel of an SUV, you often can't see small children, which is incredibly dangerous. Because SUVs have a larger mass than other cars, the chances of an accident ending badly are also higher," she continued. "And in addition to objective safety, there is also such a thing as a subjective sense of security. People don't feel safe around big cars."

In addition to safety, sustainability also plays a role. "SUVs are not energy-efficient at all, and largely negate environmental gains from sales of hybrid and electric models,” she added. “Meanwhile, there is not enough parking space in many cities and municipalities. The popularity of SUVs is putting pressure on local governments to widen parking spaces, and that in turn comes at the expense of footpaths or softening projects."

Following the example of low-emission zones, where entry to certain vehicles is restricted on pollutions grounds, Van Eenoo advocates 'no-SUV zones' in city centres or residential areas. "We have to ask ourselves which cars we still want. You can also do your shopping and transport your children in smaller models. Who really needs an SUV? Only people who live or work in areas without asphalt, such as forest rangers."

Written by Nick Amies

Comments

J

This war against SUVs is utterly ludicrous. Measure them. They conform to the same safety regulations as other cars. They are not significantly larger or heavier than other similar family cars.

They tend to be taller (slightly), which gives the driver better visibility and allows more room for a hybrid battery.

Van Eenoo is full of s***.

Jun 8, 2021 12:18
Frank Lee

Getting closer and closer to reaching the moment when the government
will tell us which color vehicle we can buy,
will kick us out of our 3 bedroom apartment because our kids are now grown and we don't need so much space,
will assign us a dentist,
will tell our kids which sports they can play and which instrument to practice,
will send us the books and magazines we're allowed to read.

Jun 8, 2021 15:41
Palastlover

Let’s stay rational! We are talking about cars that have little to do with driving through the woods. Most of them are totally comparable to other family cars and provide remarkable safety features, come with a reasonable energy consumption or in hybrid and electric versions. When having to travel long distance they are comfortable and safe. So a family living in the city needs two cars, one they will be allowed to take to their home and one they must park at the outskirts of the cities?? What about older people? People don’t seem to care much about their mobility. They can often not handle train trips with luggage or shopping bringing their purchases close to theirs homes possibly allowing them access to an elevator. When does a family car turn into a SUV? When it is a station wagon? There are small SUVs and very big ones. Beware of pettiness and unfounded attacks on life style!

Jun 9, 2021 09:25
WK

Personal attacks on Van Eenoo are not a good argument. In general SUV are heavier, they are higher and ask the children how they perceive these cars, as dangerous, a threat. It is about safety in cities and sustainable mobility which mist not be based on cars only. We need cleaner and SUVs are part of the problem, not of the solution.

Jun 9, 2021 10:59
John P

This is a good one!!
"subjective sense of security. subjective sense of security. People don't feel safe around big cars"
Am I going to break the news to you !!
Here is some objective sense of security:
People don't feel safe around:
"Big ego-low knowledge-zero evidence,
I-think-I-know-what's-important...therefore I decide nonsense for my citizen-employers", politicians.
That's who people don't feel safe around!
We pay them way too much for politicians not to occupy them selves with much more serious problems.
Disclaimer:
1. Never owned an SUV.
2. Not even really fond of most of them.

Jun 10, 2021 22:18