Politics, Sex, Religion, and all those impolite Human Conversations...

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Location: Oaksterdam, California

Sunday, June 13, 2004

No SUVs s'il vous plait...

On Friday both and (I'd love to know the story behind that URL) led with this story: Ban SUVs? Paris might just do it
Bulky sport utility vehicles might be banned from clogging up the streets of Paris after a top official in the capital’s left-wing government described them as a polluting “caricature of a car” unsuited to city life.

An anti-SUV resolution passed by the city council could lead to a ban on the popular vehicles in about 18 months if it is included in an overall project to improve traffic flow in the city, Deputy Mayor Denis Baupin said Wednesday.

“You have to wonder why people want to drive around in SUVs,” Baupin, a Green Party member, said on Europe 1 radio. “We have no interest in having SUVs in the city. They’re dangerous to others and take up too much space.” (more)

I find this intriguing because when I lived in Paris my girlfriend at that time had a small turquoise Renault Dauphine in pristine condition. This tiny car was straight out of a Jacques Tati film like Mr. Hulot's Holiday. It was well suited to the narrow twisty Parisian back streets. It was a French classic that brought smiles and waves from even the most taciturn Frenchman as many remember it as their first vehicle or the parent's car.

This made it a safe car as it was noticed by other drivers and given more space than usually allotted to other drivers. I know this for a fact since sometimes for a cheap and exhilarating rush I would take it out for a spin on the chaotic Charles de Gaulle-Etoile around the Arc de Triomphe. I just can't imagine trying that in a car 4 times the size.

Just as I believe in using the right tool for the job, your ride should be appropriate for the terrain.

Once in a little village, in the Italian Alps, I saw a huge black Cadillac, replete with Texas plates and 4 foot-wide ornamental bull horns (I kid you not) on the front grill, trapped while attempting to navigate a tapering cobble-stoned lane designed for horse and cart traffic. Needless to say I found this very amusing and uncharacteristically did not offer to help. After all I didn't want to ruin their European experience...