Jon Burke, the London Councillor for Hackney responded to Britain’s plan to ban all gas and diesel vehicle sales by 2030 by pointing out that this only addressed half the issue.
In an opinion piece in the Huffington Post, Mr. Burke reminded that it was not gasoline powered vehicles that destroyed communities but the presence and use of the vehicles themselves.
Outstanding issues remain with continued private vehicle use regardless of how it is powered. Those issues include congestion, speed, automotive pollution, and the fact that the trend to larger SUVs (Sports Utility Vehicles) means more road fatalities.
This view is counter to that of many of the electric vehicle companies, who perceive the change away from the ICE (internal combustion engine) as being the way to continue manufacturing vehicles. As technology becomes self driving, it has also been thought that autonomous vehicles will provide transport for seniors, who need to retire from driving vehicles.
Mr. Burke quotes Jane Jacobs from the book Dark Age Ahead who stated
“Not television or illegal drugs but the automobile has been the chief destroyer of American communities”.
It’s been suggested that the invention of the affordable automobile is the 20th century device that most shaped cities, to the point that car use factors into how we perceive space, time, independence and ourselves.
While we are in the second wave of the Covid pandemic in Vancouver, an article written by Frances Bula in the Globe and Mail in June showed that one-third of those surveyed expected to take transit less and use a vehicle more. The need for physical distancing and worries about the proximity of people on transit has translated in a new reliance on the private vehicle.
That new adaptation of car use for personal virus bubble protection is part of a trend in Canada that has seen bigger vehicles dominate the market. As Matt Bubbers in the Globe and Mail notes nearly 75 percent of all vehicles sold in this country are “light trucks” inclusive of SUVs. Cars, pickups, SUV’s and cube vans also contribute to nearly 50 percent of all GHG emissions from transportation. Large “heavy-duty” vehicles make up a further 35 percent of GHGs with rail transport contributing 3.8 percent and motorcycles .2 percent.
There has been an increasing tie-in with private vehicle ownership and wealth. The SUV with higher seats, all terrain capability is marketed with a rugged persona, and available from all vehicle manufacturers. In North America Ford will no longer sell cars, just trucks and the very profitable SUVs.
While using electric vehicles is noble, it still does not address the issue of congestion and the deadly statistics with SUVs. Statistics show that SUVs with the high front end grille are twice as likely to kill pedestrians because the higher engine profile is a driver’s blind spot and directly damages pedestrians’ vital organs, but this information has not been well publicized. Read more »