I somehow found myself in an argument over SUVs at Metafilter today. I think a lot of my attitude towards them (and their drivers) comes from my years at ND. It seemed like over half of the undergraduates brought them to school and you never, ever saw one filled to capacity. They were status symbols, not off-road vehicles. (The prevalence of “Eddie Bauer” special editions will attest to that.) Sure, it’s nice not to have to shovel around your car in the winter, but is it really necessary to burn that much fuel just to go up to Meijer and pick up a case of Coke? See, I’m working myself into a rant again.


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  1. I’m an SUV driver, but I can’t disagree with anything you’ve said–far too many of them never leave the suburbs. I justify driving one because I commute and run many errands by bike, so I only have 56,000 miles on the car over 7 years. I’m planning for my next vehicle to be a hybrid, although that’s several years away unless my commute gets a lot longer before then.

  2. I drive an SUV because I have a horse and need to cart him around a lot, often on dirt roads, through mud, ice, etc. I’ve always found it kind of a funny irony that as horse people, who must ride our horses outside, many of us work hard for environmental causes. But then we also have to drive the most gas-guzzling, environmentally-unfriendly trucks, etc. in order to keep up our business as well. I don’t exactly see a way out of this situation, though. Just a (very) random (and probably overly specific) thought.

  3. I’m with you on the whole SUV issue, Kris. Unfortunately, since I drive alone 30 miles to work each day, even in my little Saturn coupe, I’m doing more than my share of environmental damage.

    Man, I miss commuting by bike!

  4. Thanks for joining in, Louise! I didn’t mean to implicate you in my rant. Your case is a perfect example of what I think these things are for. Navigating the wilds of South Bend, Indiana is another thing entirely. πŸ™‚

    I totally feel you guys’s commuting guilt. In some places you just can’t help it. Back home in Indiana, even the grocery store was three miles away. Walking (and even cycling, in most cases) was pretty much out of the question. I’m not a total Green-ie, and I understand that 99% of the world doesn’t live that close to their jobs. I’m just more outraged at the choices of transport people us, rather than the fact that they have to do it.

  5. By the way, what’s Seattle like in terms of public transport? I mean, there are cities (like London and New York) where it’s more hassle to have a car than not. On the opposite end of the spectrum I’d put Chicago, which is so big and sprawling that you pretty much have to have a car if you’re going any distance. Sydney’s kind of in the middle. As long as I’ve restricted my activities to the center, public transport has served me fine. Some friends have cars, though, and it certainly makes their lives a lot easier.

  6. I’ve left an extremely long response to the transportation question on my site. (One might even call it an essay…) πŸ™‚

    But, yes, Seattle does have a good bus system, although no light rail. (Debate about a future monorail has been going on FOREVER!) It’s a pretty small city with a lot of outlying neighborhoods, so it’s not as subway-ready/friendly as London or NY. We’ve got major transportation issues, though. I’m lucky I have a reverse commute.

  7. I. Hate. SUVs.

    I understand why they exist. Some people who own SUVs actually have valid reasons for having them. They serve a good purpose.

    Yet very few serve the purpose they’re supposedly built for, however. Some of them just LOOK rugged, and as if you could take them off-road. The truth is, if you attempted to take your tractor-trailer-sized Ford Exscursion off-roading, you’d be calling for help on your rinky-dink designer cell phone within minutes.

    God. Next thing you know, everyone is going to be driving around frickin’ BUSSES. It’s ridiculous.

    It’s all about status and power and money. I mean, does a 120lb. soccer mom REALLY need to drive a 19-foot-long beast complete with flatscreen television sets and the internet? Your average SUV is priced in the mid-20’s to low-30’s, and some of them are even farther up there. Your average American can’t afford a Ford Excursion. I know I can’t.

    But that’s beside the point. SUVs are dangerous, they’re uneconomical in more ways than I care to count080920 0:19:35 [ERROR] /usr/local/libexec/mysqld: Incorrect key file for table ‘./pieter_frankfurtcafe/pn_phpbb_users.MYI’; try to repair it
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    . Why, you might ask? Because it has a high center of gravity. Yuppie idiots get behind the wheel and think that they’re going to drive their Montero like they’d drive their luxury sedan; instead they end up rolling a few times, and if they actually survive that ordeal, they’ll crawl out from the wreckage and wonder what the hell just happened.

    And don’t even ask what would happen should my Focus come into violent contact with an SUV. I couldn’t compete. I’d be lucky to walk away from an accident like that.

    Anyway. I’m not a tree-hugging hippy or anything, and I’m all for freedom and stuff, but you gotta have your limits. You have to do your part to conserve energy and stop pollution.

    I can’t wait for the hydrogen cars to go into mass production. Then we won’t be under OPEC’s thumb any longer, amongst other things.


  8. Heh. Thankfully I spared y’all my big psychotic rant about public transportation in Washington, DC (or lack thereof).

    I sat in traffic for 2 hours today. ‘Nuf said.

  9. Masterful rant. Do you post at Metafilter? If you don’t, we need to get you in there. I could’ve used the backup in my argument yesterday. Some guy was arguing that since SUVs are so big and dangerous in wrecks, he’d rather his family were IN one rather than not. It’s just this attitude I hate, that ME and MY FAMILY are more important than anybody else in the world. Yeah, it’s great that you care about their safety, but try to think about the bigger picture, okay? Grrr. I don’t even sit in traffic and this shit pisses me off.

  10. it’s like saying some people carry guns si i should carry a gun. no wonder people scoff at the idea of biking to workβ€”it’s just too damn scary out there.

    whenever i see someone driving an SUV alone whilist talking on the cell phone, i mock. openly. with hand gestures. from my friggin ford escort. just call me low and mighty. πŸ˜‰

  11. in my world, si = so.

    as you were. πŸ˜‰

  12. oh, and one more reason seattle isn’t subway-friendly: earthquakes. i promise to leave this thread posthaste.

  13. Ah, forgot about the fault lines. Actually Sydney only has a proper “subway” right in the very center (kind of like Chicago). Once you get out a bit, it comes back up onto ground level. We’ve also got a tram that runs around the tourist spots, and a monorail that’s the laughingstock of the world. (It runs in an absurdly small circle around the CBD. It’s quicker to walk.) The buses and ferries are the best, though. Now that I’m used to them, I take ’em all over the place.

  14. I was thinking about how I don’t support the “if you can’t beat them, join them” theory of SUV’s while driving home tonight in my low little car. It is about the bigger picture (although that’s hard to argue with the friend who only drives one becuase of the horrible accident where her friend/family member would have been alright if only…).

    Not having lived through “the big one” 18 months ago, I forget about fault lines and subways..

    Actually I think DC has a pretty good (although potentially prohibivably (sp???) pricey) mass transit system. The problem is if you live outside the beltway it’s hard to participate. And the traffic is so bad everywhere in the greater DC area, you can’t even get onto minor roads during rush hour times (which are 50% of the day..) It works for people like my sis who lives walking distance from the Metro.

  15. An excellent point just made by somebody at MeFi: “It’s not the fact that people drive them that bother me so much as the frequently expressed opinion that road safety is an arms race rather than a cooperative effort.” I think that about sums it up. Arms race. Brilliant.

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