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Proposal to create SUV-free zones rejected by mobility organisation
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."