Deflating tyres is wrong, but the rise in SUVs and climate inaction on transport generally must be confronted

Comment & Analysis: Deflating SUV tyres is a criminal act and, maybe more importantly, the climate activists doing it likely don’t know who might need to use such car while it’s disabled.

The Tyre Extinguishers who target SUVs by deflating their tires have hit the headline after the group has ramped up action in Dublin.

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I’m writing this as someone who generally supports direction action.

Are you somebody who gets worked up about climate activists gluing themselves to something or putting paint on a building or the security screen of an art work? Or disrupting a sports match?

Well, I just want to say I don’t agree with you. Art in the galleries targeted are all protected, and you’re likely getting worked up over a stunt that does little or no lasting damage. Meanwhile, climate change is already clearly wreaking havoc on the world. What exactly do you think people were going to do when frustrated by so much not just inaction, but blocking of real action.

I normally link to evidence to statements like ‘climate change is already clearly wreaking havoc on the world’, but anybody who still needs evidence on that has their head stook in the sand.

My area is transport (not just cycling), if you think we’re acting half enough on transport you are kidding yourself. Since the Dail declared a climate emergency in 2019 the actions of Governments on transport have yet to catch up with that declaration.

Some politicians are still not just looking for road building of the type which will just increase car use and emissions, but also many are doing so while holding urban transport improvements and simple inter-urban greenways to ransom.

We are using overly complicated processes for elements of projects which should be and legally can be fast-tracked, BusConnects is still too slow and focused on road widening, the quality of new walking and cycling routes is still generally lacking nationally (with honourable exceptions), and larger public transport which would have had a solid business case in the 1990s or before  are stil being delayed.

Simple things like removing barriers on urban and rural cycle routes are a struggle (not helped by guidelines which are a bit of a fudge), and the idea of grants or other incentives to buy electric or cargo bikes come up against opposition from some in Government and Department officials.

Basic protection of cycle lanes and traffic management mechanisms such as bus gates are made out nearly as if they were the work of the devil trying to stop parishioners from getting to church. Hyperbolic lies.

The rise and rise of SUVs is one example where much of the world has accelerated emissions at a time when we should be reducing them.

For the nitpickers reading this you can take the rise of SUVs as including the move by the car industry to market and upsell all bulkier and heavier cars to people who didn’t need them.

In recent years, greater efficiencies in petrol, diesel and electric cars have largely been wiped out by the rise of SUVs — stunningly, the carbon emissions from global SUV fleet outweighs that of most countries.

On the issue of deflating tires, Fine Gail TD Neale Richmond told TheJournal.ie “All this does is annoy people and turn people against very real and genuine aspirations to address the climate emergency.”

What does he think is driving direction action? Inaction and indifference clearly is. They say so on their leaflet which Richmond posted to Twitter.

Without any evidence Richmond says tires are being slashed when he says he has only seen photos of tires deflated and only one person has made a claim to him that their tires were slashed.

It also tells TheJournal.ie: “How do you get people to agree with you then, and on their leaflet, they basically want to abolish all cars, it’s not realistic.”

The website reports, “as well as targeting SUVs, the leaflet adds that hybrids and electric vehicles are ‘still polluting, dangerous, and cause congestion'” — it is clear the leaflet is referring to SUVs regardless of their fuel source.

Richmond knows the group is targeting SUVs because he spends ages defending them and giving a load of reasons why well-off city dwellers need SUVs. He says: “People are more than entitled to have an SUV.”

But it’s because of inaction and attitudes like this Richmond’s that people feel the need to take direct action on climate change. It seems some very comfortable people and their representatives need to be shocked into action.

Again for clarity: This article does not condone deflating of tires. As above, not only because it is a criminal act but it is clearly both Criminal Damage (which includes temporarily disabling property) and also interfering with a vehicle when parked.

3 comments

  1. “All this does is annoy people and turn people against very real and genuine aspirations to address the climate emergency.”
    If you are buying an SUV, you clearly don’t have any genuine aspirations to address the climate emergency. I’m sure there is a small fraction that genuinely need a vehicle like that but they are in the minority.

    Reply
    • The massive SUV’s – like the Ford’s and bigger Land Rovers struggle to even get down many suburban Dublin streets as they are so narrow, with parked cars either side making them crawl precariously forward- there almost needs to be new signage for certain streets to be marked as ‘non SUV friendly’ at this point – and these larger models have massive blind spots when it comes to spotting cyclists, especially children, alongside them. They are also unable to park adequately in many areas as they are too wide and either encroach half way into the painted cycle track or onto the footpath.
      Drivers I notice also tend to ‘kick’ the door open getting out as they are so heavy- giving little check for approaching cyclists. Many painted cycle tracks desperately need to be moved out more now away from car parking spaces- Camden Street has this issue.

      Reply
  2. Mark said: “Drivers I notice also tend to ‘kick’ the door open getting out as they are so heavy- giving little check for approaching cyclists.”

    That’s precisely what hapened to me six years ago and I hit the massive door, sustaining life-changing injuries. I cycle stil because it is less difficult than walking which aggravates one of the injuries.

    Incidentally the Gards did not turn-u. Next day I went to the ststion and, dispite my strong objection a Ban-Garda said they would not invietsigte or prosecute it on the grounds that driver was a “busy professional woman.”

    If it was an old banger with a non-professional guy I wonder what she wold have done?

    Cycles were on our roads 100 years before such huge vehicles. They are inappropriate for cities at the very least.

    Reply

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