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    £25 for 4×4s in London: fantastic!


    by Leon on 12th July, 2006 at 3:33 pm    

    The Guardian reports:

    “London mayor Ken Livingstone today announced plans to raise the congestion charge to £25 for so-called “Chelsea tractors”.

    Following a consultation, congestion charge rates in the capital will vary based on road tax bands from A (100g CO2 per KM) to G (over 225g CO2 per KM).

    Drivers of the least polluting cars will receive a reduction on the current £8 daily charge, while those which emit the most C02, such as many Jeeps and SUVs, will pay a much higher price, up to £25.”

    Good move Ken! These cars are a menace to both the environment and people. I have no problem with using mechanisms such as the congestion charge to fight climate change.

    These cars need to be taken off the roads, there’s simply no justification for having them in built up urban areas (fair enough if you live in the country and need to drive cross country etc). They clog up the roads and make life worse for other drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. Drivers of these cars are less responsible than the average driver. A recent study found that:

    “A total of 38,182 normal cars and 2,944 four wheel drive vehicles were included in the analysis. Overall, almost one in six drivers (15.3%) was not wearing a seat belt and one in 40 (2.5%) was using a hand held mobile phone while he or she passed the observer.

    Drivers of four wheel drive vehicles were almost four times more likely than drivers of other cars to be seen using hand held mobile phones. They were also more likely not to comply with the law on seat belts.” [Innovations Report.com]

    Anti car? Too hard on mums doing the ‘school run’? Perhaps but I’m not alone:

    “The mission of the Alliance Against Urban 4×4s is to inform and unite groups of concerned citizens across the United Kingdom against the growing presence of 4×4 vehicles in urban areas.

    The Alliance seeks to educate people about the environmental and social damage caused by the increasing numbers of urban 4×4s as well as promote sustainable forms of transport. We will lobby for increases in congestion charges and road taxes for 4×4s and seek a ban on advertising in the mainstream media.” [Alliance Against Urban 4×4s]

    What cities like London needs is a decent public transport system, not smoggy roads with tank like cars mowing us down!

    Update: Matt Seaton has waded into this on over at Comment is Free and provoked the usual civilised discussions…



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    99 Comments below   |  

    1. Don — on 12th July, 2006 at 3:46 pm  

      Charge by all means, the things are a bloody nuisance, but a ban on advertising is a silly idea.

    2. Leon — on 12th July, 2006 at 3:50 pm  

      As silly as a ban on advertising junk food to children or cigarettes ads in TV sporting events?

    3. Don — on 12th July, 2006 at 4:08 pm  

      No, quite a bit sillier really. As you point out, outside of urban areas 4×4’s are a legitimate and often essential means of transport.

      Unless you can think of a way to target the ban?

    4. Nush — on 12th July, 2006 at 4:35 pm  

      I love it!

      Good on Ken! Those cars are a menace

      Most politicians these days are leading by example and trading in their gas guzzling cars for more environmentally friendly cars!

    5. Leon — on 12th July, 2006 at 4:36 pm  

      You have a point but it isn’t impossible. We have regional variations in television and advertising as it is so it could work with this. Also an outright ban (tbh I’m not especially passionate about banning; if they can be ‘taxed’ into lower use in cities ad banning probably wouldn’t be needed) isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Those that do need them will always be savvy enough to use things like Google to find outlets selling them (if drivers can find cheaper deals on the continent online I’m sure they’ll be fine finding their SUVs).

      Reflecting on advertising, perhaps it might be better to have pro-active/positive policies than restrictive policies in areas like this. Maybe promoting other forms of transport like tubes/busses/walking/cycling or even car pooling (something I think is being introduced on some motorways) might be more effective?

      We need to create a more environmentally friendly culture in our society, less disposable products and packaging etc. Establish that and car use/ownership is placed in a new context.

      That said nothing beats a good incentive like cheap and decent public transport. If we had cheaper public transport we’d all be better off but that’s a piece for another time…!

    6. bananabrain — on 12th July, 2006 at 4:49 pm  

      i can’t bear ken livingstone but at least there’s one subject on which we see eye-to-eye. now all we have to do is quadruple road tax for them and off we go!

      b’shalom

      bananabrain

    7. sonia — on 12th July, 2006 at 4:54 pm  

      Excellent - fabulous news!

    8. justforfun — on 12th July, 2006 at 5:00 pm  

      Leon - couldn’t agree more

      “…less disposable products and packaging..”

      If Tanzania can do it so should we.
      http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/international.cfm?id=508972006

      All single portion packs should be banned.

      BTW - are LPG cars exempt from the congestion tax or do they get a reduction?

      Justforfun

    9. Leon — on 12th July, 2006 at 5:11 pm  

      “BTW - are LPG cars exempt from the congestion tax or do they get a reduction?”

      I’m not sure, I had a look at the GLA press release but haven’t found the proposals it speaks of: CO2 emissions and congestion charging GLA Press Release

      And in case anyone is wondering (as I admitedly was for a sec!) what a LPG car is check out this.

    10. don — on 12th July, 2006 at 5:20 pm  

      I’m all behind positive policies and better public transport. Cyclists get a lot of stick from city drivers, but other countries have shown the way for decades.

      The particularly unpleasant thing about urban 4x’ers is the ’safety’ aspects. They are a lot more dangerous than small cars, just not to the selfish bastard behind the wheel. More likely to have an accident, but less likely to suffer the consequences.

    11. Nyrone — on 12th July, 2006 at 5:43 pm  

      Excellent news, this should have been implemented years ago. It’s only when you travel around Europe that you begin to see how out-of-control the issue is here in the UK.

      I like Ken Livingstone. It might be because he is the only gov rep who had a totally sincere statement to make on 7/7 about the victims not being rich politicians or state officials or soldiers, just ordinary people of all groups and religions going to work in the morning.

    12. David T — on 12th July, 2006 at 5:53 pm  

      What about people carriers?

      My guess is that these family friendly cars emit about the same amount as a Landrover Freelander if not more.

      Obviously, they don’t look like a jeep: so there’s no visceral objection to them. But still, to be consistent…

      … Actually to be super consistent, why not put a massive great tax on the road to airports, as taking a long haul flight produces (per person) many many times more CO2 than the small amount of additional CO2 that even the largest 4×4s produce.

      They clog up the roads and make life worse for other drivers, cyclists and pedestrians.

      And as a former cyclist, who gave up after being nearly killed by a bus, on more than one occasion, I’d like to see buses banned.

      They’re large, badly driven, ubiquitous, and have a really nasty tendency to run bikes off the road.

    13. don — on 12th July, 2006 at 6:03 pm  

      ‘a massive great tax on the road to airports’

      Most of the airports I’ve used don’t have a personal road to them. But I’m all for ending the mad system that makes it cheaper to fly to Croatia than take the train to Manchester. Especially since those using them seem to be mainly obnoxious stag/hen parties and property bores.

      Bring back the tram.

    14. justforfun — on 12th July, 2006 at 6:16 pm  

      David - I take your point. However the charge is based on CO2 emmision which is related ( not directly but in major part ) to the size of the engine.

      4×4 tend to have large engines to overcome
      their high curb weight and while still maintaining the marketed performance of a car. Buyers of 4×4s want the same acceleration as a car so as not offend their self image and importance. No good lossing the race from the lights etc.

      People carriers are designed as a monocoque and tend to be lighter. The buyers of people carriers are buying into a different image and tend not to desire quite the same accelerations and can adequately get by with much smaller engines. Jeeps, Range rovers etc just would seem a bit wimpy with a 1.5ltr engine :-) but a people carrier with a small engine could be marketed to Volvo buyers as a car with conscience and an engineering marvel.

      Just a thought

      Justforfun

    15. Leon — on 12th July, 2006 at 6:17 pm  

      “And as a former cyclist, who gave up after being nearly killed by a bus, on more than one occasion, I’d like to see buses banned.

      They’re large, badly driven, ubiquitous, and have a really nasty tendency to run bikes off the road.”

      I’m not sure if you’re being serious or sarcastic…but anyway, better driving instruction for buses (get rid of those stupid bendy buses!) and trams where practical!

    16. David T — on 12th July, 2006 at 6:25 pm  

      Bendy buses are what finally did it for me. That was the end of London cycling for me, sadly.

      If this tax is going to be implemented on CO2 emissions only, I’d be interested to see what cars fall into which bands. Old cars tend to be less fuel efficient, and so I’d guess that they’ll fare badly. New cars will probably end up being charged less therefore. New cars tend to be driven by richer people, though - who can better afford to pay the congestion charge.

      Does somebody have - for example - a comparison between the emissions of a 1968 Beetle, a 1995 Volvo estate, and a Landrover Freelander?

      I’m not sure that an emissions based test would be perfectly aligned with the aesthetic objection to 4×4 type cars.

      I can’t drive, so I’m not really much of a player in the game. I tend to take the tube or taxis…

    17. Leon — on 12th July, 2006 at 6:27 pm  

      On a related note I’ve just got (literally just pulled it out of my letter box!) The Party’s Over: Oil, War, and the Fate of Industrial Societies

      The world is about to run out of cheap oil and change dramatically. Within the next few years, global production will peak. Thereafter, even if industrial societies begin to switch to alternative energy sources, they will have less net energy each year to do all the work essential to the survival of complex societies. We are entering a new era, as different from the industrial era as the latter was from medieval times.

      In The Party’s Over, Richard Heinberg places this momentous transition in historical context, showing how industrialism arose from the harnessing of fossil fuels, how competition to control access to oil shaped the geopolitics of the 20th century, and how contention for dwindling energy resources in the 21st century will lead to resource wars in the Middle East, Central Asia, and South America. He describes the likely impacts of oil depletion, and all of the energy alternatives. Predicting chaos unless the U.S. — the world’s foremost oil consumer — is willing to join with other countries to implement a global program of resource conservation and sharing, he also recommends a “managed collapse” that might make way for a slower-paced, low-energy, sustainable society in the future.

      You can order it from here for a tenner. Looks like a good if utterly disturbing read…

    18. Roger — on 12th July, 2006 at 6:27 pm  

      Arm traffic wardens and give them the right to carry out summary executions. Bring back the Red Flag Act.
      Jeddart justice for motorists!

    19. Leon — on 12th July, 2006 at 6:31 pm  

      New cars will probably end up being charged less therefore. New cars tend to be driven by richer people, though - who can better afford to pay the congestion charge.

      As I say above (I must admit I do not share you’re distaste for Ken so am a bit more optimistic about this) I can’t find the proposals. Couldn’t say whether the old chestnut of a cost to a “poorer” driver vs “richer” is relevant…

    20. David T — on 12th July, 2006 at 6:37 pm  

      OK - here’s a site:

      http://www.vcacarfueldata.org.uk/search/search.asp

      Landrover Freelander m5 diesel

      … 205 g/km

      Citroen C8 people carrier 2.0i 16v petrol

      … 213 g/km
      MINI Cooper S Hatchback MINI R50 / R53

      … 207 g/km

      Metrocab Taxi:

      … 284 g/km

      However, the Landrover Freelander will produce an enormously hostile reaction: whereas I bet none of the other cars will.

    21. Leon — on 12th July, 2006 at 6:42 pm  

      You might be right but (and I’ll repeat something I said years ago when argueing in support of the C charge) you have to start somewhere.

      While Blair is dooming our country’s future to nuclear fueled idiocy at least Ken is trying something different.

      A telling contrast I think (and that’s not to say that Ken is perfect, far from it in fact but there you go)…

    22. 1skeptic — on 12th July, 2006 at 7:30 pm  

      You’ve got to hand it to Ken. He knows how to hit the poor.

      First, a congestion charge to get them off the roads. Then, a 4×4 charge so that rich people can be sure of their status.

      I’m just elated. All day and night I was thinking about those smug people driving 4×4s, its so annoying. What right do they have to be stupidly enjoying themselves? I wish there was some tax on petrol so that people driving larger cars and larger-engine cars would be automatically penalised.

      People talk about CO2 emissions and such like, but the main thing is that poor people can’t be allowed to enjoy driving as they like. Its heartening that our politicians know whats best for everyone.

    23. Courtney Hamilton — on 12th July, 2006 at 7:52 pm  

      That’s rubbish news I’m sorry to say:

      Actually, that goes for much of what I’ve read here in the comment section too.

      Firstly, Ken Livingston, and New Labour’s ‘war on 4×4’s’ is just a dodgy on the facts as the ‘war on terror’ is. For a start, targeting people who drive 4×4’s or SUV’s in London will not make any difference to the level of CO2 emitted on British roads. Secondly, those who can afford to buy a BMW X5, or similar car, are not going to start crying because of a few extra quid added on top of their already huge bills.

      This phoney ‘war on 4×4’s’ as I like to call it, actually has nothing to do with taking practical step’s towards planetary ‘de-carbonisation’, but, has everything to do with attempting to strike a cord with middle-class sensibilities, and those who hold snobbish views about certian sections of our society, like Don above, who thinks all 4×4 drivers are just plain ’selfish’ bastards.

      A degraded view of ordinary people that is shared by the chattering classes and the eco-liberals of Alliance Against Urban 4×4s, who are forever trying to turn 4×4 drivers into some sort of all-purpose hate figure for our times, with dodgy science, and half-baked assumptions.

      For example, they constantly bang on and on about the fact that 4×4’s emit more CO2 than any other car on the road. So what? A kitchen dishwasher releases some 756g of CO2 during one cycle, whereas, a two kilometre spin in a brand new turbo diesel Range Rover releases only 598g of CO2 - so where’s the campaign to get rid of those ‘horrid dishwashers’?

      So are people who use dishwashers ’selfish’ bastards as well. What about the people who use air-conditioners in their homes, are they complete bastards too? What about the family of four who release some 2,415,000g of CO2 every time they go to see Micky Mouse in Disneyworld, Florida - are they just a bunch of ’selfish’ bastards as well?

      The snobbery running through this debate really stinks, and the dodgy science stinks too.

      Best wishes.

      Courtney

    24. jonz — on 12th July, 2006 at 8:06 pm  

      Courtney, please refrain from using actual facts, it will confuse the lefties.

    25. don — on 12th July, 2006 at 8:16 pm  

      Courtney,

      Just the urban ones. And I didn’t mention emissions, as I think a lot of the cut-the-carbon, re-cycle and mulch campaigning is just feel-good frippery.

    26. Sunny — on 12th July, 2006 at 9:12 pm  

      Sure, it is a populist move (one that I welcome), but any move to encourage people to buy more (or travel by) efficient transport is a good move.

      Courtney, take your point but let’s stick to comparing cars rather than everything under the sun?

      However I’d much prefer that we stop subsidising aviation fuel and airport tax is increased (so the money is used to plant more trees or for environmental purposes).

      All these taxes are regressive, that is the nature of the beast and the economy. The alternative, a progressive tax will just get complicated and beauraucratic.

    27. Sid — on 12th July, 2006 at 9:18 pm  

      Why not reduce the tax on hybrids?

    28. Sid — on 12th July, 2006 at 9:21 pm  

      by hybrids, I wasn’t referring to white rastafarians, but cars

    29. SajiniW — on 12th July, 2006 at 9:22 pm  

      4×4’s have ruined parking allocations in London too - any move to make it easier for small car drivers like me to find spaces is a bonus!

    30. Katy Newton — on 12th July, 2006 at 9:41 pm  

      I am about to take umbrage.

      Because of my mother’s medical condition she can only comfortably sit in a 4×4 or people carrier. Not all of us are Chelsea mums, you know.

      *flounces*

    31. don — on 12th July, 2006 at 9:49 pm  

      Katy,

      E&OE

    32. El Cid — on 12th July, 2006 at 9:54 pm  

      I too thought it was a good idea. However, on reflection it appears ill thought out. Why should families be penalised just coz there are ….. well families! After all, my kids will be subsidising your retirement tree-hugging communes long after they leave school.
      No, oi, stop it, wait a minute… pound for pound, paaaaand fer paaaand, on a per capita basis, a Volvo XC90 3.2 driven by an adult and carrying two children will emit less CO2 than one person driving a Smart 61 bhp!! As for the People Carriers — I mean wouldn’t be seen dead in one. But Ken don’t stand a chance if he riles up da mums and dads. He’s toast.
      Wouldn’t it be much better to put legal caps on CO2 emissions and incentivise the new generation of metropolitan electric cars by making them pay no road tax, no congestion charge, etc.
      Check this out: http://www.guardian.co.uk/cars/story/0,,1815719,00.html

    33. El Cid — on 12th July, 2006 at 9:56 pm  

      Like the joke Sid.
      However, I heard a much better one today. Very silly but brilliant (I liked it anyway).

    34. El Cid — on 12th July, 2006 at 9:57 pm  

      Apparently, Sophie Ellis Bextor was headbutted to death at the flat of a famour French footballer

    35. El Cid — on 12th July, 2006 at 9:58 pm  

      It was murder on Zidane’s floor

    36. Sid — on 12th July, 2006 at 10:04 pm  

      El Cid

      yes, brilliant.

      but hmmm, I’m thinking: with sprog two coming soon to familia el-Sid, that Volvo xc90 looks like a nice option.

    37. SajiniW — on 12th July, 2006 at 10:18 pm  

      El Cid for Mayor!

    38. El Cid — on 12th July, 2006 at 10:24 pm  

      I can’t afford one of dem great big Volvos. They look v nice tho. But I’m quite happy with my Saab 9-3 Aero — a driver’s car, with great first and second gears. Vroom vroom. Kids like it too, despite the squash.

    39. El Cid — on 12th July, 2006 at 10:41 pm  

      I remember when we went to Spain in May and our hire car turned out to be something called a Peugeot Partner (a bread van pretending to be a people carrier). Truly horrible. My 6-year old daughter refused to get in. My eldest son wasn’t happy either. Not that I was ecstatic. We consoled ourselves with the idea that no-one really knew us where we were going. There’s a lot of Reggie Hammond in most families when it comes to cars.
      Remember “48 Hours”?
      “Class isn’t something you buy, man,” Nick Nolte says. “Look at you, you’ve got a $500 suit on and you’re still a low-life.”
      “Yeah, but I look good!”

    40. 1skeptic — on 12th July, 2006 at 10:46 pm  

      “Sure, it is a populist move (one that I welcome), but any move to encourage people to buy more (or travel by) efficient transport is a good move.”

      Really? Efficient for whom? For each individual as decided for themselves, or for society as a whole as decided by the wise elders? What other decisions should be made on the basis of this “efficiency”, do tell.

      “Courtney, take your point but let’s stick to comparing cars rather than everything under the sun?

      However I’d much prefer that we stop subsidising aviation fuel and airport tax is increased (so the money is used to plant more trees or for environmental purposes). ”

      So an absence of tax on aviation fuel is now called a subsidy. Must keep up with the language.

      “All these taxes are regressive, that is the nature of the beast and the economy. The alternative, a progressive tax will just get complicated and beauraucratic. ”

      Yes, the only better alternative to a complicated and bureaucratic tax is an unfair tax.

      This “congestion” is just a fancy name for queuing. In an egalitarian society, all people instinctively form a orderly queue for public goods, and get served fairly in turn. If you want to get served earlier, you show up earlier.

      In the sphere of private business, wherever there is ‘congestion’, business resolves it by an appropriate charging policy i.e. increasing the price at which goods can be cleared, or offering a better service for higher payers,

      And this is all that the so-called leftist mayor of London has done, exactly the same action that a monopolistic private company would have done if the Central london roads were privatised.

    41. inders — on 12th July, 2006 at 11:22 pm  

      great idea ?

      Rich people will carry on regardless, financial penalties for this kind of thing just create resentment. Why do people who can afford it, be able to pollute more then the rest of us ?

    42. Leon — on 13th July, 2006 at 9:00 am  

      How can a ‘poor’ person afford to buy and run a car?

    43. Oli — on 13th July, 2006 at 9:00 am  

      Dont forget, larger families which rely on people carriers to get their kids to school etc will most likely also be hit by this congestion charge, while Ken has followed the governments footsteps in creating a noble cause to justify a rise in taxes which will in all probability see the government pockets lined a little more. Im amazed that our Country is following the American route of increasing taxes to generate more money, rather than concentrating on bringing in more companies and helping them to work more profitably and efficiently, which is the only true way the government can get more cash.

    44. Inders — on 13th July, 2006 at 9:36 am  

      Leon, you can bandy about terms like rich and poor and define what they can and can’t afford. Here i’m defining the richer who won’t care about the extra chare and the relativly poorer who still have the car but won’t be able to use it.

      I’m not suggesting that the worst off in society will own a 4 x 4, just as (I hope) you’re not suggesting that if you own a car you must somehow be rich.

      The fact is, policy such as enforced financial penelties is a wrong step because it effects some people less then others merely based on how much money you earn. Which implies that if you earn enough, you can do what you wish because you’ll just pay the government off.

    45. Leon — on 13th July, 2006 at 10:16 am  

      “I’m not suggesting that the worst off in society will own a 4 x 4, just as (I hope) you’re not suggesting that if you own a car you must somehow be rich.”#

      I’m not but given that these proposals (and they are just that at the moment, and subject to a lengthy consultation/stakeholder process) look like hitting the 4×4 (ie SUV etc) user the most and given that they are the better off why all this talk about hitting ‘less’ wealth off people?

      Seems to me that some people just have a grudge against Ken (with good reason in part I might add) and are trying to fit their views on these proposals around that. Rather than looking at the proposals and judging them on their own merit.

    46. Inders — on 13th July, 2006 at 10:53 am  

      Leon, that line of thinking is why socialism has failed. Working class people do own SUV’s, they may even own their own houses, they want SUV’s and their own houses. The middle income people who this is meant to be aimed at, will shrug this off and continue as normal because they can afford it.

      The working class person who has scraped together their pennies for a luxury car will have to sell it and be put back into their collective places by their red mayor. Every financial disincentive aimed at the individual has this effect.

      Frankly I couldn’t care less, like the majority of the country I live outside king kennie’s fifedom within the M25. All I’m suggesting is why not fine car/SUVmanufactors into getting their arses ‘in gear’ over emissions ?

    47. justforfun — on 13th July, 2006 at 11:04 am  

      I don’t live in London - hence this question. Is the congestion charge zone being expanded - or is it still just central London? - What are the demographics of people who actually live in the zone ( are they exempt or get reduced fees?) and and for the school run - are there many state or private schools in the congestion charge zone and what kids go to them?

      Answers to these might ( possibly, maybe ) inform our thoughts or are we discussing road charging in general?

      Justforfun

    48. Leon — on 13th July, 2006 at 11:13 am  

      “All I’m suggesting is why not fine car/SUVmanufactors into getting their arses ‘in gear’ over emissions?”

      The London Mayor doesn’t have the power to do that (and Blair/Neo Labour would rather go nuclear and invade other countries than face up to the problems of climate change). What the Mayor does have the power to do is change the driving make up of London and lower emissions that way.

    49. Inders — on 13th July, 2006 at 11:24 am  

      Change the driving makeup… yea I foresee nice open roads for the rich.

      As for the powers of the Mayor, I’m sure he could implent some sort of carbon tax added onto business rates that councils collect.

    50. Leon — on 13th July, 2006 at 11:34 am  

      “As for the powers of the Mayor, I’m sure he could implent some sort of carbon tax added onto business rates that councils collect.”

      Can you point me in the direction of any information regarding his powers in this area?

    51. sonia — on 13th July, 2006 at 12:02 pm  

      justforfun - you can;t know much about London at all.. the answers to your questions would take a long time. i take it you enjoy posing quetions..:-)

      to put it succintly..congestion charging covers central london - but not all areas - there were plans to extend it to kensington and chelsea, the map of the exact area is here ( no doubt you could have googled this yourself..)

      http://www.cclondon.com/infosearch/dynamicPages/WF_ZoneCheck_W.aspx

      Central London has some of the most deprived areas of the country - naturally ’state’ schools fall into the area. lots of equally rich and very poor people live in central london. quite a high perecentage of people who live in central london don’t actually drive – its too much bloody bother to find parking, easier to use public transport. People from outer london boroughs have a higher car ownership percentage – and of course the traffic tends to pass through central london doesn’t tend to originate in central london. this is of course annoying for residents, hence all the pressure to sort out traffic solutions where people can park and ride etc. i can’t say im happy about the SUV’s that zoom past my window every second.

    52. Leon — on 13th July, 2006 at 12:06 pm  

      Moving away from Ken, the enviroment for a second another point not picked up on (much) is the fact that these cars are dangerous. More dangerous than the average car because of the irresponsible drivers who think because they are ’safer’ they can flout seat belt and mobile phone laws. If these proposals work it will mean safer roads too.

    53. sonia — on 13th July, 2006 at 12:09 pm  

      if you’re actually interested in finding out more about London ( and it is fascinating - such a mixed bag) - check out the Office of National Statistics’ publication - Focus on London

      http://www.statistics.gov.uk/focuson/london/

      there are plenty of council estates in central london/zone 1 if you want to look at it that way.

    54. sonia — on 13th July, 2006 at 12:11 pm  

      you’re right Leon - and the more people have such cars, everyone else thinks they need one too - to be safer in case they have an accident with the ‘monster’. i mean the roads of London are hardly the same as the high-speed freeways of LA - but there that kind of ‘SUV-race’ has meant that everyone pretty much has one for fear of collision with another one. Arms race.

      i give the SUV drivers that go past me a nasty glare every time. makes me feel so much better.

    55. Inders — on 13th July, 2006 at 12:59 pm  

      Yes, yes, yes SUV driver should have their balls strapped to tower bridge and then be pushed over the side. Any other obscure generalisation and demonisation wha’gwan ? White van drivers? Tabliod editors? Single mothers ? Black people ? Ok hold off the last 2, it is a ‘progressive blog’ we aim to be progressive in our generalisations of course.

      Leon after a minor read of this, http://www.communities.gov.uk/pub/904/TheGreaterLondonAuthorityconsultationpaper_id1161904.pdf I can see that london wide strategy and the enivorment put my proposal well under his remit. He has no actual power to enforce this onto any council, but he can propose and try to win over support for his proposal. I can’t see council people saying no to more funds and the opputunity to blame Ken for the rise in rates.

    56. Leon — on 13th July, 2006 at 1:11 pm  

      Inders, it isn’t an obscure generalisation it’s from a study by the British Medical Journal. You did read my entry above right?

    57. 1skeptic — on 13th July, 2006 at 1:14 pm  

      Leon asks:

      “How can a ‘poor’ person afford to buy and run a car? ”

      A possible answer:

      “By making cars and running costs cheaper”

    58. Rakhee — on 13th July, 2006 at 1:50 pm  

      I’m feeling a little disgruntled.

      It isn’t that I don’t support the reduction of emmissions. Or that I don’t agree that there needs to be regulations to help protect our environment. The thing that gets me everytime (in a similar way to the whole congestion charge issue) is that people get charged or penalised and are encouraged to use public transport. The government is making a neat little packet. But where is all this money going?

      Every single day I get on the train and underground and am slammed up the side like a bloody sardine, then have to wait through delays in a tunnel with some heffer-lump’s armpit in my face and on top of that, then have to get on a bus when the northen line is shut down due to, wait for it, CONGESTION. If you’re going to encourage people to use public transport, there needs to be a better system in place. Humph.

      On a lighter note, I think everyone should travel by tuk-tuk. THEY ARE ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT AND THEY’RE COMING TO BRIGHTON!!!!

      http://www.timesonline.co.uk/newspaper/0,,173-2257931,00.html

    59. justforfun — on 13th July, 2006 at 2:21 pm  

      Sonia - Rhetorical questions perhaps? :-) - but I have my hands up - I could have googled the map.

      Knowing what you know - what is your position on the £25 charge for higher CO2 emmiting engines?

      As you say there are both poor and rich in the zone so any debate should not be about the wealth or lack of wealth of the residents within the congestion zone. The public transport is good (compared to the rest of the UK) and even compared to the outer areas of London (hence possibly the higher ownership of cars) - so why own a car if you live in the zone? Residents who really want to own a car get a 90% discount, so if people want to indulge in the hobby of a old Jag or 3lt Capri then there are no real penalties it the cost of a hobby. If they can’t afford newer efficient cars then a old ineffient car is still not going to be that much different in real terms. So whats the problem?

      The only fly in the ointment for me is how to get children to and from school safely and that in my mind should be a question of equality, which should not be dependant on wealth. However I believe children go for free on buses so is something.

      Therefore it seems to me this £25 increase is pretty much a non issue. If it is another small mechanism that promotes the choice of cars based on their more efficient use of resources, then I can’t see a problem. But I don’t see it as a charge on 4×4 and jeeps, just inefficient engines. The 4×4 tag is just used by the press to pander to their readers prejudices.

      The interesting part of the article is the reports on the 4×4 safety issues when they hit other road users. Personally I would never drive a 4×4 on the motorway because if there is a hazard that needs avoiding then the 4×4 just rolls too easily at speed and then your …. dead , crushed by your own car. While in a normal car, the chances are you would actually be able to avoid the accident in the first place. It was interesting to read that the quality of the driving by 4×4 users is lower. Its along these lines that any debate about 4×4 should go, rather than whether the £25 charge is a 4×4 tax because in reality it is not. As David T pointed out - many cars emit more CO2.

      Justforfun

      Ps - If I was in the outside the zone but needed to drive into it regularly, I would buy a pre 1973 car and convert it to LPG, which I read gets a discount. Plus no car tax and cheap insurance. Plus you are keeping an existing car going, rather than contributing to the demand for more cars. Something like this would do the job- http://www.motorbase.com/vehicle/by-id/822/ ;-) or an nice Series 3 Morris Oxford and the spares are still available thanks to our friends overseas.

    60. sonia — on 13th July, 2006 at 2:23 pm  

      “Yes, yes, yes SUV driver should have their balls strapped to tower bridge and then be pushed over the side.”

      ha ha - erm no.. we’re not terrorists! they should jolly well contribute towards fouling up the earth and environment though - and think about it a bit more especially with respect to their kids, their kids kids, asthma, lung diseases what have you. smokers have been ostracised for ‘polluting’ other people’s lungs..i see an analogy..

    61. El Cid — on 13th July, 2006 at 3:00 pm  

      Rakhee,
      You keep your Tuk-Tuk, I’ll stick with my Saab if you don’t mind.

    62. Inders — on 13th July, 2006 at 3:01 pm  

      More dangerous than the average car because of the irresponsible drivers who think because they are ’safer’ they can flout seat belt and mobile phone laws.

      = generalization and demonization.

      You might as well be telling me that white men can’t jump, or that irish people all drink guinness until it comes out of their noses.

    63. Rakhee — on 13th July, 2006 at 3:06 pm  

      El Cid - you stick with your Saab, I don’t mind at all.

      I’ll keep my tuk-tuks and my imaginary Aston Martin DB7, along with my mansion and seven fit men (one for each day of the week) ;-)

    64. Leon — on 13th July, 2006 at 3:08 pm  

      @ Inders, again I suggest you read the actual entry rather than resorting to your vague criticisms. The points I raised were based on a study, it’s all there in the links.

    65. El Cid — on 13th July, 2006 at 3:31 pm  

      Peter Crouch certainly can’t jump

    66. Inders — on 13th July, 2006 at 3:36 pm  

      I’ve done research and leg work for various studies and you can’t believe any of them as stone cold fact. But how about this for reverse logic..

      If we take the example that drivers of SUV’s are more likely to break laws regarding mobile phone use and take it as fact. Then how do we know that the same drivers would not flout the same laws even if SUV’s were banned outright ? Is this a suggestion that SUV’s cause bad driving, or that bad drivers buy SUV’s? If mobile phone use is a problem, you could argue for banning the phones as well ?

      As for the method for this survey, http://bmj.bmjjournals.com/cgi/content/full/333/7558/71?ehom . Its frankly prehistoric. If you were being paid minimum wage to stand in the pouring rain and count cars and 4 x 4’s and then count number of people using a phone or wearing a seat belt you’d know exactly what the researchers wanted to prove.

    67. justforfun — on 13th July, 2006 at 3:56 pm  

      Inders - the study of risk compensation is a fascinating field.

      If we take the example that drivers of SUV’s are more likely to break laws regarding mobile phone use and take it as fact. Then how do we know that the same drivers would not flout the same laws even if SUV’s were banned outright ? Is this a suggestion that SUV’s cause bad driving, or that bad drivers buy SUV’s? If mobile phone use is a problem, you could argue for banning the phones as well ?

      It is the environment ( and perceived environment )of the SUV that influences the behaviour of the driver, not the personality of the driver. That is the point to remember.

      I have old cars and new cars. The old cars are for the fun , the noise, their smell and the nostalgia of growing up. They are drivers cars in thesense they are a test of skill even below the speed limit. Both can’t actually go safely above 70mph and I drive very defensively because the brakes fade and the cars zig zigs under braking. But in my modern car I have had far more near misses, as I implicitly trust the air bags and ABS and consequantly have been caught out a few times.

      I suggest if people want to experiance directly the effects of “risk compensation” they have a six inch nail sticking out of their steering wheel. It is in your vision and will slow you down. The handling defects of 4×4s are hidden and so people don’t feel in a risking environment.

      Insurance companies should give a discount to people who try out their choice of car on a track at 70 and undertake a few manouvers. If they choose to proceed - fair enough - its informed consent. But I bet the sales of 4×4s will plumet and people will choose the safer handling cars that are being designed, leading to fewer crashes, less injury and cheaper insurance claims.

      Justforfun

    68. Inders — on 13th July, 2006 at 3:57 pm  

      It is the environment ( and perceived environment )of the SUV that influences the behaviour of the driver, not the personality of the driver. That is the point to remember.

      It’s only a point to remember if its true. Is it ?

    69. Inders — on 13th July, 2006 at 4:01 pm  

      Also justforfun, are you saying that your tests of skill in a old car is inherently safer then a modern car and therefore it would be safer for everyone to go around in old cars with knifes poking out of the steering wheels ?

      Although your logic follows, I think you’re discounting the fact that when people get used to driving in any sort of car, they tend to feel safer after a while.

    70. Leon — on 13th July, 2006 at 4:13 pm  

      A couple of interesting pieces:

      SUVs and risk compensation

      Crunch time for Sports Utility Vehicles

    71. justforfun — on 13th July, 2006 at 4:20 pm  

      The study makes no claim to have investigated the personalities of the drivers that were logged so all it can say in its conclusion is..
      Drivers of four wheel drive vehicles were more likely than drivers of cars to break both laws, consistent with the theory of risk compensation.

      … consistent with .. is the key bit. - meaning he has not identified the reason , but that the data fits the theory of risk compensation. There are of course other theories that are based on the trying to define the personality of people who buy 4×4s and SUV - “SUV drivers are selfish, smug, ignorant twats” (or SSSIT for short) but this theory could not be tested as each car was not stopped and interviewed :-) Personaly I think the theory of risk compensation is the more likely explaination of SUV driver behaviour. Advertising by manufacturers induces people to beleive that they will be safer in an SUV and so risk compensation even drives the purchasing decision.

      but we need more funding yeeeppeeee !
      because you’re right - it does depend on “It’s only a point to remember if its true. Is it? ” and its not been proved yet. Or it could still be SSSIT as the cause.

      Justforfun

    72. sonia — on 13th July, 2006 at 4:22 pm  

      I recommend the lovely RV1 bus..

    73. Leon — on 13th July, 2006 at 4:34 pm  

      Does it really matter whether SUV turn people into selfish wankers or selfish wankers are more likely to buy SUVs? The costs in terms of human life and the eniviroment is palpatable and must be, in my view, curtailed.

    74. Leon — on 13th July, 2006 at 4:37 pm  

      @ Sonia, heh yeah but it would be nice if it came a bit more often (aren’t they changing them slowly over to the new hydrogen powered ones?)

    75. justforfun — on 13th July, 2006 at 4:40 pm  

      @inders Also justforfun, are you saying that your tests of skill in a old car is inherently safer then a modern car -. No to this part. I know their bad , unsafe points and so in traffic I drive accordingly, and then have a bit of risking fun on the open road.

      …and therefore it would be safer for everyone to go around in old cars with knifes poking out of the steering wheels ? … this is the interesting bit. Old cars are inherantly less safe than newer cars, but people believe newer cars are safer than they actually are. They then tend to drive them faster and take risker manouvers, untill they reach their risk threshold. The best option would be new cars with a fake nail or a “safety” nail that will just cause superficial injury but not death.

      Justforfun

    76. justforfun — on 13th July, 2006 at 4:45 pm  

      Leon - your right that its actually the result of SUVs that matter, but it is important to understand why they are dangerous so as we can if we want develope policies that tackle the real dangers - and not just use our knee-jerk prejudices which are usually wrong, except when it comes to BMW drivers when our knee-jerk prejudices are correct.

      Justforfun

    77. inders — on 13th July, 2006 at 5:43 pm  

      ’selfish wankers’ will be selfish wether they’re driving an SUV or a hydrogen powered car.

    78. El Cid — on 13th July, 2006 at 7:47 pm  

      You might be right but you have to start somewhere
      What an odd thing to say:

      Anyway, check out this beauty Sid (and anyone else who gets a thrill from quality engineering).
      Still pricey but cheaper than the Volvo V90:
      http://www.lexus.co.uk/lexus_cars/rx/rx400h/gallery/gallery/images.asp
      Maybe I’ll switch up to one of these once I get this mortgage under control, which is never.
      0-60mph in 7.6 secs, room for all the family, and CO2 emissions that fall well below the Smart if there’s just 2 of you in the motor (and below the mini if there’s just one!)
      OK, you got me there: maybe I’m a more conscious of the CO2 ting as a result of this debate.
      P.S. My other car is a Hummer

    79. El Cid — on 13th July, 2006 at 7:49 pm  

      did i tell you i was a car dealer?

    80. justforfun — on 13th July, 2006 at 8:16 pm  

      El Cid - messy kids? - this hasn’t got carpets - it has a hose down interior for easy cleaning !!

      http://automobiles.honda.com/element-sc/index.aspx

      And at least the styling is honest ‘pimp’ not fake ‘rocketship’ like the Lexus.

      Justforfun

    81. El Cid — on 13th July, 2006 at 9:13 pm  

      dat is ‘orrible

    82. Courtney Hamilton — on 13th July, 2006 at 9:53 pm  

      “[I] give the SUV drivers that go past me a nasty glare every time. makes me feel so much better.”

      This pretty much says it all about the way this debate seems heading on pickledpolitics. Not only does Sonia hate and loathe big cars, she also hates the advanced working classes that drive them as well - because that’s what they are, the people that drive 4×4’s in London, most of them are well-off working class people.

      That’s the kind of people we’re talking about here, as some people have rightly alluded to. People like my mate who’s a carpenter who live’s in Stoke Newington, who just happens to own a jeep.

      Sonia sounds like the kind of person who would normally mind their p’s and q’s when she’s talking about a whole group of people, like say Jews or asylum seekers, but when it comes to those who have the termerity to go out and actively want to raise their standard of living by buying a 4×4, Sonia feels it’s perfectly fine to let rip on them.

      So too does Leon, and his bogus scientific claim that 4×4’s are more ‘dangerous’ than any other car. It’s as if Leon thinks we should all live a much simpler life, and be more ethical in our outlook - or measuring everything we do by how much CO2 we create in the process.

      The truth is, there is no evidence that 4×4’s are ‘more dangerous’ to people than other cars. Don’t take my word for it, according to Euro NCAP, an independent body that crash test cars on sale in Europe:

      “There’s no shared characteristic of 4×4s that make them any more or less aggressive towards pedestrians compared to a ‘normal’ car”

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/4829628.stm

      Let’s follow Leon’s perverse logic for a short moment, he argues that it is a;

      “fact that these cars are dangerous. More dangerous than the average car because of the irresponsible drivers who think because they are ’safer’ they can flout seat belt and mobile phone laws. If these proposals work it will mean safer roads too.”

      Well… if 4×4’s are ‘dangerous’ because of the ‘irresponsible driver’ then we should get rid of London taxi’s - their the same shape as 4×4’s, and there’s a lot more of them in Central London - and what about buses? The laws of physics state that a collision between a bus and a pedestrian will mean that the bus will come off better, every time.

      Leon’s logic seems to be to get rid of anything that’s as large as a 4×4, or bigger - but, the science behind Leon’s assumptions are just as bogus as his argument that 4×4’s are the most ‘dangerous’ thing on the London streets.

      Sonia and Leon have a lot more in common than they might think, both express their ‘concern’ about large cars and their ‘impact’ on the environment - but, their attcks on those who drive 4×4’s unmasks their PC middle-class tastes, and their loathing of the vulgar consumer habits of the aspirational working-class.

      Sonia and Leon are looking down their noses at those who have ideas way above their station-wagons it seems. This debate is injected with a high dose of moralism, and 4×4 drivers have the wrong type of morals, how dare they to want to aspire to have tonnes of money.

      Moral judgements are being made here, pure and simple, this has become more about what constitutes a ‘good citizen’, and 4×4 drivers are seen as socially unacceptable.

      Underneath both of their criticisms is the putrid smell of old school snobbery, but, an up graded version, strickly for 21st century sensibilities.

      Best wishes

      Courtney

    83. sonia — on 13th July, 2006 at 9:59 pm  

      the key issue that is emerging is obviously that people need efficient systems of public transport if we’re to actually dissuade people from using methods of transport that are harmful. otherwise as is usually the case, convenience wins over the need to be environmentally friendly.

    84. sonia — on 13th July, 2006 at 10:04 pm  

      courtney i’ll rather graciously ignore your comments about me..

      you can choose to take whatever view you like about what i’ve said, that’s completely up to you and your freedom to express yourself. of course you could do that without ruminating on what sort of person i am, it doesn’t really make any difference to the matter at hand. :-)

    85. sonia — on 13th July, 2006 at 10:27 pm  

      anyway it doesn’t matter who’s driving the cars - working class or not, doesn’t give ‘em anymore right to damage the environment. obviously that is a normative point of view! ( ha so much about the comment about ‘moralizing’ duh - lots of people aren’t into ‘politics’ because that involves holding one position or another, which usually involves some particular take on the ethics of this or that..)

      still as i said before - it comes back down to what the alternatives are - if we can’t socially improve access to convenient public transport for everyone, particularly actually caters for mothers with children and disabled people - then we’re not going to be able to alter the current state of affairs. which isn’t a particularly good state of affairs…

    86. Leon — on 13th July, 2006 at 10:39 pm  

      Well stepping aside Courtneys personal attacks on people he’s never met and knows very little about (especially their backgrounds and upbringing) I would just like to point out that it isn’t “my science” but the study by the BMJ.

      If you don’t like it I would suggest you go do your own study and present it to them in attempt to show them the error of their ways.

      I’ll take a look at it and if it’s up to scratch I’ll post about it here, deal?

    87. Rohit — on 13th July, 2006 at 10:58 pm  

      At least the Japanese auto makers are making leaps at fuel efficiency and creating a market for cars that are simply made with lighter yet as strong materials, more fuel efficient - as to size, color, shape - I think consumers have varied tastes and as we have seen over time it changes depending on the current social/economic state that we live in.

      Personally, my appetite for more things, bigger things, flashier things has been rising along with my buying power as I ride the corpo ladder. I cringe when BBC tells me that I need to plant 10 trees for every trip I make to India and 10 more for the return trip if I want to balance out the CO2 impact. What about CO2 from my car, the trash I generate every week, the flashy things I buy that are made in factories - heck, I’ll have to plant all of greenland by the time I get to 70 years. Huh! Chances are that greenland may just be ready for it, since there may not be any ice on it by that time.

    88. Katy Newton — on 13th July, 2006 at 11:43 pm  

      I have changed my mind. 4×4s are evil. I say no to 4×4s unless a particular driver has a concrete need for one, e.g. my mother and her health problems.

      This may or may not have something to do with the fact that a Porsche Cayenne reversed into my car whilst I was stationary at traffic lights on Monday.

      Apparently my car was too low.

      *angry noises*

    89. Sunny — on 13th July, 2006 at 11:55 pm  

      Katy - heh. What do your angry noises sound like?

      Courtney - I think your point that Leon and Sonia are disparaging about the working classes won’t really hit the point. Not really if you found out where they worked.

      The class of the person is irrelevant because most likely, if you buy an SUV then you have enough money to pay the charge.

      That they are gas guzzlers and exact a heavier toll on the environment than other cars is a given, however you try and spin this. Hence they should pay more.

      It’s actually the only way to deal with global change - to make people and corporations pay for the negative externalities that are emitted from what they buy. The more the negative externality (co2), the higher the charge.

      The reason why carbon emissions have gone out of control is precisely because the cost of negative externalities are not taken into account when using a product.

      I believe this should be extended across all transport, household products and energy consumption in general.

    90. inders — on 14th July, 2006 at 12:03 am  

      The more the negative externality (co2), the higher the charge.

      They already do that sunny, its called tax on fuel.

    91. Katy Newton — on 14th July, 2006 at 12:56 am  

      Not all of them are gas guzzlers. I used to drive a Daihatsu Sporttrak which had a 1.6 engine and was very fuel efficient. That was a small, sporty sort of 4×4 which I doubt had very high emissions.

      A Porsche Cayenne, on the other hand, would be positively toxic, and should have a gigantic skull and crossbones painted on it.

      *angry noises*

    92. Katy Newton — on 14th July, 2006 at 12:58 am  

      Sunny, I hope you never find out what my angry noises sound like. They are scary.

      In fairness the other driver was more than reasonable about the whole thing. But when I got out of my car to see if the guy behind me had witnessed it, he beeped me and drove round me.

      I may or may not have bellowed “FUCK OFF” after him.

      Any hand gestures were wholly involuntary. Stress, you know.

    93. mirax — on 14th July, 2006 at 1:06 am  

      I worry about you Katy, you’re just too nice.

    94. Katy Newton — on 14th July, 2006 at 1:15 am  

      I know. I worry that I don’t stand up for myself enough.

    95. El Cid — on 14th July, 2006 at 8:11 am  

      i actually think courteney has a point, regardless of where leon and sonia work.. i’m sure they are very nice people and their hearts are in the right place but liberals are in denial if they think they don’t have snob tendencies…
      it’s a bit like Rooney = chav thug, Zidane = flawed genius (tee hee)

    96. justforfun — on 14th July, 2006 at 9:16 am  

      Katy - condolences for your car.

      Looking for a replacement ?

      How about a Truimph Vitesse Convertible (plus a clip on hard top) and then convert it to LPG - to perhaps get a discount on the congestion charge.
      No road tax as its pre 73.
      2Ltr Straight 6 cylinder and runs very, very smoothly,
      Parts are pretty cheap - no catalyser or fancy electronics.
      Should be cheap insurance ( but not sure about London weighting)
      No electronics to go wrong.
      Will not depreciate like a stone.

      Get it reprayed in what ever colour you like and it will be very cool for the woman about town.

      Negative - may need to get a pet mechanic to service it regularly to keep it in tip top form. Unlike Jap cars they are not “Fill and Forget” for 100k miles.

      Justforfun

    97. Leon — on 14th July, 2006 at 10:16 am  

      Christ, people will be calling me a class traitor on here next!

      I don’t think for one minute this is about “snobbery” it’s about the impending enviromental distasters our species faces unless we all take our heads out of the sand and do something.

      Kens proposals may not be perfect but it’s better than half the crap I’ve heard from the pro oil lobby/proponents in recent memory. And they are better than some of things I’ve heard, in person, from various influential people in government.

      At a meeting I was at last year a government advisor actually suggested that Bangladesh deals with climate change (it’s low lying ground with flooding regulary that will get worse as a result of climate change) by teaching people to swim and buy rubber dingys! Not that we should start cutting emmission etc, 150 million should learn to swim and get in a boat! Incredible stuff and a good example of the snobbery and denial talked about here.

      Their thinking was based on adaptation rather than mitigation. I don’t think we have any choice in the matter any longer; we have to confront this, not find ways of ‘adapting’ to the problems we’re causing…

    98. El Cid — on 14th July, 2006 at 1:11 pm  

      oi, justforfun, you muscling in on my market!
      Triumph, Christ!
      Actually, my first moat’ah was a yellow TR7 — loved dem 70s designs. Nearly got killed in it just outside Andorra in a tear’up wiv a 60-tonne artic

    99. justforfun — on 14th July, 2006 at 1:50 pm  

      TR7 - phah - a British Leyland car :-( - who advised you to buy it? A friend? :-)

      I used to have a Vitesse - should never have got rid of it. Everything was easy to get to under the bonnet. One could fold forward the bonnet and then sit on the front wheel and tell the engine all about life and problems.

      Ah the 70s - when stylists just used rulers , not french curves.

      Just think - the original Audi Quattro (1979?) is probably older than most of the commenters on this site :-). Reminds me - must buy a lottery ticket this weekend.

      Justforfun

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