The ‘War On Cars’ Gang Might Be ‘Growing Up’?

Why Smaller Delivery Vehicles Could Be Huge for Cities

Using small delivery vehicles instead of big rigs could make cities a lot safer. Photo: Jason Lawrence/Flickr

Using small delivery vehicles instead of big rigs could make cities a lot safer. Photo: Jason Lawrence/Flickr

CityLab ran an article recently about how smaller delivery trucks could be coming to U.S. cities, with the makers of 15-foot cargo vans used in many European cities poised to begin marketing them in the United States.

That is important not just because these smaller vehicles are inherently safer, but because it could mean safer road designs altogether. Michael Andersen at Bike Portland elaborates:

Here in Portland, the fact that most cargo vehicles are big and dangerous to be around is a subtle influence on almost everything we do with our streets.

Last week, discussing chaotic behavior on North Williams Avenue, city project manager Rich Newlands wrote in an email that although it’d be “better” to run a concrete curb alongside a green-painted bike lane just north of Broadway, that would be impossible because of the “the turning radius of large trucks.”

Two weeks earlier, city staff recommended keeping protected bike lanes off Grand Avenue, citing the city’s policy to separate freight and bike traffic by nudging them onto completely different streets.

Like so many things about our streets, this policy is based on the assumption that in order to survive, any major commercial area requires daily visits from dangerously large trucks. But what if this isn’t actually true?

Andersen notes that very large trucks pose specific risks to bicyclists. In Portland, the driver of an 18-wheel delivery truck recently killed a 28-year-old female cyclist but was not found culpable in court because the judge ruled the he couldn’t possibly have seen her as he was turning right.

Elsewhere on the Network today: The Walking Bostonian offers some ideas for filling the state’s budget gap after voters elected not to peg the gas tax to inflation. And ATL Urbanist points out that a good portion of the Atlanta streetcar route is surrounded by surface parking.


Divvy Station Locations

Divvy Station Locations

Before anyone gets all warm and gooey about this change in thinking let’s be honest about the fact that despite all the blather from the Hard Left about the evils of the automobile it turns out that they cannot find a suitable way to do Load Balancing without dependence on the automobile.

Load Balancing is what goes on when a Divvy van pulls up to a station and either adds bikes from inside its cavernous interior or takes in a few from the street station to move to a place where they are desperately needed.

SF Bicycle Coalition Right Turn Diagram

SF Bicycle Coalition Right Turn Diagram

Now here is the rather embarrassing truth these vehicles. They are bigger than SUVs! You know the much hated SUV. That symbol of everything that is wrong about America and its despised (at least by us Liberals) love affair with all things automotive. And what is even more embarrassing is that they are made in Germany!

If you really want to get a good ‘War On Cars‘ thread started on the ChainLink all you need to do is describe your ‘near miss‘ or whatever with someone driving an upscale German car and Goodness knows the naysayers will emerge with pitchforks in hand to hunt down the SOB that tried to make a right turn in front of a defenseless biker who was riding in the bike lane.

Examining The ‘Love Fest’

So let me get this straight suddenly we are describing a larger than the largest SUV on the roadway today in this fashion:

these smaller vehicles are inherently safer, but because it could mean safer road designs altogether

These guys must be keeping the local microbrewery busy with their orders while sitting at the end of the bar writing this stuff! Do not get me wrong, I am in total agreement with what they say about these vans. It’s just that coming out of their ‘mouths‘ it sounds all wrong.

After all this ‘smaller vehicle‘ is nearly double the size of the Denali SUV. In fact it is nearly twice as tall. And suddenly these are imagined as ‘inherently safer‘? Now take into consideration that when you see your huge hateful SUV on the roadway it is probably carrying a single passenger, maybe two. But these suckers will be hauling around thousands of pounds!

So where in the world does the calculation that an SUV is lethal and these are not come from? This is a classic example of the Alice-In-Wonderland Speak that wafts out of the Hard Left Kitchen every single day. They are against automobiles until they aren’t. And then the ones they ‘like‘ are described in cuddly almost cute terms. Sheesh!

This is enough to make a Hard Right Tea Party Follower spin in his baggy underwear. I suspect that before long the guys from the StreetsBlog writing core will be launching a ‘Take a Jaywalker to Lunch‘ button sale now that the Pope of Cycling has spoken from ‘On High‘ in defense of that practice.

Heck I can see it all now. The Hard Left will be putting on ‘Walk In The Bike Lane‘ competitions where pedestrians taunt cyclists trying to get to the office Microbrewery while ‘switching‘ off of Divvy Load Balancing Vans.

Yeah. This is what the ‘kinder gentlerHard Left looks like these days! George W. Bush would be proud! I know I am.

The one problem I see now is that German automobiles and SUVs are gonna need replacement in our pantheon of really bad things about society. So who is going to be the new ‘niggers‘ that we can pick on?


 A Possible ‘Wet Blanket’

A fire bike in the Tokyo Fire Museum, Japan

A fire bike in the Tokyo Fire Museum, Japan

What do municipalities do to accommodate fire trucks? These ‘hook and ladder‘ style trucks that are the essence of what it means to be a fireman are long, really long. They steer that rear section from a remote position.

But many a municipality has come up against the limits of narrower street designs to accommodate these behemoths.

There must be something, anything that is bicycle-based that could substitute right? Maybe we need to contact the Pope of Bicycling to ask his permission to look inside their thinking caps to help us poor Yankees out.

In the meantime we could be searching the world for what has been done already: