Support BikePortland - Journalism that Matters

The Monday Roundup: SUV tax in France, scary streets in Bogotá, too many bikes in Amsterdam

Posted by on October 26th, 2020 at 10:17 am

Welcome to the week. Here are the most notable items we came across in the past seven days…

Tax on heavy cars: The French government has responded to pressure from climate change groups and the World Wildlife Fund to pass a new tax on heavy SUVs that weigh over 1,800 kg (3,900 lbs).

How bad is the big SUV problem? Check out this review of the new obscenely and dangerously large Cadillac Escalade by an automotive writer who called it “The most stressful experience I’ve ever had.”

Grids are cool again: Bloomberg Citylab reports that easy to navigate street grids are starting to win back favor over curvy cul-de-sacs in suburban Texas.

Self-enforcing streets: Before we take traffic stops out of the hands of armed police officers, we must create streets that enforce the laws themselves through things like design and automated cameras.

Advertisement

Where we work: Now that so many more people work at home it’s more important than ever to create “15 minute neighborhoods” where people can take care of everyday needs while using cars as little as possible.

Vehicular violence: The Oregonian found that a retired Portland police officer intentionally drove his van into a person on foot and then fled the scene during a protest back in June.

Cars as weapons a national problem: Researchers at the University of Chicago who analyzed months of protests have found over 104 incidents of vehicular violence where drivers drove into crowds, partially fueled by online memes that make light of the behavior.

Too many bikes: Oh to live in Amsterdam, where their big traffic safety problem is too many bikes on bridge railings so they’ll install flower bouquets to keep them away and create more room for bikes in what used to be car parking spaces.

Bad news Bogotá: More people using bicycles on the streets of Bogotá has been met with more harassment and now some riders are girding for self-defense and even carrying weapons.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
— Get our headlines delivered to your inbox.
— Support this independent community media outlet with a one-time contribution or monthly subscription.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for discrimination or harassment including expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

95
Leave a Reply

avatar
10 Comment threads
85 Thread replies
2 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
30 Comment authors
MaddHatterHello, KittyBrighton WestEPqqq Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
EP
Guest
EP

A tax on vehicle weight would be an amazing incentive for smaller cars. It would also make more room on the roads, and increase safety for people in small, reasonable vehicles, and bikes. If people went from solo commuting in a ~7000 pound, 21′ long crew cab 4×4 pickup, to a 2000 pound, 9′ long smart car, we wouldn’t need to expand the roads! We could instantly double the capacity! ODOT are you listening? I’d even pay a bicycle tax, if it was taxed on weight at the same rate as a privately-registered motor vehicle.

Tom
Guest
Tom

The trend to larger and scarier SUVs is only expected to continue. The new Hummer EV is 8 feet wide, with terrible visibility, 0 to 60 in 3sec, silent, with a flat front end designed to inflect maximum damage, new immersive infotainment system, and no collision control. Its victims will never hear or see it coming. The visibility is so bad they had to put 18 cameras on it. A truly terrifying vehicle, which I expect was the intent.

Bikeninja
Guest
Bikeninja

This thing (Escalade) seems like of symbol of what we (Americans) have become. It is the endgame of 75 years of ego gratification, insecurity based marketing and celebrity worship. People don’t want this because it is useful or necessary but because it makes them feel important, They can fit their corn syrup enhanced backsides in the posh seats and they see celebrities and sports stars on TV carting around their posse’s in such rigs. What could be more useless in the time of Covid than a vehicle to stuff lots of people in. They care that it is dangerous because it is all about “me”. My only hope is that the current bloodbath in the oil patch will leave us rationing gas after Covid is over and the folks who buy these things can reap the consequences of their poor choice.

Concordia Cyclist
Guest
Concordia Cyclist

From parody to reality: Canyonero, anyone?

(Did they not realize it was meant to be a joke, not a vehicle?)

Phil
Guest
Phil

If we had the same tax on heavy vehicles that France is adopting, it would add about $10,000 to the cost of that 6,000 lb. Escalade. A good start, but vehicles like that shouldn’t be legal in cities to start with.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

Self-enforcing streets: What they don’t mention is that all those changes cost lots of money, which Seattle has lots of, but most cities do not; and that traffic, speed, and red light cameras are either illegal or heavily restricted in most states, including Oregon.

Typo for caption: “Council Member Carlina Rivera with a fried.”

David Aruzzo
Guest
David Aruzzo

The funny thing about all this anti-SUV rhetoric is that we live in one of the few states where a 4WD high-clearance vehicle actually makes sense. At some point we’re punishing anyone who wants to enjoy skiing, snowshoeing, dispersed camping, even some hiking and mountain bike trails. I’ll root for an SUV tax when there are world-class trails within reasonable riding distance from Portland. (And before you say “Oh! These OMTM people do 250 miles rides every afternoon between leaving work and cooking dinner!” — get some real world, everyday-Portlander perspective.)

MaddHatter
Guest
MaddHatter

TheVerge reviewer of that Escalade obviously doesn’t have much experience with large vehicles. Despite being the “largest and longest Escalade ever” it’s still of only middling size. Its 121 in wheelbase or 212 in overall length are about equal to a Sequoia (122/205 in) or the smallest F-150 available (122/209 in, and it goes up from there), and well short of other vehicles you probably encounter daily like the Denali (147/231 in and up), Suburban (134/226 in), or Amazon’s smaller delivery vehicles (144/232 in). If the largest thing you’ve ever driven is a Tesla, then any truck or large SUV will feel borderline out of control and stressful until you’ve spent a cautious few months learning and getting used to it. It’s hard to take the article or Jonathan’s over-the-top abstract of it seriously, even though it does touch on important issues like hood height.

It’s important to keep in mind that not everybody, and not even all of Oregon lives in the urban metro area — or anywhere with pedestrian-traffic conflicts, though they probably do need to visit those places once in a while. A pedestrian might survive a collision with low sedan better, but a collision is still going to be a terrible and possibly debilitating experience no matter the vehicle size. It’d be a better to just select strategic areas and turn them into car-free pedestrian boulevards rather than engage endless fights over “how big is too big?”

Jason
Guest
Jason

Why is it so hard to get speed cameras? Is this a violation of some constitutional amendment I haven’t heard of? They would pay for them selves within a year, easily. Assuming they are implemented correctly. Stop light cameras are already in use in many intersections, so I just don’t understand.

Todd/Boulanger
Guest

Regarding: the Amsterdam problem of “Too many bikes” …every great solution causes new problems.

So we could be thankful for the problems we have in Portland …like empty car parking lots downtown. ;-0)