A ban on SUVs is unlikely, but a TD calling for it is a good thing

COMMENT & ANALYSIS: A ban on SUVs in Irish cities, as called for by Paul Murphy TD, is highly unlikely to happen. But the People Before Profit parliamentarian is still doing us all a service by making that call.

The proliferation of SUVs — including “crossovers” — in recent years in Ireland is bad for the environment, safety and any kind of sense.

The trend towards purchasing larger vehicles has been flagged by the EPA again and again for over a decade as one of the reasons for increasing or stagnating of emissions in the transport when we should have been seeing larger decreases due to engine improvements.

Even electric SUVs are not a good idea in this regard because of the need for larger batteries and more energy when the goal needs to be limiting demand while we struggle to green our electric grid.

The idea of a green car is also a myth. But, while it’s hard for many people to avoid or reduce car use without improvements in active and public transport, buying an SUV shows you’re misinformed or don’t care.

Even motoring websites run headlines such as “Soaring SUV sales clash with attempts to slow climate change“. The International Energy Agency has found that SUVs were the second largest contributor to the increase in global carbon emissions from 2010 to 2018, as reported back in 2019.

On safety, tragically, SUVs are reasonable for growing number and alarming percentage of children being hit by their own parents or family members. The increased danger is down to the bulky nature of SUVs — this comes in two way: more blind spots for the driver and designs which are less friendly for people walking and cycling when they are hit.

What about the people who really need SUVs because they live up a mountain or because they have five children to ferry around? Sorry, but this song isn’t about you. The downsides of mass SUV ownership isn’t just an ideological argument for the sake of it, the impacts are real. For close to 100% of people, the proliferation of larger cars is just a lifestyle choice, even if they’ve had the wool pulled over their heads by the all-consuming marketing from car companies.

A lifestyle choice that’s bad for the environment and safety to that point that most people using SUVs are engaging in anti-social behaviour. The call from Murphy is good because it can help kickstarts a conversion about SUVs which was before now not being had outside a limited amount of people.

This is along the lines of stories which we’re covered before, such as ‘Reducing cars is like smoking ban, people won’t want the traffic back, cycling expert tells Irish politicians‘ and ‘Are drivers in the city like smokers in our children’s bedrooms?‘.

These types of questions need to be made mainstream, otherwise we’ll keep failing to act on climate, road safety, and inactivity.

I am editor of IrishCycle.com and have reported on and commented on cycling in Ireland for over a decade. My background is in journalism -- I have a BA in Journalism from DCU and HDip in Print Journalism from BCFE. I wrote about cycling for national newspapers, and then started CyclingInDublin.com for overflow stories. Later the website was re-branded to reflect a more national focus.

1 Comment

  1. I say BAN THEM too. The bigger the SUV, the worse the driver. They expect other cars and, especially cyclists to make-way for them, bully other road users.

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