In the interest of full-disclosure let me say up front that, as a class, I’ve never liked sports utility vehicles. So, I never would have owned one. But my dislike of them goes beyond what I might choose to drive. At this point, I should also admit that I love the Fan District. The first time […]
In the interest of full-disclosure let me say up front that, as a class, I’ve never liked sports utility vehicles. So, I never would have owned one. But my dislike of them goes beyond what I might choose to drive. At this point, I should also admit that I love the Fan District.
The first time I drove a SUV I was surprised at how unstable/top-heavy it felt. That was 11 years ago and the model I drove was a Toyota ForeRunner. Since then there has been plenty of publicity about how unsafe SUVs are. No doubt, some makes are worse than others are, but the basic full-sized SUV seems to be outrageously susceptible to rolling over.
Which is ironic, in a way, because many of the owners of SUVs say they drive them because they feel safer ensconced in their big-wheeled behemoths than they do in a standard sedan. Sitting up high they feel somewhat protected from the world of perils the drivers of smaller vehicles face.
A year ago I saw a SUV get flipped over by a low-slung, compact sedan like it was a hamburger on the grill. The compact had been doing about 25 mile-per-hour before it struck the SUV on the rider’s side, chiefly because the SUV had run a red light.
The SUV tumbled over and spun around on its roof; its driver was bloody and trapped inside. She was lucky to be alive.
The sedan had a crumpled front end; its driver seemed unhurt.
As a bicyclist I’ve learned to watch SUVs more attentively than other vehicles. I don’t know why, but their drivers tend to be more apt to ignore me — because they’re not paying attention, or don‘t care — than drivers of other types of vehicles. Nearly every time a door suddenly swings open in front of me, it’s a SUV driver’s door.
When my neighborhood, the Fan District, was designed, most families didn’t own two or more cars. Some had none. Lots of people rode trolleys or buses to work. They had their groceries, etc., delivered. They walked for short errands. Consequently, the streets were much less congested with motor traffic.
Well, that era is long-gone, but there aren’t any more parking spaces in the Fan now than there were 50 years ago. So, it’s crowded. And, the bigger the vehicles get, the more space they take up, whether moving or parked at the curb. Not only that, the bigger — meaning taller — the vehicles get, the more dangerous it is to get around in the Fan, whether one is moving on two wheels, or four.
Why is that?
Lack of visibility. The height of SUVs, vans and other such tall motor vehicles breaks the sight line of one who is trying to see around them, especially at an intersection. For example: if you’re heading south on Stafford Street in your standard-sized sedan and you want to cross Floyd Avenue, you stop — look both ways — and if you see the way is clear, you step on your accelerator.
But if a monster-sized SUV is parked on the north side of Floyd, at the corner, facing west, you can’t see over the top of it, or around it. So, you either creep half-way into the intersection and look again, or you jet across, hoping for good luck to protect you.
While this scenario is an everyday thing for Fan motorists, it is dangerous and it could easily be prevented, or at least made to happen less frequently.
Don’t let SUVs and other tall vehicles park within 25 feet of the corner. A law that says in the densely-populated Fan District motor vehicles that stand over a certain height can’t park near the corner should be enacted. (more…)