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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.

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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
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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. 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

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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.

Dave
Guest
Dave

Why not tax every wheeled, road going vehicle per pound of vehicle weight. Fair is fair–make the owner of a 15 lb. weight weenied-out road bike pay the same amount of money per pound as the owner of an F350. Just $0.05 per pound–it’d add up but it would be fair!

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Applying that tax to bicycles would raise less money than it costs. Simpler to exempt the first 100 pounds, just like we exempt the first few thousand dollars from income taxes.

EP
Guest
EP

With a weight-based tax and bikes, it’s not about raising money. It’s about not having to hear your cranky uncle complain about those cyclists that don’t pay taxes for the roads.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

I wonder, what weight of SUV does the Oregon governor and state legislators drive?

curly
Guest
curly

About 2.0-2.5 tons of metal, fuel, rubber, plastics and electronics. All bad stuff for the environment…

Bicycling Al
Guest
Bicycling Al

We already have a tax scheme that accounts for vehicular weight. It’s called the gas tax. However, the problem with the gas tax is that it doesn’t fully cover the costs of transportation AND is obviously insufficient to incentivize smaller vehicles. Both of these can be remedied by simply increasing it!

Ryan
Guest
Ryan

The difference here between the gas tax and a weight-specific tax, is that the gas tax is also about how much you drive, not just the weight of your vehicle. While I find that to be a good thing overall, it can be harder for people to see the length of their trips as a choice (ability to afford a home close to their job/moving further away from their job due to rent increases, taking their kids to what they feel is a better school/daycare than what’s in their area, etc…). Making a weight-specific tax simplifies things and makes the target more specific, and in my opinion would have a much better chance of getting passed.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

If we switched to weight rather than mileage, wouldn’t that encourage smaller-engined but not necessarily more efficient motor vehicles? Big SUVs with small engines, like they have in 3rd world countries? And wouldn’t such a tax actively discourage the switch to electric and other alternative fuel vehicles?

How would you suggest transit be handled, both public and private (airport vans and such)? And freight? Should we assume that grocery delivery and Domino’s Pizza deliveries will be taxed on weight? A weight surcharge on FedEx, Amazon Prime, and UPS deliveries?

JGC
Guest
JGC

That is the current trend. Most SUVs have 4 cyl engines. Many use smaller turbocharged engines that can out power larger normally aspirated engines. Manufactures figured out how to shut the turbo off when high power is not required such as when the vehicle is maintaining a steady speed. Then when more powered is needed the turbo is engaged. This as resulted in higher MPG. Ford no longer sales a SUV with a V8 motor.

EP
Guest
EP

I’ll take a road filled with lumbering, slow pickups & SUVs, over one filled with speeding, high-HP pickups & SUVs, any day. Unfortunately the road is filled with overpowered vehicles piloted by distracted drivers. I’d hope a weight-based tax would encourage smaller vehicles, but they could still be fast.

And this is a private vs. commercial registration/tax.

Ryan
Guest
Ryan

Sorry, I wasn’t meaning switching from mileage to weight completely. I was responding to Al who mentioned expanding the gas tax to help incentivize smaller vehicles. I meant that ADDING a weight tax (perhaps only non-EV and above a certain threshold?) could possibly better achieve that goal because it would more clearly directed at the large vehicles being discussed.

I’m not really understanding the point you’re trying to make with regard to transit. And other commercial services, do they not already include cost of fuel somewhere along the line in their charges? I have no doubt they’d be happy to add a “surcharge” if they happened to be included in a weight tax, but if the gas tax was expanded to help fully cover the actual damage their vehicles cause, wouldn’t they do pretty much the same thing?

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

How much gas tax does a Tesla owner pay? A Tesla Model X is 5,500lbs. The proposed Tesla trucks are going to be 6,000lbs…

Bicycling Al
Guest
Bicycling Al

Less than 2% of new vehicle sales are electric. This is not the percentage of the fleet overall, just vehicles sold. So it is too early to worry about dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s on EV’s paying their fair share when trucking as an industry does most of the infrastructure damage and in no way pays their fair share for this.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

This is the problem states are grappling with to replace lost gas-tax revenue (especially since gas taxes are idiotically not indexed to inflation). Different states have different strategies: for example, here in MN EV owners pay a $75 annual surcharge on their vehicle registration. (which reminds me that my own renewal is due in 3 days).

MaddHatter
Guest
MaddHatter

While it’s not a bad idea because weight and damage to roadways are so tightly coupled, this basically becomes a tax against vehicles with batteries. And policy-wise, we’ve put a lot of effort into encouraging those rather than discouraging them.

Ryan
Guest
Ryan

That could be an easy adjustment, though. Just make the $/pound lower for E/V’s.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Just keep the gas tax at its current level and add a weight/mile for every vehicle on top of it. Electric vehicle owners will pay less on average.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Sorry, but you wouldn’t double road capacity. Yes, you might double storage at stoplights, where vehicles are stopped, but once traffic is moving most of the space taken up on the roadway is the space between the cars. That is (or should be) a function of speed, not vehicle length.

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.

qqq
Guest
qqq

Do you get a tax credit for going electric?

Bicycling Al
Guest
Bicycling Al

The federal tax credit for an electric GM vehicle has ended. However, the Hummer EV would likely qualify for the Oregon EV rebate if you buy one before that program expires at the beginning of 2024.

was carless
Guest
was carless

Oregon ev rebate only works on vehicles under $50,000 MSRP

Bicycling Al
Guest
Bicycling Al

That’s a good point. I forgot about that. So the Hummer EV would not get you any tax credits.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Not for a GM vehicle. Their tax credits have expired.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

Perfect for combat zones and rioting protests, I’m sure. Is there a water cannon option?

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

And what happens in 5 years when the “vision monitoring” system or whatever stops working? These luxury monster trucks are going to be an even greater hazard when they hit the used market and no one can afford to fix them. We’re already starting to see more and more decrepit huge SUVs from the late-90s on the road now. These things just accelerate poverty, because the owners get them for what seems like a great price, but then can’t afford to maintain them.

maxD
Guest
maxD

Could registration and/or DEQ fees be changed to be calculated by weight and miles driven? It seems like an ongoing way to capture some fees for the wear and rear on roads based on weight and miles. If the fees were high enough, it may be a disincentive.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Probably yes. Call your legislator and state senator.

MaddHatter
Guest
MaddHatter

Oregon has experimented with this idea, but it requires a detailed GPS record of everywhere the vehicle has been. The odometer mileage isn’t taxable because many of those miles may not be on public roads. (Think farms.) And giving the government an extended location record of your movement has obvious privacy concerns.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

This is the basic problem: it’s complex. Until EVs came on the scene, a fuel tax was the perfect proxy for a weight-mile tax. Or would have been, had it been higher.

JGC
Guest
JGC

With the current price tag at $118,000.00 I don’t believe you will see a lot of them, unless you live in Beverly Hills.

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.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

This is no more “endgame” than some of what Detroit was building in the 50s and 60s. Aside from the covid, almost everything you write would have applied then as much as now.

Bikeninja
Guest
Bikeninja

And the folks who indulged in the late 60’s muscle cars and giant sedans did reap the consequences of their poor choice in the early 70’s with the oil embargo. As they say, history does not repeat, but it rhymes.

Bike Guy
Guest
Bike Guy

Wasn’t that the era of the first fitness boom, too?

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

There was a fitness craze during the 20 years before World War One, along with a huge bicycle boom, at least in the USA if not at Downton Abbey. They even started a commercial bike race in France, tour de something or other.

JGC
Guest
JGC

For those that kept them are now reaping the rewards. a project muscle car will get you $10,000 to $20,000. A restored muscle car will fetch $30,000 to well over $100,000. The record at auction is $13.75 million. Besides by the late 70s gas was plentiful and cheep and high school aged drivers could afford them. In 1976 I paid $175.00 for my first muscle car.

Hotrodder
Guest
Hotrodder

FWIW, I think driving a ’59 Caddy Eldorado Biarritz Convertible through the streets of any American city would be an equally stressful experience. At least the Eldorado has some style. That Escalade, on the other hand is hideous.

qqq
Guest
qqq

The sad thing is, perfect as your choice is due to its being at the pinnacle of unwieldy, overblown car design, you knew you’d be going out on a limb if you’d said the Eldorado would be “more stressful”. And I could see the Eldorado being much better for visibility, especially to the front, and maybe safer to be hit by than the Escalade. And that’s after 60 years!

mran1984
Guest

I am in excellent shape, so my butt will fit anywhere. I would love a larger vehicle for camping. The inability to escape this awful city every weekend is far SCARIER THE ANY VEHICLE. Distracted operation of any vehicle is what SHOULD scare you, but you all love those devices.

Matt
Guest
Matt

Portland fatigue is real!

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

How many people have died due to an “inability to escape this awful city every weekend”, because vehicle operators kill over 40,000 people every year in the US, and maim hundreds of thousands.

Why haven’t you moved away from Portland yet?

Ryan
Guest
Ryan

I mean, I do understand the emotional/mental relief provided by getting away from the location of your everyday grind, no matter where that may be. But it would likely be cheaper/more efficient to buy or rent a hitch/trailer combo that you could pack your camping stuff into, rather than just getting a larger vehicle where the extra space isn’t being utilized the vast majority of the time.

notanamerican
Guest
notanamerican

“the endgame of 75 years of ego gratification”

FYIGM ego gratification is the essence Uhhmerica.

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?)

Ryan
Guest
Ryan

I always think of that episode whenever I read/hear/talk about the growing size of SUV’s :-D.

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.)

cmh89
Guest
cmh89

I ski, mountain bike, snowshoe, dispersed camp, backpack, etc. and I do it all with a 1998 CRV that didn’t require a massive grill. It’s smaller than many modern cars and probably weighs less than most.

There is a general trend of making SUVs worse. There is no reason the new Taco or Ranger need to be so massive. It has nothing to do with accessing the outdoors and everything to do with toxic car culture.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

I agree about the Tacoma and Ranger. They are way bigger (-appearing) and brutish than they need to be, or compared to the previous iterations). They are only this way because they appeal to toxic masculinity.

Jason
Guest
Jason

That “thing” wouldn’t survive off road. It couldn’t navigate goat trails. It could drive on forest service roads, but then.. those are roads. So, it’s not strictly off road. No, that “thing” is a road whale. About as useless to an outdoors person as a blow drier on a rainy day camping.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Using a gas-powered conveyance to get to the woods is the only way to be an “outdoors person” now?

I guess my thousands of miles of wilderness hiking, back country skiing, rock climbing are all null and void because I didn’t use an OHV to get there.

MaddHatter
Guest
MaddHatter

Nobody said it was…? But it’s certainly part of how some people choose to access their recreation. Some trailheads, etc. are accessible to a typical Civic. Multnomah Falls and many hiking routes in the Gorge are paved right up to the parking lot. But, and speaking from experience, at least an equal number are inaccessible to that Civic and require something approximately like an Outback. A small further number actually require a high-clearance vehicle, and a still smaller (but popular — have you seen La Dee on a summer weekend?) number are basically designed environments meant to challenge vehicles.

dan
Guest
dan

Well, the Wrangler is recognized as one of the best off-road vehicles out there and it looks nothing like this tank.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

I’ve never had issues finding outdoor recreation opportunities with a Subaru Outback (which is under the weight threshold above for the SUV tax). You are being a bit ridiculous about the vehicle requirements for outdoor recreation in Oregon.

If you want to go rock crawl or whatever, that’s a hobby you are choosing, and your choice to own an OHV that you daily drive impacts people around you (decreased safety for everyone involved during crashes, parking, etc).

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

For much of the quarter century I lived in Oregon and Washington, I was out in the wild places practically every other weekend, mountain biking, hiking and backcountry skiing. Most of that time I had cars like Civics, Jettas and Elantras (also Subarus for a few years), and rarely had difficulty getting to a trailhead. You mostly don’t need a high-clearance, pedestrian-smacking Escalade to do those things.

I’ve explored some seriously remote forest roads, and even more seriously remote desert roads in southeast Oregon, in 2WD vehicles with 5-6″ of ground clearance. Know what you’re doing, know your vehicle’s limits and be prepared for eventualities. I once traversed the Sheepshead mountains in a 2WD Civic Wagon with two spare tires and a gas can strapped to the roof rack – and got 40 mpg doing it.

I had AWD vehicles for some of those years, but honestly the only times I needed AWD was exploring side roads that were tangential to my destination anyway. Or, when I backpacked Orejana Canyon deep in the desert, having an Outback got me a whole half-mile up a sand-washed jeep track and closer to the mouth of the canyon than a regular car would have. Big deal. I do remember having a great time blasting up a steep under-construction logging road (in a 4WD Civic Wagon), several inches deep in wet mud, in British Columbia’s Selkirk Mountains. That was really, REALLY fun … but it was actually a side road beyond my hiking trailhead; I only did it because I could, not because I needed to in order to reach my destination.

If you really do need AWD and more clearance than a car, fine: there are plenty of smaller to midsized SUVs (think today’s CR-V, Escape, Forester, even Outback, etc.) that still come in under 4000 pounds and get comparable or better mileage than Civics of 15 years ago. You sure don’t need an Escalade unless you’re taking eight people there.

was carless
Guest
was carless

Oh, c’mon. I used to take my tiny FWD 1980s Honda Civic with snow tires up to Mt Hood back in the day. While it in no way could handle off roading, an old Subaru station wagon is off road capable. As were the old 1/4 ton pickups back then as well.

was carless
Guest
was carless

Electric off-roading – Jeep conversion:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IZNLBG4pbAE

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?”

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

Whenever I’m out in the suburbs and semi-rural areas with all the McMansions and giant SUVs parked out front, no sidewalks of course, I can’t help but notice all the people walking their dogs and their children playing out in the street.

We tried re-making America as a car-only environment, separate but equal between pedestrians and car drivers, but it simply hasn’t worked out. I don’t know why, but Suburban drivers seem to have this uncontrolled compulsion to walk near where they live.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

It’s impossible to drive without the possibility of “pedestrian-traffic” conflicts. Everyone is a pedestrian at some phase of their drive. Even in Burns, OR people will be driving these to grocery stores, backing out of driveways, etc.

We need to pursue both approaches to pedestrian safety. Ignoring vehicle design is a bad idea. Unfortunately, nothing can really be done without federal action.

MaddHatter
Guest
MaddHatter

Aren’t those place — parking lots, basically — the sort of low-speed environments where death and injury are least likely and where the safety features like cameras are most effective?

And regarding the necessity of federal action, CA seems to provide a counter-example. (They’re a much larger market than we are by ourselves, granted.)

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

https://www.kidsandcars.org/how-kids-get-hurt/backovers/

These backover incidents are always in low-speed “safe” areas.

An older man in my neighborhood was killed by a pickup turning left into him at about 5mph last year. These big vehicles don’t have to be going fast to kill you.

Ryan
Guest
Ryan

Exactly. People in tall vehicles feel like they can drive faster/closer on roads because they’re so high up and can see further in front. But these lower-speed areas tend to be packed/have more visual clutter and are exactly the places where having large blind spots close to the vehicle are more detrimental. Doesn’t matter if you can see over the tops of cars if you can’t see the kid in front of you.

MaddHatter
Guest
MaddHatter

Sorry, I guess I’ve lost track of where we’re going with the discussion. Cameras help with back-over risk; indeed it’s why they’re now mandatory. People need to be able to operate their vehicle safely — at whatever size, big or small.

I was just trying to caution against the tendency this site has of generalizing experiences of the metro area into calls for statewide laws based on metro experiences and without enough understanding of the impacts elsewhere.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

The majority of Americans (and the vast majority of Oregonians – western states are more urban than the country as a whole) live in cities, towns or suburbs.

MaddHatter
Guest
MaddHatter

All the more reason to be cognizant of one’s limited perspective and listen to and learn from others’ experiences.

rain panther
Guest
rain panther

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?

How bout all of the above? And instead of “endless fights”, how bout decisive legislation that ends the fights by answering the question.

MaddHatter
Guest
MaddHatter

Somehow the legislation we already have on that point apparently hasn’t settled it?

rain panther
Guest
rain panther

You mean limiting a regular driver’s license to vehicles 26,000 lbs or under? No, I’d say that definitely has not settled the issue, as evidenced by this comments section.

MaddHatter
Guest
MaddHatter

Doesn’t that precisely prove the point, though? Pick a number — any number — and imagine you wave your wand and it’s law. Have discussions like this comments section thenceforth ceased because of that? I very much doubt it.

rain panther
Guest
rain panther

To be clear, I really don’t give a crap if people kvetch about it in internet comments sections after the fact – I just think it’s incredibly irresponsible not to take action to limit the number of personal vehicles on the road that are idiotically big. Sure, let’s pick a number – any number. Wherever we draw that line – hopefully relying on data – we will have done some amount of good for the community at large. That Escalade is a big, stupid, selfish luxury item. We can’t expect manufacturers to do the right thing; their M.O. is to take the path of least resistance/most profit.

MaddHatter
Guest
MaddHatter

We already picked a number; you just don’t like it. (And that’s fair.) I don’t think we can pick a number that excludes things like the Escalade and still allows reasonable people to do the reasonable and necessary things they need to do. At least not as an outright ban. How about higher fees and more stringent licensing?

EP
Guest
EP

Vehicle bloat is out of hand. It’s not just about vulnerable road users. As an example, there are roadway intersections everywhere. What vehicle would you like to run a stop sign and T-bone your car? A federally-regulated, reasonably-sized vehicle, or the biggest road whale/monster truck/SUV the US automakers have come up with this year? “Oh, I didn’t see the stop sign I was swiping right on the widescreen infotainment system”

MaddHatter
Guest
MaddHatter

Okay fine, let’s directly address the issue then: How big is too big? At what size are vehicles unsafely large enough that they should not share the street with “federally-regulated, reasonably-sized vehicle”s? What then happens to delivery and freight? Small businesses like landscapers? People who are moving? RVs? Emergency vehicles? People who currently own unsafely large vehicles and whatever they might have been doing with them? What is your answer for each of those scenarios?

EP
Guest
EP

I think Europe is setting a good example with their pedestrian safety requirements on vehicles. We’ve ignored those. Following those requirements tends to keep vehicles at a reasonable size, and without 6′ tall grilles. So, if our government required it, the automakers would follow. In 2015, the NHTSA was considering incorporating some of the international pedestrian safety standards into its vehicle safety ratings. But that went away with the current administration. There are differing levels of licensing and insurance for private, commercial, and emergency vehicles, each one requiring more training/certification/licensing to drive. Obviously we need more driver education across the board. It’s not that all large vehicles would be forbidden, there would just be less of them, which would be great for everyone. It’s one thing to rent a moving van for the day, drive your RV on a vacation, or take the fullsize pickup to the rock quarry for a load of gravel. It’s unnecessary to daily drive the things to the corner store and your workplace. Another “Cash for Clunkers” type of incentive would get old large vehicles off the road pretty quick.

MaddHatter
Guest
MaddHatter

You might be disappointed to learn how much “more training/certification/licensing” is required for most emergency vehicle operators.

I appreciate your reply. Pedestrian safety standards and cash-for-clunkers sound like proposals worthy of discussion. Getting anything Escalade-sized or larger off the public roads is something else entirely, and not imo very pragmatic.

Since you mentioned it, have you looked at what manufacturers have done in Europe to meet pedestrian safety standards? Is it mostly through design of the vehicle itself, or do they rely on safety features like emergency collision detection and such?

EP
Guest
EP

Here’s a good link on some info, you can read the UN report, too. Basically lower bumpers/front end, and then an up-sloping/higher hood surface. The hood is designed to somewhat absorb the impact of a pedestrian and give a bit, before they crush down to the immovable engine. “Making cars safer for pedestrians requires reducing the severity of impacts with a vehicle’s front end, hood, and pillars. But for high-riding SUVs and pick-up trucks, the physics of collisions are different. Those types of vehicles carry greater risk for pedestrians because the impact point is so high it can cause people to fall and be pushed under the wheels, Zuby says.”

https://usa.streetsblog.org/2017/12/07/while-other-countries-mandate-safer-car-designs-for-pedestrians-america-does-nothing/

MaddHatter
Guest
MaddHatter

Other than a passing mention of exterior airbags, that article doesn’t offer much that’s new. Europe, at least according to that article, has addressed pedestrian safety through sedan structural design and not other safety features. That’s not a very practical approach for a big chunk of the US, unfortunately.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Just because there is no magic “too big” line that applies to everyone doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be doing more to discourage people from buying larger vehicles.

qqq
Guest
qqq

You wrote, “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?”

Of course that would create some safe areas, but that doesn’t help the pedestrians once they leave those areas. And they’ll have to leave them unless cars are banned from everywhere that pedestrians go.

MaddHatter
Guest
MaddHatter

Yes and yes. I’m mostly thinking of downtown, where pedestrian density is high, sight lines are poor, there’s high value in reclaiming street real estate, and it’s most inconvenient and makes the least sense to be driving with any kind of speed anyway. There may be a one or two universally-applicable ways to help the problem (e.g. pedestrian safety standards, as EP suggested above), but it’s also going to take a patchwork of situation-specific solutions and pedestrian boulevards is one in that category.

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.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Because criminals don’t like getting caught. The difference with speed cameras is that most people have sped at some point, whereas our other laws are typically followed, and most people can sleep well at night knowing that the police won’t be breaking down their door.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

The courts unfortunately are biased on how they prosecute visible minorities, who tend to be poorly represented by lawyers, if they are represented at all, versus whites who tend to be always well represented by lawyers, or at least that’s what the statistics say. A white criminal is much more likely to contest the charges and much more likely to walk away with the charges unproven, with no court fines or fees to pay. A visible minority is more likely to be charged, more likely to be convicted, fined, sentenced, and given additional fines and jail time for not being able to pay the original fines and court fees in the first place, as well as being assaulted in jail by guards and/or other prisoners, and much more likely to die in jail from injuries and illness.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Good legal representation can help dramatically with all the other factors you describe. Improving the quality of lawyers available to those without financial resources will go a long way toward protecting people’s rights in the face of a powerful state. I hope it’s not a contradiction to say I want everyone’s rights to be protected, and I want the guilty to be convicted.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

I agree with you, but historically it’s been so hard to deliver justice to those with any kind of privilege.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

That is a totally different issue, to which I see no solution that isn’t worse than the problem.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

And yes, most states have banned speed and red light cameras, or else made the restrictions on their use so onerous and restrictive that only a singularly-determined bureaucrat would ever try to use them. The reasons cited are usually along the lines of unreasonable search and seizure, but the real reasons are that state legislators are among the worst culprits of red light running and speeding.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Historically there actually has been a due-process argument: since you don’t find out you’re busted until you get a ticket later, you could (theoretically) get multiple tickets on the same trip. Unlike with bot-cops, when a real cop tickets you, you know about it right away, and if you have half a brain you slow down after that and avoid getting a second ticket. Unlike with a criminal offense, the argument goes that for something as minor and widely violated as a traffic law, you should be notified immediately.

I lost most of my sympathy for that argument, however, when I learned that PPB set its speed cameras to write tickets only if drivers are going at least 15 mph over the limit.

Brighton West
Guest

I’d love to see traffic enforcement handed over to PBOT. They have more tools than a hammer (citation) to solve speed problems. Why do we need a $75k a year police officer driving a $25k SUV to notice and ticket someone texting while driving? Just send out an intern on a bike with a camera.
We’d still need highly trained people for DUIs.
Is there any movement in Portland to move Traffic Enforcement?

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

If a PBOT intern managed to catch up to me on their bike, and handed me a citation, I’d file it alongside my Eudaly campaign literature.

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)