Thursday, May 17, 2007

Nurse Thinks 4x4s are Pointless Vehicles

We received this letter from a student nurse in Manchester today:
'I am writing in support of your website which I have just been informed of. I write this as I watch John Sergeants "Driving me Crazy" which highlights the monstrosity that is the 4x4.

As a mini driver I find these vehicles extremely intimidating and fear for my own safety when being followed by a 4x4.

As a student nurse I have also been exposed to the tragic consequences of accidents involving 4x4s have created and although the new tax raise has been implemented this is clearly not enough to dissuade drivers.

These vehicles are ridiculous, dangerous and completely pointless. I would like to suggest that individuals who wish to own a 4x4 should have a legitimate reason to do so, for example, if they work on a farm or have to regularly travel on terrain requiring a hardy vehicle."

Monday, May 14, 2007

You Don't Really Need a 4x4 in York

We received this letter from a supporter in York:
"Morning! I've just found your website. I have a 17 year old Land Rover that I use to travel the Sahara and the African bush, and as a founder of two environmental charities with an MSc in Environmental Science I consider myself an environmentalist as I practice minimal car use (I walk to work and the shops, for example, and cycle longer distances).

Please be assured that not all 4x4 drivers are thoughtless twits! However, I do agree wholeheartedly that 90% of 4x4s in the UK are owned by folk who don't need them. I also agree that they clog up town centres and drive with arrogance and aggression.

I would agree with your stated aims but would add a plea that, as with any group, 4x4 ownership is a broad movement - there are some of us who do think carefully about whether we need to use our cars, and how we use them, when such is the case. I teach at a school in the hills of North Yorkshire where many parents and staff own 4x4s, and use bad weather conditions as an (often spurious) justification for that ownership (the weather is never that bad!).

I regularly tell the kids that car use is a bad thing! And yet, as you know, car ownership, and especially big glossy 4x4 ownership are symbols of status and other rather daft ideas in our slightly skewed society. I do get disheartened sometimes, with parents of kids who troop in and announce smugly how much they recycle, etc., and then drive their huge wagon down the road to the post office.

Good luck. I think it's important that your voice is heard, and that you are seen as moderate and sensible (that will make your voice more readily listened-to). Our society is one that (I hope) encourages debate as a way to move forward."

Sunday, May 13, 2007

We're Not Encouraging Anti-4x4ism - We're Just in the Flow

You know, we get a lot of love mail, and we also get a lot of hate mail. 4x4 owners who have been ticketed write to tell us how misguided we are. They also accuse us of being fascists, against freedom of choice. They also respond as if we are corrupting people with our campaign, as if we are the leaders of some movement.

What they don't realise is we're merely helping to bring out the sentiments that a growing majority of people feel around the country. Think of us as a 'service provider'.

We received this letter from W. Sussex:
"I am always amazed at people who buy 4x4s and then NEVER take them off road! Why on earth you would need such a big vehicle just to take your kids to school is beyond me. It's as big a status symbol as a Ferrari these days, at the cost of the environment.

Please will you send me a free batch of "spoof parking tickets" so I can raise awareness to this in my area and hopefully make some people think harder about their car choice."

I think that's what we're doing. Motivating people to think more about the choices they are making, by enriching the information available about the vehicles out there, and pointing out the dangers that the large 4x4s present to our communities.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The School Run

Monday, May 07, 2007

Do You Really Need a 4x4?

I supporter sent us a link to this handy item on ebay.

The Autralian seller writes: "Tired of 4x4’s clogging our inner city roads? Ever wondered why that middle age woman needs a luxury BMW 4 Wheel Drive just to go to the shops? Why doesn’t she just buy a hatch back and use the change to save a staving African country? How many of these vehicles have actually seen dirt?"

"In this modern time of excess the suburban Four Wheel Drive has become the poster boy of unnecessary greed. Frankly I don’t see why my Accountant needs to drive an eight-seater vehicle every morning to work. Unless you own racehorses or you dress like the Crocodile Hunter there is no need for these vehicles in our cities."

We couldn't agree more.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Do People with Bad Backs Really Need a large 4x4?

Did you ever wonder why so many 4x4s seems to be parked with blue badges displayed? We've heard from some people that they have a bad back, and a large 4x4 allows them to get in and out quite easily. But is that really a good enough excuse to drive a gas-guzzler?

Well, one of our supporters wrote to challenge this view. He writes:

"Having had the [Toyota] Prius for nearly 3 years, it is ideal. I have a serious back problem and it is the best car I have found to drive. Those that say that "I have to drive a 4X4 because I have a bad back" are talking rubbish. I have had 2 bouts of spinal surgery and so choosing the right seat and driving position is essential. I have tried almost every make of car including Mercedes, Saab, and Volvo. Cost has not been a restriction. The Toyota Prius is the best I have found because it has quite a bit extra head room when the seat is fully adjusted to its highest setting. I am 6 foot tall and adjust it up to get the hip/knee alignment right. Before I had the Prius I would drive for 3 hours and be unable to walk at the end of it. Recently I had to drive for 5 hours, do a job of work and then drive for 5 hours home with no problems.

I have tried 4x4's and I have to confess that they are better (for me) than a saloon or estate car - however, the Prius is better than all of them especially when you also take into account the drawbacks of a 4x4, such as lack of manoeuvrability. If you suffer from a bad back I would recommend the Prius above everything else I have tried. Claims that you must have a 4x4 if you have a bad back are just rubbish - another way of defending the indefensible.

I also live in a semi rural area, with muddy country roads. There are loads of people around here (South West) who move down and claim that they simply must have a 4x4 "for the country roads" - rubbish! The Prius is fine. We have had metalled roads down here for the last 70 odd years!

Growing up in a farming area in 70's no-one had 4x4s. OK, the farmers had a tractor but would otherwise drive around in an Austin Maxi or old Ford Cortina. I overheard an elderly farmer the other day saying that they could not see the need for all of these Chelsea tractors. "What if a field is wet then?" someone asked and the farmer just rolled his eyes and said "If the field's that bloody wet don't go into it" - which just about sums it up.

In the city the Prius is quiet, clean and, especially in rush hour, a joy to drive. I regularly get 60 miles to the gallon. I can certainly recommend the Prius to anyone. It is comfortable, quite, safe, a joy to drive and surprisingly quick if needs be. I regularly have to drive 20 odd miles between offices and I am always being held up on country roads by wallowing 4x4s.

Finally, a neighbour recently suggested that I traded the Prius in for a 50 grand Range Rover Sport - just like his. My retort was "Thanks...nice idea but I couldn't take the drop in status".